What's in your van kitchen!

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vanbrat

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So as requested what do you carry in your traveling kitchen?
I have:

A small dresser thingy that holds all my small things:
 At least 4 sharp knives from small to big
 1 wooden spoon, wooden spoon doesn't melt 
 1 plastic spoon, plastic spoon doesn't get mildew spots
 1 silicone spoon thingy, also used as a rubber spatula and maybe replacing ladle.
 1 potato peeler, also makes fine thin potato, cucumber etc slices for sandwiches and fries 
 1 grater that doubles as a strainer for my small batches of pasta etc.
 1 wire whisk
 1 ladle spoon although it gets in the way so may be ditched
 1 pancake flipper, also doubles as ice scraper though not with MY permission.
 A few big forks and a few big food serving tongs. Good for BBQ
 3 plastic flat small cutting boards. These are like sheets of paper and while they work I prefer something a bit heavier these may go...
 1 set of measuring cups and spoons. DIL gave me these and while I don't really use them I love her and she likes to give me things like this. So I make sure she sees them there. They are pretty and hang on the wall so not really a big deal and hubby uses them if ever he wants to cook.
 This drawer thing also holds all my silverware. I hate using plastic stuff. Sometimes it's ok for a party or whatever, but I want to use less plastic if I can help it.

 Pots and Pans and cooking things
I have a microwave as well as an induction burner as well as a small BBQ and a small air fryer. 

For the microwave I have

4 silicon cupcake cups, also for the air fryer
I have 2 lidded soup size clay pots for individual microwave stuff, his and her type meals.
2 glass mugs for tea, hot cocoa, etc. these are also my measuring cups as they hold just one cup and I also use these for my S&B cooking 
2 small glass bowls 
1 mid sized glass deep dish pie pan 
if I am going somewhere and need to make something big, party etc. a big covered glass casserole thing.

For induction burner I have

 1 grilling pan the heavy cast iron thing with ridges  
 1 cast iron fry pan
 1 small sauce pan 
 1 wok, small 
 1 tea pot, small, this heats all the dish washing water as well as spitze bath water. 
 1 thingy I have not used yet that is supposed to make 1 cup of coffee at a time. I hate coffee, but hubby likes it.

For the air fryer I have
 some recycled pie tins, very small 
still exploring this tool.

 
For dish washing and clean up I have 

several recycled shopping bags for trash
3 dish pans for washing dishes the reason for 3 is they stack and don't take any more room then 2 so I have one for cleaning other stuff too,
small dish soap, small bleach jar and small bleach wipes
small spray bottle of simple green stuff
1 small pot scrubber
3 wash clothes 
4-5 small dish towels 
3 pot holders
rolls of paper towels

For the tables I have 

 1 small fold up table 4x6 ish fits over my microwave when driving and is a god send when I am really into cooking.
 2 large plastic table clothes (I hate to eat off of dirty picnic tables)
 1 table clamp on light holder thingy 
 2 seat cushions that double as knee pads when needed, small and very much worth the space they take up.
 1 small jar, microwave cooking mason jar that so far has only been used as a vase.
 
Dining stuff

4 plates 
4 tall plastic glasses (seriously nobody wants to be around me until at least one full glass of tea is inside me) 
4 cereal bowls 
2 extra large cereal bowls, also mixing bowls for small batches of muffins or biscuits or ??? 
2 steak knives that are also in the sharp knife count.
 
Some of the extras I have are a small suitcase type bag that is our traveling bar.
And if we are going someplace where it is possibly warranted, an electric hand held emulsifier thing for smoothies and or margaritas
 
The bar is about 8x10 and 2 inches deep so it fits.
It has small bottle of his kind of liquor and one of my kind of liquor as well as a bottle of vodka, a plastic shot glass. It also has a wine opener. 
and straws 'cause well yea.  
I have 2 jerry jug water carrying things, but for now only one is needed. 
I have one small ice chest with a wool covering cloth over it. If we are out someplace hot I can wet it down and let it evaporate and help keep it cooler.
I have 1 small electric freezer thingy 
I have one big soft picnic bag thingy with a big ol' thermos thing another gift from DIL that is really useful. 
She has also given me a very small slow cooker and it is still inside the S&B house I use it a lot here we'll see if we can find a place for it.
I have my own van recipe book that I am working on. My son thinks I should work on getting it so other people can read it, Not just in my shorthand scribbles, he thinks it is something he and DIL would like to borrow when ever he gets his van working, I am also making one for my mom as she is now a full timer. She is not moving smoothly to full time RV cooking. She has some ideas though that I need to try...

