Tiny house cooking: Preparing food in an Airstream Kitchen

Vintage Airstream Kitchen

One of my biggest concerns with Airstream living was feeding ourselves. What was the right choice for appliances? Do we need a full-sized refrigerator? Do we even need a stove? And the answers to these questions would vary tremendously depending on what you eat. Jason and I are both vegetarians and have been for years. I’m at almost 25 years and he’s almost 10 years. So any meat eaters reading this might think what we did to outfit our Airstream kitchen is insane. And right you may be. 😉

We removed the propane stove and decided we had no reason to replace with a new stove. Anything I used to make in our conventional stove I could modify and make in a skillet. Mostly it was just things like cookie sheets of cubed sweet potatoes or other vegetables. I never did any baking so a stove just wasn’t important to me.

We also removed our propane/electric refrigerator and replaced with an all-electric Frigidaire 4.5 cubic foot unit. I preferred a taller apartment sized refrigerator but we couldn’t find any that would fit with the curved walls. The size just brought the fridge too far into the living area. The Frigidaire is great for the size and has a lot of space saving design features. It has a drink dispenser, produce drawer and adjustable shelving. We’ve had no problem fitting a weeks worth of food in here. It’s also super low draw at only .7 amps.

Vintage Airstream Kitchen

For cooking we use a Vitamix and an electric induction cooktop. Each hover around 15 amps a piece. I’ve found this is all we really need. I make fresh smoothies, soups, dips and salad dressings in the Vitamix. I had a basic Vitamix model I bought used off of Craigslist for almost ten years before the pitcher broke one day (the base is still kickin!). Once I found out a replacement pitcher was almost $150, that led to me buy a brand new upgraded machine during a Black Friday sale. My new one has presets for smoothies, soup and frozen desserts. You just turn it to a particular preset, walk away and let it run it’s course. There’s no babysitting it unless you’re making something you’re unfamiliar with. Those machines are beasts and I’m loyal to the end with my beloved blender. On the skillet we make veggie burgers, wraps and mixtures for tacos. For simplicity, I only have one induction ready skillet and pot. (Sometimes I look at my cookware collection of two and wonder why I needed those cabinets full of cookware I never even used.) The pot is small enough to pop the lid on and stow away in the refrigerator if I have leftovers.

Vintage Airstream Kitchen

In our traditional kitchen, I made a lot of complicated recipes with multiple pots, skillets and the oven going simultaneously. I knew this simply wouldn’t be possible with the limited amount of space and tools. But I still wanted to keep up with our healthy eating habits. Here are a few tried-and-tested easy things to make in a small kitchen with limited appliances (Vitamix and induction cooktop only).


Easy Small Space Airstream Breakfasts

For breakfast we alternate on a few things. None of these are cooked and are all raw and take minutes to make.

+ Plain ol’ Cereal with almond milk and sliced banana
+ Overnight oats which is quite simply oatmeal, almond milk and toppings sitting overnight in a mason jar. It’s super easy and feels like such a treat in the morning to already have breakfast made and ready to go. Here are a few recipes that I alternate between.
+ Protein smoothie (pictured below) and a side of raw walnuts or pecans and sliced strawberries.

  • 2 scoops of Orgain organic protein
  • 1 cup almond milk
  • 1/2 cup of water
  • 4-5 ice cubes
  • banana
  • dusted with cinnamon


Easy Small Space Airstream Lunches

During the week when we are working from the Airstream, lunch is usually something quick and easy.

