• November 25, 2013
  • Mindy Breen

Thanksgiving on the road can still be homemade!

A little over two years ago, while I was traveling with my husband, Chris, there was a moment when I said enough is enough. We’d been on the road together for about a year and other than some lunchmeat we kept in our pathetic fridge, most of what we ate consisted of fast food. Chris would ask me, “So, do you want Mc’ D’s or Wendy’s?” I’d cringe and think eww, neither! Before so long, fast food loses its appeal.

So, we made it our mission to cook strictly in the truck, in order to save money and stay healthy. After all, eating out gets costly.

In the beginning, we didn’t have a lot of kitchen gadgets to help us cook our homemade meals. But after talking to a couple of our trucking friends, we learned about the Burton Lunchbox oven and the single burner butane stove you can buy at Travel Centers of America.

We were off to a good start.

Then we replaced our fridge with a better mini fridge that would work in our truck and we invested in a good slow cooker, and even a bigger inverter.

It was around this time – when all these tools were finally at my fingertips – when I decided I wanted to cook my own Thanksgiving meal, not stop at a truck stop! I wanted a real meal.

At Wal-Mart we looked for a small turkey but ultimately decided on a turkey breast, which was perfect for us. To save even more money, we opted to buy instant mashed potatoes, canned gravy and a box of stuffing.

I cooked the turkey breast in the slow cooker and the green bean casserole and peach cobbler in the lunchbox oven. The mashed potatoes and stuffing I warmed on our single burner stove. I even warmed up a couple of Hawaiian sweet rolls in the oven. What’s Thanksgiving without warm rolls?

We were really happy with how everything turned out and I don’t think I could ever go back to eating Thanksgiving at a truck stop!

I love sharing my tips and tricks with people on the road – they always seem so amazed with what I can throw together – hopefully I can inspire them to do the same.

One of my biggest tips for drivers is to prep, prep, prep everything ahead of time. This will make life easier. I cut up all of my veggies, throw them in Ziplock bags, each holding two servings (or however many people you plan to serve for each meal). I also trim all of my meat ahead of time and let them marinate in bags overnight or throughout the day. If we have steak, I usually buy a skirt steak or a roast and let it marinate in green salsa verde and lime juice. Then I let it roast in the cooker all day. By the time you stop for the night, the meat is tender and falling apart.

Preplanning meals for the week can also save a lot of time and effort. That way, you know what you need to buy and prep. This is also a good tip to save money – if you know what you need ahead of time, you won’t have to spend money on last minute, potentially more expensive, ingredients.

At first, when people hear about our new way of life on the road, they say something like, “But I’m too tired to cook after a long day of driving.” Trust me, Chris and I know all about this. But with a slow cooker and some simple tricks, cooking is often as easy as scooping some savory meat on a plate with some steamed veggies from the microwave.

Soups, gumbos and stews are great crock pot meals. And there’s nothing like a warm belly on a cold winter night.

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