The person who has helped the most I think is that lady Sandra(?) something that did her semi home made cooking show. 
I have also gotten some great ideas here from folks here.
Thanks everyone!
 
 

Oh yea this is all packed in my homemade kitchen wall counter thing in about 2 feet of back of my van. It fills it pretty full top and bottom with a small counter that holds my microwave and my water jug it leaves me with just a tiny space to work which is why I have a small table too. This sounds like a lot and it is, but cooking is something I love to do sometimes, so why not.

On one side of the 'kitchen' is a closet, about 8 inches wide that holds any tools we may need and on the other side of the kitchen is the doggy supplies and first aide bag. Also holds extra coats if needed. 
 
Ok so now what do you carry?
 

eDJ_

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When I've traveled in my Van,  I managed to do as little cooking as possible.  I started with a Boy Scout Mess Kit and a few utensils.  Mostly relying on Boy Scout training.  I later bought a Boy Scout Trail Chef (a kit for cooking for several boys on the trail)  and stripped it down to provide for two people.

I learned in Scouting the concept of "shake down", in order to get a more minimal complement of gear that would serve the needs I would have for the duration of my journey/expedition/trip etc.

What came into consideration was the question of access to supplies and the frequency of restocking.

If I'm wandering along the highways I can live out of my rig and stop frequently to take on a day or two's worth of food that I may not have to cook.  Grocery Store Deli's offer a lot of that and canned heat and eat items can do the rest.  I'm not traveling to cook or spend all my time in camp cooking.  For me this is just setting priorities.

There are many places where decent food/dinners can be found affordably and that offer good nutrition.
It would be easy to live on burgers, fries, and soft drinks while on the road but it isn't healthy.

If one is Boondocking it would be a different matter.  vanbrat's post would make a lot of sense.

I haven't found a national website listing Churches & Civic groups with kitchens open to feed the hungry & homeless. BUT, if you google...."websites and Churches serving dinners near me" you will get loads of responses.  Do you consider yourself poor & homeless ?  Or are you houseless and not poor ?

But there are places where you can find affordable cooked foods such as Churches, and some Hospital Cafeterias. You just have to learn how to look for them.

We often speak of mechanical skills for looking after your rig,  but knowledge of good nutrition is just as important for looking after yourself.
 

vanbrat

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I have done the minimal thing camping too where everything fit in less then a shoe box. Pocket knife for sticks and paper plates and such still do that sometimes. There is a nothing wrong with that type of cooking, But I like to cook really nice meals. Not every meal is cooked this way but it sure is nice when I want to and can.

Last year on the one and only really nice evening we had crab cakes and grilled salmon, my kind of green salad, roasted tatos and for dessert we had homemade chocolate chip cookies.

We went with a couple last year and they had their Big RV and their sister came and she had even bigger RV. And for each meal there was someone wanting to know if I had this tool or that and most of the time I could say yes. Not the waffle maker though, I don't have one of those.

As long as you are happy with your set up then that is all that matters.
 

