Cast Iron Skillet on Table With Species

7 Van Life Lunch Recipes for Every Day of the Week

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Part of the reason we love van life is that there is no timetable, and there’s plenty of room to make a delicious lunch. We love eating and often use our midday meal to break up our day. That being said, we also don’t want to spend our whole morning preparing lunch, so having a handful of quick and easy lunchtime recipes in our pocket really streamlines life on the road. These aren’t the quickest recipes ever (you can find those here), and most of these involve a little cooking, but with a little organization and practice, you should be able to whip them up in 15 minutes or less.

Our favorite Van Life lunch recipes are healthy, simple to prepare with readily available ingredients, and above all, tasty.

*These van life lunch recipes are all for 2 serves, scale as required.

Monday Lunch: Mediterranean Salad with Pita and Hummus

Green Leafed Plant

Start the week off right with this healthy but very satisfying salad. It does take a little prep work, but you should end up with leftovers for a couple more meals. You can prepare the chickpeas for the salad in the oven, but as we have never had a van with an oven, we always use the stovetop. This one comes from one of our favorites Yottam Ottolenghi.


For the Salad

  • 1 400g can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 1 teaspoon za’atar (alternatively, use a blend of coriander seed, cumin, oregano and thyme)
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 5 or 6 radishes (about 100grams) diced
  • 1 cucumber, diced
  • 300g cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • 1 large red onion, sliced
  • 2 handfuls of parsely (or coriander/cilantro), chopped
  • 1 of mint fresh mint, chopped

For the Dressing:

  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 2 tablespoons sherry wine vinegar (or white wine vinegar)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

To Serve:

  • 2 whole wheat pitas, cut into wedges
  • 1 cup hummus (store-bought or homemade)
  • Optional: A quick yoghurt sauce with 1 cup greek yoghurt, 1 tbs olive oil, 1 tbs lemon juice and 1/2 tsp of salt mixed together.
  • Optional: Feta or grilled halloumi


  1. Prepare the Pan-Roasted Chickpeas:
    • In a large skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil over medium heat.
    • Add the drained and rinsed chickpeas to the skillet, along with the za’atar or spice blend.
    • Cook the chickpeas, stirring occasionally, for about 8-10 minutes, or until they are crispy and golden brown. Remove from heat and set aside.
  2. Make the Dressing:
    • In a small bowl, whisk together the lemon zest, lemon juice, wine vinegar, minced garlic, sugar, salt, and pepper.
    • Slowly drizzle in the remaining 1/4 cup of olive oil while whisking continuously until the dressing is well combined. Set aside.
  3. Prepare the Vegetables:
    • Dice the cucumber, radishes, and red bell pepper. Halve the cherry tomatoes and slice the red onion. Chop the herbs. Place all the prepared vegetables in a large salad bowl.
  4. Assemble the Salad:
    • Add the pan-roasted chickpeas to the bowl with the vegetables.
    • Pour the dressing over the salad and toss gently to combine, ensuring all the ingredients are coated evenly with the dressing.
  5. Serve:
    • Warm the pita wedges in the skillet over medium heat for a few minutes on each side until slightly crispy.
    • Serve the Mediterranean Salad alongside the warmed pita wedges and hummus, plus yoghurt sauce and cheese if serving.
    • Enjoy your flavorful and nutritious van life lunch!

Looking for more great van life food ideas, tips, and tricks? Check out these articles!

Tuesday Lunch: Bean Quesadillas

Grilled Quesadilla on the Wooden Board

If you’ve seen any of our other recipe posts, you probably realise that we have a little thing for Mexican food. Simple easy to get ingredients and usually pretty healthy it ticks a lot of boxes and is super tasty. Here is a bastardized quesidilla recipe we make in on pan.


