Top tips for campervan cooking

April 29, 2024

7 minutes

One of the things that we love the most about camper van travel is having the freedom to explore new destinations and enjoy the beauty of nature, all whilst having the convenience of a mobile kitchen. Knowing that you can roam around without needing to worry about your nearest restaurant or cafe means that you can explore off the beaten track and experience a feeling of complete freedom on your camping holiday. 

Cooking in your camper van can be an exciting and enjoyable experience, providing a real sense of adventure that allows you to create delicious meals on the road. Whether you're a seasoned van lifer with years of camper van holidays, or just starting out, these top tips will help you to make the most of your camper van kitchen. We know that camper vans come in all different shapes and sizes - so whether you’ve got a van conversion with a larger, bespoke layout, or a smaller, custom conversion, we’ve got tips to help you create mouthwatering dishes wherever your adventures take you. 

Essential Camper van Cooking Equipment

Having the right cooking equipment is essential for camper van cooking success. While space may be limited in small camper van conversions, there are a few key items that should be in every camper van kitchen, if you’re looking for a van that provides more than a space to sleep in. Here are some essential pieces of equipment to consider:

Portable Gas Stove or Grill

If you’re looking to cook outdoors, a portable gas stove or grill is an absolute must-have. Opt for a compact, lightweight option that is easy to set up and pack away, and provides a reliable heat source for your cooking needs.

Reliable Cooler or Fridge

Taking your motorhome to sunnier climates? Or perhaps you’re looking to explore the UK during the summer. Either way, you’ll need a reliable cooler or fridge to store perishable food and keep it fresh during your travels. Consider the size and power source of the cooler or fridge to ensure it meets your needs, and fits well within the layout of your camper. 

Basic Cooking Utensils

Pack essential cooking utensils such as knives, chopping boards, pots, and pans. Opt for compact and lightweight options that are easy to store and clean.

Crockery and Cutlery

Alongside making sure that your kitchenware is safely stowed away, opt for melamine crockery and cutlery to avoid breakages whilst on the road. Melamine is durable, lightweight, and easy to clean, making it perfect for camper van cooking.

Plan and Prep Meals Ahead of Time

Planning, planning and more planning… We all know that good packing is the key to a successful camper van holiday. And meal planning is no exception! Proper meal planning and preparation are key to successful camper van cooking. Before your trip, take the time to plan what you’d like to eat, and create a shopping list. Choose simple and easy-to-make recipes that require minimal prep and cooking time.

Consider pre-cutting ingredients before your trip to save time and ensure easy access to ingredients while on the road. Store prepped ingredients in reusable containers to minimise waste and make meal assembly a breeze.

Additionally, choose versatile ingredients like canned foods, pre-cooked rice, and pasta that require minimal preparation and can be used in a variety of dishes. This will make cooking in your camper van more efficient and enjoyable, as well as saving your money for other adventures!

Keep Your Camper van Kitchen Clean and Organised

If you’re lucky enough to have a kitchen built into your camper van conversion, you’ll know how important it is to keep the space clean and organised for easy cooking and a pleasant living environment. 

With limited space, it's important to maximise efficiency and minimise clutter. Here are some tips for keeping your campervan kitchen clean and organised:

Wipe Down Surfaces After Each Use

After cooking, wipe down surfaces with disinfectant wipes to keep your kitchen clean and free from bacteria. This will also help prevent cross-contamination, and keep cooking odours at bay when it’s time to hit the hay. 

Use Non-Stick Liners

To make clean-up easier, consider using non-stick liners on your cooking surfaces. These liners prevent food from sticking and make cleaning a breeze.

Have Cleaning Supplies On Hand

Keep a small dustpan and brush in your camper van to quickly clean up spills or messes. Also, ensure you have dish soap, sponges, and tea towels for washing dishes and keeping your kitchen tidy.

Properly Store Food and Cooking Equipment

Organise your food and cooking equipment to maximise space and prevent clutter. Use storage containers and organisers to keep everything in its place and easily accessible.

Adapt Your Cooking to Different Locations and Weather

When cooking in a camper van, it's important to adapt your cooking to different locations and weather conditions. Consider the altitude, temperature, and available resources when planning your meals. Here are some tips for adapting your cooking to suit your destination:

High Altitude Cooking

If you're camping at high altitudes, adjust your cooking times and temperatures accordingly. Boiling water may take longer, and food may cook faster due to the thinner air. Experiment with different cooking methods and recipes to find what works best in high altitudes.

Cold Weather Cooking

In cold weather conditions, plan for warm and hearty meals that can help keep you warm while cooking and eating. Soups, stews, and hot drinks are great options for cold weather cooking. Invest in a portable stove, slow cooker or hot plate suitable for cold weather conditions.

Utilise Outdoor Cooking Options

There’s nothing quite like cooking outside on a beautiful sunny day, especially when you’re surrounded by nature. Take advantage of outdoor cooking options like campfires and portable grills. 

Cooking outdoors not only adds a fun and rustic element to your meals but also keeps the cooking odours outside your camper van.

Keep Your Meals Simple and Flavourful

Simplicity is the key to successful camper van cooking. Choose easy-to-make recipes that require minimal ingredients and preparation. Here are some tips for keeping your meals simple, without compromising on flavour: 

Use Versatile Ingredients

Opt for versatile ingredients that can be used in multiple dishes. This reduces the number of ingredients you need to bring along and simplifies meal planning. Herbs and spices are great for adding flavour to your meals and can be used in various recipes.

One-Pot Meals

One-pot meals are perfect for camper van cooking as they require minimal cleanup and are easy to prepare - aka, more time for exploring! Consider dishes like stir-fries, pasta dishes, and casseroles that can be cooked in a single pot or pan.

Take Advantage of Local Produce

Whether we’re at home in the UK, or exploring abroad, one of our favourite things to do whilst travelling is exploring the local food options. Think: local markets, roadside stalls and small businesses to source delicious local produce. Incorporating local ingredients into your meals adds a unique touch and enhances the flavour of your dishes.

Embrace Outdoor Cooking

Take advantage of the outdoor setting and embrace outdoor cooking methods like grilling and barbecuing. Cooking over an open flame adds a smoky and delicious flavour to your meals.

To sum up, camper van cooking doesn’t have to be restrictive - it’s actually a great way to sample delicious local ingredients whilst enjoying the freedom of the open road.  By following these top tips, you can make the most of your camper van kitchen and create memorable culinary experiences during your adventures. Bon appetit!

Looking to purchase a camper with a kitchen on board? Our AddVenture van, a bespoke Fiat Ducato van conversion, comes with custom elements on board, including a kitchen with everything you need to create meals on the go. Check it out here.