Great trails, great food – Vanlife recipes for your next mountain bike road trip

Great trails, great food – Vanlife recipes for your next mountain bike road trip

Blast along the trails like Jack Moir in Finale Ligure during the day and feast like a god in France in the evening. Does that sound too good to be true? It doesn’t have to be. Just because you’re on a mountain bike road trip doesn’t mean you have to miss out on delicious home-cooked food. Read on for some recipe inspiration.

Most riders are a bit like neo-hippies – they travel the world to find adrenaline, flow and good times on trails, preferably on their own four wheels. The gravel parking lots of the bike parks and trail centres are full of their home-built vans. For many, this is the perfect opportunity to show their buddies what they’ve been doing on their van all winter: an adjustable recliner, space for at least 6 bikes, a bike wash station built into the tailgate including a huge fan to prevent water spots on the frame. There’s no limit to what vanlifers come up with. However, with all these accessories, the kitchen often gets neglected. As long as you can polish your bike to a high gloss after every ride, you’re fine with eating canned ravioli and instant noodles all summer long.

However, it’s not that difficult to conjure up a delicious meal with your standard camping outfit. So, we went in search of the best recipes that you can enjoy at any time of the day, are easy to prepare and require minimal cooking utensils, keeping the dirty dishes to a minimum. For inspiration, we collected our editorial team’s favourite recipes and talked to the Resch family from the Bio- & Bikehotel Steineggerhof in South Tyrol. Below, you’ll find out favourite picks.

The most important meal of the day: Breakfast

We all have our preferred routine when we start the day. For many it’s a coffee, others need an aspirin to get going. If you’re really hardcore, you might start with a cold shower and a beer to delay your hangover. Whatever makes you happy, as long as your breakfast doesn’t consist of an energy drink and a cigarette.

A good breakfast forms the basis for a good day. It doesn’t have to be a huge meal to get you started. We have an option for both cereal fans and those who love a hearty breakfast.

Breakfast porridge

for 2 people

  • 125 g oatmeal
  • 390 ml (plant-based) milk
  • a pinch of salt


  • place all the ingredients in a small saucepan and bring them to a boil while stirring
  • simmer the porridge over low heat for a few minutes
  • enjoy while still warm

You can refine the porridge according to your taste and mood, adding cinnamon, chocolate, nut butter, fruit, jam, spruce or dandelion honey, linseeds, pumpkin seeds, nuts,
(vegan) yoghurt, apple sauce, poppy seeds, lemon zest, and so on!

Avocado egg sandwich

for 2 people

  • 4 eggs
  • 1 avocado
  • 4 slices of bread
  • salt


  • fry the eggs in the pan, fold them in half and remove from the heat while the egg yolk is still very soft, season with salt and pepper
  • cut the avocado in half and spread it on the bread
  • place the egg on top and you’re done

For in-between: Snacks

Of course, most riders prefer to use their lunch break to chill out in the sun and get rid of their knee pad tan lines. In that case, we recommend preparing snacks in the morning or even before your trip. It’s best to pack them in, so you can enjoy your snacks when taking a break at the summit.

Oat banana bar

makes about 15 bars

  • 3 ripe bananas
  • approx. 150 g fine oatmeal
  • nuts/seeds to taste
  • some dried fruit if you like
  • honey or agave syrup to taste


  • preheat the oven to 200°C top and bottom.
  • mash the bananas with a fork or blender, add oatmeal until the mixture is firm but not crumbly
  • add honey or agave syrup to taste (though it tastes fantastic without)
  • add the coarsely chopped dried fruit and nuts to the mixture
  • place a sheet of baking paper on a baking tray or in a large casserole dish and press the dough firmly onto the sheet/into the dish with a spoon (approx. 1.5 cm thick)
  • bake at 200°C for 30 min.
  • allow to cool, cut into the desired size and pack the finished bars into your lunch box or wrap them in wax paper

For a good, firm consistency, press the mixture firmly into the mould. The bars should stay fresh for about 3 days unrefrigerated, but if you’ve made too many, they also freeze very well.

Buckwheat salad

for 2 people

  • 60 g buckwheat
  • 250 g vegetables (e.g. peppers, mushrooms, zucchini, eggplant)
  • salt, pepper and spices of your choice
  • olive oil and balsamic vinegar
  • herbs: chives or dill


  • cook the buckwheat in salted water for about 15–20 minutes until al dente, strain and set aside
  • wash the vegetables, cut into small cubes and fry briefly
  • mix the buckwheat and vegetables in a bowl, season with salt, pepper, other spices, olive oil and vinegar, then place in a leak-proof lunch box

We recommend seasoning the buckwheat salad well, otherwise, it can taste a bit bland. It goes excellently with chopped raw leeks or cubes of cucumber.

To unwind and refuel: Dinner

After a long day on the trails, you’re likely to be tired and hungry. Of course, it can be tempting to plonk yourself into your camping chair and gorge on crisps and chocolate. And before you can even think about preparing food, you’ve got to clean your bike. But don’t worry, we’ve got two recipes that should satisfy all your needs: either quick and dirty or big and fancy.

Pasta with pesto

for 2 people

  • 250 g noodles
  • 1 glass pesto


  • cook the pasta
  • add the pesto

You can easily make it a lot fancier by adding toasted pine nuts, roasted tofu, fried eggplant or whatever you like.

Chili sin carne with rice

for 2 people

  • 50 g onions
  • 50 g root vegetables
  • some oil
  • 1 tbsp tomato passata
  • 100 g canned beans of your choice (kidney beans, white beans, etc.)
  • 70 g brown lentils
  • 110 g corn
  • salt, pepper and spices (chili powder, paprika powder, cumin powder, coffee powder, cocoa powder and others of your choice)
  • 100 g tomato sauce
  • 50 ml vegetable stock or water
  • 120 g basmati rice


  • peel the onions and garlic and cut into small cubes.
  • heat some oil in a saucepan and roast the onions with the root vegetables
  • add the tomato paste and let it simmer until most of the water has evaporated
  • add beans, lentils and corn and fry briefly
  • add the spices and pour in the vegetable stock or water and the tomato sauce
  • simmer for about 30 minutes and season if necessary
  • bring salted water to a boil for the rice
  • add the basmati rice to the boiling water and cook for about 15 minutes
  • if necessary and to taste, add a little more water or vegetable stock to the chili and then serve with the rice.

With this dish, it’s particularly important to roast the vegetables well so that
you’ve got plenty of those roasted aromas. However, don’t let the vegetables burn under any circumstances, otherwise, the chili will taste bitter. You can also use different types of lentils: black lentils remain firmer, yellow and orange lentils can quickly get overdone. Chili is all about the spices, so go wild! As so often with stews, the more often you reheat it, the better it tastes.

Preparing a delicious meal doesn’t have to be as hard and time-consuming as you might think. Ultimately, however, it’s up to you. Just eat what you like. But always remember: you’ve got to keep your body well-fuelled so you can make the most of the trails.

Words: Simon Kohler Photos: Peter Walker, Ben Topf

Great trails, great food – Vanlife recipes for your next mountain bike road trip

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