  • 1 can (15 oz) black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 1 bell pepper (any color), diced
  • 1 tomato, diced
  • 1 jalapeño pepper diced (optional, adjust to taste)
  • 4 large flour tortillas
  • 2 cups shredded cheese (cheddar, Monterey Jack, or a blend)
  • Sour cream or Greek yogurt, for serving
  • Pico de gallo, for serving
  • Hot sauce, for serving


  1. Prepare the Spiced Beans:
    • In a large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the diced onion and cook until softened, about 3-4 minutes.
    • Add the minced garlic, ground cumin, and ground coriander to the skillet, and cook for another 1-2 minutes until fragrant.
    • Stir in the diced bell pepper and jalapeño pepper (if using), and cook for another 2-3 minutes until the peppers start to soften.
    • Add the drained and rinsed black beans and diced tomato to the skillet, stirring to combine. Cook for an additional 5-7 minutes until heated through and combined. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Scrape the beans out into a dish and set aside.
  2. Assemble the Quesadillas:
    • Heat the same skillet over medium heat and a bit of oil. Place one flour tortilla in the skillet.
    • Spread a quarter of the spiced bean mixture evenly over half of the tortilla.
    • Sprinkle a quarter of the shredded cheese over the bean mixture.
    • Fold the other half of the tortilla over the filling to create a half-moon shape.
  3. Cook the Quesadillas:
    • Cook the quesadilla for 2-3 minutes on each side, or until the tortilla is golden brown and crispy, and the cheese is melted.
    • Repeat the process with the remaining tortillas and filling.
  4. Serve:
    • Cut each quesadilla into wedges and serve hot with sour cream or Greek yogurt, pico de gallo*, and hot sauce on the side for dipping or drizzling.
*Quick Pico de Gallo
  • 2 tomatoes, diced
  • 1/2 onion, finely chopped
  • 1 jalapeño pepper, seeded and diced (optional, adjust to taste)
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  1. Prepare Vegetables:
    • Dice the tomatoes, finely chop the onion, and dice the jalapeño pepper if using. Chop the fresh cilantro.
  2. Combine Ingredients:
    • In a bowl, combine the diced tomatoes, chopped onion, diced jalapeño (if using), and chopped cilantro.
  3. Season:
    • Squeeze the lime juice over the mixture.
    • Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  4. Mix Well:
    • Gently toss all the ingredients together until well combined.
  5. Chill (optional):
    • If time allows, refrigerate the pico de gallo for about 15-30 minutes to allow the flavors to meld together. However, you can also serve it immediately if you’re short on time.

Wednesday Lunch: Rice Paper Rolls

Rice Paper Rolls 1 7 Van Life Lunch Recipes for Every Day of the Week
Roll Summer Salad Food Vietnamese

Ok, it’s Wednesday, and we are getting a little sick of cooking, and these light and delicious rice paper rolls take very little.

If you can boil a pot of water, you can enjoy these delicious fresh Vietnamese-inspired rice paper rolls. If you can’t boil a pot of water, you can still enjoy them, it will just take a little longer.


  • 8 rice papers
  • 50g dried vermicelli noodles
  • 1 cup veggies sliced into strips (we like shallots, cucumber, avocado and carrot)
  • 3 tbsp hoisin sauce
  • 1 tsp rice wine vinegar (white wine vinegar works fine)

Optional (but recommended)

  • Shredded chicked, pork, tofu or shrimp
  • Crushed peanuts
  • Sliced chilis
  • Mint or coriander (cilantro)


  1. Prepare:
    • Boil water.
  2. Mix the Sauce:
    • Combine 3 tbsp hoisin sauce with a tsp of vinegar and a tsp of hot water in a small dish.
  3. Ready the veggies:
    • Slice all your veggies into strips and tear up herbs if using.
  4. Cook the Noodles:
    • Throw 50 grams of dried vermicelli noodles in a pot of hot water for a few seconds. Pull out the noodles when soft and put them on a large plate with sliced veggies, sauce, and any other protein or garnishes you are having. Transfer hot water to a large bowl and put it on the table.
  5. Assemble:
    • Start dipping rice papers in the hot water to soften, loading your rolls and wrapping your rice paper rolls.

*If you can’t be bothered to heat water then the rice papers and noodles can be prepared in cold water it will just take longer.

Thursday Lunch: Mozzarella and Tomato Sandwich

When we come across some good crusty bread, it’s a sign that we need to make some good sandwiches, and this is one of our favorites: fresh mozzarella on crusty bread with pesto. You can customize it by adding optional basil or substituting sun-dried tomatoes or adding some prosciutto.


