If you’re going to spend a lot of time traveling in a van, it’s critical to keep things as basic as possible because you’ll be living in such a small place. Realistically, wonderful home-cooked food and van life meals don’t have to be mutually exclusive. There are plenty of excellent meals that can be cooked on the road with a little tweaking and some simple van life culinary techniques.
Cooking in a van may limit your access to water, fridge, and even heat. Naturally, some van life kitchens come with refrigerators, sinks, and even ovens. The underlying issues, however, remain the same.
So here are 7 kitchen hacks for living an easy vanlife that make your small kitchen so much easier to use!
1. One-Pot Meals
It’s preferable if there’s as little mess as possible. When you live in a van, you don’t always have endless access to water, a dishwasher, or a lot of space to clean up. Make a list of one-pot miracles to save yourself the trouble of washing up any more pots than necessary. Jambalaya, risotto, chili, curry, and stews are just a few examples of foods that can be made in one pot.
2. Keep a Spray Bottle with Soap and Water
This is an excellent technique to better manage your water consumption. Fill a small spray bottle with water and soap, like this one. Keep it near your sink so you can reach it quickly when you need to wash something. Scrub the plate or whatever you’re cleaning with a couple of squirts of the soapy water mixture. After that, all you have to do is rinse it with fresh water and you’re done!
3. Switch to veggies from meat
You don’t have to become a full-fledged vegetarian or vegan the moment you get into your van, but cutting less on meat will simplify your cooking procedure and reduce the number of dishes you use, saving you time, space, and water. To avoid foodborne infections, separate cutting boards, dishes, and utensils are frequently used for storing and preparing meat items. When making a vegetarian or plant-based meal, you can typically get away with using just one cutting board, prep dish, knife, and saucepan. This saves space in your kitchenette as well as water while cleaning up.
4. Use Cast Iron Cookware
Because of the heat qualities of cast iron, you can make a dutch oven on the stovetop with a cast-iron pot with a lid (or even two pots), giving you more options in the kitchen. When it comes to cleaning cast iron, veterans know that little is more. After each usage, simply wipe clean the pan or pot. If they’re particularly filthy, a tiny bit of warm soapy water might suffice. Cast iron has a non-stick surface by nature. Cast iron, unlike other non-stick cookware, will not lose its non-stick properties over time, and metal utensils can be used with it. Finally, food tastes better when it’s cooked on iron.
5. Flexible Items That Take Up Less Space
Some things still work the same way but take up less space, which is the best of both worlds! This collapsible colander is an excellent choice. A typical colander takes up a lot of room and is difficult to store. This one, on the other hand, folds totally flat.
Because the silicone cups are so flexible, they’re ideal for squeezing into one of the open containers in our upper cabinets. Another great space-saving option is these flexible cutting boards! Cutting boards made of wood or plastic are less bulky.
6. Spice Is essential for Van Life Cooking
Spices are the simplest way to improve your van life cuisine and bring the heat to your van life meals. Spices take up very little space and can turn regular food into something unique. You don’t need all of the spices, but cumin, oregano, paprika, cayenne pepper, turmeric, and salt and pepper are an excellent place to start.
Make sure you have a sturdy spice rack, some plastic containers for your spices, and some shock cable because the spices are often the first to go when you hit a bump!
7. Keep a Portable Fridge/Thermoelectric coolers in the Van Life Kitchen
A 12-volt fridge and freezer with a compressor is the finest option for storing cold items if you have the space and the finances. These car fridges use very little power (less than 5 watts at the maximum draw, but they only use power when they need it) and can keep things quite cold for as long as you have energy. However, they are pricey.
If you’re on a budget, thermoelectric coolers can be found for roughly a tenth of the price of a traditional refrigerator. These “cool boxes” (which also have a heat function) are extremely inefficient and consume a lot of energy (5 watts all the time). They only keep things cold that come into contact with the side, and they are readily broken.
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