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By Carly Eisley

Winter is a great time to get out and explore in an Escape campervan.  Solitude, beautiful sights, winter sports….  what’s not to love?  Oh yeah – cooking outside.  Sure, you could eat pre-made, heat and serve foods, but there are plenty of freshly made meals that are short on prep time and full of flavor to make winter campervan cooking more enjoyable.  Bundle up, put some gloves on, and use these meal ideas to have you noshing in the comfort of your van’s cozy interior in no time.

Ramen

This good old camping standby is a perfect winter campervan meal.  It’s quick, easy, filling, and customizable to fit just about any diet and food preference.  Starving and in a hurry?  Throw the standard packet of noodles and flavor powder into some boiling water and you’ll be eating in minutes.  

For a slightly more adult (but still quick and easy) version, cook up the protein of your choice with some veggies in the pot.  Add noodles and broth (or water and the flavor packet), heat up to cook the noodles, and enjoy!  Add some garnishes – a cooked egg, some chopped herbs, hot sauce, chopped peanuts, etc, etc, for a hearty, cozy meal.   Cook everything in the same pot to save time on cooking and cleanup.

Campsite Ramen (vegetarian version):

  • Ramen noodle package (at least one per person)
  • Broth of your choosing (or the flavor packet from the ramen mixed in water)
  • Ginger (buy frozen cubes of minced ginger, or ginger paste in the fresh herb isle if you don’t want to chop/grate fresh ginger root on the road)
  • Garlic (pre-minced is the easy way to go here)
  • Chopped mushrooms
  • chopped tofu (baked tofu, available in the grocery store next to the regular tofu, is a great addition here)
  • chopped/sliced bell pepper
  • sliced zucchini
  • handful of spinach

Put a little oil in the pan and heat the garlic and ginger up some.  Add in the tofu and veggies if you want them softened up some and sauté a little .  Add the broth and noodles and cook according to the package.  Add in spinach/greens at the end of cooking to wilt them.   Top with a cooked egg and a squeeze of sriracha and enjoy!

Breakfast Scramble

Another one pan meal that serves up a hot meal in a hurry, an egg or tofu scramble is a great meal any time of the day.  Sauté your choice of veggies and meat (or vegetarian meat substitute – I like the tempeh “bacon”).  Add scrambled egg (lazy tip – skip scrambling them in a bowl, just crack the eggs right into the pan and scramble them around while cooking.  Even easier – buy an egg white carton and just pour them on in).  

For a vegan option, skip the egg and substitute crumbled firm tofu and some spices (turmeric, curry powder, chili powder, whatever you like!).  Wrap your scramble up in a tortilla with some cheese and black beans for a breakfast burrito – delicious, and portable!

Pasta

After a long day of cold weather recreating, a big bowl of pasta really hits the spot.  Simple to make and easy to eat, what’s not to love?  Boil the pasta, drain the water, and add in your sauce and a hefty sprinkle of cheese… boom!  Dinner is served.   Pre-cooked meatballs, sautéed ground turkey or beef, or some vegetarian grounds or sausage add an extra protein and flavor boost.   Mix in some veggies for a nice well-rounded dinner in a flash.

Stir Fry

Continuing on the one-pot wonder theme, a stir fry is one of the most versatile winter campervan cooking meals you can make.  In cold weather, the last thing you want to do is spend a lot of time on food prep.  Buy a bag of fresh pre-chopped stir fry veggies and just dump them right in the pan to avoid frozen fingers.  Add in some protein – thawed out frozen shrimp, chicken, tofu – whatever you like!  Most grocery stores carry seasoned baked tofu, which is an easy and tasty vegetarian add-on (Trader Joe’s sriracha baked tofu is a favorite in our van).  

Finish off with some stir-fry sauce (many tasty pre-made options out there to choose from) or mix up a fresh peanut sauce (recipe below).  Serve over some rice, noodles, or some type of grain mix (buy pre-cooked to save time and cleanup – there are tons of pre-cooked grain mix packets or frozen pre-cooked rice options) for an easy, hearty meal.  

