Thursday, August 27, 2015

Report: RoadPro Portable Lunchbox Stove


This is the real deal. I had seen these on the shelves at various travel centers (truck stops) around the country. I was a little skeptical. But, I finally took the leap and ordered one. What a pleasant surprise.

This little lunchbox shaped, portable stove actually performs very well and does exactly what it's advertised to do. It's small, well built, lightweight and cooks food excellently. It's also very easy to keep clean.

What's On The Menu?

I've had mine for close to two years. I've cooked hotdogs and smoked beef sausages in it. I've baked regular white potatoes and sweet potatoes. I've warmed up canned soup. I've made meals from Knorr's Side Dishes ($1.00 each at Walmart) and added meat, chicken and fish and had delightful casserole style dishes. It usually makes two healthy sized servings (one for tonight's dinner and another for tomorrow's lunch or dinner). I've warmed tortillas then filled them and made burritos. I've warmed all kinds of prepackaged foods (though I try not to eat foods loaded with preservatives very often). I've steamed broccoli and other veggies. I've warmed up leftovers. It's an amazing little device.

While I haven't tried to warm up slices of pizza, I don't doubt I could. I imagine I could poach eggs or even soft or hard boil eggs. I believe I could make meatloaf, stuffed peppers and other similar foods. Now, don't get me wrong, there are a lot of things you can't do in this kind of device, but from my experience and perspective, you could live and eat very well and healthy if you had nothing other than this cooking device.

The Details

The lunchbox stove is powered from a 12 volt DC cigarette lighter or auxiliary socket in any car, van, truck or RV. The 12 power cord fits into a cover on the side of the lunchbox. There's also a red LED to let you know when the unit is plugged in and drawing power off your battery. Inside the cover you'll find a 15 amp automotive fuse. That's a nice touch for safety.

The exterior of the lunchbox measures 10.5" x 7" x 7.8." and is durable black, molded plastic. The weight is about two pounds. It reaches about 300 degrees or possibly a bit more, but I've never checked the peak temperature. It heats up pretty fast. I know when I plug mine in, in under a minute, I can't put my hand on the metal interior without burning myself.

It may take a little longer to heat up or cook some items because the peak published temperature (which is not adjustable with any kind of thermostat) is only 300 degrees. I've found that a little patience makes up for a hotter temperature (and may draw less power in the long run).
 One nice feature is, while it's called a stove, it's actually more like an oven. You put your food inside and then close the top and it's an enclosed cooking environment like an oven. I haven't tried it, but I imagine I could put a small metal or glass cooking pot or dish in the unit with the top open and it will act like a regular stove. But, I don't think this is the most efficient use of this device.

Cooking On The Go

Here's another great feature of this portable, enclosed cooking stove. You can cook while you're driving and have your meal ready to eat when you pull off the road. First, because of its shape, it doesn't tip easily. Second, because it's enclosed, you don't have to be very concerned about whatever you're cooking spilling on your counter or floor while you're driving. And, if something does
slosh over into the base pan inside the stove, it's easy and quick to clean. This is great for over the road truckers, RoadPro's primary market, but it suits vandwellers, RVers, car and SUV road warriors and anyone else who has a requirement to eat while traveling without stopping at every fast food place and greasy spoon along the roadsides.

I've done some of my cooking on the road as have some others I know who have this unit. It's a great convenience.

Easy Clean-up

Now, this is important. It's fast and easy to clean up when you're done cooking. You can do like I do most of the time. I either use a small metal loaf pan, a Pyrex loaf dish, a disposable aluminum loaf pan, wrap the items in aluminum foil or just line the inside of the stove in aluminum foil for the particular meal you're preparing.

I especially like the aluminum foil and the aluminum loaf pans. I can sometimes reuse the aluminum foil, depending on what I've cooked or baked in it. The same is true for the aluminum loaf pans. If you shop around you can buy them very inexpensively. I found a source in Winchester, Virginia, a deeply discounted small supermarket chain I believe is operated by an Amish group. I buy the loaf pans typically for 3 for $1.00. So, I don't mind using one and throwing it away.

If something I'm cooking (or baking) might slosh over the sides of the pans while I'm driving, I will use an aluminum foil cover tightly crimped around the edges of the pan and maybe an aluminum foil liner under the pan. Once again, virtually no fuss and no muss.

However, even if something actually makes its way to the metal heating surface on the inside bottom pan of the stove, it takes nothing to clean up. I've never needed more than a sponge with a scrubbing surface and a little Dawn dishwashing soap and in a few moments, clean as new.

The Bottom Line

Here's my bottom line. This little unit is one of the best bangs for the buck I have in my current mobile lifestyle. The best thing is the bucks aren't big.

There are at least three companies that market similar units. I haven't tried the other two, but the RoadPro seems to be rated the highest. Over the road truckers spend a lot of time in their vehicles and, much like vandwellers, RVers and other people who live mobile lifestyles, they seek high value in their purchases. I know some other mobile friends who also have RoadPro Lunchbox Stoves. They have been happy with them. So, this all influenced my purchase.

The cost is very nominal. You can purchase a RoadPro for $33.18 from Amazon. If you purchase another small item to bring the total order over $35.00, you'll qualify for free shipping. In this particular instance, even if I can buy another unit for less money, I'll pay the extra for the RoadPro. You may find the RoadPro at lower or higher prices in different places. If it's convenient for you to purchase from another vendor at a better price go for the deal.

For your convenience, I'm including a link to the RoadPro Lunchbox Stove at Amazon. As always, I'd appreciate you using my Amazon (or Walmart) links since I'm an affiliate and will receive a small sales commission. You, of course, will pay the same price whether you make your purchase through my link or you go direct to Amazon.           

4 comments:

Rob said...

You mentioned Walmart right along with Amazon in the same sentence as "sales commission".
Walmart does this too?

Ed Helvey - Location Independent Traveler said...

Yes, Rob! But, setting up an affiliate link arrangement with Walmart is a bit more convoluted since you have to go through a third party aggregator. I found it a bit more time consuming and complex.

Ed

Vanholio ! said...

I've figured out how to boil eggs in the RoadPro Stove easy: I bake 'em!

http://www.vanholio.com/2016/04/roadpro-stove-secrets-hard-boiled-eggs.html

Ed Helvey - Location Independent Traveler said...

Very cool. I checked your blog and read your article. Looks good to me. But does it have to take 1:45? That's a lot of electricity. I've been able to boil things in less time in my lunch box cooker.