We brought almost everything we needed to outfit our European motorhome kitchen except for the kitchen sink. Aaron is a superb home chef and our early adventures as backpackers revealed our desire to be able to cook for ourselves. We’re rather not depend on restaurant food for every meal.
One of our favorite perks of traveling in Europe in our motorhome Charlie is that we have the choice to eat in local restaurants or to find food stuffs in the local markets to create our own meals.
It is entertaining to take a tried-and-true recipe and riff on it using only local ingredients and a stove top. For example, baked Mac and Cheese in Spain becomes Macaroni Gratinados using cooked pasta, Manchego cheese, sautéed onions, fresh tomatoes, and sausage . . . yum! In the Netherlands, a family favorite called Apricot Chicken Devine made with chicken, yogurt, mustard, and apricot jam, becomes pork medallions with a sauce of creamy sautéed apples, local dark beer, and excellent Dutch mustard. The ingredients differ, but the idea remains the same. These excellent dishes and more rely on well-chosen kitchen tools and a thoughtfully stocked pantry.
Some travelers will not be so particular about their kitchen supplies, but we knew we’d be happier with our good knives, stainless pots and non-stick pan, and more importantly, a good wine opener!
What should you bring, and what should you wait to buy in Europe?
This may depend on your style of travel, how much you intend to cook, how long you are on the road, and how big your kitchen and storage are.
Charlie sports a dorm room-sized fridge with a small freezer inside, a three burner propane stove, and a ceramic sink with a small drainboard attached. Unfortunately, he has no counter space, and no oven. We miss having an oven, but we’re pretty clever figuring out how to manage on-the-stove concoctions minimizing the dishes needed to bring a meal to fruition. Our dining table doubles as a food preparation space.
Our goal for equipment was to bring essential items necessary to create full meals with ease but to not bring too much so that we are hampered with unused items. Additionally, we had several high-end items we liked to cook with, such as our knives, and we knew we didn’t want to spend the money to replace them in Europe. With the exception of one item, we’ve been very pleased with what we chose to bring.
We brought the following cookware in a large box reinforced with duct tape and a rope handle:
- stainless-steel 4 quart saucepan with lid
- stainless-steel 1 quart saucepan with lid
- 10” Caphalon teflon frying pan with lid
- stainless-steel colander (we replaced this one as it was a bear to clean)
- stainless-steel steamer
- 8” steel mixing bowl
- Melitta one cup drip coffee filter
- bamboo cutting board
- two thick tea towels
For serving, we greatly dislike eating off of anything plastic, so we brought:
- 4 forks, spoons, butter and steak knives
- an insulated stainless steel mug each
- 3 bandanas each used as cloth napkins (great idea from Teresa Mitchell)
To complement our cooking and serving needs, we bought the following from the Utrecht, Netherlands IKEA:
- French Press
- two melamine cutting boards, one 6” square and the other 16X8”
- two dish towels
- 6 short glasses (they needed to fit into the cupboards)a set of 6 each large and small plates, and 6 bowls (after breaking every single glass in several months of use, we bought a set of six heavy “tea” glasses in Morocco)
Having recently built a typical American-sized modern kitchen, it amazes us that everything we really need (except for an oven!) fits into one lower and one upper cupboard and a silverware drawer. Planning what to bring and what to buy helps you define what you really need. We know some full-time motor-homers make choices different from ours: there is not one answer to how to best outfit your rig, just what will work for you. What kitchen items would you choose?
-written by Tammy, photographed by Tammy and Aaron