StacyK

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What a helpful exercise this is, vanbrat. After taking several small trips in my van and living in it in my driveway the last three weeks, I’m trying to figure out for sure what to take with me full-time by the end of the month. This is helping me clarify my thinking. Here’s what I have at the moment:

General cooking tools and kitchen-ware:
Large cutting board that already smells like garlic
Small cutting board for fruit and other things I’d much rather didn’t smell like garlic
One chef’s knife, one paring knife, and one serrated knife, in a holster/knife roll
Kitchen shears
Pancake flipper type spatula
Scraper type spatula
Slotted spoon
Wooden spoon
Tongs
Can opener
Potato peeler
Instant-read thermometer
Collapsible wide-mouth funnel
Measuring cup and spoons
A garlic “mushroom” (for smushing garlic, ginger, and whole spices)
1 2-oz. and 1 4-oz. squeeze bottle
Medium mixing bowl with lid
Eventually a grater, but the box grater I have now is not going to be it

Cookware:
1-qt. saucepan
2-qt. saucepan
8” skillet, all with lids
10” griddle
Strainer and fine-mesh strainer
Solar cooker (a lovely gift from a friend) with collapsible silicone pot
24-oz. wide-mouth thermos
Tea kettle
2-burner propane stove

Tableware:
1 dinner plate
1 pasta plate
2 sandwich plates
2 cereal/soup bowls
1 small bowl
2 mini prep bowls
2 10-oz. mugs (all enamelware—a house-warming gift from a different friend)
1 double-walled, lidded travel mug
1 double-walled, stainless steel teapot with strainer

Cleaning, etc.:
Flat scrubber pads, which I can cut into the size pieces I want
Scrub brush
Dish cloths—I may crochet some small ones, because the bigs ones take a lot of rinsing
Small basin
Double-walled carafe for hot water
Hot pads
Tea towels galore
3 placemats
Apron (because it’s better than laundry)

So far I’m still monkeying with storage—trying to find the happy medium (if there is one) of compact space use and easy accessibility. I wonder if there’s any part of a dwelling that people feel more strongly about than the kitchen...
 

crofter

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I do carry a small recipe box of personal favorites, and adapt with whatever equipment and ingredients I have on hand. 
-crofter
 

WanderingRose

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I just don’t have it in me to make such a thorough list of what is in my galley.  :angel:

These are a few of my favorites...

One quart and two quart stainless steel saucepans with glass lids and different sized holes for straining, so no separate colander is needed for pasta.

A set set of nesting silicone bowls, which take up more vertical space than horizontal and have that “squish” factor I like in small spaces.

Another, smaller set of nesting bowls with lids.

I carry the same set of Corelle ware that hubby and I started traveling with in 2001.

A 1 quart stainless teakettle and a 6 cup percolator.

A couple of lovely mugs for coffee and tea.
 

G0ldengirl68

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This post makes me realize how much I'd miss my kitchen, and it's pretty dinky in my apartment, but I have all and more than I need. If I was to try and live in a camper shell on my, small truck, I'd have to store all my needs into containers, take them out at my camp-site and hope it doesn't rain ;)

It's really about being organized, or lack thereof, determines my sanity. I need to know where everything is and I'm kind a female version of "Mr. Monk" ;) If my rig could be big enough to have an over, sink, toilet, I would do much better. I figure in about 4 years I might have enough saved to get something bigger, and I'd also be 4 years older. This saying can drive me nuts when I hear it, but true..it is what it is ;)
 

MGfromBC

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For the last quarter of the 20th century I made a lot of road trips all over Canada and into a few of the States.  At first I hitch-hiked and then I covered longer distances faster on a motorcycle.  During most of the 90s I wandered around on a bicycle.  For the most part, space dictated that cooking and refrigeration weren't options.  I usually had a thermos that I would fill with coffee late in the day so I could have breakfast in my sleeping bag.

In the 21st century I've mostly explored the world by camping inside my car.  With all that space it seemed like I could take almost everything.  Eventually I figured out that I wasn't really interested in cooking or refrigeration.  If I'm near a store I might buy perishables for that day and the next but that works fine.  I still need morning coffee though.  A tiny alcohol stove boils just enough water for a cup of coffee before it runs out of fuel.  For even greater simplicity, I've found that there are really good instant coffees out there.  They just cost more.  Metal cup,  some water,  some coffee.  My kitchen.
 

VanFan

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Okay.  This will have to be done on the installment plan.  I've gone through a lot of outdoor cooking phases, but have always done all the actual cooking outside.  Currently, I am trying to eliminate propane and butane.  We'll see...


