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.
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.