Go-To Meals in the Van

 
 

Cooking in the van has been a rollercoaster ride for us. In the fall, we were cooking on electric but were not connected up to the van’s alternator. That means that we were using a lot of energy to cook, but we weren’t getting enough into the van for all that cooking. So there were many days where we had cold meals, ate out, or just snacked all day instead of cooking. Since then, we have hooked the house batteries to the van’s alternator so we are charging significantly more and have had less of a problem with having enough power to cook. We have also switched to cooking on a propane cooktop for most of our meals (we still use the Instant Pot and blender though, so we aren’t completely off electric cooking).

Now that we are cooking regularly, we have some go-to meals that we make regularly (sometimes weekly or even daily) in the van as well as typically treat meals we like to make occasionally. Both of us love to cook, but we tend to make fairly simple meals, batch cook certain foods or meals, and follow a meal plan to keep us eating healthy. Because of this, we thought it might be interesting to share what we make in the van for you to make either in your home on wheels or even in your stationary kitchen.

Smoothies

We have a blender in the van that we have started to use almost daily in the past few weeks. The fridge we have in the van has two compartments and they have separate temperature controls. This means we can have both be a fridge or freezer or we can have one side be a fridge and the other be a freezer. Up until the last few weeks, we kept both sides as a fridge, but since switching to having both a fridge and freezer, we have been making so many smoothies. Ben prefers a smoothie with banana, blueberries, greens, peanut butter, and protein powder while I make mine with a variety of fruits (I use a mixed bag and switch up fruits regularly), greens, peanut butter or coconut oil and protein powder.

Precook rice or potatoes to saute with protein and veggies

We like to cook up a week’s worth of potatoes, sweet potatoes, brown rice, or some other grain in the Instant Pot. With the cooked carbs, we mix and match them with different veggies and cooked proteins and just saute everything up in the pan together. These are usually really fast meals to make! The protein is usually something that we bought precooked like shredded carnitas or sausage from Costco and we will use veggies like broccoli, bell pepper, or zucchini.

 
 

Pizza

This is something we discovered in the last two months and quickly became a habit of ours (a bad habit for a while, once in a while is okay, but regularly is a bit much). We buy pre-made pizza dough, roll it out with a large mason jar, and cook it in a pan on one side. After the bottom has started to brown and is cooked, we flip the pizza, top the cooked side with cheese, place a lid on the pan, and let the pizza finish cooking and the cheese melt. We saute meat and veggies separately and put them on top of the pizza after cooking. It really doesn’t take long at all and is so good! Who knew you could make pizza without an oven?!

Popcorn

This is not a meal, but a go-to snack of ours. Of course, we could cook it in a pot but instead, we buy large bags of precooked popcorn from Costco to have as an easy snack while driving or working. It comes in so many different flavors and is healthier than chips!

 
 

Protein Pancakes

This is Ben’s all-time favorite breakfast in the van. And I make it for him most mornings (I tend to make breakfast and lunch and he usually makes dinner). We like to use Kodiak Cakes protein pancake mix, add in water and an egg, and cook like you would any other pancake recipe. Lately, I’ve also been grating in a small zucchini for some extra veggies in our day and it tastes great! On Ben’s pancakes, I add semi-sweet chocolate chunks while they’re cooking and for mine, I top them with lemon curd or dip them in maple syrup.


While not having an oven in the van has been an adjustment and means we can’t have certain foods homemade, we have made a point of finding delicious meals we can make. It has been a lot of fun to experiment with different ingredients and recipes to see how to most easily and efficiently make them in the van with what we have. Cooking was a hobby of ours before the van and we haven’t let our change in lifestyle change how much we enjoy cooking.