I find campervan holidays very relaxing. Not because of the beautiful views from the window of my campervan, the freedom of being able to stop for the night and wild camp wherever I like, and the feeling that work is a world away.Well, because of all those things – but also because everything seems so easy. When I’m at home, I feel like I spend far too much time slaving in the kitchen. When we’re away, things are far more laid-back. The constraints of a smaller bench area, fridge and cooking appliances actually work in my favour and mean I’m forced to cook easy meals which I can throw together in a flash (rather than the extravaganzas I attempt at home). And the family seem to love it!
Here are some of my favourite campervan catering tips.
Cooking on your New Zealand rental campervan holiday
One-pot dinners (I call them my one-pot wonders) are the way to go when you’re in a campervan. In a large pot, cook up pasta or rice, drain in a colander, then cook up other stuff like onion, a can of tomatoes, mince, beans, whatever takes your fancy – add the pasta or rice back in and mix all together, add some herbs and spices if you feel so inclined, and voila, dinner is done! When served, add grated cheese on top for the fussy eaters.
Fritters are your friends. I love how anything can go in a fritter and I always travel in my campervan with a couple of tins or packets of things like corn or tuna which I can turn into fritters to feed a couple of hungry kids or stretch (that’s the beauty of fritters) to feed a cast of thousands if the kids’ campground friends turn up for dinner. Fritters are great when you want to use up leftovers or if you just can’t think of anything else to cook.
Cook stuff you can reheat the next day. Boiled or mashed potatoes make a yummy fry-up the next morning with eggs. Yesterday’s nacho mix can be revived on top of a microwaved potato, toast or even pasta. Your fellow campervan travellers will be so busy enjoying the view, and so tired from a day’s adventuring, they won’t even notice you’ve reinvented last night’s meal.
Use your cupboard space. Campervan fridges are generally fairly small so buy packets rather than cans - they take up less room in the cupboards. Get some of those small ziplock sandwich bags – great for keeping things fresh and sealed and for storing opened packets. Make sure the campervan has a couple of plastic containers (or pick up some cheap ones) for storing leftover food too.
Buy local produce. Get your staples at the supermarket and stock up on fruit and veggies and local produce as you travel along – it’ll be fresher, tastier and cheaper. Buying locally grown produce is better for the environment too – less carbon miles! In New Zealand you’ll often see stalls or vans parked on the side of the road where you can buy seasonal produce and sometimes seafood. If you’re not sure how to cook something, just ask – New Zealanders are a friendly lot and we love sharing our cooking tips.
Farmers markets are another great way to source locally grown produce. Here’s a link to some of the most well-known farmers markets in New Zealand (though you’ll find them in one guise or another in most towns).
Catch your own food – even better than buying from the locals, try getting your food yourself! You can pick your own berries or fruit (in season) – a great and cheap family activity. In most popular coastal tourist destinations you’ll find fishing charter operations where all the fishing gear is supplied. Or you can even collect your own shellfish such as pipis or tuatuas to make into yummy fritters. Check the signs on the beach to make sure shellfish from the area is safe to eat, and also make sure you don’t take more than your quota.
Have a BBQ break – some campervan companies offer the option of portable BBQs to take on your campervan rental holiday. You’ll also find BBQs available at most camping grounds. A great way to cook a simple, tasty meal – and get someone else to do the cooking for once!
Have a night off cooking entirely and eat like the locals. Try fish and chips on the beach, straight from their newspaper wrapping. And a Maori hangi dinner (cooked in an underground oven) is a must-try if you get the chance.
Don’t get me wrong – if you’re more of a gourmet chef, there are plenty of motorhome rental options which offer wonderful kitchens with plenty of scope for whipping up a delicious feast on your motorhome rental holiday. Find a rental motorhome to suit your needs.