When we left for a life on the road we knew we would be soon getting a crash course on minimalism. Our van full of stuff would be the only things we own. No more couches, big screen tv’s, king sized beds etc.
In the weeks leading up to moving into our van we went through everything we had and decided on that item’s importance to us. We ended up selling most things, donating lots, throwing out some and keeping even less.
The things that make up our everyday life is surprisingly minimal. We have a mere fraction of what we used to. For van life everything needs to have multiple uses in our life. Instead, you do everything to get outside and live.
This is us. Even though we live a minimal life we still travel with a van full of our gear. It enables us to not only work from anywhere but also enjoy life to the fullest.
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When we were downsizing it was difficult to decide what was worth keeping and what was a mere luxury that we didn’t need. Some luxuries of course are worth keeping which further blurred the line. Since living in our van full time we are still constantly analyzing what has meaning in our lives.
Whether you are a weekend warrior or living in your vehicle, the gear you bring is all you have. Being in a remote location can be dangerous if you aren’t prepared.
One of the biggest things we have learned is quality over quantity. As we shop so infrequently we find it much more worthwhile to pay for a more expensive high quality item than one that will fall apart. For example a bamboo thread shirt rather than your standard $5 cotton. After all, if you only own 6 shirts it is important that they feel soft and last a while without wrinkles rather than getting a hole in it after a couple wears.
As food is our biggest expense everyday expense, and our health is important to us, we thought it was appropriate to start off in our kitchen.
Even though we are living in small quarters, food is still one of the biggest parts of our life. We place a high importance on the quality of the food we eat and food is one of our biggest expenditures. Our first leg of the trip we spent far too much time at Taco Bell. Eating out became expensive and repetitive.
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Plus you begin to feel as though you are on vacation instead of living a lifestyle. Being able to pull off the road, literally anywhere, and cook a full meal is one of the best parts of this life.
This post is one in a series where we will slowly release all the gear we carry and their level of usefulness in our everyday life. This is great for those looking to a life of minimalism or looking to take to their home on wheels.
As we do not have an oven or microwave we have learned to make practically every meal with only a two-burner stovetop. Believe it or not, this has not hindered what we cook in the slightest. From pot pies to spaghetti squash we have learned to make our stovetop our lifeline.
Even though we couldn’t customize our rig like in DIY van conversions we find that we have everything we need.
This has been one of the best purchases we’ve made since being on the road. Our fridge, even though it takes up a lot of square footage, allows us to actually keep food (and beer) cold for long periods of time. We’re literally writing this article in the middle of nowhere because we have enough food that allows us to not be tied to cities for weeks at a time.
We have a few mugs that we use every single day. They keep our drinks cold for days and hot for the entire day. Safe to say we use our Yeti mugs for just about every liquid we drink. If we aren’t drinking from our water bottles, we use our insulated cups for anything from cold to hot. The only downside is they don’t fit in our cup holders.
Stainless Steel Thermos ★★★✰✰
This will keep your water colder for longer than plastic bottles. And if you are a coffee fanatic like us, it will allow you to have hot cups of coffee for up to 24 hours. While this is used by us often, we know it is much more of a luxury than a necessity.
Pots & Pans ★★★★★
If there is one thing we admittedly have too many of, it is our pots and pans. With one large frying pan, a small long handled pot as well as our Enamel set, there is a lot.
Enamel Pots & Pans ★★★★★
These are the best for cooking over the fire. They last forever and are easy to clean – something we love. We have 1 regular pot and a pan as well as our enamel kettle which is all we use. We do however cart around an unused large enamel pot that we have hardly ever used.
We have four plates. They are all enamel as we have found that they are the toughest and can withstand our rough lifestyle. We love the diversity that this provides as we use them to cover our food while cooking to insulate heat rather than cart around a lid for our pots.
Biodegradable soap ★★★★★ <a href=”https://www.amazon.ca/gp/product/B0009ET6TS?ie=UTF8&linkCode=li2&tag=freedomchas00-20&linkId=ca2f6752764938094e1179c98ac12cc7&language=en_CA&ref_=as_li_ss_il” target=”_blank”><img border=”0″ src=”//ws-na.amazon-adsystem.com/widgets/q?_encoding=UTF8&ASIN=B0009ET6TS&Format=_SL160_&ID=AsinImage&MarketPlace=CA&ServiceVersion=20070822&WS=1&tag=freedomchas00-20&language=en_CA” ></a><img src=”https://ir-ca.amazon-adsystem.com/e/ir?t=freedomchas00-20&language=en_CA&l=li2&o=15&a=B0009ET6TS” width=”1″ height=”1″ border=”0″ alt=”” style=”border:none !important; margin:0px !important;” />
Our soap is one of our favourite and most widely used items in our van. We do a lot of dishes and are friends with the environment. We use one soap that doubles as an all-in-one for laundry, dishes, dog wash, hand soap and anything else we can think of. The best part is that it is safe enough to use in rivers.
