FOOD & H20
Keeping It Simple
Based on my van build and traveling solo, I keep it simple when it comes to cooking. Remember, I’m doing it all, there’s no teaming up on cooking or cleaning chores. The person doing the driving, planning, scouting camps, water fills, laundry, charging devices, maintaining the van, is the same person doing the meal prep, cooking, and clean up. After a day of driving, hiking, mountain biking, or exploring a park, simple meals work best for me. Do I miss a full kitchen and a patio grill - heck yea!, but that style of cooking doesn’t fit my van life. There’ll be more life down the road for a full kitchen and outdoor grill. Nowadays I eat more to live than live to eat.
Breakfast: Most days, after a cup of coffee (or two), I simply have a Baby Bell cheese and a protein shake. When I’m not in a hurry I’ll make oatmeal or an omelet from a liquid egg product (easy to store and limited cleanup). Between that and lunch I’ll usually have a few hands of peanuts. I do take a multi-vitamin as a supplement for what I’m missing nutritiously.
Lunch: Some days it’s a mixed salad from a bag, avocado with cheese, cold cut sandwich, bowl of chili, smoked sausage, or just snacky foods like nuts, berries, cheese and crackers, or a few spoons of peanut butter. If I know the weather is turning overcast later in the day then I use the microwave and flop dinner for lunch. This usually allows the solar panels to charge the battery near 100% before the cloud cover moves in.
Dinner: Main protein, aside from nuts, includes smoked sausage, chili, chicken/beef fajitas, beef tips, pulled pork, brisket, chicken curry (all of these are precooked), or a grilled cheese/ham/salami sandwich. Sides include anything from an avocado, macaroni and cheese, salad, instant potatoes (although I do try and manage carbs), or rice. As an appetizer I often have olives, cheese and crackers, or a variety of nuts (macadamias, cashews, pistachios, walnuts, or peanuts). For dessert I indulge in 3 or so dark chocolate Kisses.
Dishes: I have no pots and pans and only two of each utensils. I use paper bowls and plates so the only dishes that need washed are what utensils I use. For that I have a small spray bottle with a mixture of vinegar and water and a little elbow grease. This allows for quick cleanup and more quality time in the evening. I know I could reduce waste with reusable plates and bowls, but that would require a makeshift sink, use more water, plus the added time and effort. Overall, I am comfortable with my carbon footprint; although I realize there is room for improvement.
Water: My water consumption is primarily drinking water along with what I need for coffee and cooking. A three gallon jug in the access area under the bed, which has a usb charged pump attached, dispenses water into daily use bottles (16 oz, 32 oz, and 48 oz). There’s a 6 gallon container in the rear of the van to refill the 3 gallon jug as needed. Most any grocery store has a water fill station ($0.30/gallon). I regularly use water stations at parks, rest areas, and Planet Fitness to fill the daily use bottles, which saves the larger containers in the van for when I'm in more remote areas. I use a Sawyers faucet attached filter if I am suspect of the water source at a campground or rest area.
Health / Nutrition Notes: I am not necessarily a health nut, but I truly believe health is our greatest asset. The healthier we are the more we will be able to do in our retirement years. I’ll save the recliner for when I’m not able to get around so good. I am on no medications and schedule an annual physical and track my bloodwork on a spreadsheet. I begin each day with a routine of crunches, pushups, and some simple stretching exercises. Approximately fifteen years ago I set a “life weight” goal of 165 pounds. Figure if I stayed around that number I’d stay out of the doctors office and hospital. Before retiring I was able to maintain + or - 5 pounds of that goal. Since retiring and vanlife, I have consistently been under 160 and as low as 153 after long stretches of backpacking. I feel healthier in vanlife than I have in decades.