A Vanlife Kitchen (food on the road!)

One of the more challenging aspects of living in a van is ensuring that we both eat natural, healthful foods whilst on the road, with limited space, a small budget, and sometimes unfamiliar ingredients. I am a great believer in the power of the right foods to heal and restore, and it has proven a super interesting and enjoyable task, getting creative with ingredients and cooking up a storm whilst using only one small butane stove. Here are a few little tips and tricks, together with some information on ingredients, that we’ve found wildly useful in our quest to eat fulfilling and nutritional meals on our adventure.

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A few examples of meals:

Breakfast

– Oats in Almond Milk with Banana, Coconut, and Cashew or Peanut Butter.
– Chia pudding.
– Rye Bread with Nut Butter and fruit.
– Peppermint tea.

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Lunch

– Falafel Pita with Tomatoes, Salad and Houmous
– Avocado toast
– Pancakes.
– Almond and Banana smoothies

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Dinner

– Sweet potato and butternut squash stove-top stew with coconut.
– Pasta with peppers, cucumber, garlic and tofu.
– Lentil vegetable soup with mushroom couscous.
– Vegan Alfredo pasta

Always served with a salad, normally avocado, grape and cherry tomato.

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Dessert

– Poached pears with coconut cream, dark chocolate, and almonds.
– Camomile or Peppermint tea.
– A bowl of blueberries!

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We have one of our three under-bed drawers dedicated to dried, and canned, food. Here’s a list of some of the stuff you might find:

– Canned chickpeas.
– Canned lentils.
– Vegetable soup. (Amy’s Kitchen)
– Couscous.
– Polenta.
– Pearl Barley.
– Ratatouille.
– Canned pears.
– Green beans.
– Sweetcorn.
– Pasta.
– Rice.
– Chia.

Along with our stored food, we try to make sure to always have a variety of fresh fruit and vegetables in the van, the best of which have been local and seasonal. In Morocco we lucked out and bought many local fruits and vegetables for very low prices. Our favourites are squash, which keep for a long time, tomatoes, salads, onions, garlic, apples and pears.

We also have a drawer up front for snacks, some chocolate, Clif Bars, and mostly dried fruits, nuts and seeds.

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Special mentions

For keeping up on awesome healthy fats, my favourite foods have been:

Peanut Butter

Finding decent Peanut Butter in Europe is rather a nuisance. We have stocked up on Meridian Peanut Butter, on Amazon, and found a few bio stores that sell sugar free peanut butter, but for the majority of supermarkets, this isn’t something that can easily be found. And it’s super pricey. Saying that, peanut butter really has been incredibly useful, especially with keeping up calories when not feeling a little under the weather, or, if, like me, you eat a mostly vegan diet. Peanut Butter with pears, on toast, in smoothies, you name it – my ultimate comfort food!

Houmous

Make houmous! In parts of Europe, houmous is available, and in others, not so much. The solution, make your own! We have a tiny low wattage blender that we plug into our leisure battery, just take a can of chickpeas, some lemon juice, salt, raw garlic and tahini, and blitz! More super important healthy fats.

And seeds! Seeds and nuts on everything! My favourites are sliced almonds, cashews (which are fantastic blended) and pumpkin seeds.

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Oils

We use coconut oil, with it’s myriad of healing properties and culinary uses, and we also use olive oil, because it’s super easy to find, and affordable.

Herbs

We use Herbamare, Turmeric, for it’s awesome health giving properties, and Oregano and Thyme.

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Cooking on the road has proven challenging (but fun), and with that challenge comes a greater appreciation for the food you are eating, an increased desire for variety with limited cooking methods available, and has allowed us an interesting insight into the local cuisine of the countries we’ve travelled in, buying our food not at restaurants, but at supermarkets, little shops, and farmers markets. I’ve been putting together a collection of recipes, to start sharing, and perhaps compile into an ebook. More on this soon!!

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2 Comments

  1. You have some good ideas for food. Dry ingredients like pasta, rice, flour and couscous are essential, have a long shelf life and easy to carry with you. I can’t add to your list other than volunteering to do jobs on farms in return for fruit and veggies.

  2. A 12 volt blender, WHAT?!?!?! you have to tell me NOW where you got this we absolutely need one! We had a fridge in the van up to a few weeks ago and that was SUCH a lifesaver, but the darn thing went and broke, so now we have to fix a place to fix it in Mexico.

    Love your culinary selection. 🙂

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