Cooking in a caravan can be very similar to cooking inside a house and with the right equipment and knowing some simple tips, you can cook delicious and nutritious meals whilst out on tour.

The obvious differences of house cooking and van cooking are the limitations of size, storage, appliances and equipment. There are also hygiene and safety aspects that need to be taken into consideration. With that in mind you can cook delicious, exciting and nutritious food in your van.

You’ll need to learn how to install and operate your cooking equipment safely and learn how to ventilate harmful gasses and prevent lingering odours to say the least.

The obvious differences between house cooking and van cooking are the limitations of size, storage, appliances and equipment

Get it wrong then you could end up with damage to the interior of your van, and possibly even a very serious accident!

Hopefully these top tips will give you an insight into what is involved in making food on the road an extremely enjoyable part of motorhome, and campervan adventures.

1. Know your recipes

Read through your recipe before you get started. With two rings, two pans and limited water and gas.. whilst this is fine for a simple pasta and sauce dish you will need to be strategic and well organised to be more adventurous with your recipe.

Make sure what you have decided to cook is physically possible with your caravan resources. Pre-planning is key!

2. Check your water levels

Whilst it’s important to wash your hands after handling food, particularly raw meats and washing salad leaves for example, if you run that tap for too long you could well end up draining your tank in no time at all. From my experience and I’m sure many vanlifers will agree, sourcing water is one of the biggest inconveniences of Van Life!

Pre wash your leaves and vegetables before you start cooking, this will reduce the chance of you running out of water midway through cooking.

Use antibacterial hand wipes for cleaning your hands in between certain foods.

Reuse water when possible. Is there water left in your kettle? This would be ideal for rinsing your fruit and vegetables.

3. Ventilate your caravan

Cook with a window open

It’s imperative to ventilate your van properly whilst using gas burning equipment. Most gases when burnt will emit carbon dioxide and carbon monoxide and this can be extremely harmful to your health.

Aside from the harmful gases emitted from the equipment you also have to consider the cooking smells that linger afterwards. Cooking fish for example can linger for days afterwards and really get into your clothing and even your bedding etc.

Cook with a window open. Have an extractor fan or vent installed above your stove. Ensure your clothes are packed away safely in your storage compartments. If you cook in your van regularly, use an air freshener regularly. We love the natural ones!

4. Keep it clean

Living in a tiny home of course comes cooking in a tiny kitchen, with limited space for chopping and preparing.

Occasionally you’ll take a pan off the stove and need to place it somewhere and if you aren’t tidy and well organised this could be extremely dangerous!

Prepare your workspace prior to starting your cooking. Wash up anything in the sink before you start cooking. Make sure your pots and pans are easily accessible and nothing is going to fall out of an overhead cupboard mid way through cooking. Check your water level! Don’t cook in a messy van!

5. Check your power levels

It’s entirely possible to cook almost anything in a van but you will need to have the correct facilities to do so and these will require the essential power to run it.

Mains powered ovens, microwaves, toasters etc can be very power consuming on your batteries. If you are stationary without any hookups then you may not have enough power to run these items.

Whilst many service stations across the globe can provide you with a gas refill, it’s important to know that not every country standardise the same gas regulators and bottles.

Calor gas which is very standard in the UK is not available in Europe so you may need to ensure you have an alternative such as Campingaz.

Ensure you have enough gas and or electricity to power your appliances and don’t get caught out!

6. Invest in a fridge!

Use the fridge in your ‘van

Your cooking experience and diet can become limited due to the types of food you can store.

Many vans do not have a fridge or suitable chiller installed to prevent the perishing of food and this can really limit what you can cook in a van.

Purchasing fresh food daily can be considered as a luxury to many, especially when living as a minimalist. It is also a huge annoyance having to go out to a shop every day and can really limit where you park and stay.

Having this limitation on food can restrict you to only cooking with freeze-dried or tinned foods. Pretty boring if you ask me!

I actually believe it’s an investment to install a sufficient fridge. It will allow you the option of shopping weekly as well as being able to save leftovers to the following day. Huge savings, less food waste and won’t encourage you to overeat!

7. Store food properly

This is something incredibly important and not just because it keeps your van pantry nice and tidy. Food kept in cupboards and not stored correctly can (and probably will) invite some not so friendly visitors to stay. Mice, ants and even rats are a common problem for many mobile homes such as caravans.

