Written by: Dominique Paquette
@v.for.vanlife (Guest Writer and Podcast Guest Ep 86 Vanlife – Food Hacks to Eat Healthy)
Edited and updated by Sandra Gentleman, RD
Vanlife is a growing trend for people who want some adventures on the road and to explore and see new places. Being away from home can present some challenges to eating healthy and staying well, but, with careful planning and preparation, eating on the road, through van living can be fun. Vanlife meals can be healthy and satisfying.
Although the limited space and resources may pose some challenges, with careful planning and creativity, you can maintain a nutritious diet with vanlife meals.
Eating healthfully while living in a van or practicing vanlife is definitely possible!
Dominique Paquette is a woman who lives in her van in the summer and travels across the continent annually to visit her sons. Her two grown boys both live in the Pacific Northwest and she has been travelling across Canada for the past three summers in her van to spend time with them.
Through her experience and passion for the lifestyle, she offers some personal suggestions and practical hacks for eating well with vanlife meals!
Here are some tips:
1. Plan your meals
Before hitting the road, you can plan some meals for the day or for the next few days. This will ensure you have a well-balanced diet and you can make a shopping list accordingly.
2. Choose nutritious staples
Stock your van with water and healthy staples like whole grains (quinoa, brown rice), canned beans, nuts, seeds, dried fruits, canned fish, and fresh produce that can last a few days without refrigeration (apples, oranges, carrots, etc.).
3. A well-thought-out kitchen in a van is definitely a plus
If you are not quite there yet in your van design and conversion, invest in portable kitchen equipment: Get some space-saving kitchen essentials like a portable stove, a cooler or fridge, and cooking utensils to make food preparation easier. Tiny cooking accessories for vanlife meals can also come in handy for maximizing space in the van.
4. Opt for whole food options
Instead of relying on processed or pre-packaged foods, focus on whole foods like fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and whole grains. These can be easily stored and prepared in small spaces.
5. Make use of local markets and farm stands
Explore local farmer’s markets or farm stands along your travels. They often offer fresh, seasonal produce, which is not only healthy but also supports local businesses.
6. Cook in batches
Save time and maximize resources by cooking vanlife meals in batches. Preparing larger quantities of meals will minimize cooking time and allow for easy reheating.
7. Utilize outdoor cooking
Take advantage of the great outdoors by cooking over a campfire or using a portable grill. Grilling vegetables, fish, or lean meats can add flavor and variety to your meals.
8. Make sure you have potable water
Carry a refillable water bottle and refill whenever possible to avoid reliance on single-use plastic bottles.
9. Don’t forget about snacks
Pack nutritious snacks like trail mix, granola bars, fresh fruits, or cut-up vegetables to curb hunger between meals. This will keep you fueled and prevent unhealthy cravings.
10. Stay flexible and adaptable
Embrace the vanlife mindset by being open to local food experiences. Explore new cuisines, try local specialties, and enjoy the culinary diversity that comes with traveling.
By incorporating these tips into your vanlife journey, you can maintain a healthy and well-balanced diet. Remember, it’s all about planning, making smart choices, and being intentional with your food choices. Enjoy the adventure while nourishing your body!
Learn more by tuning in to Ep 86 of My Wife the Dietitian to hear about vanlife meals during our interview with Dominique.