By Dawn S.
All of the “Campervan Cooking” posts on Escape Campervan’s website have great ideas and recipes to get you started. Here are some more to add to the list. But before I share them, I will have to agree with 3 things that others have already said:
- Add fresh fruits and veggies (choose sturdy, not soft varieties)
- Do a simple stir-fry or one-pot meal
- Plan out your meals so that you can use the food items in several different recipes. Examples: EGGS; scrambled eggs and bacon, fried egg sandwich, spinach cheese omelet, breakfast burrito with salsa and cheese, French toast)
So here we go, Dawn’s van life cooking tips and recipe ideas that are all easy to do using your campervan’s kitchen.
Things I Bring From Home
- GSI Outdoors Javapress French Press, 50-Ounce (also great for brewing loose leaf tea)
- Large thermos
- Reynolds Wrap Extra Heavy Duty Grill Bags (I can always find them on Amazon)
I make tomorrow morning’s coffee the night before. I store it in a large thermos so I can quickly warm it up in the morning if needed. Add some cappuccino mix to make it VANtastic!
For easy cleanup, spray skillet with cooking oil or drizzle with olive oil packet
It’s ok to stock up on nonperishable food items. Grab some boxes or cardboard flats for storage bins. Do plan to stop by a supermarket or farmers market every few days for fresh produce and perishable items so you have room in the fridge drawer.
Find toiletries, first aid items, small-sized canned goods, instant mashed potato pouches, snacks, condiments, and even frozen meat items for one dollar!
Liven Up Prepared Pasta Sauce
Add sautéed onions, peppers, zucchini, fully cooked chicken breast, Italian seasoning, and parmesan cheese packet, and serve over your favorite pasta.
Tyson Grilled & Ready Fully-Cooked Chicken Breast Strips
Easy to thaw and add to salads, veggie wraps, cheese quesadillas, pasta, rice dishes, and stir-fry.
Stir in some trail mix, nut butter, or a honey packet.
I give my co-workers, who order lunch often, my condiment wish list, and they bring me their unused packets of olive oil, soy sauce, parmesan cheese, jelly, syrup, honey, mayo, mustard, ketchup, Barb-Q sauce, taco sauce, hot sauce, vinegar, and salad dressing to use on my van trip.
Keep It Simple
Pick up some supermarket deli-prepared favorites, like potato salad, cole slaw, chicken salad, fried chicken (is cold fried chicken just a southern thing?) rotisserie chicken, prepared green salads, and sandwiches to enjoy when you get to camp.
If you are new to van camping, I recommend that you start off with a simple and easy meal plan until you find your groove.
These first three dinner ideas are what John calls “Backpacker meals” and I keep a few on hand to make a quick dinner on those nights when it’s raining, or we get to camp late.
- Easy Dinner Idea: Tuna Curry Couscous or Salmon Curry Quinoa – cook couscous according to package directions, add curry powder to taste, stir in a can of tuna, add a drizzle of olive oil (and hot sauce if you like it spicy). Or warm up fully cooked quinoa pouch, stir in salmon pouch, and curry powder to taste, add a drizzle of olive oil
- Easy Dinner Idea: Knorr Rice Sides and canned chicken breast (AVOID the Knorr Pasta Sides – they don’t turn out as well, and are a real bear to clean up)
- Easy Dinner Idea: Stovetop stuffing and canned chicken breast, add a drizzle of olive oil.
- Lunch Idea: Turkey and spinach wrap with hummus (or mustard/mayo packet)
- Lunch Idea: Nut butter, jelly, and trail mix/granola, spread on wrap/tortilla, roll up and enjoy.
- Easy No-Cook Breakfast Ideas: Bananas, apples, yogurt and granola, pastries, Cliff bars, breakfast bars, cereal, and milk
- Easy Breakfast Idea: Cheese Grits – cook instant butter flavored grits according to package directions, stir in garlic powder, salt and black pepper, parmesan cheese packet (or any other cheese that you have).
Okay, now that you are settling into your van life routine, here are some other recipes and ideas:
- Shrimp Stir Fry: use a thawed bag of frozen shrimp (peeled, deveined, tail off), chopped onion, red and green peppers, mushrooms, zucchini. Start with veggies first, stir fry in skillet with a little oil on medium/high heat, then add shrimp for last 4-5 minutes ‘til pink, season with soy sauce packets, serve over heated up rice pouch.
- Sausage and Veggie Skillet: sliced chicken sausage, zucchini, onion, pepper, mushrooms, warm in the skillet ‘til veggies are tender. Serve with a side of rice or instant mashed potatoes.
- Taco Salad: layer on plate tortilla chips, salad greens, black beans, (and/or canned roast beef, cooked ground turkey/beef) salsa, diced onion, sliced black olives, shredded cheese, and if you have it some diced tomatoes and sour cream, hot sauce packet.
- Chicken and Cheese Quesadillas: spray skillet with cooking oil, add chicken and/or cheese and salsa to one half of a tortilla, fold over, and fry on each side until toasty, cut into triangles and serve
- Tuna Melt: same as quesadilla above, but fill a tortilla with tuna, diced onion, and cheese, then fry on each side until toasty
- Black Beans and Rice: can of black beans (drained and rinsed) small can of fiesta corn (drained), can of Rotel and diced onion (or use salsa), fully cooked rice pouch, sliced turkey kielbasa. Sautee onion and kielbasa in a small bit of oil ‘til onion is tender, then stir in all other ingredients, add cheese if desired (use leftovers to make burritos for lunch the next day)
Happy meal planning, and bon appétit!