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.
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.
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.