The Cab Kitchen Made Easy

The One Pan Gourmet gives helpful information on electric appliances other than microwaves that can simplify cooking in the cab.

Fast-food places and all-you-can-eat buffets are convenient, but they aren’t necessarily where you find nutritious meals. Believe it or not, meals prepared in your cab can be convenient, as well as tasty and healthy.

Many cookbooks and websites offer suggestions for creative meals that can be prepared with limited appliances in your truck. Don Jacobson’s The One Pan Gourmet, for example, started out being for campers but also serves as a wise guide for over-the-road truckers.

Jacobson and his wife, Pam Whitfield, a registered dietician, have other cookbooks, as well as a health show on the Sirius Trucking Network, Channel 138. They offer these tips for cooking in your cab:

Food safety. Be careful of cooking with slow heat. The danger zone for bacterial growth is between 40 degrees and 140 degrees Fahrenheit. If you can’t refrigerate fresh foods, especially meats, keep them in an ice chest with fresh ice. Many foods don’t require refrigeration, such as canned chicken or tuna.

Proper meals. “One of the things we stress is eating more than one meal a day,” Jacobson says. It’s harder for your body to digest one mega meal than smaller meals and snacks throughout the day. “It’s OK to eat a cheeseburger and fries every once in a while, but make sure you eat healthy foods the rest of the day,” Whitfield says.

Snacks. As with any food, the rule is moderation. “We suggest baby carrots, grapes, celery sticks,” Jacobson says. “Other snacks, such as nuts and pretzels, are good every once in a while in small portions. Maybe a handful.”

Cleanup. Keep your water hot, and rinse and dry dishes and appliances properly so that no mold will grow when they’re stored. Use bleach wipes to sanitize counters and anything you can’t wash.

Convenient cookers
The One Pan Gourmet gives helpful information on electric appliances other than microwaves that can simplify cooking in the cab. Author Don Jacobson also suggests a small propane or butane stove, used by campers. Just be careful to properly ventilate.

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Electric frying pans. “We have one that has a tall lid, and it gives you more room to cook,” Jacobson says. “You can adjust the temperature to scorch or brown whatever you’re cooking.” You can get one for about $30. Make sure you use wooden or plastic utensils on non-stick surfaces.

Crock pots. The slow-cook method can tenderize even relatively inexpensive pieces of meat. “One trick that we’ve learned is to use a plastic baking bag as a liner, and that makes cleanup a lot easier,” Jacobson says. “One trucker even told us how she drilled holes through the handles and ran bungee cords through there to tie it down while the truck is going down the road.” Crock pots come in a variety of sizes and are relatively inexpensive.

Burton lunchbox oven. The Burton oven, which looks like an old lunchbox, uses a foil pan liner and is powered by the cigarette lighter. It cooks only between 325 degrees and 350 degrees, “but that’s generally the temperature everything uses anyway,” Jacobson says.

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