Airstream Pantry & Food Packing

Through a few years of trial and error, I've refined my Airstream's kitchen packing list to a core set of cooking needs. Needs are obviously relative. This post focuses on the food side of things and includes many of the same ingredients I use in my non-wheeled kitchen. The Airstream's pantry is pared down for the limited space but could certainly be repurposed for a weekend or vacation home.

While a number of the items listed can be purchased at the destination, I bring them in order to minimize errands plus I have an affection for certain ingredients. With that said, the fun of road trips is the opportunity to build upon your core pantry with local culinary finds. Out last cross-country adventure included peach habanero jam from Nashville Jam Company (great in a grilled cheese), Virginia country ham, small-batch cheeses, Epic Pickles, and more.

The purpose of this post is both to share The Silver Lining's staples and force myself to document what I take since, well, a few things were forgotten on a previous trip. A happy camper I am not when it's 20°F outside, the grocery store isn't close, and a key ingredient didn't make it onto to the coach.

Food Storage Gear

Deli Cups

These handy storage containers are the best change I made when packing for the road. Awkward-sized bottles make it tricky to stock a cooler, pull-out pantry, or small Airstream fridge...looking at you, ketchup. Deli cups are reusable and stack snuggly. I use them for condiments, veggies, flour, sugar, misc liquids - the possibilities are endless.

Snappable & Stackable

I've come across these Rubbermaid containers at several grocery stores so they're easy to find. From cornstarch to barley malt syrup, the size works well for ingredients where I only need a few tablespoons on hand. They also snap together in a stack for sturdy packing.

Coolers

We have two Yeti coolers, a Hopper 18 (soft) and a Tundra 35 (hard). They are outstanding. I've left perishable items in the Tundra 35 cooler for days when on the road (periodically adding new ice) and the internal temperature of the food stays right around 32°F. Even when the car is quite warm things remain stable.

Collapsible Boxes & Totes

  • Collapsible Pantry/Catchall Boxes - If the weather is hot and we're going to be on the road for hours, I occasionally pull certain pantry items off the Airstream and let them ride in the air-conditioned car. These boxes are easy to open, stack, then collapse down into a slim storable shape when not in use.
  • Collapsible Shopping/Catchall Totes - These sturdy flat-bottomed totes sit neatly on the Yeti or whatever else happens to be in the back seat. When not in use, they collapse down for easy storage. I use the bags frequently on trips and for all of my grocery and farmers market shopping when home.

In the Beginning, There Was Coffee

Coffee is one of my splurges in terms of space and things break down into two categories: on-the-go and take-it-slow. Including some equipment in this section as well.

On the Go

  • Cold Brew Coffee - Efficiency is top of mind when traveling cross-country or if it's an early hiking day. Cold brew (canned or stored in deli cups) is always stashed in the cooler or refrigerator. It's delicious, fast, and keeps for an extended period of time. Just pour some into a Hydroflask with a few chunks of ice and you're off.
  • Iced Cappuccinos/Lattes - Same setup as above though the refrigerated shelf life is much shorter. I either make them myself or buy in bulk from a favorite coffee shop.

Take It Slow (Pour-over & Espresso)

Dairy & Eggs

  • Quality Salted Butter - I don't use unsalted butter very often unless a recipe specifically needs it so I travel with salted.
  • Eggs - This egg storage container protects the eggs when they're in the cooler during transport. It also fits nicely in the Airstream refrigerator.
  • Milk - Single serve (8 ounce) milk containers are great for traveling. If those aren't available, I transfer milk to deli cups before putting them in the cooler. When there are multiple stops, it's easier to pull out only what's needed for the day rather than the whole container.
  • Greek Yogurt - Greek is higher in protein than its regular cousin so I always opt for this type.
  • Cheese
    • Parmigiano-Reggiano
    • Cheddar
    • Anything else that sounds good and would work in a grilled cheese or with eggs.

Never Leave Home Without It

A PB&J sandwich is the "break glass in case of emergency" meal when on the road. It's also great for long hikes and happens to be delicious and nutritious.

Baking & Sweets

Flour

  • Beehive Organic All-purpose Flour, Central Milling (32-ounce deli container)
  • Whole Grain Flour
    • Spelt and/or Sonora (32-ounce deli container) - quick bread and biscuit friendly
    • Hard White (16-ounce deli container) - pizza friendly
  • Sourdough Starter's Food (amount depends on length of trip)

Sugars & Sweeteners

  • Brown Sugar
  • Cane/Granulated Sugar
  • Maple Sugar
  • Barley Malt Syrup
  • Honey - Bill's Bee's sells some of the best honey at the Santa Monica Farmers Market and they have baby honey bear bottles on the table - adorable and portable. I don't see the baby bear bottles online but perhaps they will still sell them through the website if you reach out. Bill's Bees can be found at these markets.
  • Maple Syrup

Other

  • Baking Soda
  • Baking Powder
  • Cinnamon, Vietnamese
  • Vanilla
  • Cornstarch (1/4 cup)
  • Active Yeast (3 packets)
  • White Rice Flour This is for bread baking and not necessary otherwise.
  • 1-2 Airplane Bottles of Dark Rum - for the inevitable Violet Bakery Banana Bread that I end up making with stray overripe bananas.