+ Salad with homemade Vitamix dressing (or store bought if I’m in a hurry). I make two basic ones – a berry based and a cashew based. The berry dressing is so simple – it’s just a blend of any fresh berry (strawberries, blueberries or raspberries) and a little pure maple syrup, balsamic vinegar and water to get it to the thickness you prefer. The cashew based dressing can be found here. It’s so good!
+ Veggie smoothie made with whatever fruit and veggies I have on hand – apple, banana, cucumber, carrot, kale, etc. I’m notorious for winging it and making really gross smoothies but I always drink them out of sheer stubbornness. 😉 Here’s some good ones if you want recipes.
+ Raw soup (pictured below) – I’m new to making raw soups but so far it’s been life changing. I love the simplicity of it – everything is thrown into the Vitamix (uncooked!) and blended until it’s warm. Well, actually you can even make the soup hot in a Vitamix if you want. As in too hot to even eat! My particular model has a soup function so I can turn it on and walk away until it’s finished. Otherwise you would gradually turn the blender to the highest setting and let it run for a few minutes or until you see steam escaping from the lid. It literally takes minutes to make and the majority of that is just waiting for the Vitamix to run it’s course. I have been making therawtarian.com’s raw soups almost every day. They all have a base of raw cashews so make sure you have enough of those on hand. Whole Foods runs about $11/lb for organic. I usually just buy them on Amazon as it’s easier and around the same price.

Here’s what the Corn Chowder looks like start to finish. Believe it or not, this beats my multi-step, multi-ingredient, time consuming corn chowder that I used to make in my traditional kitchen. The Rawtarian recipe calls for less cashew and fresh corn. I like it creamier so I add about 1/3 cup of cashews rather than 1/4 cup. Also, obviously fresh corn is always better but to save on time and because of the space concerns I tried this recipe with organic frozen corn and was thrilled with the result. I put frozen corn into the Vitamix and top with refrigerated corn. Since the soup comes out of the pitcher so hot, it’s able to warm up the refrigerated corn topping enough. If I know I’m making corn chowder the next day, I just let 1/2 cup of the frozen corn for topping thaw in the refrigerator the night before. I also topped with cayenne pepper and dulse flakes which are a great source of potassium, iodine and iron.


Easy Small Space Airstream Dinners

We eat out 3-4 times a week but when we do stay in, here are a few easy things to whip up:

+ Tacos (pictured below) with a mixture of a protein (black beans, tempeh, quinoa) and vegetable (sweet potato, zucchini, squash) cooked up in the skillet and seasoned with cumin or chili powder. Topped with kale or microgreens, easy guacamole (smashed avocado and lime juice) and hot sauce.
+ Cooked soup – my favorite recipe is Weight Watchers taco soup. We just substitute veggie crumbles for the ground turkey. Some grocery stores even have organic ranch dressing mix and taco seasoning. There’s always enough to throw in the fridge for leftovers the next day. Also I make this amazing Vegan Baked Potato Soup my cousin told me about years ago. We’ve made this stuff dozens of times. I just leave off the oven-baked garnish as we don’t have an oven! The Rawtarian’s cream of celery soup with diced avocado topping actually reminds us of potato soup (believe it or not!).
+ Pasta – I use various types of gluten free pasta and alternate between a tomato based sauce and a cashew based sauce made in the Vitamix and add veggies (usually zucchini or squash for tomato sauce and sun-dried tomato and mushroom to the cashew sauce).
+ Veggie burgers – I’ve never been into making my own veggie patties so we just use store bought. It’s super easy and takes minimal tools in our kitchen to get these made. Just the induction cooktop and the skillet!

 

Sheena

Sheena

Sheena is a free-spirited adventurer who designed and renovated a 1975 Airstream in 2016 and travels the US with her husband and mohawk-sportin' poodle. She's a business owner, self-taught carpenter, blogger, yogi, professional photographer and a lover of the outdoors and healthy living.
Sheena

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2 Comment

  1. Thank you! Thank you for this incredibly informative post! Although we’re not to the point where we’re ready to hit the road, I have contemplated the whole cooking thing SO much. We’re whole food plant-based (3 1/2yrs.) and a great deal of what you shared would be applicable to our situation. I find the idea of living simply (without all the pots, pans, and formal dishes/stemware, etc.) very liberating! Upon retirement in the next year or so, we’ll be ready to take our ’68 Airstream Overlander on the road. Thanks for your inspiration!

    1. Ah thank you so much for the kind words! And glad to hear of fellow plant-based Airstreamers! 😀

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