How to cook when camping or staying in a campervan

Are you a nomad at heart? Are you planning a camping or campervan holiday but cooking isn't really your forte? You've come to the right place! Elisabeth, an aspiring nomad and cook, offers some advice and easy recipes for cooking when camping.

How to cook when camping or staying in a campervan

1/ How to cook when you're camping
equipment for easy cooking

First of all, the type of cooking equipment you use and its condition, will partly dictate what meals you can make.
If you just want to cook simple meals when camping, here is a list of equipment you'll need:

Remember your water bottle

It means you won't have to buy multi-pack bottles of water which, unfortunately, are not very environmentally friendly.
You'll be able to find water points to fill up your bottles easily.
Choose an isothermic water bottle which will keep your water nice and cold when it's hot, or hot when you want to take tea or coffee on a hike.

How to cook when camping or staying in a campervan

What to eat when you go camping my advice and menus for a week's camping

The six million dollar question to ask when you reach your destination: what are you going to eat over the next week?
Plan your meals in advance to save time during the rest of the week.
After a day of roaming, you'll have neither the inclination nor energy to go shopping or think about what you're going to eat.
So, together with your travelling companion, take time to decide what you're going to cook.

How to cook when camping or staying in a campervan

Shopping list for cooking when camping:

. Starchy foods: rice, pasta, quinoa, semolina, rolled oats, sandwich bread, potatoes
. Protein: tinned tuna, barbecue chicken skewers, sardines, smoked salmon, ham
. Dairy products: yoghurt, milk, sliced cheese, fromage frais (but take note: they won't keep very long in a cool bag)
. Fresh fruit and vegetables:courgettes, tomatoes, onions, peppers, lemons, avocados, bananas, apricots.
. Tins: green beans and kidney beans, corn, ratatouille, coconut milk, pesto.
. Seasoning: salt & pepper, olive oil, lemon juice
. Miscellaneous: bin bags, sponges, washing up liquid (the essentials that you tend to forget when you're on holiday;)

To save time during your holiday you can prepare a few recipes in advance which you can pack and take with you.
For breakfast, remember cereal in a freezer bag or even shortcake biscuits and madeleines for the children's afternoon snack (or for your own enjoyment!)
Make your own vinaigrette and keep it in a sealed bottle or just a water bottle.
If preparing meals to eat at the campsite, freeze them in advance so they'll keep for as long as possible.

How to cook with a camping stove

When you think about cooking with a camping stove, do you imagine a lengthy, nightmarish process?
Allow me to change your mind :)

Cooking with a camping stove is no more complicated than using your normal hobs; here are a few tips to make life easier:

Don't forget that you only have one hob so if you want to save time it's important to organize your cooking.
Ideally, you should start with the items that take the longest to cook.
In the meantime, you can do other tasks like chopping vegetables, laying the table, doing the washing up (while keeping a watchful eye on the stove).

"One pots" are simple recipes that are easy to cook on a stove.
You only need one pan to make the dish.

The weather won't stop you!
Just remember to keep the stove sheltered from the wind and rain when you're cooking.
If you're travelling in a campervan, you can use the stove inside (unless indicated otherwise) by opening the windows.
If you're wild camping, don't cook in your tent but find a shelter or get yourself a wind shield.
Wind and rain aren't hazardous; however, they may prolong the cooking time...

Are you using a wood-burning stove?
To make it easier to light, remember to choose dry wood and pack matches.
Cooking with a wood-burning stove takes longer than a gas stove and if it takes time to get going, your patience may wear thin.

How to cook when camping or staying in a campervan
How to cook when camping or staying in a campervan

How to organize cooking when wild camping

Wild camping is all about going off into the wilderness in search of adventure.

When preparing for this type of trip, we tend to forget one of our basic needs: food.

Here are a few tips to help you better organize your meal times when you go camping:
Think ahead about meals and prepare for the unexpected (this point is important - I'm speaking from personal experience!)  
Sometimes things don't go as planned: the camping spot you found on the map doesn't exist so you have to find somewhere else which may add an extra few minutes or even hours to your day.
Once you've set up camp, you'll be tired, it will probably already be dark and you'll have lost all interest in cooking.
To avoid this, plan to arrive at your camping spot by around 6pm.
This will give you some wiggle room if you encounter a setback during the day and, if all goes well, you'll have time enough to cook like a chef!
Prepare your easy-to-carry freeze-dried meals or snacks.
To save time and space in your bag, you can prepare ready-made mixtures in freezer bags, for example rice + spices and salt + lentils which you can mix with tinned tuna once cooked.
You can prepare sandwiches - the good thing is that they don't require any cooking.
Similarly, make some home-made cereal bars using rolled oats, dried fruit, seeds and nuts, honey and chocolate chips!

How to find water for cooking when camping?

Locate water points (public fountains or RV waste water drains) where you can do your washing up or fill up your water containers and bottles.
You can locate water points nearby by using a mobile app such as "park4night."
As a precautionary measure, always make sure you fill up your water bottles and/or containers so you always have a supply in case you can't find water at your next stop.
However, if you want to drink it, you need to check that the water is safe.
If in doubt, it's best to use some water purifying tables that will make the water 100% safe.
Once you've finished with your saucepans and utensils, you should soak them in water to prevent food residue from sticking as when dry it can be difficult to get off.
A little word of advice from a fellow adventurer: do your washing up as regularly as possible so you don't end up carting around dirty dishes or run out of cutlery.

5/ Enjoy yourself, you're on holiday :)

The aim of a holiday is to get away from it all, don't you think?
Cooking shouldn't become a daily stressor or a tedious chore. On the contrary.
Enjoy yourself and take time to cook things that you like.
Here are a few recipes that are unashamedly easy to make and eat!

There you have it

Now you have all the information you need and are all set to enjoy an incredible holiday with cooking as your new favourite (or near favourite) hobby (if it wasn't already). Remember to plan your meals for the week, buy essential and "practical" items such as tins to help tide you over, allow for preparation and cooking time in your planning, take any equipment you might need for storing cooked food and, most importantly ... ENJOY YOURSELF!

How to cook when camping or staying in a campervan

Check out our quick and easy recipes and have some fun :)