There is a list of assumptions that comes along with being a van person. It’s not that long list—we are not a complex people—but there are some fundamentals on it. I’d like to address one of them here.
Many assume that, because van, we must either eat like birds (majority seeds and nuts, some fruit and veg, and the occasional baguette broke into pieces for us by a friendly old man on a park bench) or like pigs (takeout, fast food, chips and jerky, and whatever we root out in the dumpster behind Wholefoods).
I’m pleased to report that we’ve yet to have to resort to dumpster diving (absolutely no judgement to those who do by choice or necessity), and, unless that old man’s got gluten free, that’s not really for us either.
For the most part, we eat like we did back in Toronto, which is so say, mostly healthy and budget-conscious, most of the time. Typically, we spend $20ish at the grocery store every second or third day. Being mobile and mostly in or near cities, means popping into the store so often, much like taking the 24-storey elevator ride down to the grocers in the base of our old Toronto apartment building, is no biggie.
It’s become something we look forward to. You can learn a lot about a culture by its grocery stores, even the chains. The employees, the shoppers, the vehicles in the lot, the community that gathers in and around provide the perfect cultural cross section. My wallet is bulging with all the loyalty cards we’ve collected.
But I’ve always liked grocery shopping. I, like most, have fond childhood memories of trips to the local Overwaitea (BC-based a grocery chain for all your east coasters) with my mother, learning the tenants of a healthy diet by filling the cart with all the root vegetables I didn’t want and none of the sugary cereals I begged for. During my year-long exchange in Bordeaux, France, I learned the names and pronunciations of cheeses and fruits by accompanying my host mother on her weekly trip to the Carrefour—I gained a lot of weight that year, and a bit of knowledge.
These days, we shop for two. Lots of fresh produce, eggs, canned food, and corn tortillas. Refrigeration has become something we do only when we buy and intend to keep meat uncooked for more than a day—either we plug in the van and run the fridge off electricity, or get some ice for the cooler (bonus: cold beer). Like much of the world, this means eggs kept at room temp. That’s right, we cray.
Dishes are the worst part, but we’ve become pretty good at both using few and cleaning often. No different than any apartment without a dishwasher, really.
So, that’s it, the diet of two van mostly healthy nomads. Yes, we also spend too much on nachos and beer during happy hour, and yes we sometimes forsake the grocery store for a local taco shop. But hey, the street tacos are $1.49 each! We’re only human.