Category Archives: Food

Christmas Dinner in the Truck

Christmas Dinner in the Truck | Trucker Tips Blog

By Heather Hogeland & Kim Grimm

Thanksgiving is over once again and Christmas is quickly approaching. In our business it’s a fact of life that not everyone gets to make it home for Christmas. Many truck stops have a really nice buffet dinner, but maybe you’d rather make your own dinner. Are you one that wants a more “being at home feel”? We believe being on the road for this holiday is the hardest of all. It’s a time to be with family and the ones you love. If you are able to prepare some of your family favorites, made the way Mom does, it can go a long way to help lift your spirits. You may also want to put up some festive decorations and colorful lights in your truck to keep your mood cheerful when forced to be away from home during the holidays.

thanksgiving_turkey_500pxUnless you have the luxury of a big bunk with an oven, you probably won’t be able to cook an entire turkey, but a bone-in turkey breast a great option instead. There are a variety of 12-volt cookers available these days. Back in the day, we had an inverter and I used a rectangular metal crock pot with a small little griddle at its base to make our turkey. The drippings from that I put into a small pan to make gravy. Microwave a couple of potatoes and mash them up. If you want a healthy version of mashed potatoes, try cauliflower! Bake it and mash it the same as you would potatoes. Sweet potatoes are another healthier option, unless you add the brown sugar and marshmallows to make them extra yummy. I say, “Go for it. It’s Christmas after all!” I’ve said this before, but lunchbox cookers with foil pan liners work great for cooking, including sweet potato casserole. They make clean up easy. You simply throw out the pan when done!

Christmas Dinner in the Truck | Trucker Tips Blog

The traditional favorite green bean casserole also cooks great using the lunchbox style cooker. Open a can of french cut green beans, drain them, put contents in a foil liner. Add a can of cream of mushroom soup, stir together and top with crispy fried onions, and cook until bubbling. If that’s not possible, warm up your favorite veggie and make the best of it. It’s still cooking at home. Cranberry sauce is another one of my favorites. It makes no difference if it’s right out of the can, from the deli or homemade! It’s a necessity with turkey and a requirement for a homemade feel to your Christmas dinner.

If you can’t cook everything yourself, the deli case at a nearby grocery store might be a good way to get a lot of variety without a lot of leftovers; especially if you don’t have much room. Maybe a new salad could be added to your list of favorites for the holiday dinner. A cabbage salad, ambrosia or other fruit salad is always a great addition to any holiday meal and you can usually find these in most delis.
We can’t forget dessert! Many stores and many truck stops have bakeries, so you can probably find your favorite pie or cake by the slice. You do have options! Many times all you have to do is ask. Also, if you get to go home before the holiday, maybe you can bring some of your favorite treats from home back out on the road with you. It is always fun to talk with other drivers too and see what some of their favorite treats and traditions are. It’s a great way to connect with others and also keep your spirits up during the holidays.

Speaking of favorites and traditions; I would like to share a southern tradition with you that happens to be one of my favorites. For southerners, this is quite possibly the most important meal of the year. We always followed this particular menu, once Roger introduced me to it. He was born and raised in Alabama. I was from southern California; a different kind of southern. He taught me the practice of eating black eyed peas, hog jowls, greens and cornbread every year on the 1st of January. It CAN be done on the truck, either with canned peas and greens and deli ham and corn muffins or slow cooker made black eyed peas with chunked pork and greens on the side in your choice of cooker. You can buy, bake or fry the cornbread. The point here is that you take part in the tradition. The belief is that the peas represent luck, the pork is for health, greens for dollars, and cornbread for gold. The more of each you eat, the more of each you will have in the New Year!

Stay Safe Out There And Keep It Shiny!


Heather Hogeland and Kim Grimm are CDL holders and longtime friends with a combined 75 years and 7 million miles of driving experience. Both are writers and have a love for everything trucking, as well as, furry, four-legged friends. Kim is currently a full-time owner-operator and part-time writer. Heather writes for various trucking publications and enjoys traveling with her husband Roger.