Easy peanut sauce, courtesy of  Minimalist Baker:(https://minimalistbaker.com/5-ingredient-peanut-sauce/)

  • 1/2 cup salted creamy peanut butter* (or almond butter or sunflower butter)
  • 2-3 Tbsp soy sauce or tamari 
  • 1-2 Tbsp maple syrup (or other sweetener of choice)
  • 1 tsp chili garlic sauce (or sriracha, chili flakes, whatever hot sauce you like – adjust to preferred spice level)
  • 2-3 Tbsp lime juice
  • ~1/4 cup water (to thin)

Put all ingredients into a jar and shake up to mix.  

Oatmeal

Oatmeal is one of my favorite cold weather breakfasts – thick, hearty, and piping hot.  Yes, you could just heat up some water and dump in some instant oatmeal packets – nothing wrong with that when you are hungry and in a hurry!  

If you’ve got a little more time, steel cut oats are where it’s at.  These take much longer to cook;  if you have the time in the morning, spend the 30 minutes cooking them up over the stove while you enjoy your coffee.  In chilly “I don’t want to stand over the stove for 30 minutes” weather, cut down on cooking time by soaking the oats overnight and heating them up in the morning.  

Overnight steel cut oats:

  • 2:1 ratio of liquid to oats (I like almond milk, but you can use water, regular milk, whatever you like) – 2 cups liquid to 1 cup oats is usually good for two people.  Mix up in a jar or container and let sit overnight
  • Heat up oats in the morning, for about ~10 minutes (or until hot and at your desired consistency)
    • add a little extra liquid if needed when heating, to thin out the oats
    • add in some fresh cranberries when heating
  • Top with chopped nuts, maple syrup, chopped banana, blueberries, drizzle of nut butter
  • Top with a fried egg for some extra protein;  add a little sriracha on the egg for a spicy/sweet contrast

Nachos

Yes, nachos can be an entire meal.  And don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.  The key is to top those chips with veggies and an actual protein source for some nutritional value on top of your crunchy treats.    

  • Bag of chips of your choice
  • Protein (ground beef, ground turkey, tofu, veggie crumbles)
  • Taco seasoning
  • Chopped mushrooms
  • Chopped olives (just grab a can)
  • Pre-shredded lettuce
  • Cheese
  • Can of Beans (pinto, black beans, kidney beans – whatever you like!)
  • Salsa
  • Pre-chopped jalapenos
  • Avocado or Pre-made guacamole packets

Sauté your meat/crumbles and mushrooms together with beans and taco seasoning.  Put chips in a bowl and top with the meat/bean mixture, olives, lettuce, cheese, salsa, guac, and jalapenos.  Add a little sour cream and hot sauce on top if you like (the squeezable sour cream is perfect for the van refrigerator) and enjoy!

“Pot Pie”

Ok, so you definitely won’t be making a true pot pie quickly on the camp stove.  But you can get the same feel with a few campsite modifications that make it easy to serve up hot comfort food on a cold night.  

  • Boneless, skinless chicken breasts, chopped (or rotisserie chicken if you want to use pre-cooked chicken)
    • For a vegetarian version, substitute tempeh, tofu, fake chicken strips, or just add extra veggies
  • 1 can cream of chicken or cream of mushroom soup
  • Veggies (a bag of frozen veggies that you like would work fine, don’t worry if they thaw out some in the fridge) or some fresh chopped mushrooms, carrots, celery, and peas
  • cooked biscuits, heated up

Sauté chicken and veggies until cooked through.   Add the soup and cook for an additional 5-ish minutes.  Serve over biscuits.  

I hope these ideas help you to enjoy your winter campervan cooking experience.  Escape Campervans are an amazing experience in all weather, so start thinking about booking your winter Escape and get that shopping list ready for some tasty meals on the road!

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