  • Crusty bread (such as ciabatta, baguette, or sourdough), sliced
  • Fresh mozzarella cheese, sliced
  • Ripe tomatoes, sliced
  • Pesto sauce (we use store-bought)
  • Optional: Fresh basil leaves
  • Optional: Sun-dried tomatoes, sliced
  • Optional: Prosciutto slices


  1. Prepare the Ingredients:
    • Slice the crusty bread into the desired thickness. Slice the fresh mozzarella cheese and ripe tomatoes.
  2. Assemble the Sandwiches:
    • Spread a generous amount of pesto sauce on one side of each bread slice.
    • Layer the mozzarella cheese slices on top of the pesto-covered bread slices.
    • Add the sliced tomatoes on top of the mozzarella cheese.
    • If using, add fresh basil leaves and/or sun-dried tomato slices for extra flavor.
    • For a heartier sandwich, you can also add slices of prosciutto.
  3. Serve:
    • Close up your sandwiches and in half

This one is perfect to wrap up and take on the go if you are out and about.

Friday Lunch: Steak and Egg Tacos or Oyster Mushroom Tacos

Sliced Beef Steak and Green Vegetable on top of Tortilla

These Tex-Mex-inspired tacos are very satisfying and not difficult to make. If we are somewhere we can find good meat, marinated steak and eggs are a satisfying combo for a brunch or lunch that will fill you up all day. Oyster mushrooms (again inspired by Yottam Ottolenghi) are a great alternative if you don’t have access to or don’t want meat. Other types of mushrooms can be used in a pinch but oyster mushrooms are the best.

Steak and Egg Tacos

  • 300g flank steak (or your preferred cut of steak)
  • 2 tbsp cup soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp lime juice
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 6 – 8 small flour tortillas
  • 4 eggs
  • Optional toppings: Sliced avocado, salsa, chopped cilantro, crumbled queso fresco, pickled red onion
  1. Marinate the Steak:
    • In a bowl, whisk together soy sauce, lime juice, minced garlic, ground cumin, salt, and pepper.
    • Place the steak in a shallow dish or resealable plastic bag, and pour the marinade over it. Ensure the steak is evenly coated. Marinate for at least 30 minutes, or up to 4 hours in the refrigerator.
  2. Cook the Steak:
    • Heat a grill or skillet over medium-high heat. Cook the steak for about 2-3 minutes per side, or until it reaches your desired level of doneness.
    • Once cooked, transfer the steak to a cutting board, cover with a bowl and let it rest for a 7 minutes before slicing it thinly against the grain.
  3. Prepare the Eggs:
    • In the same skillet, scramble the eggs until they’re cooked to your liking. Scrape the cooked eggs into a bowl.
  4. Assemble the Tacos:
    • Warm the flour tortillas through in the skillet.
    • Place slices of the cooked steak on each tortilla, followed by a portion of scrambled eggs.
    • Top with your desired toppings such as sliced avocado, salsa, chopped cilantro, and crumbled queso fresco.
  5. Serve:
    • Serve the steak and egg tacos immediately, and enjoy!

Oyster Mushroom Tacos

  • 350g oyster mushrooms, roughly torn
  • 2 garlic cloves minced
  • 1.5 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp maple syrup
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tspn chilli flakes
  • 2 limes, cut into wedges, to serve2 limes, cut into wedges, to serve
  • salt
  1. Marinate the Oyster Mushrooms:
    • In a bowl, whisk together maple syrup, olive oil, ground cumin, salt, and pepper.
    • Add the sliced oyster mushrooms to the marinade and toss until they’re evenly coated. Let them marinate for at least 15-20 minutes.
  2. Cook the Mushrooms:
    • Heat a skillet over medium-high heat. Add the marinated mushrooms to the skillet and cook for 5-7 minutes, or until they’re tender and slightly caramelized.
  3. Warm the Tortillas:
    • Warm the corn tortillas in a skillet or microwave until they’re soft and pliable.
  4. Assemble the Tacos:
    • Place a portion of the cooked marinated oyster mushrooms on each tortilla.
    • Add your desired toppings such as sliced avocado, salsa, chopped cilantro, crumbled queso fresco, pickled red onion
  5. Serve:
    • Serve the oyster mushroom tacos immediately, and enjoy their delicious flavor!

Saturday Lunch: Easy Peasy Pad Thai

It took us a long time to try to cook our own pad thai. Our assumption is that something so delicious must be pretty difficult to make. Now, realizing it is super simple to make quickly and easily in one big pan, we make it all the time. We like it just with eggs and noodles, but you can definitely throw in some fried tofu, cooked chicken, beef, or shrimp for protein and flavour. Things happen quickly when making this dish, so have everything prepped and ready to go before the cooking starts!