 

Cooking in the Truck 101

Cooking in the truck 101By Heather Hogeland & Kim Grimm

Some drivers have cooking in the truck perfected, but this blog is for the drivers who are just getting started or want to dip their toes in the kitchen and see if this will work for them.

Let’s get cookin’!  A lot of companies provide generators and a small refrigerators in each truck.  If your company provides these it will be easier, but if they don’t you can still make it work.  After all, we did years ago before many of today’s conveniences became standard equipment. For a minimal initial investment you can get started cooking your own meals. This allows you to keep the wheels turning and earn money while the smell of dinner cooking wafts throughout your entire cab! When it’s time to stop for the night you’ll have fresh, hot food ready to eat right in your truck.

If you don’t have a generator or an inverter you can purchase appliances that use power from the 12-volt cigarette lighter plug.  A lunch box cooker is priced at most truck stops between $30-$40, a small hot pot runs about $20-$25, and a refrigerator will cost $200+ (you can even start out with a cooler and ice until you gather all these other 12 volt goodies!) If you are going to cook, it’s a must to be able to keep food cold.

After gathering a few of these appliances, you will need the food. The cookers include a few recipes and there are also many online resources you can tap into for ideas. Let’s use a simple dinner example of pork chops and mushroom gravy, mashed potatoes and peas.

First make a list of ingredients. It’s really easy to over-buy, which can be a problem if you don’t have much storage space. Get a couple of spices, salt & pepper, and butter. These are staples that we always seem to use. The lunch box cooker will let you cook meats, bake a cake, and get creative all while enjoying the aroma of your cooking lunch or supper. Get a small package of the foil liners for the cooker, it makes clean up a breeze!

Back to the list. On that list you should also add everything you need for easy clean up.  Paper plates and bowls, plastic silverware, paper towels, baggies and a big container of antibacterial wipes. I’ve used them for years without ever having a problem getting sick from clean up of my appliances or utensils.

Cooking in the Truck 101- Some drivers have cooking in the truck perfected but this blog is for the drivers who are just getting started, or want to dip their toes in the kitchen and see if this will work for them.Get a small package of pork chops (2 chops), 1 can of condensed cream of mushroom soup, 1 small bag frozen petite green peas, 1 small envelope of garlic or butter instant potatoes, 1 small container milk, 1 small butter/margarine, salt and pepper.

First, put the pork chops into the foil liner inside the lunchbox cooker and cover with the cream of mushroom soup. Then, plug it in and cook it according to directions, usually 45 minutes, stirring occasionally. Pork, like chicken, needs to be thoroughly cooked and the stirring keeps it from sticking to the bottom. The foil liner isn’t a requirement, but you will find that it is well worth the extra investment! Depending on the thickness of the chops, the time to cook will vary, you will have to determine that by checking them yourself.

When you stop, fill the hot pot with water to boil the peas. When they are done, remove them and use the same water to add the instant potatoes in a bowl so you get the nutrients from the peas as well as the flavor! If you don’t have enough water left, add some and reboil before making the potatoes, making sure to add dry potatoes SLOWLY as they take a few seconds to get to proper texture.

When everything is done, put it together on a plate, add the gravy on top of the chops and potatoes and voila! Hot, hearty supper in the truck! This works no matter where you happen to be! Cooking in the truck can be a life saver, and a reminder of home, when you find yourself in the middle of nowhere. You may find that you enjoy it and just the beginning of a lifetime of “Cooking In The Truck.” Happy Cooking!

Stay Safe Out There And Keep It Shiny!


Heather Hogeland and Kim Grimm are CDL holders and longtime friends with a combined 75 years and 7 million miles of driving experience. Both are writers and have a love for everything trucking, as well as, furry, four-legged friends. Kim is currently a full-time owner-operator and part-time writer. Heather writes for various trucking publications and enjoys traveling with her husband Roger.


