This article may contain compensated links. Read the full disclosure.
One of the best ways to reduce your travel costs during a campervan holiday is to make use of the cooking facilities you have. We were lucky enough to have a fantastic motorhome kitchen during our New Zealand South Island campervan holiday. This certainly made it easy for us, travelling as a family.
To help make your trip easier, we have put together our best tips plus some recipe and meal ideas that work well for campervan or caravan travel.
These campervan recipes and meal ideas are also great for any type of camping trip, so long as you have access to a camp stove or BBQ. The key is keeping it simple!
Our 5 Top Tips for Cooking in Campervan
When we picked up our campervan in New Zealand, we headed straight to the grocery store with a few things in mind, although we didn’t have a comprehensive plan of what to buy and cook otherwise. Thankfully we did pretty well with our choices and kept things easy for ourselves.
Here are our top 5 tips for campervan cooking:
1. Less is Best
Stick with easy to make meals that don’t require a heap of ingredients. One pan meals are a great option and using recipe bases or pre-packaged seasoning mixes that you can add to meat and vegetables.
You won’t always have rubbish bins nearby and the ones inside campervans tend to be quite small so you don’t want to be making a lot of food scraps.
You also may not have all the tools and gadgets you need to make the same meals you would at home i.e. vegetable peeler or a grater.
RELATED – OUR COMPLETE SOUTH ISLAND ITINERARY
2. Avoid Smelly Foods
With campervan holidays, you cook where you sleep essentially. Your bed is probably a metre away from the kitchen if you are using an internal campervan stove to cook your meals.
For this reason, unless you want to go to bed smelling like dinner tonight, go with options that don’t have really strong smells. Certain foods have lingering scents that seem to stick to everything. The last thing you want is for tomorrow’s outfit to smell like last nights curry too!
3. Cook Outside
You don’t always have the facilities or the weather to do this, however when you can, aim to cook your meals outside of your campervan. This may mean using a camp kitchen or public BBQ, or using your own portable BBQ or camp stove instead.
We didn’t do this a lot during our trip as it was winter and very cold. We did have a BBQ at a holiday park one night, cooking up steak for dinner. Otherwise it was mostly campervan meals cooked inside our van.
Cooking outside at shared facilities can be a great way to make friends and meet new people though, which is always a nice bonus.
RELATED READING – NZ SOUTH ISLAND CAMPSITES REVIEWED
4. Smaller Portions
At home we often make up bulk meals so we can freeze leftovers for later or to take to work the next day. In a campervan this isn’t often ideal. While we were lucky enough to have a fridge in our van, we still preferred not to have leftovers for more than a day or two.
Simon works in the food health industry so he’s pretty cautious like this anyway. Plus it can be hard to store leftovers unless you have proper containers or bags to use.
Make sure you pack or buy some zip lock resealable bags for storing food. This will help. Otherwise aim to purchase smaller portions of your ingredients to avoid waste.
5. Clean Up Quickly
If you have a fully equipped campervan with a sink and running water, you still want to be cautious about your usage. We cleaned up straight after meals, even while the pans were still warm to make it easier to avoid baked on food.
If you do forget to clean up quickly, add some hot water to your pans and soak for 10 minutes then clean. It will require less elbow grease this way.
Avoid large food scraps going down the sink too as you don’t want to end up with a blockage in your grey water tank. Eww!
CAMPERVAN BREAKFAST IDEAS
Breakfast can be an easy option in a campervan if you have a fridge. You can pretty much have what you’d eat for breakfast at home.
For breakfast, we stuck with similar food to what we have at home with our favourite cereals.
Cereal is a quick, minimal prep and low mess option before getting back on the road the next morning.
Although we ran out of cereal on our second last day so the kids final breakfast meal was Maggi 2 Minute Noodles. I just couldn’t! Yuck!
RELATED READING – HOW TO EAT WELL WHILE TRAVELLING
EASY CAMPING LUNCHES
For lunches, aim for meals you can make without a lot of fuss or cooking needed. Sandwiches and wraps are a great option and typically inexpensive too. Get some different cold meats, cheese and salads for a quick lunch stop between travelling to new destinations.
Cheese platters are another simple lunch grazing option and one that we did for dinner a couple of times too. There are some incredible cheese varieties in New Zealand, which go down very nicely with some New Zealand wine. Add some crackers and you have one of the easiest meals ever!
If you are driving through Oamaru, be sure to stop in a Whitestone Cheese Factory. You can enjoy a cheese platter while you are there, or grab a few different cheeses for the road. We picked up a mixed pack of their cheeses plus their award winning blue cheese. So good!
DINNER RV MEALS
One pan meals are one of the easiest options for RV cooking. They do not require a lot of preparation and there isn’t often too much clean up afterwards either.
You can get loads of different one pan style recipe bases that do not require a lot of ingredients. This means you less to buy at the grocery store during your motorhome trip too, since depending on the length of your trip, there’s only so much time to use it all.
Pre-made recipe bases have all the seasoning and flavour and you usually just need your protein and maybe some vegetables to mix in.
Leftover wraps and fillings from lunches can easily be converted into a warm dinner by making quesadillas.
This was one of our favourite dinners from our first campervan trip and a completely unplanned one – leftover tortilla wraps filled with shredded chicken, cheese and tomato, browned in the frying pan. So simple!
Recipe Idea – A meal we have at home sometimes when we want to use up some extra ingredients is a baked bean concoction – baked beans, tinned tomatoes and then whatever we have in the fridge. This usually includes bacon or ham, sausage, capsicum, onion, and a few eggs cracked in. Let it simmer on the stove until the eggs are cooked, then sprinkle some cheese on top and serve on toast. It’s better than it sounds!
Some of our favourite one pot camping meals for RV cooking:
- Savoury mince in lettuce leaves
- Stir fry
- Pasta / spaghetti
- Baked beans with leftovers (see above)
- Sausages in bread / hot dogs
Camping meals for kids who can be picky do make things a bit harder. We are lucky that our kids love a lot of staples like pasta and rice. They love bland food.
This may mean cooking up your meals then adding the extra flavours after you serve the kids. Some small adjustments usually mean the meals are great for all members of the family.
CAMPING SNACKS AND BETWEEN MEALS
We stayed well stocked up with kid-friendly snacks during our family campervan holiday too, as kids tend to eat when they are bored… rather than just when they are hungry.
This often meant our kids were apparently starving to death within half an hour of breakfast, simply because they were buckled into their seats while driving.
Non-messy snacks are ideal for while you are in travelling. Fruit like apples and bananas are perfect for snacking during transit or muesli bars work great too.
We did enjoy a few treats along the way though, including the delicious fudge we got in Akaroa. This type of thing we saved for an after dinner treat though, while winding down in the evening.
Camping, Caravan & Campervan Cookbook Recommendations
If you are looking for more recipe ideas for your campervan or caravan trip, or even your camping trip, here are some great camping recipe books to give you even more yummy meal ideas for the whole family:
One of the fun parts of taking a campervan or caravan holiday is coming up with fun meal ideas the whole family will love! Trust us, we know what it’s like to have really fussy kids, but even they were excited by making meals in our campervan.
Next, we will have to take them on an actual camping trip to show them what real outdoor living is like… not the glamping version they’ve had so far!
For more recipe ideas check these out:
Do you have a favourite camping recipe or meal idea? Tell us about it in the comments. We would love to know! And share this post to Pinterest via the image below! You can check out the rest of our campervan adventures.