13/11/2023
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Campervan cooking and kitchenware guide

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Campervan cooking presents unique challenges but just because you are camping, it doesn't mean you cannot enjoy superb dishes that are tasty treats

Our experts will guide you through your campervan kitchen accessories, including the most useful pots and pans, mugs and cups, cutlery and dining sets.

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Words by Iain Duff

 


Campervan cooking equipment

A Bamboo dining set

(Photo by Iain Duff)

One of the best things about owning a campervan is having a kitchen, as you can enjoy a cuppa and knock up a tasty meal, wherever you are in the world. For some, it’s the simple pleasures like beans on toast or a tinned curry – something easy that requires minimal fuss at the end of a busy day. For others, it’s all about sampling local produce – rustling up a gourmet meal is all part of the adventure!

Whichever camp you fall into, there are some campervan kitchenware essentials you won’t want to leave home without. Because of the limited space for preparing and cooking meals in a campervan, everything you use should be lightweight and easy to store.

Pots and pans

For cooking, you will need a couple of good-quality pots and a non-stick frying pan with a lid – this will help to keep grease at bay when cooking inside your campervan. To save space and make storage easier, look out of for lightweight pans that will stack inside each other. Pans with removable or fold-down handles are best. And if you pack no other kitchen equipment, make sure you take a kettle!

More campervan cooking accessories:

  • Decent-sized chopping board
  • A set of sharp knives (big, medium and small)
  • Kitchen utensils – spatula, masher, cooking spoon, pasta server, ladle and whisk are all useful
  • A grater
  • Pestle and mortar
  • A set of plastic boxes (handy for storing chopped and grated ingredients)
  • Collapsible colander
  • Dishtowel
  • Kitchen roll

What meals can you cook when you’re camping?

Using tins and packets for convenience is absolutely fine, but if you want to take advantage of the slower pace of life on a campervan holiday and create meals using good-quality local produce cooked with care, it’s pretty easy. Bring a basic array of condiments, herbs and spices and use what’s in season where you are. The size of the campervan’s cooker will determine how complex your meals are – stoves with single burners are ideal for one-pot meals, while a three-burner cooker lets you be more creative. Remember you can use a barbecue outside your campervan or buy a camping stove to use outdoors.

Try to buy locally grown veg and produce from the village shop or from farmers’ markets. Not only does it taste better than supermarket produce but it all helps support the local economy. At the coast, look out for fresh mackerel and sardines – which are just divine cooked simply on the barbecue or over the campfire’s dying embers. Inland, try to find authentic local sausages and cuts of meat from local family butchers.

What meals can you cook when you’re camping?

Using tins and packets for convenience is absolutely fine, but if you want to take advantage of the slower pace of life on a campervan holiday and create meals using good-quality local produce cooked with care it’s pretty easy. Bring a basic array of condiments, herbs and spices and use what’s in season where you are. The size of the campervan’s cooker will determine how complex your meals are – stoves with single burners are ideal for one pot meals, while a three-burner cooker lets you be more creative. Remember you can use a barbecue outside your van or buy a camping stove to use outdoors.

Try to buy locally grown veg and produce from the village shop or from farmers’ markets. Not only does it taste better than supermarket produce but it all helps support the local economy. At the coast, look out for fresh mackerel and sardines – which are just divine cooked simply on the barbecue or over the campfire’s dying embers. Inland, try to find authentic local sausages and cuts of meat from local family butchers.

Camping larder staples

  • Olive oil and sunflower or vegetable oil
  • Dry pasta
  • Box of flaked sea salt
  • Black pepper mill (and plenty of peppercorns)
  • Cumin, coriander and fennel seeds (whole is best, but ground is fine)
  • Paprika
  • Dried chillies
  • Fresh herbs: garlic, rosemary, thyme, coriander, basil, bay leaves
  • A bottle of hot sauce

Top tip: If you get recipe kit boxes like Gousto or HelloFresh delivered at home, save any leftover small packets of ingredients and take them with you in the campervan. Likewise, pack any unused condiments you’ve received in fast food restaurants or takeaways.