 

It’s Cookout Time

It's Cookout Time | Trucker Tips

By Heather Hogeland & Kim Grimm

One of the things most of us look forward to this time of year is getting outside and firing up the barbecue. After the long, cold winter nothing beats getting out and grilling your favorite; whether it is a steak, burger, hot dog, chicken, or a pork chop.

On the weekends a backyard barbecue brings friends and neighbors and it becomes a party. Break out the grill in a truck stop, and we have seen that same party you would have at home happen in a parking lot. Drivers will all chip in and buy the ingredients for the perfect barbeque.  Friendships can be made, not to mention that it’s really nice to spend time with other people who do the same thing you do and really understand what you are doing for a living. When you are on the road it helps to bring just a little bit of the normalcy of home.

It’s Cookout Time- One of the things most of us look forward to this time of year is getting outside and firing up the barbecue. After the long, cold winter nothing beats getting out and grilling your favorite; whether it is a steak, burger, hot dog, chicken, or a pork chop.If you have the space to store a small grill and a bag of charcoal, you can buy a nice little Smoky Joe Weber for about $30, or tool box size propane fueled gas grills are also readily available. We carried a cool little collapsible charcoal grill that folded completely flat and fit into a carrying bag that measured about 12”x12”. It was perfect for the truck and was less than an inch thick when flat. We used pre-soaked charcoal so we had less stuff to tote. If you don’t have the space to store something disposable, one time use grills are available. They come complete with charcoal and you can purchase them almost anywhere. With this style, after you use it, be sure to let it cool down or soak it completely before throwing away.  Likewise, if you purchase a grill you can reuse ALWAYS make sure it’s completely cool before you clean it up and put it away.

It doesn’t take up much space to carry along a few spices, the necessary tongs (which will probably handle anything you would ever cook on the grill) along with a metal brush to clean off the grill and you’re all set! Paper plates and plastic utensils are your friend here, easy clean-up is a must when you are having fun!

We would like to share a yummy summer recipe from our dear friend Bette Garber. Years ago she was at our house after the Jamboree and we were having a barbecue. She decided to put a little twist on the traditional cucumber salad. I’ve been making it ever since. It’s always a hit.

Bette’s Cucumber Salad

  • 2 Cucumbers
  • 1 medium onion
  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes or 1 large tomato
  • 1 small can jalapeno sliced black olives
  • 1 small jar of artichoke hearts
  • Bottle of Balsamic Vinaigrette

Slice the cucumbers and onions. Cut up the tomatoes. Drain the juice off the olives. Cut up the artichokes do not drain the juice. Mix everything all together including the artichoke juice pour on the balsamic vinaigrette to cover. Enjoy! This is a great dish to take to a summer potluck. Make it the day before. It’s even better after the flavors mix!

Here is another easy and healthy recipe that you can keep in the fridge and use at your barbeque or as a snack.

Summer Cottage Cheese

  • 1 tub of cottage cheese
  • 1 medium tomato
  • Fresh Basil (dry if fresh is not available)
  • Pepper

Cut up the tomato. Chop the fresh basil. Mix everything together add pepper   to taste. This is better if you let it set and the flavors mix before serving.

It’s Cookout Time- One of the things most of us look forward to this time of year is getting outside and firing up the barbecue. After the long, cold winter nothing beats getting out and grilling your favorite; whether it is a steak, burger, hot dog, chicken, or a pork chop.

Both of these recipes are easy, healthy and ingredients are readily available, plus they can be easily made in your truck. We would also suggest using a can of baked beans which are very healthy, delicious and can be heated either in your microwave or on your grill right in the can (once you’ve opened it, of course!) Eating like this gives drivers the opportunity to get outside, enjoy the fresh air, and meet other drivers. It promotes camaraderie that you don’t otherwise get; trust us! Breaking bread with fellow drivers in a parking lot can be a very rewarding and really fun experience!

