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8 Of The Best Vanlife Meals To Cook Whilst Travelling

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Vanlife Eatshttps://vanlifeeats.com
Two passionate Vanlife cooks and the creators of Vanlife Eats.

What are the Best Vanlife Meals To Cook Whilst Travelling?

Being passionate vanlife foodies and from speaking regularly to the vanlife community about food, recipes and what they love to cook in their vans, we have compiled 8 of the best vanlife meals to cook on the road whilst travelling. 

Travelling in your converted van or living the vanlife dream can be a pretty fast-paced and it is important to be prepared so that you can enjoy the culinary side of vanlife.

We cook some very adventurous meals in our van and on the other side of the extreme we continuously hear people say they usually just live on pasta whilst travelling in their vans. This is usually just down to a lack of being organised and being unprepared.

We put together Vanlife Eats because we wanted to inspire people with great and easy food that can be made on the road.

Upon chatting with vanlifers worldwide, we always ask “what are the best vanlife meals to cook whilst travelling”. We often hear the same meals being spoken about and we wanted to share this with our followers.

All of the recipes below are compiled from the results of surveys and conversations we have had with vanlife cooks across the globe.

The outcome is ideal for suggestions for when you’re stuck with what to cook next in your van. 

Counting down from 8 here are the best vanlife meals to cook whilst travelling. 

Recipe & Photo @the_peri_pot

8. Stew

One pot, a variety of ingredients and the spices of your choice make stews an incredibly easy and hassle free meal to cook in your van.

Whilst a stew might seem like a daunting dish to create whilst travelling, with the smell of the stew cooking away teasing your taste buds for a couple of hours, the hardest part is actually not eating it all before it’s even dinner time! 

This dish can be easily created with either meat, legumes or just veg in a single burner, minimal gas and one stovetop pot and it really is such a versatile dish to cook with so many variations. 

Cook a meat stew slowly for maximum flavour and simmer in wine, beer, stock or water, add the vegetables of your choice and salivate your way through to dinner time. 

Serve the stew with rice, mash, couscous or add potatoes to the stew to create a whole meal in the one single pot. 

After a few hours you’ll have created a mouth-watering dinner which is especially a treat when warding off a cold night.

Photo & Recipe @vanlifeeats

7. Spaghetti Bolognese

Bolognese is that simple comfort food dish that’s heart warming and brings back memories of


Traditional Italian recipes use a mixture of both pork and beef mince but that’s all very well if you have a full-size kitchen, us vanlifers can make an awesome Bolognese sauce by using just one type of mince. 

Vegetarians and vegans favour this dish too as meat free mince can make an amazing Bolognese! Personally I love a lentil ragu!

Spaghetti is the classic pasta shape of choice but it really does work well with but about every pasta shape so feel free to use anything you have on hand. 

Bolognese sauce also pairs amazingly with rice or bread, so bulk cook and enjoy this dish throughout the week by mixing up the garnishes. 

This dish does require two saucepans but if you only have one burner then simply remove the cooked bolognese whilst the spaghetti is cooking, then combine the two pans when cooked.

For some reason, Bolognese sauces always taste better the next day too so go ahead and make a huge pot and save enough to pop in the fridge for tomorrow’s quick lunch! 

6. Frittatas

A few eggs and a frying pan come together to create a hearty protein-rich breakfast, lunch or


A frittata can be cooked in just 15 minutes and is also ideal for using up leftovers from yesterday’s meals, and it’s actually better to have vegetables and meat that’s been pre-cooked for this dish so make sure you keep your leftovers in the fridge.  

Frittatas are just Ideal for vanlife as it is a great method of repurposing ingredients and using up those unused or uneaten veggies.

Customize this Spanish classic with just about any filling you have on hand, fill it with cheese, vegetables, potatoes, herbs, meats or fish then serve hot or cold.

Photo and recipe credit @vannaspice

5. Mexican Rice Bowl

Brown rice, beans, avocado, vegetables are all the staple behind the legendary Mexican rice bowl, but the versatility behind the rice bowl allows you to get creative and add your own twist.