HOT STUFF--THE EQUIPMENT​
Currently on Board

110 Appliances (fairly recent phase)

  Electric Skillet (w/small foil pans stashed inside).  Sits in two nested dishpans.  Lives under bed w/side door access.  May replace someday w/hot plate or induction burner.​
  Electric Kettle (slimline style sits atop most electric service boxes).  Lives in partially opened drawer of 3-drawer cart in back.  In cold weather, it is Velcroed to the front bed frame for easy access on chilly mornings.​
Solar (anything you can do in a slow cooker and more)​
  DIY FunPanel panel cooker (20"x11"x3/4")  Max. temp. so far 375F.​
     Also:  two 4 qt. Pyrex bowls (can substitute oven roaster bag, but bowls work better)​
              3 qt. Graniteware round roaster with lid (I also use a clear glass casserole lid for some things)​
              Oven thermometer​
              Medium size binder clips (4)​
              UV blocking safety glasses​
   Sometimes this all goes under the bed with the e-skillet; sometimes in back under the cooler.​
Charcoal Powered (my latest phase)​
  8" Cast Iron Dutch Oven (got seriously turned off to DO cooking in my 10 years as a Girl Scout leader, but I love this!)​
    Also:  Metal cake pans to manage coals​
             Small Weber charcoal starter chimney (charcoal inside, as well as in Ziplock in DO and everywhere else I can put it)​
             Newspaper sheet in plastic bag​
             Lid lifter/stand (folding X-style is not a perfect fit for 8" DO lid, but does the job)​
             Tongs​
             Leather Glove (BBQ glove melted to my finger tips, and has been banished.)​
             Welded horseshoe stand with bolt legs (excited to try DO lid pizza with this)​
             Lighter/matches​
               Need:  natural bristle wisk or brush​
  10" cast iron skillet ('nuff said)​
  Living arrangement:  Silicone hot pad goes in skillet to protect it from DO legs.  Slides under cooler platform.  Rear door access.​
Other
  12 volt immersion heating coil.  (Need to run engine.  Used lots in Prius; for backup in van.)​
  Sterno Inferno.  16 oz. of water boils in 6-10 minutes.  Sterno stores inside.​
  My umm... mini-stove/grill made from Sterno folding stove, canning jar lid, and stainless steel vegetable steamer as fire bowl.      Uses 8-9 charcoal briquettes.  Supports 2 qt. pot, skillet, or small grill pan.  Stove can also be used with Sterno, if you have the time :rolleyes:.​
   Inferno and stove/grill stuff live in a six pack cooler under the bed, next to the e-skillet.​
Sidelined, for Now
  2 burner propane stove​
  1 burner butane stove​
  I really want to eliminate gas, for a variety of reasons.  The challenge is burn bans where electricity is not available and the sun not out.​
  2 qt. slow cooker.  Can seriously bake bread in this, but don't find it all that practical overall.  Used to use on long drive days, but temperature can drop below safe level when stopping for very long.  Outside with hooks ups, it must be attended to avoid attracting wildlife.  (Not a problem with solar.  It gets too hot!)​
  DIY Copenhagen solar panel cooker (made from Reflectix).  Fun Panel design out performs this.  Doesn't take much room, so may earn its keep as a "second burner."​
  Various cast iron toys (waffle iron, pie irons).  Pancakes are easier, and pie irons are fun but food chars easily.​
 

G0ldengirl68

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@mgfrombc, I rate your reply very high.  I know that adapting to what we have is possible, we do it every day.  Your story is an excellent example!  What I'm used to, does nothing for my mental or emotional well being.  Not even my physical as too many things make it easy to not use my brain (exercise the darn thing) and have to think about an alternative way. 

Your reply was more valuable than you maybe realized, for me anyway.  I do common tasks so easy, that I end up with way too much time on my hands here in this apartment.  I remember 6 years ago staying in a free campground, and I ended up making a shower with a hose and water jug.  Washing my clothes in the river with my eco friendly "soap". I hauled water from the river to use for dishes, found my own kindling (with some help from wood campers left behind for main fire).  I can't remember feeling more alive during that 3 weeks.

