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5 Easy Camper Van Recipes to Cook on the Road

Fuel Your Road Trip With These Delicious and Simple Camper Van Recipes

Traveling in a camper van doesn’t have to mean you can’t eat well. In fact, one of the reasons nomads love the van life is the fact that they can cook what they like wherever they roam. That said, cooking in a van does require a bit of creativity, some getting used to, and the use of some camper van recipes. 

This article will detail some of the things to consider before attempting to put together a van life meal plan and then offer up some quick and easy camper van recipes. 

Let’s get started!

Camper Van Recipes: What to Look For

The recipes below are fantastic. That said, you might want to diversify your meal plans in the future. Let’s take a minute to touch on what makes a recipe a good van life recipe. 

Single-Dish Meals

One-pot and one-pan meals are always appreciated by vanlifers. This is because it’s difficult to store a large number of pots and pans. Not only that but finding places to set multiple dishes as you cook and then figuring out how to wash a huge load of dishes can be a huge hassle. 

Versatile Recipes

Versatile recipes allow vanlifers to use what they have on hand. Pasta and rice dishes are fantastic for this, as you can throw in whatever vegetables and meat you happen to have on hand. 

Few Refrigerated Ingredients

Some vanlifers don’t have refrigerators at all but instead rely on an ice chest to keep foods cold. Even if a van does have a fridge, it isn’t likely to be very big, making storing an abundance of cold foods difficult. For this reason, recipes that call for minimal cold ingredients are ideal. 

Cooking Method

Ovens are a rare breed in campervans. Likewise, vanlifers cannot fit a whole lot of extra cooking gadgets in their tiny homes. Meals that can be cooked on a stovetop or in a versatile small appliance such as an Instant Pot are perfect. 

How to Simplify Things

In addition to picking the right recipes, you can also simplify things for yourself by purchasing ingredients that make things easy. 

Pre-cut veggies are great when you don’t have a lot of counter space to cut them yourself, while pre-cooked meats are nice when you really just want to throw everything in one pot or pan and call it good. 

Consider pre-mixed spice packets, as they allow you to season food without carrying dozens of little bottles of spices. These dry goods also help ensure you can always create some sort of meal using whatever meats, cheese, eggs, and/or veggies you happen to have.

Go-To Food Ideas

It’s also good to have a few super easy go-to food ideas. Keep the items needed for these foods on hand. That way, if you don’t feel like putting together a full meal, you can still eat something.

Some easy go-to food options include:

  • Salads
  • Burritos
  • Quesadillas
  • Wraps
  • Sandwiches
  • Rice and beans
  • Canned soup

Camper Van Recipes

Now let’s move on to the actual camper van recipes. These recipes are super simple and quick to make, and they can be made on the stovetop. Additionally, many of these recipes are quite versatile, meaning you can toss in leftovers from the day before and give them a makeover. 

overnight oats in a mason jar, topped with fruit

Overnight Oats

The perfect vanlife breakfast–overnight oats–are basically no-cook oatmeal. Soak oats in milk overnight and wake up to a super nutritious, filling, and delicious breakfast that is ready to go. 

Ingredients
  

  • ½ cup of rolled oats
  • ½ cup milk
  • ¼ cup greek yogurt
  • 1 tbsp chia seeds
  • Sweetener of your choosing honey, maple syrup, etc.
  • Toppings if desired

Instructions
 

  • Combine the oats, chia seeds, yogurt, and sweetener.
  • Add the milk.
  • Let the oats sit in the fridge or a well-cooled ice chest in a mason jar with a well-sealed lid for at least two hours, but preferably overnight.
  • When the oats are done, top them with anything you like. This can include fruit, jam, peanut butter, chocolate chips, or pretty much anything else that sounds yummy.
mac and cheese in a bowl

3-Ingredient Mac and Cheese

Mac and cheese is always a delicious option. Most mac and cheese recipes are pretty simple, but this one only requires 3 ingredients (okay, 5 if you include salt and water), is made in a single pot (you don’t even need a strainer), and it is extra super tasty. 