Condiments & Spices

  • Hot Sauce - From eggs to grain bowls and soup, hot sauce makes everything better. I look to my spicy traveling companions more for the acidity (a great flavor booster) than the heat. Currently, my pantry includes Hoff & Pepper's Mean Green and Everyday Hot Sauce, Palo Alto Firefighter's Habanero Pepper Sauce, and Born to Hula's Habanero Guajillo. Hoff's Mean Green is particularly good at adding acidity and a bit of heat to soups without overwhelming the flavor. There's good hot sauce all over the country so if you're at a local shop or restaurant pick up a bottle.
  • Tabasco
  • Ketchup (8-ounce deli container)
  • Mayonnaise (8-ounce deli container)
  • Deli Mustard
  • Pickles
  • Salsa
  • Salts & Spices
    • Diamond Kosher Salt (8-ounce deli container)
    • Maldon Sea Salt (8-ounce deli container)
    • Peppercorns and Small Pepper Mill
    • Onion Powder
    • Paprika
    • Oregano
    • Dill Weed - In a pinch, I use this to make ranch for pizza when fresh dill isn't available.
    • Red Pepper Flakes
    • Bay Leaves

Grains

  • Brown Rice
  • White Rice
  • Steel-cut Oats - One pot of steel-cut oats lasts for days so this is a great early morning breakfast.
  • Whole Grain Cereal
  • Popping Corn
  • Raisins
  • Box of Pasta - Though I am a twirler by nature, shapes are easier to deal with in a smaller kitchen and pot. Brands that are usually in my pantry: Monograno, Rummo, and La Fabbrica Della Pasta.

Tomatoes

  • Small Jar of Pasta Sauce
  • Whole Peeled Tomatoes (28-ounce can), Bianco DiNapoli
  • Diced Tomatoes (14-ounce can) - Canned diced tomatoes work for pico de gallo on the fly or anything else that needs a hit of tomato's acidity.
  • Tomato Paste, Maria Grammatico

Oil &Vinegar

  • Extra-Virgin Olive Oil, Katz's or Trattore
  • Red Wine Trio or Pomegranate Vinegar, Katz's and Trattore (respectively)
  • Sauvignon Blanc Vinegar, Katz's
  • Almond Oil (or other neutral baking oil)

S'mores

  • Coconut and Vanilla Marshmallows
  • Chocolate
  • Caramel
  • Graham Crackers

Produce - Take or Buy at Destination

"Kitchen sink" scrambles always work their way on to the menu when travelling so having a few herbs helps. Eggs, hot sauce, rosemary, and whatever else is available is a great flavor combination. The quantities below are relatively small since there are almost always stores along the way or near the destination where items like onions and garlic can be restocked.

  • Oranges
  • Apples
  • Bananas
  • Avocado
  • Chives
  • Rosemary
  • Thyme
  • 1 lemon
  • 1 yellow onion
  • 1 red onion
  • 1 head of garlic

Snacks

  • Dried Fruit - Frog Hollow Farm is my main squeeze when it comes to dried fruit, specifically the peaches.
  • Granola - I make a big batch of EMP's Granola before every trip. I fill a deli cup and then vacuum seal the rest and throw it in the pantry box. The granola has a long shelf life and is perfect with yogurt for breakfast or as a trail snack. On that note, I use Hydroflask's food jars for yogurt or cereal on the go.
  • Pretzels - These are a good source of salt for long hikes.
  • Protein Bars
  • Nuts

Umami

  • Soy Sauce
  • Oyster Sauce
  • Miso

If You Are So Inclined

  • Wine - Finding good wine is hit or miss so there are usually a few bottles stashed away.
  • Beer - Craft beer is plentiful throughout the country so it's not generally hard to find while on the road.

When In Season/Optional

  • Peppers, peppers, peppers - Jalapeños, padrons, Anaheims... these are a few of my favorite things. Peppers are excellent with eggs, roasted over an open fire, or added to a sauce/grain bowl/stir fry.
  • Tubers and Taproots - Combine carrots, potatoes, and/or sweet potatoes with onion and garlic cloves for a satisfying veggie roast.

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