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3 Ways To Conquer Camper Van Cooking

The trick to cooking in a cramped camper van with no counter space is...not doing too much of it.

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The key, then, is to be prepared. Here are three quick cooking tips to help you get the most out of #VanLife!

1. Make Simple One-Pot Meals

Simple one-skillet dinners are the way to roll in a camper van. Here are a handful of 5-star, camper van-friendly recipes that call for a half-dozen or fewer ingredients. They cook in one pan, and they're ready in no time.

Kielbasa with Peppers and Potatoes

Option 2: Before you head out on your adventure, cook up a batch of white beans (or bring canned beans), add them to a skillet with sausages, slices of red pepper, and maybe a handful of kale.

Kielbasa with Peppers and Potatoes

Photo by abapplez

Salsa Chicken

So easy. This recipe calls for taco seasoning mix and salsa. Make tacos one night and this deliciously different one-skillet dinner the next.

Salsa Chicken

Photo by Rock_lobster

Tuna Mac

A box of mac and cheese and a can of tuna. The recipe calls for baking it in the oven, but it's a winner in the skillet, too. Instead of topping with bread crumbs, just add a handful of crushed potato chips.

Tuna Mac

Photo by Molly

6 Can Chicken Tortilla Soup

Another simple but hearty recipe that requires absolutely no foods from the fridge. It you have a little extra taco seasoning mix on hand, sprinkle it into this soup!

Can Chicken Tortilla Soup

Photo by Paula

Artichoke and Sun-Dried Tomato Chicken

Canned artichoke hearts, prepared sun-dried tomato pesto, and a can of diced tomatoes with green chiles bring big flavors.

Artichoke and Sun-Dried Tomato Chicken

Photo by pomplemousse


Pro-Tip for Quicker Clean-up: Here's a great idea from Peace Vans in Seattle -- Bring along a squirt bottle full of water. When you're finished cooking, give your dirty dishes a quick spray and wipe with a paper towel. This simple trick makes washing dishes quick and easy.

Westy is Bestie

Dinner with a view in the Peace Van | Photo by Carl Hanson

2. Get Your Food to Multi-Task for You

If you’re cooking eggs, go hard-boiled. Hard-boiled eggs are easy to clean up, they store in their own individual wrappers, and you can eat them for breakfast, lunch (egg salad sandwich), snack (deviled eggs), or dinner (salad). For easy peeling, choose eggs that aren't fresh from the farm. Shells can seem glued to the whites of farm-fresh hard-boiled eggs. But give eggs a little time in the carton, and tiny pockets of air will form beneath the shells; these air pockets help the shell slip right off of less-fresh boiled eggs. They're also why older eggs float!

And while you’re boiling those eggs, toss in a few potatoes. Make potato salad. Add a couple of your hard-cooked eggs if you like.

At this point, if you're feeling peckish, you could pitch a few hot dogs into the hot water.

But wait, your hot water’s not done yet. It's still up for dish duty. Squeeze in some biodegradable camp dish-washing soap and make use of it while it's still hot.

3. Make Salads, the Camper-Van Cook's Best Friend

Surprising but true. Salads can be a camper van-friendly food. Particularly if you supplement simple greens with pickled vegetables, including pickled green beans, beets, asparagus, carrots. These pickled or fermented foods are self-contained and won’t bruise or go bad. They store with the dry goods, so they don’t take up valuable space in the fridge or ice chest. They're a simple way to eat your veggies on the road.

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To your simple salad of fresh greens and pickled veggies, add those hard-boiled eggs and a few slices of cold cooked potatoes. The sliced ham or turkey and cheese you brought for sandwiches will now give dinner a nice Cobb Salad sensibility.

Dress it all up with a super-simple olive oil (3 parts) and fresh lemon juice (1 part) dressing.

And don’t forget to bring a mix of roasted nuts. Top your fancy salads with them for a touch of healthy fats and protein. In the morning, mix them into yogurt with raisins. And they’re always great as a snack.


For more, check out our collection of Camping Recipes.


Get more cooking tips and awesome food finds.


Carl Hanson

About Carl Hanson

Carl will eat that. Share with him @CarlNo9 on Twitter.