We get the question, "what do you eat?" a lot...
The answer, food.
The only thing we're missing from our previous kitchen (in an actual house) is an oven... okay, and a sink. We use a two-burner propane stove and have pots and pans and utensils to whip up anything our little bellies desire.
MJ has held the glamorous position of "kitchen tool" in one restaurant or another for over a decade so he's no stranger to making food in less than desirable conditions. "I'm just glad Erin can't leave me a bad Yelp review out here. Cell service is spotty." - MJ
Cooking outdoors really isn't much different than cooking at home. You pick out some stuff you like to eat, prep it, get it nice and hot in a pan and then shovel it down. Sometimes you can skip some steps and eat it cold.
We have a few staple meals that we haven't gotten tired of yet. Now follow us along down the winding path of culinary excellence that is blue collar boondockin' vanside cuisine!
One Egg A Day Keeps the Doctor Away + Avo Toast
For MJ, breakfast is getting as much sleep as Erin will allow him to have.
Erin would much rather have an egg and toast in the morning. It does require a few dishes and by the time we take everything out, make the food, clean up, and put everything back we're looking at a 30 minute breakfast. However, it's the most important meal of the day.
Here's the best combo we've found to date:
Make some toast.
Once the bread is toasted to perfection spread some avocado over it.
Fry up a few slices of bacon and a sunny-side up egg.
Combine to make an open face sandwich and dig in.
Rice N' Veggies (and sometimes meat) Stir-Fry
This one is a classic. All of the greats from Julia Child to Marco Pierre White have cooked this dish. We even heard it was prepared for all of Henry the 8th’s wives at one point. We dig this meal because we can make it two ways. One way is made with Cajun sausage and it’s like a generic jambalaya. The other way, we sub chicken or pork and use some Asian sauce that is always on sale and go for the stir fry route. Either way we like it.
Rice. Whatever kind you have
Veggies. We always seem to buy peppers, mushrooms and onions. You do you.
Cajun sausage for jambo. Chicken/pork/beef for stir fry. Or no meat if your prefer it that way!
Hot sauce or some kind of Asian sauce. Your choice.
Ok, this is pretty complex so pay attention. If you have regular rice that takes 12 hours to cook go ahead and get that on some heat right now. If not, prep all of your veggies and meat. I don’t care how you cut them. Do what you feel. Heat up a pan with oil and cook that meat. When it’s about halfway done chuck your veggies in. If your rice is of the “instant” variety start cooking that now. Now here’s where things get tricky. If you’re going the Cajun route, throw everything in a bowl and pour in as much of your favorite hot sauce as you like then mix. You done. If you’re getting fancy and going for that “authentic” Asian stir fry, pour some of your sauce in the pan with all your goodies and get it good and hot. Now pour it all into a big bowl and share with your buddy. Unless you’re some kind of monster and need your very own bowl and fork thus creating more dishes to clean later.
Slightly Better Than College RameN'
Oh Ramen. We all love you. Sometimes MJ just takes a bite out of the dry noodles like some kind of rabid animal. Anyway... ramen is pretty hip today. White people in gentrified neighborhoods all across America are lighting up those taste buds with flavors from the Far East. I guess we’re no different. But this ramen only cost us a few bucks. PS: if you’re in Indianapolis and you want some fantastic ramen and Japanese food make sure you check out Asaka on 82nd street. They’re a small family operation that has been doing it way longer than it’s been cool! Ok, back to our slightly better than college ramen.
1. Instant ramen. However many packs your little belly can handle.
2. Veggies. We generally go for corn, chili pepper, mushroom, and onion.
3. Egg. Gotta have that soft boiler in there.
4. Meat. This is up to you. Sometimes we have some and sometimes we don’t. When we do we just slice it thin and throw it in.
Really? You need directions for this? Ok....
Heat up a pot of water and put the noodles in. When we first started dating MJ would always plate up our meals super nice. Now he just throws everything in at once. Perks of living with someone in a van?
You can throw in an egg to soft boil it while you're cooking your noods or you can do what we do sometimes and just fry one up and throw it on top. Your call. Same goes for the meat. Sometimes we just slice it up super thin and throw it in the pot and it cooks right up. You can also cook it separately and add it later if you want. Now that you have everything cooked to perfection throw it all into one big bowl and share with your homie. Or if you're some kind of monster put it in two separate bowls and make more dishes to clean up later.
After Hiking Gas Station Mac N' Cheese
This is our most glutinous meal and is usually best enjoyed after a long day of hiking. Don't let the words "gas station" deter you from this one, folks. Keep reading and you'll understand the name a little better.
1 Box of Mac N' Cheese (Whatever brand you prefer. We usually go for the 79¢ version, but occasionally we'll splurge for shells and cheese.)
2-3 Mini Half N' Half Creamers from any gas station
Butter, if directed on Mac N' Cheese box, and even if not. What? Don’t give me that look!
1 Cup Yellow Onion, Diced
1 Cup White Mushrooms, Diced
Andouille Sausage, Sliced (Optional)
Slice and Dice Onion, Mushrooms and Sausage and put in pan.
Cook the Mac N' Cheese as directed on box. If Mac N' Cheese box lists milk as one of the ingredients, omit and use use gas station creamers instead.
While Mac N' Cheese is boiling go ahead and cook up your veggies. This is also a great time to add some bacon if you didn’t eat it all for breakfast.
When everything is ready combine it all in one big bowl and mix it up. Share that bowl with your pal unless you’re some kind of monster and need your own bowl thus creating more dishes to clean up.
There you have it, our go-to meals. We don't eat these for every meal but usually at least once or twice a week! What are your favorite camping/vanlife meals? We wouldn't mind trying something new!