What to Look for in Camper Dinnerware
One of the many great things about camping is eating camp food. Eating something cooked over an open fire, like roasting a hot dog, is definitely something special. And let’s be honest, even eating some mac and cheese made on the stove in your RV just seems to taste better than if you made it at home, right? To enjoy those camp meals, we need some dinnerware that can work well for the camping life. Durability and ease of cleaning are factors in deciding what dinnerware will work best with your RV lifestyle. Don’t fret. If you’ve ever wondered what to look for in camper dinnerware, we’ve got you covered.
Disposable Versus Reusable
We live in a disposable society, and there is a good argument that can be made for using paper plates and plastic, throw-away silverware. You don’t have to worry about it breaking and storing it is much easier. Plus, you don’t have to deal with washing it when you’re done. However, there is an issue you should consider and that is the overall waste. When I go camping, I see disposable camping dinnerware either filling up trash bins and creating waste that fills up landfills, etc. The other thing I see often is people simply chucking the plates and plastic utensils into their camp fires. Now, this isn’t a big deal with paper plates, as long as they are simple ones, but when you start talking about the plastic stuff… come on. We can definitely do better.
One great solution is to use the newer eco-friendly, biodegradable plates that are made from natural fibers that quickly break down. You can buy plates and bowls that will handle all of your hot and cold food, working just as well as your other disposable camping dinnerware. You will have the added advantage of knowing that you’re not putting something into a landfill that won’t break down easily. And should you toss one into your campfire, it’d be just like burning wood or brush, creating no toxic smoke. Pair them up with some actual silverware that you can easily clean, and you’ve got a greener option for eating dinner.
Melamine Camping Plates and Dishes
One of the more popular choices for reusable camper dinnerware is melamine. Melamine is a thermoplastic resin material that creates a very sturdy plastic-like material. It has a glossy look and is the same material used to make formica countertops, along with other resin-based surfaces. It makes for an ideal camping dinnerware material because it is virtually shatterproof and very difficult to break. One other element about melamine plates that makes them so popular is that due to the structure of the material, graphic designs can be set into the dinnerware before it is cured with heat. This lets people buy camping dinnerware sets that match their personality and style.
Melamine is also very durable. You can buy a set of melamine dishes for your RV and know that it will last for season after season and still look great and function well. I have heard some comment that melamine plates look cheap compared to stonewear, but being a thermoplastic resin, you can get them in many styles, even ones that look like cut, polished marble.
Another option in camper dinnerware for those who like to live dangerously is Corelle. For those of you that don’t know, Corelle uses three layers of Vitrelle with the top and bottom layers thermally bonded to the center core. This creates a tough, non-porous tempered glass surface that looks great and is very durable. Corelle is very resistant to breaking and it never seems to age. My mother still has plates from when I was a child. Corelle dinner- and cookware can work great in your RV as long as you take the proper measures to care for it, especially during travel. There is something to keep in mind, however, with Corelle camper dinnerware. If it breaks, it doesn’t just break – it shatters. No, that isn’t the right word. It explodes. Drop one in the dirt and it probably won’t break. Hit a rock, and it will burst into a million shards of glass. Speaking as someone who found a shard with my foot weeks after I thought I had it all cleaned up, I can say that it is durable, but should it break, cleanup can be rough. Keep that in mind when making decisions.
Stainless steel, vacuum-formed insulated tumblers are all the rage right now and with good reason. They can hold in heat and cold better than anything and are extremely durable for years of use. Now, I don’t know about you, but it’s better for everyone if I am not kept from my morning coffee, especially when I’m camping. It’s serious business for me, and something I don’t take lightly. I have tested several of the tumblers from several different companies and have been using a 30oz Big Frig Tumbler for a little while now. It is a durable tumbler that keeps things hot for well over five hours and will keep my ice tea full of ice all day long. Unlike some tumblers, it is decently priced, too. There are several sizes available, too, in case you don’t drink as much coffee as I do.
When it comes to shopping for camper dinnerware, don’t forget the glasses. You can use plastic, of course, but a great way to get away from using disposable “red SOLO cups” is to get a set of silicone pint glasses. These flexible, unbreakable cups can be colorful and fun and are easy to clean. These cups are microwave and oven safe. Heck you can set one by the campfire and not worry. They even insulate your hot and cold beverages. A set of these will last the life of your RV. And yes, you can also get a set of silicone wine glasses, for the discerning camper.
To finish up your camper dinnerware collection, you need utensils. Disposable plastic cutlery is the easy choice, it is not a very environmentally friendly option. An easy solution is to just go with some stainless steel flatware that is easy to clean and durable for years of use.
A quick and simple idea I learned years ago when it comes time to clean up things like the pots and pans as well as the flatware. Take whatever pan you used and fill it with water. Put it on the campfire or stove and start it boiling. A small drop of environmental-friendly dish soap and it will basically clean itself, along with any flatware you put in it.
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