Shopping and cooking on the road: enjoy local food during your camper trip
Travel is for a big part about tasting foreign dishes and discovering new flavours. It is also a big part of the total bill in the end.
Riding a rental camper can be a big cost saver.
And when you travel with your kids it’s simply very convenient to be able to cook what they like, every now and then. It’s all about finding the best balance.
In this article you will find out:
how to do shopping and cooking in a Japanese camping car
about great ways to enjoy local cuisine in your camper
where to shop for food on the road
Space and equipment
As you may have read already, a Japanese camper is not as large and as equipped as in many other countries. This also goes for the kitchen. Space can be minimal but for healthy simple meals it is no problem. What can be a problem is that with some rental companies you are not officially allowed to do any cooking inside the car! These usually have no stove either, but there are ways around that. Find out how Japanese campers are different and some suggestions to deal with that comfortably.
Al fresco meals are the ultimate feeling of freedom, make every day a Picnic-day! Prepare your own and see ‘bento’ below.
How to cook
Keep it simple. Because local food is best enjoyed from a local chef and several ingredients for your own dishes can be hard to come by. Or turn out rather expensive. Or take forever to locate in a mall. Since a camper is still camping, enjoy the simple things and do whatever you can outside to get around the space-issue.
Bring home local food
Japan is a takeaway country. There are very convenient but not so tasty ready-made real Japanese meals from convenience stores, which you can have heated too. Easy to enjoy in the camper but especially suitable as a fun picnic. Meals come in boxes, as is local tradition, and are called ‘bento.’ Everybody goes bento for lunch, kids at school and workers in parks.
Japanese chain restaurants
Better flavour is taking away from or eating in Japanese chain restaurants. These specialised in limited menus but for those new to it, there is enough to discover, at great prices. Especially at lunch time, lunch set-meals are great deals! Also great is that menus have clear photos to help you decide. And there are various sizes to suit your appetite. You can add an egg, miso soup, salad and more to your menu for a bit extra. You will be eating very local, in an easy way, at great value. parking is usually available and free.
Shopping for food
Also here the first option and probably the one you use most are convenience stores. They are well stocked and not that much more expensive. Including a wide variety of chilled local beers. But of course a supermarket is better to update your stock every few days.
You’ll find large supermarkets in the outskirts of most towns. Very practical, no need to go into town and search. Usually they are part of a mall set-up, with many shops together. Ample parking, laundry, chemists and ATMs are all there. What I note mostly is that you have to keep in mind that shopping can take longer than you are used to at home. Because you don’t know your way around. But especially because not being able to read most labels makes it a (fun) puzzle. And you’ll want to avoid buying the extra-wasabi version so paying some attention is recommended.
More about food and flavours you can find in various articles, for example:
Noto Peninsular is Japan as it was (buy and cook loads of fresh seafood here)
Have a tasty trip! Go Camping Japan!