Top 8 Must Have Items in Our Vanlife Kitchen

I absolutely love to cook. One of the hardest things for me to give up when we moved into the van was all of my kitchen appliances, spices, and baking supplies that I could keep without dramatically altering the space in our kitchen. Now, our kitchen counter pushes up to our bed, and Zak can’t pass behind me while I’m cooking without putting his butt in the shower. Are you getting the picture? We basically live in a home the size of a walk-in closet. And if our whole home is a walk-in closet, then what does that make our vanlife kitchen?

In our own kitchen, we personally chose not to have an oven. We wanted all of our appliances to be electric only, and the vast majority of ovens for RVs and vans are run on gas. We chose this because we didn’t want to deal with the added possibility of fire, explosion, or carbon monoxide issues. So, the big appliances that we have in our kitchen at the moment are an induction stove, a 700W microwave, and a refrigerator/ freezer combo. Let us share the top 8 items in our vanlife kitchen that have allowed us to save space while still allowing me to cook great meals every night!

8. Magic Bullet Blender

Zak makes himself a protein shake every morning, but it doesn’t make sense to have a full-sized blender in our van. This Magic Bullet blender has been such an awesome tool in our vanlife kitchen because it is small and compact, doesn’t use a lot of battery, and can be used for multiple purposes. Zak uses it for shakes and smoothies, but I personally use it to blend up soups and to use as a food processor.

The magic bullet blender, the #8 must have item in our vanlife kitchen. It comes with a screw-on blade, a cup, and the blender base.
The Magic Bullet blender!

7. Magnetic Knife Rack

Our magnetic knife rack is awesome and saves us a lot of drawer space. Zak gifted me a set of knives for my birthday a few years back, and these are the same knives that are on our rack today! The magnetic knife rack idea actually came from The Hunter’s Vanlife. They loved it in their kitchen, and we love it in ours! Honestly, if we ever move back into a stationary home, I think I may put a magnetic knife strip on the wall! I love it! PS– We have never had a knife fall off/ injure anyone. This is one STRONG magnet!

The #7 vanlife kitchen must-have: a magnetic knife rack. Picture shows 3 large knives, 2 small knives, and a pair of kitchen shears
The knife rack

6. Magnetic Spice Rack

So, I LOVE to cook with spices, but with such little cabinet space (we only have one small cabinet and one large cabinet for storing dry food) it didn’t make a lot of sense for us to keep our original spice collection. Those full-sized bottles can really take up a LOT of room! Instead, we found a great magnetic spice rack which has 20 2.5oz hexagonal glass jars. The lids are magnetic, which allows them to easily and safely stick to the white magnetic board it comes with. The jars allow you to see all of the beautiful colors of the spices, AND they come with SO many spice sticker options to label the jars. Also, with all of the driving and bumping around we have done in the last 7 months on the road, we have had absolutely no issue with jars falling off of the board!

Vanlife kitchen must-have #6: magnetic spice rack. Shows 20 different spices in glass jars, all on their magnetic board mounted to the wall.
The magnetic spice rack with all of our spices!

5. CollapsIble Tupperware

Okay, so maybe this doesn’t seem deserving to be on the list, but space is SO important in your vanlife kitchen. These collapsible tupperwares were Zak’s idea, and I was very skeptical at first, but honestly, I wish these were the only tupperwares we had now! Basically, the idea is that once you start to eat some of your leftovers, they obviously don’t need the same amount of space. So, the tupperware can fold in on itself. They are silicone, washable, and microwavable! Plus they come in fun colors.

Our collapsible tupperware set

4. Fridge

Do I really need to explain this one? As you know, we are having some fridge problems at the moment because I chipped away at the ice in the freezer with a butter knife and hammer… DON’T DO IT! As I am getting to know our fridge and others better, they all sort of run and work the same, and really the only huge thing you need to decide is if you would prefer the chest style or the upright mini-fridge type. We currently have the isotherm, and it was $1300 and we are not in love. It’s fine, it’s a good fridge. The thing we love best about it is that it draws SO little current.

Really what you want is a working fridge!

3. Induction Stove

We love this induction stove top. It can go into the countertop, or it can sit on top of the counter top (it comes with feet). It pulls a fair amount of power when it’s on, but nothing crazy. We have 300 amp hours of lithium battery powering our whole van and we’ve never had issues with power. You do have to get induction-friendly pans and BPA-free plastic or wooden utensils (no metal!!!) — here are the pots and pans we have.

Induction stove top

2. 700 W Microwave

I feel like I’ve heard that only bougie vanlifers have a microwave. That’s not true. We probably use this appliance the most in our vanlife kitchen. Zak makes oatmeal, we warm up left overs, and I’ve even been satisfying my sweet tooth by learning how to make mug-cakes in this bad boy! Love it, and you’ve gotta have it!

700W Microwave

1. 3-Quart Instant Pot

Okay guys! This is our big daddy, absolute FAVORITE vanlife kitchen appliance out there! The 3 qt instant pot is the smallest version of the instant pot, but it is absolutely amazing. It cooks rice PERFECTLY, I made the best pot roast I have ever made IN MY LIFE in this thing, meatballs come out tender and delicious, potatoes are made to perfection, I’ve even made chocolate lava cake in this thing… I just love this thing so much. This is the ultimate “set it and forget it” tool. It comes with preset times for certain items like rice, porridge, beans, and soup, but you also have the ability to manually set it.

The 3 quart instant pot!

Are you interested in learning more about our day to day life in the van or our van build process? Make sure to check out the rest of our blog. And remember, if you ever have any questions, please feel free to contact us!

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