Have a look at our campsite cooking recipe page for ideas of meals you can create in your campervan kitchen, ranging from quick 15-minute dishes to more advanced meals.


Campervan dining sets and cutlery

Glasses and mugs

(Photo by Iain Duff)

Crockery

Take lightweight unbreakable campervan crockery and tableware rather than packing the family china and silverware from home. It’s really a matter of budget and personal preference but there are several options available.

Melamine has been a campervanner’s best friend for decades, as it’s lightweight and hardwearing but now there are dinner sets made from other materials including bamboo, steel, and Vitrelle, a light but durable tempered glass.

Camping dining sets are typically two-person or four-person and include dinner and side plates, breakfast bowls and mugs. Melamine is not recommended for hot drinks as the high temperatures can cause the material to crack, so use bamboo, enamel or titanium mugs instead.

Cutlery

Cutlery

(Photo by Iain Duff)

Likewise, when it comes to campervan cutlery, don’t be tempted to bring knives and forks from home. Put them in a drawer and the rattling will drive you crazy when you’re on the road. Storing exposed blades in a drawer or box is also dangerous, as it can lead to injuries. Instead, buy a cutlery roll or picnic set.

This is a rollable pouch or a zipped soft case that contains all the cutlery you’ll need for dinner, while bigger sets may include other essential accessories such as a bottle opener, corkscrew and chopping board. You’ll also want to get a couple of chopping knives with blade covers, a mini cheese grater, a vegetable peeler, a stirring/serving spoon and a spatula.


Campervan kitchen accessories

Foldable storage containers

(Photo by Iain Duff)

As well as the basics, there are other accessories you might want to add to improve your campervan kitchen set-up.

Whether you do your washing up at the campsite’s dishwashing sinks or in the campervan, you will need a washing-up bowl. If you wash up in your campervan, you’ll need a drainer as well. Plastic or metal food storage boxes are practical and durable. They are perfect for the fridge, as well as for dry items like tea bags and rice, and can also be used for lunch boxes.


Tips

  • Silicone is a great invention, which lends itself to all manner of collapsible kitchen accessories, from colanders, pots and kettles to washing-up bowls, draining boards and storage containers.
  • Get a collapsible washing-up bowl and a selection of storage containers. These take up minimal space in the campervan when not in use and are very versatile. Wax wraps are also a great alternative to cling film and tin foil, as they are reusable.
  • Some campervans come with special storage areas for glasses, meaning you can sip your evening wine or beer from an actual glass.
  • If you frequently grab a hot drink from the petrol station when you’re travelling, buy a reusable cup. This is not only much better for the environment as there’s no rubbish, but you can use it when camping, too. The same goes for cold drinks. Rather than buying drinks in single-use bottles, buy refillable drinks bottles that you can also take out with you on day trips.


Frequently asked questions

What food can I leave in my camper?

You should be able to leave almost any food in your campervan, as long as you store it properly. Keep fresh food in the fridge or cooler and dry food in airtight storage boxes. Don’t leave open packets lying around in cupboards or on surfaces.

How do you keep food cold in a campervan?

Most campervans have fridges but, if yours doesn’t, there are a number of options available to keep food and drink fresh, ranging from basic coolbags, to passive and electric coolboxes and portable compressor fridge/freezers.

Is it safe to cook in a campervan?

Yes, if your campervan was properly built and meets all the Type Approval and safety regulations then cooking should be perfectly safe. Due to the confined space, you should take extra care with hot pans, etc, especially if you are travelling with young children. If you would rather not fill your campervan with cooking smells, use a portable camping stove outside or under a canopy, instead.


Final thoughts

When it comes to campervan cooking, simplicity and practicality are key. Whether you're a fan of quick and easy meals or aspire to be a culinary explorer, your campervan kitchen can cater to your tastes. To fully enjoy the experience, ensure you have the right campervan kitchenware, from stackable lightweight pots and pans to versatile utensils.

Don't forget to explore local produce and support local markets. Your campervan kitchen can be a gateway to discovering new flavours and enjoying the adventure of life on the road. With the right equipment and a dash of creativity, you can savour every moment of your journey.


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