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For the next part of my van build, I’ll need to make sure that I have a kitchen area that will suit all of my cooking needs. For this part, I am going to keep it relatively simple. I don’t do anything too crazy when it comes to cooking, but I want to make sure that I have everything I could need to cook a meal when I want something specific. For this I am going to look into some propane cooking stoves that can be made into counters that will give me some counter space to put my food onto.
I’ll also want to think about just how I’ll vent it out when it ‘s in use, as I don’t want propane to be leaking into my van! For that, I’ll have to discuss some basic venting techniques and strategies to keep safe while cooking inside a van. There’s a lot to go over in his section, so let’s jump right into it!
Step #1: Items I’ll Need
Before I even begin to build anything related to the kitchen, I need to make sure that I have all the times I’ll want to use and how much space each item will take up. For this build, I need to make sure that I firstly have a stove picked out. I am going to be going with a cooking setup that uses propane as its energy source. Electric powered stove tops are way too costly for my energy reserves, so propane will do well for my needs. I probably won’t be doing all the cooking, but it’s nice to have the option to if I really want to.
Some good propane options for me include this piece here on Amazon. This kind of stove top can be used with butane or propane, but I’ll mostly be sticking to propane for my uses. This means that I’ll also need a way to safely vent my excess gas that may leak when I am cooking. I’ll look for some flip open vents that are easy to open and close and have a nice wire mesh in it to keep the bugs from coming in from the outside of the van. It’s also important to place it in a position that will not allow for air to leak off the van when I don’t want it to. The last thing I want is for my vent to be the cause of some water leaks or letting my heat out of the van during the winter.
I’ll also need to find a nice cabinet that I can store the propane tank in as well as some key essentials that I’ll need to store away. For one thing, I need to think about safety in my van. That means that I’ll need to look for a nice fire extinguisher to use in the case of an emergency. This is a very important step that I absolutely can’t overlook! The last thing I want is to spend all this time building up my perfect van only for my breakfast to cause it all to burn down!
One other thing I’ll also want in the van is a nice mini fridge. Because I spent so much on the batteries and renergy system of the van, I can afford to spend a bit more on a nice fridge that won’t be putting too much of a strain on my energy reserves. For this, I’ll be looking at some of the models that have a freezer section built into the design as well. I want to be able to store some frozen products like ice cream or meat on the occasion that I won’t be eating it right away. I’ll also want to look into getting some simple spices and utensils to actually eat with, but I will get to that in a later step.
Step #2: Storage and Planning
So now that I have a rough idea of all the items that I’ll need to build up my kitchen, I need to plan out exactly how I’ll make it work. For this step, I have already drawn out a basic plan of where most of my appliances will be going in a previous building step. I am going to be putting the kitchen area behind the passenger seat of the van. The mini fridge will be the first thing that is directly behind the seat. Right next to that, will be my kitchen area! I am going to have a lot of storage space above on the roof of the van, but for now I am going to talk a bit about how I am going to store some of my immediate cooking materials.
For one thing, I am going to have the propane stove located underneath the counter top. The stove will be peeking out and will be easily accessible for cooking with a single pot or pan. This will be a great setup for heating up some leftovers, boiling some water or just making a few scrambled eggs. I don’t need anything too complicated for this set up, as the only cooking being done on this stove top is pretty basic meals that are enough for one single serve. I’ll also probably look into ways to store more cans of propane so that if I run out while on the road I aren’t left without a way to cook anything! I could always run out to a store nearby, but I am going to try and think ahead and have some propane handy just in case.
I want to also make sure that I plan ahead for the wiring to be completed and long enough to reach my mini fridge that I’ll be installing. I’ll also think of ways to keep my fridge in place so that it doesn’t fly around the cabin while I am driving to my next destination. To do this, the frame that will be used for the stove cabinet will be expanded slightly to incorporate a spot just for the mini fridge.
Step #3: Cooking and Venting
When I get to actually be able to cook, I need to be able to vent out the air around the stove so that I don’t have any leaks of propane or lingering food smells. It can actually be fairly simple to make a vent that will work pretty well! Firstly, I’ll need to go out and get something like this to act as my vent flap. It has a nice screen mesh to keep the bugs out and the ability to open and close whenever I need it. I then can set up a very simple fan to go next to the vent to encourage the air to flow out through the vent. It’s a fairly simple thing to rig up and will not cost much energy. Powering a small fan only while cooking is a very small expense on my very large battery reserves.
When there’s cooking that needs to be done, there will also be a need for spices and utensils. For the spices, I can just buy or make a very simple small drawer that can go on the side of the cabinet to hold all of my small non-perishable ingredients for cooking, such as garlic, salt and pepper. Since I’ll want to bring along some utensils, I’ll probably look into getting a product like this that can keep them safe during the drive.
The cabinet that holds the propane tank should be easily accessible, as I’ll need to be able to open the vent whenever I want to do any cooking. If I want to look for something on the stove, I also need to be able to reach the propane tank to replace and turn it on. For this, I’ll just find a regular kitchen cabinet that can be shaped into the exact size with the holes on the tops that I need for the stove to poke through. I also need to make sure the stove has no chance of setting the whole counter on fire, so I’ll have to take some precautions with the installation and do a few tests outside of the van.
The kitchen is a vital part of my van, but I don’t want it to take up too much space or resources. I’m not much of a chef, so I only really need to be able to make some pretty basic meals. A single stove is perfect for me, and the mini-fridge will be able to run without any issues off of the giant batteries that I spoke about in my much earlier entrees.
The kitchen is all done at this point, so we can move on to our other plans for the van that I think are among the most important. We need to talk about plumbing! Next time, we’ll talk all about how it’s done and what the expected outcome can be.