Thanks so much, Denise PS I can make this work, one thing I wouldn't do again, is end up the last person in camp miles up the river.  I made it through the night, but being alone "out there" I know for sure that's not for me ;)
 

vanbrat

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  I really want to eliminate gas, for a variety of reasons.  The challenge is burn bans where electricity is not available and the sun not out.​
  2 qt. slow cooker.  Can seriously bake bread in this, but don't find it all that practical overall.  Used to use on long drive days, but temperature can drop below safe level when stopping for very long.  Outside with hooks ups, it must be attended to avoid attracting wildlife.  (Not a problem with solar.  It gets too hot!)​
  DIY Copenhagen solar panel cooker (made from Reflectix).  Fun Panel design out performs this.  Doesn't take much room, so may earn its keep as a "second burner."​
  Various cast iron toys (waffle iron, pie irons).  Pancakes are easier, and pie irons are fun but food chars easily.​





I am not ready to carry gas either had a few narrow escapes with it so, now I have a good sized 1000 solar generator and 2 100 w. panels to keep it powered.  I have my microwave and induction burner and such so now I feel like I can cook just about anything. That said one of the reasons I like to travel is to eat at some really local good places. Hubby not so much.
His idea of a good eat out is to eat at McD's. YUK!

I forgot about my pie irons. They are just so much fun. Also forgot to add my can opener.
 

vanbrat

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So now for food stuff basics. I was talking to a neighbor last night that was saying he always had his RV ready to go. food stuff included. Which scared me cause we live in an area where there are rodents. I asked if this was ever a problem and he said nope he just keeps things sealed up and high up.
that would not work for me as we have had some pretty aggressive rodents here and my stuff is not stored in a closed tight shelf/cabinet.

So the basics I load in to my van are:

Small mason jar or ? of flour. Have to have some plain all purpose flour for chicken fried steak and such
Bigger bag of bisquick. Not sweet and can be used for soooo many things.
Bag or pancake mix. Sweet and can be used for lots of sweet desserts as well as pancakes.
Cornmeal and/or Jiffy mix cornbread
Corn starch, pretty good sized baggie or sealed container.
Breadcrumbs, again, fried stuff and meatloaf and such.
Ritz crackers. These sound silly but seriously Ritz crackers are a must.
Saltines, I like soup, but have to have crackers
Hubby's coffee, instant. My instant tea powdered stuff.
Tea bags for when I have more time. All drinks stuff fits in a small old coffee can with a good lid.
Hot cocoa packets, and with this also powdered coffee creamer.
A good sized mason jar of sugar. & Hubby's sweetener stuff.
A small tiny jar of honey, 'cause honey .....
2 small boxes of cold cereal, his and mine.
A small box that holds what ever breads we have, usually small buns.
1-3 cans of tuna for lunch, casseroles etc.
1-3 cans of soup. I like homemade frozen, but not here. I am looking into the small boxed single serve size his kind and my kind.
1-2 cans of fruit peaches pears applesauce if I don't have any frozen.
1 jar of my jam and 1 jar of sun or almond butter.
I am learning to use the boxed milk so now at least 1 box of milk.
A bag of noodles and/or maybe a box of mac and cheese
A few packets of gravy mix.
Maybe small bag of stuffing stuff. Works great for microwave casserole topping.
Small tightly sealed oil.
I have a small wall hanging spice rack that can hold up to 18 different spices/herbs. They hang on the wall and don't really take up any room.
Also have bigger shakers of garlic salt and pepper.
We keep a coffee can with a good lid to put any and all extra condiment packets we get from fast food places so I don't carry lots of those with me. We have more then enough to last us for the next few trips even if we did not eat at another place like that for months.
We have a coffee can cookie jar that is filled before each trip as well as a candy box. What can I say we have sweet tooth's.
I like rice cakes so a package of those and hubby loves his chips.

