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Oct 26, 2007 12:12 AM

Cooking in a campervan/caravan/motorhome.

Hiya all
We've just bought a campervan. Yippee.
We're off on our first adventure tomorrow.
Anyone know any great recipes to cook/bake in the campervan?
Any tips?

love zay

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  1. What exactly kind of equipment are you working with? Tiny oven? 1-2 burner stove? Or something a little more powerful?

    My tip regardless of how your 'galley' is set up...don't cook anything very strongly scented (such as...Indian curry dishes or cabbage). There's a lot more upholstery to absorb odors in the joint use space of a camper than in a typical kitchen.

    1 Reply
    1. re: wawajb

      Hiya Wawajb
      Thanks for the advice, I'm sure you're right about the spice thing. Unfortunately after planning all sorts of interesting recipes for the oven - have just found out we only have hob space, no oven. So disapppointing. think we'll have to invest in a microwave at some point. Oh well, will have to work with hob.
      thanks zay

    2. Check out The webmistress drives a Roadtrek, as do we - it's a class B campervan with a 2-burner stove and no oven. You'll find lots of great ideas there. Also, seek out a user group or listserve for whatever kind of van you own for other tips on more than just cooking.

      You don't say what part of the country you're in, but we get a lot of prepared or partly prepped foods from Trader Joe's.

      1 Reply
      1. re: judybird

        Thanks will look up that site, might be just what I'm looking for.
        I live in the Uk, in Hertfordshire.

      2. First, don't invite the Top Gear guys to camp with you - they burned down the trailer they last used.

        A lot is going to depend on what facilities you have in the van - propane stove, microwave, oven, outdoor grill, etc. Also refrigeration options.

        There is a section on cooking at forums
        but most of the participants live in the USA.


        4 Replies
        1. re: paulj

          I know I caught the tail end of Top Gear, hoping that my daughter, wasn't watching ( she was at her dads - and is 16. A reluctant camper!) Jeremy doesn't know how to relax, thats his problem.
          But....I do think planning and knowing what you're doing, minimises the fuss. I can also get a bit highly strung if things don't work easily, the first time. Think my dear husband is trying to teach me how to be spontaneous and be relaxed. A feat in itself.
          thanks Paulj 4 the advice.

          1. re: zay

            I just bought a small Hawkins pressure cooker, intending to use it while camping. My stove is a Swedish Trangia alcohol burner, so is simpler than your hob. Since Hawkins is an Indian brand the cookbook is bit foreign to an American, even with its 'continental' recipes. Units are in gm and ml. It calls for capsium instead of 'bell pepper'. flakes garlic (cloves of garlic). Lots of mutton recipes (we only have 'lamb' on this side). Exeter Stew? Lots of casseroles, pies, and puddings steamed in a mould in the pressure cooker.

            I recently made a steamed blueberry pudding in my 4qt pressure cooker. Next I should try one with golden syrup.


            1. re: paulj

              I am impressed. Steamed blueberry pudding, that sounds fantastic. If you care to share the recipe. Plse do. Hmmmmm maybe I can look around for your Hawkins pressure cooker - do you recommend it?
              We're just back from our little trip to the Peak District, today. We used our hob - to make a really nice Spaghettit with rich meatballs in a garlic tomato and mushroom sauce. Really good. Missed having a pudding though. Like your idea.


              1. re: zay

                Recipe: Blueberry Pudding Cake (a steamed pudding made in a pressure cooker)


                I used frozen berries, and a deeper container, so needed some extra time. It doesn't have fat of some other puddings, but there are enough berries to give something of that spongy quality (plus it has baking powder).

                So far I like the Hawkins. I'm sure it's not as convenient to use as Fagor other spring valve model, but for my camping purposes the small size is nice. When I made the pudding I used a 1 qt cooker, and a 1 qt mixing bowl as mold.


        2. Zay,
          I used to cook on a 30 sailing sloop w/ 2 alcohol burners, so the experience is similar. No oven, no refrigeration except an ice box. With two boys and a husband for three meals a day (no land, only water), the crew was usually hungry and very willing to eat almost anything. Hot food was a bonus. I found one-pot dinners to be the simplest to prepare, two pans at most. With almost zero counterspace - and even that was in constant motion - and no way to keep anything warm, "hearty and starchy" were pretty important. Making a sandwich was a nightmare - too many ingredients to slide around and much too much cleanup. "Stoup" (soup-stew combination) was much simpler.

          Things I learned along the way:
          - I loved my wok and used it a lot. The small size of the bottom conformed to the limited burner size and spacious interior made it an excellent choice for unorthodox meals like chicken cacciatore.
          - Pre-cooking & packing long-cooking items was a great idea. Roasted (boneless) pork loin or whole chickens gave lots of meal possibilities on short notice.
          - Ignoring "cooking time" directions for pasta. It is possible to boil water, add pasta & turn off heat for 20 minutes (or so, depending on type) to cook pasta w/out spilling boiling water all over the place. Purists will shriek but it does work. Ditto for rice.
          - Have some easy-to-store staples packed at all times. It will save having to lug salt/pepper/flour/sugar etc each time you use your new campervan. I always kept some cans of ready-to-eat foods that could be combined for that first meal when we were still getting settled in.
          - Paulj suggested a pressure cooker and I concur. It took me years to lose my fear of blowing us all to smithereens, but once I did, it was wonderful. Added bonus: secure top = no spillage.

          Remember that almost everything tastes better outdoors, so have a great time and forget all the restrictions usually imposed at home. Regardless of what your mother told you, every meal does not require a green vegetable. Enjoy! Don't forget the wine!

          2 Replies
          1. re: Sherri

            One cookbook that picked up years ago at a marine bookstore is called 'Can-to-pan cookery'. The idea being that without much refrigeration, one needs to use more canned and prepared items. I haven't used the book that much, but I certainly do make more use of canned and packaged items when camping. I just have one bag of spices as opposed to a whole cabinet, so items that already come seasoned are a plus. We shop along the way, but often the selection in small towns isn't all that great, so I don't count on finding usable fresh items for the next few days. Serving size is also an issue. I usually cook for two, and don't like to have leftovers (with just a ice chest), so I often buy stuff at home, and repack it into meal size portions.


            1. re: paulj

              Thanks for the book reminder, paulj. "Cooking On Your Knees" is one book I used since it made my accomodations seem luxurious by comparison to the author's quarters. I imagine that marine or camping stores have some usable items that I never dreamed of.

              - Essential-to-me herbs & spices kept in a "tower" of small plastic screw-top containers that were originally meant to house fish hooks or small lures. Otherwise, I used packets of ready-to-go mixes that I wouldn't dream of using at home, i.e. taco seasoning or the like.
              - Relying on long-lasting vegetables like carrots & potatoes that do not require refrigeration. I also kept eggs unrefrigerated. A small string "hammock" strung between two posts kept these foods exposed to air and safe from being spilled.
              - My dishwasher was a plastic trashcan that fit perfectly in the sink (yes, I lashed it down securely). Half-filled w/ seawater & a squirt of dishwashing liquid, the dirty dishes happily sloshed themselves clean while we were underway.

          2. The best investment I made was a Food Saver vacuum sealer. When I know we are going to travel I start making extra from nightly meals and start freezing them. The bags can be used in the microwave and if there are no hookups I put the bags in simmering water on our propane stove. The clean up is nothing but throwing away a bag and dumping out some water! You can store them in the freezer, fridge or even an ice chest. It gives me time to enjoy the trip and not spend it preparing food, plus its homemade and not junk food. Our last trip I made pineapple beef with white rice and ravioli in pesto sauce.