Van Life Kitchen
Hello! Welcome to our kitchen! It also happens to be our living room, bedroom, and front porch. Whether we are with friends or it's just the two of us, I love cooking. When I first moved into the van, James told me he was planning on building a bench storage seat or some other sort of large built-in, but almost immediately decided to build us a kitchen instead. We still fit in some bench storage, but having a sink & counter top gives us much in the way of cooking opportunities! James thinks he got the better end of the deal, as I cook quite frequently- though, I know I got the better deal since he's the one who built me a kitchen!
Take a peek behind the scenes into our compact but mighty setup! I'll walk you through our storage, setup, and each meal throughout the day. Stay tuned for later posts with recipes for your own indoor/outdoor kitchen inspiration!
Setup & Storage:
We have a Eureka! brand camp stove that runs on propane tanks which we purchased from REI. We originally had a Coleman but I find that I have more control over the heat with this one, plus the self-ignite actually works!
I prefer setting up the stove like this on my storage seat or on our collapsible table outside the van, but often the wind does not permit that.
This past week I finished magnetizing our spices! They take up more drawer space than you'd think but this way they are easily accessible, & are inviting to look at & use!
We have two fruit/veggie bags that I've crocheted over the past few months and they are rarely empty.
Right now the larger one is full of red & sweet potatoes.
And the smaller one with citrus fruits, apples, & avocados.
Avocado toast, and potato stir frys have been popular meals lately. James and I find that it is beneficial to have healthy snacks on hand such as fresh & dried fruit, nuts, & juices.
The top drawer in the cabinet is the most used. In the front, we have spices I couldn't magnetize & hang, & tea. I have crocheted gray bags to keep some of the items from rattling during the drives.
In the middle, large kitchen tools like knives, stirring spoons, spatulas, and my apron.
In the rear, I've made the use of a lime green bendy camp tie to keep the items in the back from shuffling forward. In the tin we have the can opener and vanilla extract. Extra salt and pepper are on the right in front of the reusable straw sheath. A backup light and some film hide in the back left corner.
The bottom drawer houses the remainder of our tea & spices. Tiny tea cups, cups, reusable beeswax food storage, plastic storage bags, and aluminum foil.
In the space below the two shelves is the largest kitchen storage space housing our cutting boards, plates, aeropress, coffee grinder, tea pot, large travel cups, olive oil, & our pot. (Kettle also stored here, not pictured.)
For easy storage inside our cooking pot, I crocheted a dark bag to keep bowls & measuring utensils organized.
The camp stove and toaster oven live behind the fridge under the bed, and are pulled out when needed. Usually the toaster oven is plugged in either on the counter or on the bench seat. We wait until it is cool before storing it under the bed, and never leave it unattended to avoid any fire hazard.
The dark brown cabinet above the counter top is our pantry stocked with snacks, coffee, and other dry goods.
Some of the snacks live in the headliner shelf. Usually this is the popcorn spot.
As I mentioned before, my preference is to set up the kitchen outside, though if it is too buggy or windy- we set up indoors with the fans venting out the area.
I use my large cutting board as a tabletop for it for more stability and safety. Sometimes we set up the stove on the storage seat behind the passenger's seat, sometimes it is set up on the bed itself!
There are three things we take very seriously in my family. They are popcorn, pie, & coffee.
We use our Bustelo tin as storage, and grind fresh beans as needed. James already had a compact grinder that is easily stored in the cabinet & uses little electricity, and a hot water kettle.
We purchased this French press when we got our camp stove at REI. Apparently when it comes to dumping out used grounds, a glass French press is a high-risk appliance for James.
We also have an aeropress coffee maker. Though it is easy to clean, you can only make one cup at a time, so it is hardly ever used.
Avocado toast is an easy & well-loved breakfast option for us. I make ours with whole grain toast, a little bit of butter, and red pepper flakes.
Makes me giggle at how classically stereotypical it is these days for a millennial to want to live in a van (down by the river) & eat avocado toast, but I think I'd mind more if it wasn't so damn delicious.
Other typical breakfasts include oatmeal, cereal, pancakes, eggs & veggie scrambles, sausage, and breakfast burritos.
Most of the time, we don't have a full sit-down lunch, and stick to snacks or small plates until dinner.
Often this includes leftovers, caprese salads, tuna salad snack packs, popcorn, veggies & hummus, and/or fruit.
(This is also the time when James is most likely to have his guilty pleasure of Taco Bell once every week or so.)
Typically our largest meal, dinner is a lovely time to settle in to our space for the night, fill the air with the smell of cooking, and experiment a little.
Lately I have been making quite a few sausage & veggie stir fry bowls. I am primarily a pescatarian, which means I don't eat meat (I do eat seafood!), so it isn't unusual for me to have a vegetarian option sizzling alongside a pan of stuff for James.
Garlic curried sweet potatoes, Brussels sprouts, mushrooms, peppers, and brats have been a fan-favorite this week.
No matter where we are, I love being able to count on James for a taste-test.
Thank you for reading! My goal is to post a few recipes over the next few weeks so you can try out my concoctions for yourself in your home, however large or small your kitchen might be.