On the road cooking tips and tricks

On the road cooking tips and tricks

When I moved into the van it wasn’t just to travel, it was for a new sort of lifestyle.
I wanted to experience all sorts of new things, that I had never tried before.
Living on the road definitely presents a host of challenges when it come to cooking; Limited space, water and not having an oven or a fridge, vastly limits my cooking ability and functionality.

Since being on the road however, I have learned a few awesome tips and tricks, which have helped greatly to expand my cooking capabilities.

Powdered milk

I dont particularly like milk, but it is an essential ingredient for many dishes. I have found that powdered milk works great as a supplement, and in some cases actually tastes better! I now consider it the secret ingredient in my omelets, as they are far better than the omelets I made previous to van life.

Ziploc bags

Ziploc bags have become a huge asset when cooking in the van. Not only are they great for storing things in as small and flexible a container as possible, but they also work great for mixing instead of dirtying a bag and spoon. Of course, conserve plastic whenever possible, but if you are low on water for washing dishes, or out in the wilderness without cooking utensils, shaking the contents (pancake mix/ scrambled eggs/ etc) in a ziploc bag will do the trick.

 Cool area

 If you are like me, with no fridge, your meal options are somewhat limited. However you would surprised to find all the food products that don’t require refrigeration.(eggs, bread, ketchup, hot sauce, maple syrup, most fruit, some vegetables).
I was also shocked to learn, is that other food products can be preserved by being kept just cool (like cheese).

I now have a dish pan that I keep in my cupboard (next to my water jugs) which holds all my semi-perishable products. As long as its not a hot summers day, my product stay cool, and are good for at least several days.

Sample packs

If your like me and you dont have a fridge, you will find your food and cooking options vastly limited. Not being able to chill open containers can definitely be a big problem. Over the years however stores have condensed and changed the packaging on many essential items, and if you look, you can find many single serving items which don’t require refrigeration. Regularly items on my shopping list include; ranch, hummus, corn cups, applesauce cups. There are many options if you keep your eyes open.


A cooler is nice to have, whether its to utilize instead of a fridge or to use occasionally on outings. I use my small cooler very seldomly, but when I do, I always add the food first and the ice second. My cooler is also so small that it will not hold an entire bag of Ice, and I have found going to the gas station and filling up a super size cup of Ice for 50 cents, much easier than handling a large bag of ice. Some gas stations will even give you free ice if you bring in your own cup. (So I found out while filling up a cup at a Shell gas station)


If your a coffee fein like I am, finding the right method with which to make your coffee will be a priority. Unless you have a very secure area to store your maker, you will want to stay away from anything glass. I purchased my small plastic french press at Home Goods, before switching to a metal percolator to make for an easier cleaning process. 

Eventually I switched to a plastic pour over device, which is by far the easiest cleanup and enables me to conserve my water supply. 

I did look in many stores for the pour over device, until with no success, I finally ordered one online.

Vinegar dish soap

To conserve water, I also started using the Vinegar/Water dish soap method. 
I use 3 parts water/ 1 part vinegar (in a spray bottle), and spray my dirty dishes down  a minutes or so before scrubbing them. The vinegar take off 90% of stanes and leftover food, and then I just rinse them well before drying them.

For more tips and tricks on kitchen essentials and saving space, see our article on the Kitchenette

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