We probably differ from a lot of people in that I decided not to have a propane tank or cookstove installed in our Vistabule. We also do not plan to cook over a regular campfire.
That leaves us using four other ways to cook while traveling: 1) 110 electricity, 2) solar alone or stored as 12 volt power, 3) thermal, and 4) small amounts of wood.
We live in the deep South and (until Earl retires) will normally be hooked up to campsite electricity to use our Vistabule’s air conditioner during the region’s extended season of hot weather. So, the use of electricity for a single burner induction cooktop and an electric pot for boiling water will not add additional expense.
[Also, both appliances are used at home.]
Another advantage to having the induction cooktop is that it is safe to use indoors. In dire need, should bad weather require it, there is an electrical outlet in the pass through of the Vistabule.
Combined with the two 110v appliances, a 5.5 liter Saratoga Jacks thermal cooker adds an additional option for preparing meals. It can sit in the car cooking dinner while driving down the road or be placed on the galley countertop when we are in camp.
[Plus, it is handy at home and for Earl to carry on the train to work for pot luck dishes.]
The thermal cooker is similar to a crockpot, yet adds the efficient qualities of a thermos. Food is heated to boiling for a short time then placed in the thermal cooker to finish cooking – without being hooked up to any power source. It also holds the food at temperatures safe to eat, and without burning, for hours until ready to serve.
The electrical and thermal combination allows us to quickly prepare all of the day’s meals during the (relative) cool of the morning. Though, the thermal cooker can also be set up to cook breakfast overnight, a hot meal waiting for us in the morning.
[At home, the thermal “cooker” can also be used to retain cold temperatures by first cooling the large inner pot in a refrigerator or freezer. That makes it great for carrying ice cream or cold salad to a gathering.]
Solar / 12v
We also opted to get solar panels which provide additional stored battery power for the Teardrop’s 12 volt system. So, we can go off grid.
For “cooking”, right now we only have a little Roadpro 12 volt Beverage Heater – an immersion element to warm soup, tea or coffee.
There is a 12v outlet in the pass through, so we could also use this while seated inside the Vistabule.
As a backup or extra cook surface, I splurged for a BioLite CampStove2 that uses small amounts of wood. Our model is lightweight and sized for two people. It will take a good long while for the savings in wood to equal the BioLite price, that’s for certain. (Fingers crossed for a long life!) Meanwhile, the BioLite gives us a quick, easy way to grill and cook off grid and it has additional features.
We will use it in combination with the thermal cooker.
Kitchen to Galley
This all adds up to learning slightly different techniques and routines for cooking. Remember what it felt like when first learning how to get a full meal completed, timing the sides and main dish to be ready for serving at the same time? Moving from a full kitchen to a small galley will also take some experimentation. It will be a fun challenge!