cooking while living van life

i guess i can finally write this post.

for several months, i avoided buying a camping stove or fridge for the van because i really didn’t need it, and the whole purpose of vandwelling is for me to save money

i first bought an instantpot because i was nervous about cooking inside the van with propane or butane, but it turns out, for my purposes, it’s kind of a pain in the ass. so i decided to invest $25 in a camping stove, and less than $300 for a 12v fridge. now i have a source of fuel for cooking and a place to store perishable food. now time to be an adult and use it.

butane vs. propane

butane canisters are light compared to propane tanks, so if you’re carrying them with you, like while camping, you may want to carry a butane camping stove.

sadly, butane will not work below 30 degrees. this is likely a dealbreaker for most people. 

propane is cheaper per BTU compared to butane and more reliable in all types of weather. as an added bonus, propane tanks are typically refillable and can be found most places. propane tanks probably make more sense for stationary stove setups.

two-burner vs. single-burner

i believe this all comes down to personal preference and space. if you need to have multiple pots cooking at once, then a two-burner makes sense, but if you’re like me, easy peasy, a single burner will work just fine. 

backpacking stoves are much smaller than single burners, but are perfect for campers. however, if you’re using this in your van and can afford a little more space, backpacking stoves are less convenient than a normal sized camping stove.

induction or electric?

a 3 quart instantpot is a good fit for vandwelling because it peaks at 700 watts, so as long as your inverter exceeds this, you should be able to use this on your battery system.

if you have use for this, or you fear carbon monoxide poisoning, an instantpot might suit your needs. you just need to have a battery bank that will support your cooking time.

so what do you choose?

ultimately, that decision is based on your needs. since i’m trying to be a minimalist, i feel the smaller, the better, so i settled on a dual fuel butane/propane camping stove from GasOne because i wanted to have a choice in case there was ever a point i was only left with one of the above.

i haven’t actually used the propane portion – not sure why, probably because there’s an additional hose and i worry about a leak, even though i have a carbon monoxide detector, but i’m sure it’s equally safe. if i die in the future, guess we’ll know!

camping stoves are the shit. they’re easier to use than you think, cheap to cook with, and as long as you have fuel, you’re good to go.