Cold ice chest
I use 4 smaller ice bottles and a few smaller icy things. Usually keep things like small milk, butter, mayo, lunch meats, and what ever tonight's meats are. I usually have a few eggs too. Sometimes a bag of ice for my morning tea. And always cheese at least 2 kinds. A few tomatoes and a a small bunch of celery and maybe a few carrots. Maybe 1 caned biscuits. Bag of salad greens.

Freezer thing
I like to precook things to have ready for dinner
Hamburger fried up and ready to use.
Chopped cooked chicken.
Cooked bacon. In a small box so it won't crush.
Maybe some pulled pork or?
Also things that can't be precooked hot dogs (me) hamburger patties (hubby)
Chicken breasts, steaks, what ever.
Shrimp, I always have these they take salad from there to way up here. Also omelets and some soups and....
1-2 extra small ice things for the ice chest.
I am experimenting with frozen pie fillings so maybe a few of those will make it in.
Dog has food issues so we take enough precooked homemade frozen dog food for him. He is a big dog so lots of that.

I have a few string bags that hang and don't bump as we drive for fruits and veggies
a few apples and bananas.
a few potatoes and onions.

I usually have some thing I want to make for one really good dinner. Something fun and fancy.
 

vanbrat

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highdesertranger said:
hmmm you must not be out west with the Sterno and charcoal.  Highdesertranger
If we want to use charcoal we pick some up wherever we are. Sone gave me a tiny Sterno thing, but I have never used it. So it sits under the bed area.
 

VanFan

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vanbrat said:
I am not ready to carry gas either had a few narrow escapes with it so, now I have a good sized 1000 solar generator and 2 100 w. panels to keep it powered.  I have my microwave and induction burner and such so now I feel like I can cook just about anything. That said one of the reasons I like to travel is to eat at some really local good places.
Have you had much practical experience with your solar panels and electric appliances?
I also enjoy the local spots!
 

VanFan

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highdesertranger said:
hmmm you must not be out west with the Sterno and charcoal.  Highdesertranger
You are right, we have not been out west for some time.  Last time we were, we had a propane stove with us.  None of the places we camped (mainly Apache/Sitgreaves and parts of NM) had burn bans--although maybe they should have.  There was plenty of fire activity in the area.

Ironically, this is where I had my first negative experience with propane.  It could have caused a major fire, I do believe.  I totally respect burn bans, but my rigged mini charcoal stove contains flame and ash very neatly.

Ultimately, I may have to find a way to store fuel that I am comfortable with, because you really can't beat it for convenience.
 

Scott3569

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I am thinking that one of the main things that will be in my Kitchen is

a propane grill (weber table top grill about $200)
there is a lot you can cook right on that

I will have probably 2 good knives
basic utensils
Spices
Possibly a skillet and a sauce pan

But I plan to do most cooking on the grill
 

vanbrat

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VanFan said:
Have you had much practical experience with your solar panels and electric appliances?
I also enjoy the local spots!
Yes and No. I do a lot of my cooking with these type of appliances in my S&B. And have used them when hocked up at full power in campgrounds. We just got the solar set up then Hubby broke his leg and then a few days later I broke my thumb. I have tried out the solar set up here in my S&B home, but not yet out boondocking. Soooooon as we are healed up more.
 

wanderingsoul

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I haven't put a kitchen together as of yet but I do have a 2 burner Coleman propane stove and a 1 burner butane stove. I used the heck out of them both on our family camping trip in September with 6 people there. I was surprised to find out that the butane stove boiled a pot of water faster than the propane stove did. Until the next morning when it was a lot colder when I went to boil a pot of water for pour over coffee and the butane didn't seem to want to work. lol I've never had anything butane before. And now I know.

I just bought something with a van kitchen in mind. It's a 10.5" Cephalon hard anodized wok and it's the perfect size for a stir fry for one or two people. I kind of want to get the camp stove out and give it a try. I have a utensil that's good up to 600 degrees that's like a cross between a spatula and a spoon that will be perfect to use with it, I think it's an OXO utensil I picked up somewhere years ago during a buy one get one sale.
 

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