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Mastering Meal Plans for Your Van Trips

From Prep to Plate: A Guide to Efficient and Flavorful On-the-Go Dining

Creating meal plans for your van trip is a little different than your brick-and-mortar meals. Several things are obvious, like not having a pantry or refrigerator to store a week’s worth of meals. Other meal prep things may not be top of mind because you are so used to having certain things at your fingertips.

Maybe there are certain condiments and spices you always have at home but not in your camper van. Or maybe you always use a specific baking dish or pan you don’t have room to carry in your home on wheels.

You really must think through each meal you plan on making on your van trip, or you will find yourself without an important item. Here are some things you can do to create successful meal plans for your van trips.

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Meal Plans Without Refrigeration

If you have a refrigerator in your van, it may not be very large. Your refrigerator will be filled with cool drinks, basics like milk, eggs, and condiments. You barely have room to add extra items for meal plans throughout your trip. The fewer refrigerated items you can purchase, the better.

If you have a freezer with your refrigerator, maybe there are items you can freeze for the start of your trip and thaw later for a meal. Try to substitute items in your meal plans that don’t need refrigeration.

Meal Plans Without Lots of Ingredients

The more ingredients each meal plan has, the more storage you are going to need to find. And as mentioned above, refrigerated items add an extra complication. When you put together your complete menu, go through the items and see what you can substitute. Maybe there are items you can combine or omit if they are not critical.

Also, compare items across your different meals. Is there something you can use in two different dishes instead of bringing two different items? Do a little search online. There are many suggestions on items that can be substituted with others. This may reduce the number of ingredients you bring along.

Meal Plans With Available Ingredients

One way to create meal plans for your van trip is to plan out the menu, but don’t purchase all the ingredients upfront. If you try this, be sure not to plan menus with non-native items you may not be able to find later. Think about the area you are going to and try to plan your future meal needs according to what might be available in the area. Buying local is a great way to support the places you visit too!

Meals That Don’t Heat Up the Van

Or vice versa. If you are going to a cold climate, think about foods that will be nice and warm and contribute to warming your van. If you are traveling to someplace warm, think about cool foods you can prepare. Or better yet, enjoy planning meals you can cook outdoors.

One Pot Van Meals

When planning out your meals, it is also as important to consider the cookware. You’ll need the right cooking utensils, pans, and pans. And you need the necessary dishware to be able to eat your meals.

If you can prepare a meal in one pot, that makes for a great meal plan. If you don’t want to do a lot of dishes, paper products are a good option. Especially if you have a fire pit, you can dispose of them without adding to your trash.

When planning your van meals, look across your menu and see what items can serve dual purposes. Never bring a waffle maker if you can’t use it to cook several different types of meals! (Or unless you plan to eat waffles every day).

Prepping Van Meals in Advance

You might want to think about the weight of the items you are putting together as part of your meal plan. Some items can be prepped before you leave, and you can leave weight behind.

Remove extra packaging. Cut up fruits and vegetables and leave the excess behind if you are able. Select lightweight pans (or even disposable aluminum) so you are not adding excess weight to your ride.

Meals as Part of the Van Life Experience

When planning meals, it’s not just about efficient storage or using minimal and lightweight gear. Think of meals as part of the van trip experience. Engage the traveling crew in whipping up something fun together. If you’re traveling solo, treat yourself to a favorite meal, maybe cooked over a campfire. Be adventurous – find out what’s special about the place you’re visiting and try to recreate a local dish. Shop for ingredients at the local grocery store and make a memorable meal that’s tied to your travel destination. It’s all part of the journey.

What are your go-to strategies for meal planning? Share your tips, and let’s make our meals an exciting part of our journeys. Your taste buds deserve an adventure too!

This post may contain affiliate links or mention our own products, please check out our disclosure policy here.

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