Cooking for van life is similar to camping, but has its own unique challenges. The van we rented had a very small fridge (you can read more about the experience here), so we had to choose our refrigerated items with care. Below, I’m featuring the four dinners we made in the van. They were all made on a two-burner camping stove and could just as easily be made on a regular camping trip, no van needed. All of these meals are variations of things we make at home, but with tweaks to make them more camping friendly. As for our other meals, we kept our breakfasts pretty simple: eggs and toast, bagels with cream cheese and jam, or yogurt and granola. For lunches, we did PB&J sandwiches, crackers with salami and cheese, or snacks while we were on the trail.

Chicken Alfredo


  • 1 jar alfredo sauce
  • 1 box bowtie noodles
  • 1 can chicken
  • 1 bag of green beans


  1. Cook noodles until al dente and drain noodles.
  2. Add alfredo sauce, chicken, and green beans to the pot. Cook until chicken is cooked through.

We served this with garlic knots that we got from the bakery section of Walmart. They were supposed to be cooked in the oven, but we just heated them up in the skillet and they were delicious. A baguette would be equally delicious.

Stir Fry

This recipe featured several of our items that we deemed “fridge worthy.”


  • 1 bag stir fry veggies
  • 1 lb chicken
  • 2 packages Uncle Ben’s Ready Rice Basmati Rice
  • 1 bottle Trader Joe’s Teriyaki Sauce
  • 2-3 TBSP oil (We bot a small bottle of sesame oil from Trader Joe’s)


  1. Cook the chicken in a tablespoon or two of oil. Remove from pan and cut into bite sized pieces.
  2. Add a bit more oil to the pan and saute the veggies until tender crisp.
  3. Add the rice, chicken, and sauce and cook until everything is heated through.

Skillet Enchiladas

Enchiladas are a regular part of our meal rotation, so it’s no surprise a variation of them made an appearance on our trip. The chicken can be left out of this meal to make it vegetarian and it would still be really good.


  • 1 can pinto beans
  • 2 small or 1 large can(s) of green enchilada sauce
  • 1 can corn
  • 1 can chicken
  • 1 bag tortilla chips
  • 1 jar salsa
  • Shredded cheese, optional


  1. Add beans, enchilada sauce, corn, and chicken to a pot. Bring to a simmer, stirring occasionally.
  2. Crush some tortilla chips up into the bottom of every individual’s bowl. Ladle a desired amount of enchilada mixture on top of the chips.
  3. Top with salsa, shredded cheese, or any other desired toppings.

Skillet Gnocchi Al Forno

Gnocchi Al Forno is one of our kids’ favorite dishes. This meal was also our last dinner, so we were trying to use up as much of our food as possible. We had leftover salami from lunches that we pan fried.


  • 1 jar pasta sauce
  • 1 package gnocchi
  • ~ 4 oz cream cheese (we’d been eating bagels with cream cheese for breakfast, so we used all that was left)
  • Cheese for topping (Parmesan or an Italian blend is ideal, we had a cheddar blend and it still tasted quite good.)
  1. Cook gnocchi according to package directions. Drain and return to the stove. Add the pasta sauce and cook until it is heated through.
  2. Dollop with cream cheese and sprinkle with cheese.

Written by Audrey

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.