Stay Safe Out There And Keep It Shiny!


Heather Hogeland and Kim Grimm are CDL holders and longtime friends with a combined 75 years and 7 million miles of driving experience. Both are writers and have a love for everything trucking, as well as, furry, four-legged friends. Kim is currently a full-time owner-operator and part-time writer. Heather writes for various trucking publications and enjoys traveling with her husband Roger.


 

Food & Fitness on the Road

By Heather Hogeland & Kim Grimm

It’s not always easy to get and stay healthy when you are a driver, but many truck stops like Iowa 80, are helping by offering fitness centers where drivers can workout whenever they have time off. Some truck stops have even built walking paths where a driver, or a driver and their pet, can get out and take a nice leisurely walk.

Walking is great exercise, its low impact, good for getting your blood pumping and working your muscles, besides, getting fresh air is always good for you! Parking way at the back of the lot is an option many times, doing this will increase your exercise for the day just by making the distance you have to walk that much farther to get into the truck stop itself. If you choose this option, be sure you are extra vigilant when you are out walking around among moving trucks, always be sure they can see you and take extra precautions to remain safe. NEVER walk out from between two trucks, stay in aisles and driveways, stay in lighted areas, wear visible clothing, carry a small flashlight to be sure other drivers can see you! The best prevention is caution.

Food & Fitness on the Road- It’s not always easy to get and stay healthy when you are a driver, but many truck stops like Iowa 80, are helping by offering fitness centers where drivers can workout whenever they have time off.
Fitness Center at Iowa 80 The World’s Largest Truckstop

There are many useful tools today that are available to help us get and stay fit; from something as simple and basic as a pedometer to something that I, personally have, a FitBit. I love it! It not only keeps track of my exercise, my steps, my calories, etc., it tracks my sleep! It tells me how much, how well and how interrupted my sleep was. It’s amazing. I set it to sync it with my iPhone continually and I charge the dongle about once a week (it even tells me when it needs to be recharged), and it keeps me on track with as much information as I choose to input. This thing even has a feature on it that allows me to set a silent alarm! It vibrates around my wrist so it can wake or alert me without bothering anyone else, I happen to think that’s pretty cool. There are also plenty of apps available you can put on your smartphone that are free and easy to use; apps like Map My Walk, Fitness Buddy, Daily Workouts and such. All of these can provide  you with help on your journey to get fit.

 

Eating right is not always easy to do while on the road. The ‘grab -n- go’ choices that are so readily available to us are usually the wrong choices. There are alot of greasy, fatty, salty, starchy, sugary fast foods with zero nutritional value. Thankfully though, changes are being made, there are healthier options showing up if you just look for them. There are fresh salads and fresh fruit cups at almost every truck stop fuel island these days along with mixed nuts, hard boiled eggs, celery and carrot sticks as well as yogurt and cottage cheese. There are also a variety of granola and protein bars. The right choices are there and available, it’s up to us to choose them. You have to fuel your body like you fuel your rig if you expect to keep them both running and running right.

Soup is a winner any time but seems to taste even better on a bitter cold day or night. Chili is good and most places have that one as a staple and then offer a variety of other choices sometimes rotating them on a day to day basis. We have noticed that a lot of truck stops have begun carrying 3 or 4 different soups on their take out counter area so that its an easy thing to get, hot, nutritious soup to go.

Food & Fitness on the Road- It’s not always easy to get and stay healthy when you are a driver, but many truck stops like Iowa 80, are helping by offering fitness centers where drivers can workout whenever they have time off.
Fitness Center at the Joplin 44 Petro

The beating our bodies take while driving our nation’s highways is beyond description at times and it definitely does a number on us physically. There are times you get so out of whack that you really would benefit from a visit to a chiropractor, both of us are firm believers in them! It’s a wonderful thing when you find a truck stop that has one, getting an adjustment can do wonders for an aching body!