These pests will not only eat your stored food and spread germs, they are very likely going to cause serious damage to your van. They will eat through the wires and potentially leave you stranded with a hefty mechanics bill!

Store food high up if possible and store food in plastic tupperware boxes.

8. Bin it properly

Another topic around the bad smells is what do you do with your food waste. It’s not as straight-forward as putting it in a bin.

Whilst on the move you may not get to a public refuse bin so soon and may find you have to sleep with a stinking bag of waste nearby. This is even worse when you are in a hot country and food can rott so much quicker! Do you really want to wake up to the smell of yesterday’s dinner?

When it comes to draining liquid from your cooking be very mindful of what slips out into your sink.The odd pea or chunk of tomato may sit in the pipe and before you know it you have bad smells coming from your sink!

Store your waste in a sealed bag, and then within a bin with a lid.Be careful what you put down your sink and empty your grey water regularly.

9. Spice it up

Having a small variety of spices can really bring your dishes to life and bring variety to your cuisines.

For example, a simple protein and rice dish can transform to an Italian dish, Moroccan dish or even an Asian curry at only a sprinkle of different spices.

A selection of your favourite herbs and spices is certainly worthy of cupboard space in your campervan. We favour a wall mounted solution with quite a large variety of herbs and spices on our wall. There are also some very smart looking, space saving herb jars on the market so it’s worth shopping around for a design that suits your campervan décor.

10. Treat yourself

Remember that if you are on holiday you should enjoy those tasty holiday treats!

Keeping healthy while camping is important but equally it’s important to have a great time exploring.

Make burgers, grill some luxurious sandwiches that are dropping with cheese and make a cake if you can.

Bonus Tip!

Check your surroundings and try cooking with local, seasonal produce.  Campsites often sell locally sourced produce such as meat and eggs and these not only taste amazing but it will add to the mood of your adventure. Especially if you are traveling into different countries.

We often pick blackberries and apples and make a cake or pie using our Omnia oven. Be sure to know what you pick though! If in any doubt at all do not touch it, berries can be poisonous!

We are sure that with these tips in mind, it will increase the variety and success of cooking more exciting and delicious dishes in your campervans tiny kitchen.

At Vanlife Eats we aim to inspire and share recipes and cooking tips to help make cooking in your campervans exciting, delicious and nutritious.

Here is one of our favourite meals to make, particularly when the nights are chilly.


Hearty vegetarian curry with chickpeas, aubergines and halloumi

A hearty full flavoured Halloumi curry to die for! Bursting with zing and zang and leaving you nice and full.

  • 1 tbsp Olive Oil
  • ½ Yellow Onion
  • 1 tsp Fresh GingerChopped
  • 2 Garlic clovesChopped
  • 1 tsp Garam Masala
  • 1 tsp Sugar – light brown
  • SaltTo taste
  • 1 Bay Leaf
  • 1 ½ tbsp Tomato Puree
  • 200 g Chopped Tomatoes1/2 Tin
  • 200 g Chickpeas1/2 Tin
  • 1 Aubergine ( eggplant)Cubed
  • 1 Courgette (zucchini)Cubed
  • ½ Vegetable Stock
  • 1 tsp Chopped chili
  • 1 LimeWedge
  • 100 g Halloumi Cheese
  • 1 CorianderHandful (Chopped)

Heat a deep saucepan over a medium heat and add a splash of olive oil followed by the diced onion. Cook for around 7 minutes.

Add the garlic, ginger, garam masala, sugar and stir. Once the onion is coated add the tomato puree and the bay leaf and continue to combine the mixture.

Add the chickpeas, aubergine, courgette, chopped tomatoes, the chopped chilli’s and the stock. Bring to a simmer and stir stir stir.

Reduce the heat and continue to stir it until the juices thicken up.

Meanwhile, slice the halloumi and in a different pan and griddle over a high heat, fry each side of each slice for about 3 minutes until golden brown. Remove from the heat and slice into bite size chunks.

Remove the bay leaf and add the halloumi cheese.

Add a squeeze of lime, a crack of salt and pepper and a handful of chopped coriander.

Dish up!

We like to serve this up with a van-made naan bread. The recipe can be found at

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