We have two bowls. We honestly don’t use them very often and could easily do without them. They are most often used in times when we run out of plates and are far too lazy to do dishes. One thing these are great for is mixing. Our new favourite sauce is a honey mustard-mayo concoction.
We work in sets of four. Four forks, four knives and four spoons. Seeing as that we eat mostly raw foods, our knives go almost completely unused and our spoons rarely see the inside of our mouth.
Sharp Knives ★★★★✰
We have one serrated and one smooth sharp knives that we use for everyday cutting. This gives us the diversity to cut nearly everything. We find that since we are vegans and do not cut through tough meat, this is more than we need to get by. The trick is to get a knife that has a blade sharpener built into the sheath. This way you always know you have a sharp knife to work with.
<a href=”https://www.amazon.ca/Sabatier-5171959-Triple-Riveted-EdgeKeeper-Self-Sharpening/dp/B071L73PW1?keywords=self%2Bsharpening%2Bknife&qid=1652904477&sprefix=knife%2Bwith%2Bself%2Caps%2C174&sr=8-5&th=1&linkCode=li2&tag=freedomchas00-20&linkId=6f4ae619457a1fd420a02303d87cdc12&language=en_CA&ref_=as_li_ss_il” target=”_blank”><img border=”0″ src=”//ws-na.amazon-adsystem.com/widgets/q?_encoding=UTF8&ASIN=B071L73PW1&Format=_SL160_&ID=AsinImage&MarketPlace=CA&ServiceVersion=20070822&WS=1&tag=freedomchas00-20&language=en_CA” ></a><img src=”https://ir-ca.amazon-adsystem.com/e/ir?t=freedomchas00-20&language=en_CA&l=li2&o=15&a=B071L73PW1″ width=”1″ height=”1″ border=”0″ alt=”” style=”border:none !important; margin:0px !important;” />
If you are anything like us you hate paper towels. They are expensive and unnecessarily harmful to the environment. Cutting up old clothes works great for us but we also have proper face cloths. We use these to clean our van and to wash our dogs feet when they play in mud.
Washing Tub ★★★★★
Yes we have a sink, but it’s easier to bring our dishes outside and wash them on the grass in case we splash. Make sure to get a versatile tub (we have a collapsible one) so that you can fit a pair of pants in it to do laundry. We tend to use a bungee strap and hook it to our passenger door handle so we can stand up straight and do dishes freely.
Cutting block ★★★★★
This is so useful for both cutting our veggies and for acting as a place to put our hot plates so they don’t harm our counters. It fits perfectly over top of our sink so it is out of the way. As a bonus, it also prevents our stovetop from chattering as we drive.
Since our stove runs on propane it is necessary to carry matches and a lighter. There is no electric start to our stove so we manually have to ignite it every time we want to use it. It sounds like a pain, but we actually like striking a match. There is something satisfying about it.
Can Opener ★★★✰✰
Some of our food, like pasta sauces and refried beans, come in cans that require a can opener.
Bottle Opener ★★★★★
It’s hard to drink beer without a bottle opener. We like ours which also has a wine opener as well.
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While we use our scissors often, there is virtually nothing we can’t open with a knife rendering our scissors to be more of an unneeded luxury rather than a useful everyday item.
Mixing Bowls ★★★★★
With the amount of salads and wraps we eat, large mixing bowls are important. We have three mixing bowls of various sizes that stack into each other. We use these big bowls to make lots of our food and although they take up a huge amount of space, we find them quite important.
We have far too many spatulas. We typically only use our white spoon with a stunted handle that fits perfectly in our drawer and tongs that we use to flip our cooking. In addition, we cart around a flipper and a pasta spatula that we need to purge as we never use them. The Dollar store has these for ridiculously cheap prices.
Ok, this isn’t exactly kitchen related but we don’t have a laundry room. Having a rope on hand will make it so that you can use the tub and your biodegradable soap to wash your clothes. This will also act as your clothesline.
Veggie Bag ★★★★✰
As we live with our windows and doors completely open the majority of the time, having these veggie bags are incredibly important. They make it so that our fruits and vegetables stay safe and bug free during the day. They also allow us to get creative and hang our produce all over the van.
Our van, like any Westfalia, comes equipped with two swiveling tables. These have been specifically designed to fit perfectly. They are able to reach the passenger seat when it is facing backwards, and over our bed when it is transformed into a seat. This is the area where we do everything from work on our computers to prepare and eat our food. This also works as our only counter space making them even more valuable.
It has been said that the kitchen is the heart of the home. This is true in our tiny home as well, despite our minimalism lifestyle. Cooking may look a bit different in this small space but it has become more important than ever. Our life as vanpeople has shown us the importance of minimalism.
Are you a vanlifer? Let us know what your essential kitchen gear is in the comment section below!
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