How to Eat Healthy, Tasty Meals on the Road
By Alex McClintock (Twitter: @axmcc) & Sarah Brown
Living in a van doesn’t mean you have to eat chips, hot dogs and canned chili con carne for weeks. It’s quite possible to eat balanced and tasty meals on the road, though it does take a little bit of extra effort. We did it for two weeks and this is what we learned.
You can eat fresh fruit and vegetables in the van
You have a fridge. You can put fruit and vegetables in said fridge (though you might want to turn it down a little if you don’t want them to get all iced up).
The trick is to choose versatile and flavourful options that you can use across several meals. Spring onions and fresh herbs go in everything. Bell peppers and kale (sorry, but it’s true) can be used cooked or raw. And show me something that is not improved by that addition of an avocado.
Go pre-flavoured and pre-cooked
In the non-van world, we probably wouldn’t be caught dead eating flavoured easy-cook rice, but on the road it’s a saviour. Rather than carrying a whole bunch of herbs and spices, you get a little freeze-dried sachet of flavour. Sure, it’s a little saltier than is ideal, but you need to replenish your minerals after all that hiking, right?
Also handy are canned options. I’m not talking canned cheeseburgers or spaghetti here, but rather canned ingredients. Canned beans are great, and with the addition of onion, chili and spices make a delicious and nutritious meal. Canned vegetables go well in salads or mixed into rice. Canned tuna is the ultimate protein add-on.
Use compact flavour add-ins
Finally, save your sanity by bringing a few items that don’t take up much space but can really jazz up a boring meal. Don’t leave home without garlic (the OG flavour provider), chili flakes, hot sauce (we went through two and a half bottles in two weeks) and soy sauce.
Example Recipe: Healthy Van Nachos
1 medium pack of corn chips
1 tbsp cooking oil
1 tin of black beans
1 spring onion
1 clove of garlic
1 avocado (or more if you’re obsessed)
Half a fresh jalapeno
2 fresh tomatoes
Salt and pepper
All the hot sauce
- Chop the spring onion, garlic, jalapeno and coriander. You can do this finely or roughly, whatever your patience/hunger levels will accommodate
- Heat a pot on the stove and add the oil, garlic, half the chopped spring onion and jalapeno (you want to save the rest for the guac!)
- Once these are fragrant add in your tin of black beans
- Stir these bad boys up until they are thicc and creamy
- Meanwhile, roughly chop the tomatoes and make the guac. If you are some kind of pleb that hasn’t made guac before, then all you need to do is cut open your avos and dump the insides into a bowl. Add the rest of the chopped spring onion, jalapeno, coriander, salt, pepper and all the juice from the lime. Mash
- Turn off the beans. DO NOT LET IT STICK — that is a van life nightmare
- Now we arrange – grab a plate and artfully arrange your corn chips for max Instagram likes. Add a big dollop of beans on top, sprinkle over your fresh tomato and the cheese, don’t forget the cheese! We love the cheese. Throw some guac on top of that. Consume this epic beast of a meal and watch the sunset while getting eaten alive by mosquitoes because who doesn’t love the great outdoors