  • About 125g flat rice noodles
  • 2 tablespoons peanut oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 shallots, thinly sliced
  • 1 carrot, julienned or thinly sliced
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons tamarind paste or rice vinegar
  • 2 tablespoon fish sauce (optional, for authentic flavor)
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 cup bean sprouts
  • 4 green onions, chopped
  • 1/4 cup chopped peanuts(optional)
  • Lime wedges, for serving
  • Chopped cilantro, for garnish (optional)


  1. Prepare the Rice Noodles:
    • Soak the rice noodles in a bowl of hot water for about 10-15 minutes, or until they’re softened but still slightly firm. Drain and set aside.
  2. Cook the Vegetables:
    • Heat the vegetable oil in a large skillet or wok over medium-high heat. Add the minced garlic and sliced shallot, and cook for 1-2 minutes until fragrant.
    • Add the julienned carrot to the skillet, and cook for another 3-4 minutes until the vegetables are slightly softened.
  3. Cook the Eggs:
    • Push the cooked vegetables to one side of the skillet to create space. Pour the lightly beaten eggs into the empty space and let them cook for a minute or until they start to set. Scramble the eggs until cooked through.
  4. Make the Sauce:
    • In a small bowl, whisk together the soy sauce, tamarind paste or rice vinegar, brown sugar or honey, and fish sauce (if using) until well combined.
  5. Combine Everything:
    • Add the softened rice noodles to the skillet along with the prepared sauce. Toss everything together until the noodles are evenly coated with the sauce and heated through.
  6. Add the Final Ingredients:
    • Stir in the bean sprouts and chopped green onions, and cook for another 1-2 minutes until the bean sprouts are slightly wilted.
    • If using, sprinkle chopped peanuts or cashews over the top of the Pad Thai and give it a final toss.
  7. Serve:
    • Divide the Pad Thai among serving plates and garnish with lime wedges and chopped cilantro if desired. Serve immediately and enjoy your quick and delicious one-pot Pad Thai!

This recipe is perfect for a quick and satisfying meal, and it’s all made in one pot, making cleanup a breeze. Customize it with your favorite protein such as tofu, shrimp, or chicken, and enjoy the flavors of this classic Thai dish!

Sunday Lunch: Grilled Cheese and Tomato Soup

When you are looking for something dead easy but super satisfying and tasty, a grilled cheese sandwich doesn’t get much better than that —unless you add a side of tomato soup.


  • 4 slices of bread (white, whole wheat, or your preference)
  • Butter or margarine, softened
  • 8 slices of cheese (cheddar, American, or your favorite melting cheese)
  • 1 can (14.5 oz) condensed tomato soup
  • 1 can (14.5 oz) water (use the empty tomato soup can to measure)
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • Optional: Diced fresh basil or dried basil, for garnish


  1. Prepare the Grilled Cheese:
    • Heat a skillet or griddle over medium heat.
    • Spread butter or margarine on one side of each bread slice.
    • Place the bread slices butter-side down on a clean surface.
    • Layer 2 slices of cheese on top of each bread slice.
    • Top each sandwich with another bread slice, butter-side up, to form a sandwich.
  2. Grill the Sandwiches:
    • Place the assembled sandwiches on the heated skillet or griddle.
    • Cook for 3-4 minutes on each side, or until the bread is golden brown and crispy, and the cheese is melted.
  3. Prepare the Tomato Soup:
    • While the sandwiches are grilling, in a medium saucepan, combine the condensed tomato soup and water.
    • Stir well to combine.
    • Heat the soup over medium heat until it’s hot and simmering, stirring occasionally.
    • Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  4. Serve:
    • Once the grilled cheese sandwiches are cooked to your liking, remove them from the skillet or griddle.
    • Cut each sandwich in half if desired.
    • Ladle the hot tomato soup into serving bowls.
    • Garnish the soup with diced fresh basil or dried basil, if using.
    • Serve the grilled cheese sandwiches alongside the tomato soup for a comforting and delicious meal.

This quick and easy recipe for Grilled Cheese and Tomato Soup using canned soup is perfect for a cozy and satisfying lunch, especially if the weather is bad outside and you want to curl up with a movie or a book.

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