In this first collaborative post, discover the solutions adopted by travellers to eat hot on the road or on the sea. Solar oven, stovetop oven, coal stove oven, portable stove, refillable gas bottle and freeze-dried dishes: in a van or on a sailboat, you can delight yourself!
The essential portable stove
When on a road-trip in a van (or other vehicle with sleeping accommodation), it is useful to be able to cook a minimum amount of food. During the six months I spent in Australia, I bivouacked in magical places in the middle of nature, and it was out of the question for me to look for a restaurant each time to feed myself. As for the cold meals, it’s fine on a picnic, but in the evening I appreciate a good hot meal!
To cook or reheat my food, I used a small portable stove, which I found very practical. Not very bulky, it fits in a case with a handle and is therefore easily transportable. You can put it on a small table for cooking (I had a small folding table), or any piece of work surface.
It works with gas, with small bayonet cartridges the size of an average water bottle. The gas bottle clips on and off easily. A trigger mechanism (piezo igniter) allows the flame to be lit: no need for a match!
Like any gas stove, its use can be made difficult by wind. Sometimes we manage to take shelter, sometimes we have to use imagination with a few pieces of cardboard… in the most extreme cases, it happened to me to use the stove inside the car. It’s quite funny but these are memories that remain!
A refillable gas bottle
FOR WHICH MODES OF TRAVEL? – Travelling by van/camper van.
WHERE TO BUY THEM? – In DIY stores, in some petrol stations, in specialist shops such as Rockgas in New Zealand.
TEXT & PHOTO : Moran from the blog Rencontre le monde.
After more than 7 months travelling in our van on the roads of New Zealand, if there is one small investment we don’t regret is having plates that connect to a refillable gas cylinder.
Because in our van there was a small plate in which you can put a small gas bomb… disposable. So clearly, ecology level is zero. And then, let’s be honest, with Lucy, one plate wasn’t enough for us. And we didn’t want the cooking to cut in the middle… So we bought a “camping gas” with two fires that plug into a real gas bottle and sold the other camping plate. Well, we didn’t want it to take up all the space in the van so we took the smallest one: 2kg (there is a 4kg version and the normal one is 9kg). Finally, our friends who cook a lot, like us, use a gas can every day or two, about 1$NZ per day! With Lucy our refill which costs between 5 and 10$NZ lasts us about 20 days, that is between 25 and 50 cents per day.
So it’s good for the environment, it’s good for your palate and it’s good for your wallet!
Omnia: an oven on your stove
In recent months, we have revolutionised the dishes cooked on board our yacht with the Omnia oven. It must be said that we do not have a conventional oven, microwave, freezer, elaborate cooking utensils, … We might as well tell you that it is not easy to vary the pleasures. That’s where the Omnia oven comes in. No bigger than a casserole, very light and easy to store, this oven allows us to make quiches, bread, cakes of all kinds, simmered dishes, and many other menus that will delight our taste buds.
But what particularly appealed to us about the Omnia oven is the possibility of adapting it to different heat sources, so that it can be used on our sailboat, but also in a van, on a camping stove, or even at home (unless you have induction hobs). So yes, it is not always easy to control the cooking temperature in the oven from one heat source to another. And the shape of the “donut” can be restrictive for some dishes. But, as with everything, it’s a matter of habit.
Nowadays, we couldn’t do without it! And if, like us, you are very careful with your water consumption, we recommend that you have at least one silicone mould to make cleaning and maintenance of your Omnia oven much easier.
The Cobb: the barbecue that turns into an oven
We discovered the Cobb a little by accident. It’s a little-known furnace system that runs on coal! It is rather used in boats, but it goes very well with life in a van. We also have an Omnia oven, but we like to alternate with the Cobb: it allows us to vary the energy sources and to leave that little smoky taste on all our food.
We can use it with the brand’s pancakes (expensive), but we use agglomerated charcoal, it’s perfect and economical. For the blow, we love to cook with it outside, to grill vegetables, to have beautiful pizzas or breads or pies. We use 3 accessories: the grill plate, the pizza plate and the mould (we can adapt a mould and a pizza plate found in the shops if the dimensions correspond, it’s cheaper!).
A little coal, let the smoke evacuate 10 min, put the food/preparation and the big bell on top, and no more smoke during the cooking, it’s magic. So revelation: you can also cook inside with it! The cooking time is rather similar to a classic oven or an Omnia.
We think it’s perfect, but it has 2 drawbacks: it’s a bit imposing and it doesn’t cook well if it’s placed in the wind (normal, but it’s better to know it). In any case, we love it and we can’t wait to take it out!
GoSun: a nomadic solar oven
For our round-the-world sailing trip, we looked for a solution to reduce the use of gas on board. A pressure cooker would have been a good choice for long-cooked food. But we opted instead for the GoSun solar cooker. The sun is an inexhaustible and environmentally friendly energy source.
You’ll be surprised how efficient the GoSun solar oven is. It works even when the sun is slightly overcast. The interior temperature of the oven can be raised up to 300°C by means of vacuum glass. And everything outside, the glass and reflectors stay cold, so there’s no risk of getting burned.
We use it to cook all kinds of food: bread, potatoes, sweet potatoes, vegetables, plantain banana, rice, quinoa, polenta or cakes. To our surprise, it even works with legumes (lentils, chickpeas etc.). In this case, just put the same amount of water as you would with rice or lentils.
Of course, cooking in a solar oven requires a bit of organisation. First of all, consult the weather forecast. Secondly, you shouldn’t be in too much of a hurry. Cooking can take up to an hour or more, depending on the food and the amount of sunlight.
The GoSun solar cooker is ideal for travel by van or boat. We even use it when there are waves.
Dehydrated dishes: a hot meal in seconds
Dehydrated, or freeze-dried, dishes are certainly one of the easiest ways to cook while travelling. These are pre-cooked dishes from which the water has been removed so that they keep for an extremely long time and take up very little space. Convenient when travelling and when space in luggage is limited.
Cooking dehydrated food while travelling has only advantages. First of all, it is a very inexpensive kitchen. You can find very good quality products for less than 5 € and even much cheaper if you decide to go for the most basic dishes such as dehydrated noodles.
It is also a trick that requires very little equipment. Very hot water is enough. A thermos flask filled with boiling water will do the trick throughout the day. When it’s time to eat, just pour the water over the dish and your hot meal is ready in a few minutes.
Another strong point of dehydrated dishes: diversity. You will find something for every taste and will be able to vary the pleasures during your stay. A very wide range of products is available, including many vegetarian and vegan recipes.
This type of cuisine lends itself particularly well to road-trip or trekking trips, especially in cold countries. Nothing is more pleasant than enjoying a good hot meal, ready in a few seconds, when the thermometer barely rises above zero degrees. Without this trick, it is certain that our road-trip in Iceland would have had a completely different flavour!