Van Life Dishes Hack

Easy Cleanup Van Life Meal

One of the most annoying parts of van life for us is having to do dishes. A lot of it has to do with the fact that we don’t have a sink. We’ve become pretty adept at cooking recipes that just use a few ingredients as well as one pot dishes. However, we took things a step further with this van life food hack.

First off, you have to like (or want to eat) salad. And then you have to be willing to purchase it in a bag. We have conflicting emotions about salad in a bag since it uses plastic but it’s our fall-back when we need something quick, need to store it for a few days (packs well in our cooler) or … we don’t want to do the dishes. Here’s one of our top van life tips and tricks.

So how does this van life dishes hack work?

Step 1:

Buy salad in a bag. There are several different sized bags for you to choose from with all different kinds of dressings and toppings. We eat a lot of Caesar Salad kits and Southwestern Cilantro Ranch.

Step 2:

Decide if you will be splitting the salad with someone or eating it all by yourself.

If eating it by yourself, simply cut the top of the bag off, roll the edge down and make your salad in the bag.

If eating with someone else, lay the bag down flat and push the contents evenly into each side.

Step 3:

Cut the top part of the bag in half with scissors.

Van Life Cooking Hack
Make a cut in the top half of the bag.

Step 4:

Again, push the salad contents evenly to the side and then open the bag as wide as you can. You may have to cut the bag a little more at this point.

Van Life Dishes Hack
You’ve essentially created two bowls out of this salad.

Step 5:

If there was a packet of croutons, sunflower seeds, cheese, pepper, dressing or anything else in the packet, pull it out and evenly divide it among the two bags.

Step 6:

Add other ingredients. We like to add avocado, tomato, swiss cheese, cheddar cheese and salt and pepper to almost every salad we make. It makes it stick a little longer in our stomachs.

Step 7:

Add the dressing and mix it up well.

Step 8:


Step 9:

Properly dispose of your salad bag.

Van Life Dishes Hack

The 9 steps above are all it takes to create a meal in your van that doesn’t require dishes. It’s a pretty simple hack and takes very little time out of your day. Plus, the salad is a healthy option when traveling!

We’d love to know what other van life hacks or van life tips and tricks that you have. Please feel free to share or pin. If you liked this, be sure to check out some of our other campingĀ hacks.

Published by Erin McGrady

Erin McGrady is a filmmaker, photographer, and writer exploring Asheville and beyond. My work focuses on sharing about LGBTQ safe spaces, camper van life, and the outdoors.

5 thoughts on “Van Life Dishes Hack

  1. You might like my kitchen sink idea, since I’ve seen several references to your not having a sink. You may even be able to “build it in” to one of your Wayfarer boxes. We happened on some water containers at a big box store. It’s rectangular a few inches wide, 8″ high and 12″ deep with a big lid for filling and a spout just like a boxed wine container has. The spout unscrews so you can clean it if you put something other than water in it. They come in 2-1/2 and 1-1/4 quarts, so you can put several side-by-side in a box or, better, on a shelf. Your sink is any pan, dog bowl, or in our case, Rubbermaid 8″x12″x 3″ high rectangular storage box without its lid. My dimensions are approximate.
    So, the sink sits below the water box with the spout overlapping the sink.
    You can wash hands, face, dishes, anything that will fit in the sink, and you need only one hand to dispense the water. You can heat water on a stove and have a warm jug and a cold jug if you want. I can take a picture and post it if you tell me how to post pics. I designed computers. I don’t like to waste time figuring how to use them. šŸ˜€ It’s the cheapest, simplest sink and water storage system I’ve seen and it works as well as any sink. I built a shelf in a box with a door just like your kitchen box door (the one you’d like to sit on). The water sits on the shelf. The sink pulls out and sits on the fold-down door, inches below the spout.

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