Ingredients
  

  • 6 ounces of elbow macaroni
  • Salt
  • 6 ounces of evaporated milk
  • 6 ounces of grated cheddar cheese
  • Water

Instructions
 

  • Place macaroni in a saucepan with just enough water to cover it, along with a pinch of salt.
  • Over high heat, bring to a boil, stirring often.
  • Continue cooking and stirring for about six minutes until the water has been almost completely absorbed and the macaroni is almost fully cooked.
  • Add the evaporated milk and return to a boil.
  • Add cheese, reduce heat to low, and stir continuously for about two minutes until the cheese has melted and a creamy sauce remains.

Notes

This can be served on its own, or you can add steamed vegetables or pre-cooked meat to the mix.

Quick and Easy Chili

Chili is another vanlife go-to. This particular recipe can be made on the stove in a single pan, and aside from the meat, everything can be stored in the pantry. It can be made very quickly, but honestly, it’s better if left to simmer for an hour or more.

Ingredients
  

  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 3 cans of chili beans
  • 1 can tomato sauce
  • 1 packet of chili seasoning

Instructions
 

  • Brown the ground beef and use a strainer to rinse.
  • Put the meat back in the pan and place the pan on the stove over medium-low heat.
  • Add the chili beans, tomato sauce, and seasoning, and stir everything together.
  • Let simmer for at least 15 minutes. (As mentioned above, an hour or longer is preferable.)

Notes

This meal can be stretched by using corn chips and cheese to make chili pies, or it can be served with saltines, cornbread, or anything else you like to eat with chili.

Egg Fried Rice

A great option if you’re looking to use up some veggies and/or meat, egg-fried rice is super easy, super filling, and super delicious. Best of all, this meal is totally affordable, making it an excellent budget-friendly option. 

Ingredients
  

  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 4 lightly beaten eggs
  • tbsp soy sauce
  • 4 cups pre-cooked rice If you don’t have leftover rice, use Minute White Rice for an easy substitute.
  • Green onion sesame seeds, chopped vegetables, meat, or any other add-ins you like

Instructions
 

  • Put 1 tbsp oil in a wok (or large skillet) and heat over medium-high heat.
  • Add the eggs and scramble them.
  • When the eggs are about ¾ of the way cooked, add the remaining oil, the pre-cooked rice, and the vegetables.
  • Mix everything well.
  • Add soy sauce around the edge of the pan and mix well again.

Notes

You can top this rice recipe with green onions and eat it as-is if you like, or you can stir in pre-cooked meats and/or chopped vegetables when you add the rice to the eggs for a more complete meal.
pouring pizza sauce over dough in a cast iron skillet to make stove top pizza, another camper van recipe

Stovetop Pizza

Lastly, we must mention the stovetop pizza. Everyone craves a good pizza once in a while, and many vanlifers think they’re out of luck when this happens because they don’t have an oven. This is just not true. Stovetop pizza is a wonderful alternative that you should definitely try.

Ingredients
  

  • 1 cup warm water
  • 1¼- ounce packet of active dry yeast
  • 1 teaspoon white sugar
  • cups bread flour
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • Jar or pizza sauce
  • Grated mozzarella cheese
  • Toppings of your choosing

Instructions
 

  • Place warm water in a bowl and add yeast and sugar.
  • Mix and let stand for 10 minutes.
  • Add flour, oil, and salt to the bowl and beat until a smooth dough is formed. Let rest for five minutes.
  • Place a large cast iron skillet over medium-low heat.
  • On a floured surface, roll the pizza dough into a 12” circle.
  • Place the dough circle in the heated skillet and cover it with a lid.
  • After 3–4 minutes, turn the dough, replace the lid, and continue cooking for 2–3 minutes more.
  • Turn off the heat.
  • Flip the dough again, but leave it in the skillet.
  • Add your sauce, cheese, and toppings to the pizza dough and replace the lid to allow the cheese to melt.
  • When it’s done to your liking, serve and enjoy!

These are only a handful of all the amazing camper van recipes out there. Try these out, keep the ones you like, and see what other yummy vanlife meal ideas you can come up with!


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