 

Stay Safe Out There And Keep It Shiny!


Heather Hogeland and Kim Grimm are CDL holders and longtime friends with a combined 75 years and 7 million miles of driving experience. Both are writers and have a love for everything trucking, as well as, furry, four-legged friends. Kim is currently a full-time owner-operator and part-time writer. Heather writes for various trucking publications and enjoys traveling with her husband Roger.


 

Great Tips for Cooking in the Truck

By Heather Hogeland & Kim Grimm

We are planning on making a spin-off of this blog which will include all kinds of cooking information, such as recipes, supplies, etc.  There are more and more drivers who are cooking in their trucks and sharing their cooking secrets, pictures of the wonderful food they prepare, and how they do it in the truck.

Great Tips for Cooking in the Truck- There are more and more drivers who are cooking in their trucks and sharing their cooking secrets, pictures of the wonderful food they prepare, and how they do it in the truck.We will give you tips on things like how to set up your truck in order to have a safe kitchen. If you are not an owner-operator you might have to check with your company to make sure you are allowed to do this to your truck.

Years ago we both had a 2000 watt inverter. We had them installed at Kenworth dealers (different ones) but they took the time to make sure the heavy duty wire was routed to the batteries and that they were properly grounded. This allowed us to run appliances in our trucks in the 90s that are run today mostly by APUs or GenSets. There are a lot of companies who have those installed in their trucks these days allowing their drivers comforts we could only dream about back then. More and more trucks are equipped with a refrigerator and microwave. Also those generators are able to power appliances like toasters, slow cookers, electric skillets, and my favorite, a George Foreman grill.

There are still a lot of you who don’t have the power available to operate the appliances that need 110 volts, but there are all kinds of appliances that plug into the 12 volt cigarette lighter. You can make fresh coffee, warm up foods already cooked, or even cook foods in a crock pot that’s plugged into a 12 volt outlet. It takes longer, so more planning is necessary.

Make a grocery list and take advantage of getting to a grocery store or a Wal-Mart, at home or on the road. If you have a fridge, it’s easier to keep healthy food on board such as fresh produce, yogurts, meats, and cheese.

A collection of spices that you like are also a good idea. Even if you don’t get carried away you should at least carry basics like salt and pepper. Anything that doesn’t require refrigeration (spices, condiments, etc.) are useful since all OEM refrigerators are small. Zipper storage bags work better than anything else for storing food since they can be used in or out of the fridge and take up much less space, plus they are sealable. The freezer ones are best, since they are the strongest. You can use a variety of sizes from snack size to gallon size for organizing all of your supplies. Rectangular plastic baskets work out really well and fit great into most cubbies in sleepers. You’ll have to measure your particular sleeper and take those measurements with you when looking for baskets to fit.

Get creative with your storage spaces. The more “stuff” you carry, the more you need to organize it. Make sure you always secure your cooking space. The last thing you need is a crock pot flying through the air if you have to make a sudden stop.

I would like to share with you a simple recipe that is both good and good for you. Ingredients: a tub of cottage cheese, tomatoes, fresh basil, and an onion (optional). Mix all ingredients together and let the flavors mingle into something fantastic.

I also have a suggestion for those of you who want to eat healthy but don’t know how to cook or don’t have the facilities to do so. This is simple; get yourself one of those little 12 volt lunch box looking heaters. After you get that, you can pick up those single serve Lean Cuisine dinners from the frozen food department in the grocery store. Put one into the heater and plug it in. In about 30 minutes your food will be steaming hot and ready to eat. You can pull over, get out your plastic fork, and bon appetit!

Stay Safe Out There And Keep It Shiny!


Heather Hogeland and Kim Grimm are CDL holders and longtime friends with a combined 75 years and 7 million miles of driving experience. Both are writers and have a love for everything trucking, as well as, furry, four-legged friends. Kim is currently a full-time owner-operator and part-time writer. Heather writes for various trucking publications and enjoys traveling with her husband Roger.


