5 Favorite Meals to Cook in the Van

katie cooking

If anybody has cooked near or around me, they know how horrible of a cook I can be.

I’m known to burn rice, toast, and eggs. I’ve also burned towels trying to use them as potholders, warped pans, and melted spatulas while cooking. With all this being said, it was one of my goals to learn how to cook while on the road. I have plenty of time to plan, grocery shop, and practice. So that’s what I’ve been doing! After 6 months of messing around with different meals, these are the absolute favorites…

**Most of our recipes are from Fresh Off the Grid. We also are subscribed to the Bon Appetit newsletter, which provides many great recipes. If we want to try something new, we often just Google a recipe or ask recommendations from friends. Let it be known that we often tweak recipes!! I will include these changes below.

Sweet Potato and Peanut Stew with Kale (it’s even vegan!)


  • 1 tablespoon oil
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced (used 2 fresh cloves and small scoop of pre-minced canned garlic)
  • 1 medium sweet potato, chopped in ¼ inch cubes
  • 2 cups broth
  • 14 oz can diced tomatoes
  • ¼ cup peanut butter
  • 2 teaspoons New Mexico chili powder (used Cajun seasoning instead)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 14 oz can chickpeas, drained
  • 2 cups tuscan kale, destemmed and chopped


  1. Heat the oil in a dutch oven over medium heat (we supplemented for a cast iron but it was VERY full). Add the onion and sauté about 5 minutes, until translucent and just starting to brown in spots. Thrown in the garlic and sauté until fragrant, about 1 minute.
  2. Add the sweet potato, broth, tomatoes and their juices, peanut butter, chili powder, and salt. Stir well to ensure the peanut butter is thoroughly mixed in and there’s no clumps remaining. Simmer, uncovered, for about 15-20 minutes, or until the sweet potatoes are tender.
  3. Once the sweet potatoes are tender, add the chickpeas and the kale. Stir to combine and heat until the chickpeas have warmed through and the kale has wilted.

BBQ Chicken Pizza

We combined different techniques and things we’d tried in the past. No direct recipe link but this is generally what we follow!


  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • Pre-made pizza dough (refrigerated – have used Great Value, Pillsbury, but our favorite is by WeWalka)
  • BBQ sauce
  • 1 chicken breast
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • Mozzarella cheese
  • Cilantro (for serving)
  • Bacon (optional)
  • 1 medium onion, sliced and caramelized (optional)
  • Canned, diced jalapenos (optional for a kick!)


  1. Cook the chicken breast with your preferred method (we prefer to cook chicken in a pan with a bit of broth). Cut into small cubes and set aside.
  2. Cook the bacon with your preferred method. Cut into tiny pieces and set aside.
  3. Caramelize onions and set aside.
  4. Heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a cast iron pan. Roll out the pizza dough into your preferred shape, based on pan, and place in the pan. Cook one side of the dough for a few minutes, until golden brown. Pour 1 tablespoon of olive oil on the face-up side of dough, then turn down heat and flip the dough over.
  5. Spread minced garlic on pizza dough, followed by BBQ sauce. Spread out evenly on dough. Shower pizza dough in mozzarella cheese, onions, jalapenos, cubed chicken breast, bacon pieces, and another small layer of cheese (to hold everything together).
  6. Turn the heat back on medium and place a lid on the pan. Keep your eye on the pizza to ensure the toppings properly melt without burning the bottom side of the pizza crust.
  7. Remove and sprinkle with cilantro. TA-DA! You have homemade pizza from a stove.

Lemony Chicken Orzo Soup with Dill


  • Tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 medium leek, white and pale-green parts only, halved lengthwise, sliced crosswise ½-inch thick
  • 1 celery stalk, sliced crosswise ½-inch thick
  • 12 ounces skinless, boneless chicken thighs
  • 6 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • Kosher salt, freshly ground pepper
  • ½ cup orzo
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh dill
  • Lemon halves (for serving)


  1. Heat oil in a large heavy pot over medium heat. Add leek and celery and cook, stirring often, until vegetables are soft, 5-8 minutes.
  2. Add chicken and broth; season with salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, cover, reduce heat, and simmer until chicken is cooked through, 15-20 minutes.
  3. Transfer chicken to a plate. Let cool, then shred chicken into bite-size pieces.
  4. Return broth to a boil. Add orzo and cook until al dente, 8-10 minutes.
  5. Remove pot from heat. Stir in chicken and dill.
  6. Serve with lemon halves for squeezing over.

Coconut Red Lentil Stew with Kale


  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 large shallot, chopped
  • 1 ½ teaspoon coriander
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 14 oz can diced tomatoes, with juices
  • 14 oz can broth, or bouillon equivalent
  • 2 tablespoons coconut milk power (we can’t EVER find this so we supplement ½ can of coconut milk)
  • 1 cup red lentils
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups chopped kale


  1. Over medium heat, sauté shallot in olive oil until beginning to soften, about 2 minutes. Add the minced garlic, cumin, coriander, and cayenne and sauté 30 seconds, until fragrant.
  2. Add the tomatoes and their juices, broth, coconut milk powder, red lentils, and salt. Stir to combine. Bring to a boil and then lower to a simmer. Add the kale. Cook until the lentils begin to break apart and become creamy, about 20 minutes. Season to taste, and serve immediately. This would be great topped with some chopped cilantro or a squeeze of lime!

Gyros (*tweaked a LOT)

Original recipe can be found at the link below. Here is our version…



  • Pre-cut stew beef
  • Feta cheese crumbles
  • 10 cheery tomatoes
  • 2 teaspoons oil
  • Salt to taste
  • Flatbreads or large pitas
  • 1 medium purple onion, sliced
  • Shredded lettuce


  • 1 clove garlic, finely minced
  • Juice of ½ lemon (about 2 TBSP)
  • Tablespoon olive oil
  • Teaspoon dried oregano

LEMON YOGURT SAUCE: (can also buy tzatziki pre-made)

  • ½ cup plain Greek yogurt
  • Juice of ½ lemon
  • 1 clove garlic, finely minced
  • ¼ teaspoon salt


  1. Stir together all marinade ingredients in a small bowl. Place the meat in a large zip-lock bag or re-sealable container and pour in the marinade, making sure the meat is completed coated. Meat should marinate at least an hour, and up to 48 hours.
  2. Heat olive oil in a pan on medium high. Cook meat and marinade until meat is done as preferred (we cooked ours pretty thoroughly).
  3. In the meantime, make the yogurt sauce by combining the yogurt, lemon juice, garlic, and salt.
  4. Build your gyros by spreading some of the sauce on each flatbread, and topping with meat, tomatoes, onion, feta, lettuce, and salt and pepper.

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