Mexican rice bowls are especially popular with vanlifers as the ingredients which can be paired together are so diverse. You can include just about anything you like and it’s a lot of fun to prepare and make look nice. 

You can enjoy a Mexican rice bowl at any temperature, hot as a stir-fried dish or cold as a mixed salad.

Leftover ingredients are transformed with a quick fry, a hint of spice and a top up of some

extra healthiness (tinned kidney beans and tinned sweetcorn are a perfect match).

Look out for our rice bowl challenge coming up!

4. Chilli

Made with meat or with plant-based alternatives a hearty chilli always warms the spot.

The classic chilli con carne is a ground beef based dish, with tomatoes, red kidney beans and spices. It is often served with rice or flat bread. This can easily be made from a campervan twin stove.

We often have people raving about veggie chilli and is also a regular meal made in our very own van.

Veggie chilli can be created with a range of ingredients including, Quorn mince, soy granules and lentils which all closely match the traditional minced meat texture. Lentils seem to be the most popular amongst vanlife recipes as they are tasty, give the perfect texture, easily stored and long-lasting.

When you add the spices and vegetables the chilli really comes to life. Especially suited spices are cumin and paprika.

You will only need one pot for the chilli but if you decide to serve with rice you’ll need a second hob or remove the chilli and cook the rice afterwards. Simmer gently on a low flame until softened.

Chilli is another dish that is even better the next day as the flavours have time to develop so don’t be scared to cook up a big pot and save room in your fridge. 

3. Lentil curry

Lentils are filling, nutritious, affordable and quick to cook, taking only about 15 minutes. The lentil curry can be made with several variations of sauce base such as tomato or coconut.

Lentils are easily storable with a long use by date making them a van kitchen essential staple. 

Nutritionally, whether tinned or dried they have a high source of protein, fibre and iron whilst being low in calories. 

Dried lentils triple in size during cooking to produce a substantial meal, so they fill you up nicely. Spice up the lentil curry with your preferred spices and herbs, serve with rice or a naan (van made of course) and enjoy.

vanlife mac n cheese
Photo and Recipe credit @myvanchef

2. Mac ‘N’ Cheese

Next level Mac ‘n’ Cheese can be made with basic combination of ingredients which makes it one of the best vanlife meals. 

If your van has an oven or grill then there are options for a crispy breadcrumb topping as a crust for the oozing cheesy pasta beneath but this dish is still perfection on the stovetop alone. 

Everyone has a favourite Mac ‘n’ Cheese recipe and this can include flavour combinations of different cheeses, mushroom, corn, bacon and even truffle. 

With these endless flavour combinations, there’s a Mac ‘n’ Cheese for everyone. Comment below with your favourite combination. 

Mac ‘n’ Cheese is another meal that’s great the next day so use leftovers used to make Mac ‘n’ Cheese sandwiches which are a real guilty pleasure of mine!

best vanlife recipe tacos
Photo and Recipe credit @overlandeats

So here we have it, the vanlifers voted best vanlife meal to cook whilst travelling…

1. Tacos

We all bow down to the mighty Taco as they are essentially a vehicle for your favourite foods, vegetarians, vegans, carnivores – tacos are for everyone.

Classic recipes will include Mexican flavours with beans, meat and cheese as fillings. You really can pack a tortilla with anything you fancy and you’ve got yourself a delicious Taco. 

Depending on the fillings a taco can be created without any need for cooking, just simple assembly of the ingredients you have on hand. 

The flour tortilla can be transformed into breakfast, lunch, a snack for a trek or dinner, just adjust the filling according to the occasion. 

Lightweight, cheap, filling and with a long shelf-life, tortillas are one of the best ingredients to stock up on for a trip. 

Alternatively make your own fresh tortilla whilst on the move using four basic ingredients which you’re likely to have on board (flour, water, vegetable oil and salt), a fresh tortilla can be prepared in 45 minutes with a single frying pan and stovetop. 

Once prepared, tacos can be wrapped in tinfoil to save on clean-up and enjoyed hot or cold.

What’s your favourite taco filling? 


So here we have the ultimate best vanlife meals that people are cooking in their vans. Please comment below and tell us if we’ve missed your favourite.

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