The image in our heads of the over-the-road (OTR) trucker isn’t all that flattering—nor is it all that accurate any longer. Long haul truckers are jumping on the bandwagon, so to speak, in this increasingly food- and health-conscious society. With a properly outfitted in-cab-kitchen, some planning, and organization, along with a range of affordable, portable options, truckers these days can cook and eat healthier meals.
Truck Kitchen Essentials
Cabs are no longer a mere 18”-24”, thank goodness. Unless you’re buying a tricked-out luxury sleeper like a custom Bolt, you’re probably working with something like 48”. Space is at a premium and it takes some careful planning to make the most of your space. That said, here are a few suggestions to create a usable kitchen space in your truck cab:
- Refrigerator / Freezer: Eating healthy means less processed food and more fresh food. Whether you end up cooking at home before getting on the road, or you cook while you drive, you’re going to need a way to keep it cool or frozen. Depending on your need and your space, this review of the best portable options may help.
- Portable stove or microwave: There are many options out there for portable stoves that you can plug into your 12-volt lighter socket. While some are merely warmers, others can cook food up to 300 degrees. Stoves take a little longer than microwaves to reheat food. Microwaves for truckers probably won’t be more than 800 watts. You’ll need to decide which is better for you.
- Electric kettle: Whether you need to make a cup of coffee/tea, boil some eggs, or wash some dishes in hot water, the electric kettle has a ton of uses making it an essential in the healthy trucker kitchen.
- Crock pot: A slow cooker is a great, no fuss way to cook some delicious meals on the road. Throw everything in the pot in the morning and eat piping hot food by lunch. RoadPro is a popular brand.
- Electric skillet: Another versatile, multi-use item is the electric skillet. From scrambling eggs to stir-frying, the electric skillet with a lid earns a place in the kitchen.
- Blender: Smoothies are a quick and easy option for when you’re doing a just-in-time (JIT) run. If you’re making smoothies from powders, then a blender bottle that doesn’t require electricity is probably going to meet your needs. If you’re wanting to make your own with fresh ingredients, then consider an electric blender.
- Plastic drawers and tubs for organizing: You’ll need a place for cutlery, dishware, kitchen utensils, spices, oils, paper towels, canned and dry goods. CJ Moore has some great ideas on how to organize your space.
The rest is really the same as you’d expect to do at home. As Michael Pollan suggests and WebMD agrees with, “Eat food, not too much, mostly plants.” If that’s too hard to live by, try “eating the rainbow.” Or put another way, mac & cheese, pork chops and mashed potatoes is practically monochromatic. Try to add color to your meal with vegetables like an eye-popping green salad with radishes and yellow peppers. For dessert, consider getting your sugar fix from fresh cut fruit. Nuts and raw veggies make for tasty, filling snacks. If you’re like so many others, you may need to eat less at every sitting as well. You’d be surprised how much you’re eating because it’s there.
Don’t fret. You’re not alone. Here are some excellent resources for those of you who are ready to get healthier over the long haul:
- Drive my Way: Their blog has a bunch of articles on ways to get healthy on the road. Did you know there’s a Cooking in the Truck Summit?
- Healthy Trucker: They have a YouTube channel, a website with recipes along with information about financial health and other lifestyle tips.
- Healthy Trucking Association of America: There’s a Healthy Trucking Movement and the HTAA is providing the information, resources, and strategic partnerships to get truckers healthier.