3 Simple But Delicious Recipes for Camper Van Cooking
Below, we’ve included some notes on considerations when cooking in a camper van, as well as 3 of our favorite #vanlife recipes—one for each meal of the day! Enjoy!
What to Know About Cooking in a Sprinter Van
Cooking in a camper van can be awesome, as long as you know your limitations and how to work around them. Most vans come equipped with either a one or two-burner stovetop with no oven, and limited counter space. While many vans will include a sink with a faucet for doing dishes, it’s usually a good idea to try to conserve water by avoiding a huge mess.
With these considerations in mind, you can still make some great dishes in your camper van kitchen!
Breakfast: Oatmeal, Your Way
One great way to maximize what your Sprinter van kitchen has to offer is to prep some food in advance. If you’re going to break out the pots and pans, you might as well make some extra portions for later meals on the go.
When it comes to breakfast in a van, most people want something that will fuel them throughout their day, without taking too long to prepare. A healthy, quick breakfast gets you out on your daily adventures with energy and time to spare.
One of our favorite #vanlife breakfasts is oatmeal, because you can mix together dry ingredients beforehand, then customize it just how you want when it comes time to eat breakfast.
- 4 cups rolled oats
- 1/4 cup coconut milk powder (optional, but makes your oatmeal more creamy!)
- 1/4 cup brown sugar
- Pinch of salt
- Optional: Dried fruit, nuts, etc.
Mix all dry ingredients in a resealable plastic bag and store. When it’s breakfast time, boil some water, add your desired amount of dry ingredients to a bowl, and add hot water slowly until you reach your preferred consistency.
Once you’ve mixed your hot water in with your oatmeal, you have a “base” bowl that can be built upon in any number of ways. Some favorite additions include:
- Fresh fruit, such as apple slices, berries, etc.
- Brown sugar, maple syrup, honey, or sweetener of your choice
- Seeds and nuts, such as: chia seeds, almonds, sesame seeds, walnuts, etc.
- Chopped chocolate, dried coconut, and other dried fruits
Mixing your dry oatmeal ingredients beforehand saves time and dishes, and allowing everyone to make their own custom bowl ensures that the whole family will have a breakfast they will love! Plus, oatmeal is a nutrient-dense food that will give you plenty of power for outdoor adventures. It’s easy to make gluten-free (using gluten-free oats, of course), vegetarian, or vegan.
Lunch: Veggie Wraps
Lunch in a camper van tends to be had on-the-go and during quick pit stops in between adventures. We like to eat something filling but not too heavy, with plenty of nutrition to fuel us for time spent outside. One of our favorite vanlife lunch recipes is these simple veggie wraps, made with hummus and your choice of sliced vegetables. Check out the recipe below:
- Tortillas or wraps of your choice
- Thinly sliced carrots, cucumbers, radish, red bell peppers, onion
- Baby spinach or arugula
- Avocado, thinly sliced
- Fresh, thinly sliced tomatoes
Making these wraps is pretty simple! You can tune the ingredient quantities to your needs, depending on how many mouths you have to feed. Add a generous spread of hummus down the centerline of each tortilla, add veggies, and wrap it up like a burrito! If you’re taking it on the go, tin foil and zip-lok bags may come in handy, and you may want to skip the avocado and tomato.
One great thing about these veggie wraps is their versatility. You can use whatever veggies, spread, and wraps you happen to have in the van. If you’d like to add meat such as shredded chicken, you can. Plus, they hold up great if you make them in the morning and take them out adventuring with you. Tip: Cut large quantities of the less perishable vegetables (everything but the avocado and tomato) beforehand, and store in a zip-lok bag to make this recipe even easier to make!
Dinner: Coconut Veggie Curry
Nothing beats a warm and hearty meal after a long day out exploring. We all know that ‘everything tastes better when you’re camping’, but this delicious and easy to make coconut curry doesn’t need much help. This recipe feeds 3-4 people when served over rice, and is a real crowd pleaser with kids and adults alike.
- 1 tbsp olive or coconut oil
- 1 carrot, thinly sliced
- 1 head of broccoli, cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces
- 1 head of cauliflower, cut into 1 1/2 inch pieces
- 1 yellow onion, diced
- 1 1/2 cups of snow peas, heads removed
- 1 can coconut milk
- 1 tbsp curry powder, plus more to taste (or curry paste, if you prefer)
- 1 cube of vegetable bouillon
- Small cube of ginger (3/4 of an inch or so), finely chopped
- 3 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Chili flakes (optional)
- Cashews and/or cilantro for garnish (optional)
Prepare all the vegetables. Heat oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add ginger, garlic, and onion, and cook, stirring occasionally, until onion is translucent. Add carrot, cauliflower, broccoli, and peas and cook for 5-7 minutes, or until softened slightly.
Add the curry powder or paste and stir until all the vegetables are coated. Pour in the coconut milk, and crumble the bouillon cube in. Bring to a simmer, reduce heat, and continue cooking for about 10 minutes, or until vegetables are cooked through.
Serve in bowls over rice. Garnish with cashews, cilantro, chili flakes, and salt and pepper, to taste.
This vegetable curry recipe is another delicious and versatile meal that is easy to make in most camper van kitchens. You can use just about any vegetable that you would put in a stir-fry, and you should feel free to substitute your favorite curry paste for the curry powder. With a short cooking time and just 2 pots used (including the one you’ll use to make rice), this meal is easy to make and a breeze to clean up.