Cooking on the road

We decided to go all-electric for the van so we could avoid the hassles of a fixed propane tank. It’s working really well for us but we do still carry a small butane stove for extra capacity.

We aren’t trying to duplicate our full kitchen when we travel, but we do want to be civilized. There’s a balance between convenience and practicality for van life.

We have a single-ring Duxtop induction cooktop for most of our cooking needs. We had to buy new Magma induction-ready saucepans because our existing travel set was not magnetic. Overall we’re very happy with both the induction ring itself and the Magma saucepan set. The pans nest into each other with removable handles, so they take up hardly any room. The non-stick coating makes washing up much easier, and the bases are heavy so there are no hot spots. The set even comes with some foam spacers to prevent the pans from rattling or getting scratched in transit.

Pico Chair and GCI folding table

The induction cooktop is great for use inside the van, or when the weather is nice it’s easy to bring it outside. The folding table we bought is plenty strong enough for the cooktop and a full pan. It makes food prep much easier.

We chose a Westinghouse WCM660B 600 Watt Counter Top microwave with mechanical dials. The smaller wattage consumption means we can use both the microwave and the induction cooktop at the same time with our 2kW inverter if neither of them are set to “high.” The mechanical dials mean that there is no microprocessor, and so no power draw when we are not using the microwave. That saves even more energy because it allows our inverter to enter low-power mode.

Microwave, pantry and fridge cabinets

Next to the microwave cabinet is the fridge. A Truckfridge 130. We’ve written about it already. It’s great for storing pretty much everything we need for life on the road.

Much of our on-the-road cooking involves reheating things that we cooked earlier. Stews, pasta sauces, and such can be frozen beforehand. They save our battery by keeping the fridge cool while they defrost, and they are typically single-pot reheats. When we branch out into more adventurous cooking we can use the microwave as an additional cooking option, or our small butane camping stove.

We both like a cup of tea in the morning, and the occasional fresh-brew coffee. We have a small Bodum electric kettle (similar to this one) that is just right for making two mugs’ worth of boiling water. We use an Aeropress for awesome tasting fresh coffee.

The one thing that is hard to make while we’re traveling is toast. Cooking it in the frying pan is less than satisfying, but electric toasters are just too power-hungry to run from a battery and inverter system, and too bulky to store in the van for just occasional use.

5 Replies to “Cooking on the road”

  1. I checked out a salton induction cook top. However the controls beep at an almost ear piercing volume. (For the hearing impaired?). Just does not go with my camping aesthetic. Wondering if u have this concern with your model or if you have seen a model that makes nice quiet chirps or something?

  2. I have the duxtop now and its not nearly as noisy. Quite pleased with it – it came up with high ratings on other sites, and combined with your recommendation decided to get it. (thank you). I use it most of the time and supplement with a 1 lb propane bottle when doing a big cook up for more than 1 as my battery is not huge (448 aH). I probably don’t need the propane but being cautious as I get to know my battery capacities.

    Am trying to find the right size saucepan for boiling water for coffee. Currently using a good size pot which is a bit of a waste as the whole pot gets heated when I only need 16 oz of water. Just thought I would post this as my comments about induction cooker noise is not a problem with the duxtop. The beeps are not bad at all.

    1. Thanks Tim. The Duxtop is clever enough to sense whether a large or small pan is on top of it, so if you find a good small pan, it’ll only “heat” that smaller surface area in the middle of the ring.

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