 

A Beginner’s Guide to Food Over the Road

By Heather Hogeland & Kim Grimm

Many of today’s trucks have amenities we could only dream of years ago. Lots of companies order their trucks with built-ins like a fridge, an APU or inverter and a place for a microwave. If yours doesn’t have these, it most likely will have an outlet or two for a 12 volt powered appliance.

A definite ‘must have’ is a refrigerator, first and foremost, it will save you time and money. You can get one of these at most truck stops, you can even accumulate your loyalty points to use towards the purchase. It will keep your food fresh and give you healthier options you otherwise wouldn’t have.

If you are fortunate enough to have alternate power and are able to operate a microwave, your choices for eating in the truck increase dramatically, you can pretty much cook like you would at home. With power like that you can also use a crock pot, a George Foreman and other electric appliances so we are going to address basics here, things we all need, regardless of our on-board facilities.

You need to make sure you always have non perishable foods, especially in the winter, as you never know when you may get stuck in a situation where a road is closed and you can’t get to a truck stop. Here are a few staples you may consider:

• Case of Bottled Water
• Peanut Butter
• Cup-O-Soup or Noodles
• Cereal
• Crackers
• Granola or Energy Bars
• Nuts: Almonds, Walnuts, Mixed Nuts, etc.
• Tuna or Chicken (pouches are easier and less messy than cans)
• Bread, Tortillas, Flatbread, Wraps
• Condiments: Ketchup, Mustard
• Tea and Coffee Bags
• Dry Sweetener, Creamer, Spices, etc.
• Utensils (basic, plastic, single use)
• Antibacterial Wet Wipes and Paper Towels (for clean up)

With A Beginner's Guide to Food Over the Road- Many of today’s trucks have amenities we could only dream of years ago. Lots of companies order their trucks with built-ins like a fridge, an APU or inverter and a place for a microwave. If yours doesn’t have these, it most likely will have an outlet or two for a 12 volt powered appliance.a fridge your possibilities are greatly multiplied, you can include things like:

• Sliced Deli Meats
• Fresh Fruits
• Fresh Vegetables
• Milk
• Cheese
• Yogurt
• Condiments (that must be kept cool like dressing or relish)
• Jelly or Fruit Spread

We always carry a good thermos that we fill with hot water every time we stop at a truck stop or store so that when we want a cup of soup or coffee, and are not near a truck stop, all we have to do is get out the proper ingredients and pour the hot water. We also always have one of those little hot pots, the one you get at a truck stop that plugs into the cigarette lighter plug and boils water in about 10-15 minutes. They work great and we use one a lot!

I can’t tell you how many times over the years we used these supplies. Remember to rotate them so they don’t get stale. Use them, pull them forward, put new in back, that way you won’t run out. It happens quite often in our industry, we get delayed for one reason or another, shut down in the middle of nowhere. It’s SO important that we are prepared for those times.

It’s not necessary that you stock all of these items, just pick some of them, the ones you like the most, and be sure to keep enough on hand to feed yourself for at least 72 hours. That should be enough to get you through most any situation, although more would be better.

Following along with these suggestions, laying in a supply of non perishable foods, will set you up to be self sufficient in any worst case scenario for a few hours or even days, if need be. You will definitely have less to worry about if you do so and it takes away stress, leaving your mind clear, so you can think about more important things like driving!

Stay safe out there and Keep it Shiny!


hogeland_grimm_149x149 Heather Hogeland and Kim Grimm are CDL holders and longtime friends with a combined 75 years and 7 million miles of driving experience. Both are writers and have a love for everything trucking, as well as, furry, four-legged friends. Kim is currently a full-time owner-operator and part-time writer. Heather writes for various trucking publications and enjoys traveling with her husband Roger.