There’s no right here, but there are plenty of wrongs.
Let’s start by cooking with gas, as it is the most common way of heating food. Gas, in this case, LPG and butane, not the methane you produce, are excellent and safe sources of heat. If you really want to get into ratings, every stove has fine print that indicates the BTU [British Thermal Unit]. The BTU is the amount of heat required to raise the temperature of one pound of water by one degree Fahrenheit. The capacity of gas burners is measured in BTU per hour. Cheaper stoves, as a general rule, have simpler burners which tend to have lower BTUs and again, very generally, a lower BTU means more gas is used to get things cooked.
A simple camp stove that uses disposable butane cans is a really good option. The flame produced is hot and has a fast boiling time. The portability of these stoves means you can use them inside and outside easily. The downside is the disposable butane cans run out fast and they are expensive. The disposability of the cans is questionable too as many NZ regional councils will not accept the cans as recycling. Technically they are recyclable by draining fully and then piercing them.
LPG camp stoves are the most commonly used form of camper cooking in New Zealand. The upside; LPG tanks are readily, cheaply refillable throughout NZ and are incredibly safe if used correctly. The downsides; LPG gives off a huge amount of moisture when burning and LPG is poisonous. You have to use it in a very well vented area. Never EVER use LPG stoves for heating a camper, the oxygen consumption and C0 output is huge which puts you in danger of carbon monoxide poisoning, which will kill you.
It is highly recommended that you fit any and every camper with a gas detection device/alarm. They are as cheap as $60.00.
If you decide to install a permanent LPG cooker inside your camper there are a slew of really good options that also integrate a sink unit. They aren’t cheap, but are great space savers. You will have to get the hose work done by a professional gas fitter, but of course that adds peace of mind knowing it has been done right.
Since 2013 LPG tanks must be stowed in a gas locker or outside. Gas lockers are simple boxes commercially made that open to the outside and are vented. They can be easily retro fitted to just about any vehicle, it normally requires cutting a hole in the panel work. LPG tanks need to be stored and stowed upright.
OK, so all of a sudden a butane cooker seems a lot easier huh? Getting LPG installed can be a form of future-proofing. Later down the track you may decide you want an LPG air heater, hot water or a three-way fridge. Again it’s all about being aware of what is out there and trying to adopt an overview of how all the systems mesh together.
Electric cookers; in the past electric elements were virtually written off as an option for off the grid camping. The electricity needed for cooking was just too much draw in a 12 volt system. But the allure of safe renewable energy is advancing technology rapidly. Induction cook tops heat water faster than gas, so, although it’s going to take more energy, that energy at the element is being used very efficiently. No fumes, no moisture and no excess ambient heat. If you have a big bank of batteries, solar panels and a matching wattage pure sine wave inverter an induction top isn’t off the table. Of course if you’re plugging in at a campsite and have shore power then induction is very viable and in fact preferable as you’re not lugging tanks of fossil fuel around.
At this juncture most campers are forced into becoming avid volt and wattage nerds. A whole new world of 12v verses 240v, deep cycle verses cranking batteries, power in verses power out. You become a keen gatherer of Amp Hours.
And what to cook; well that’s up to you, most avid campers become adept at making one pot meals. Easy to make, easy to clean up. Most avoid cooking too much in their campers at all; sidestepping food odours infusing squabs and bedding. Small portable LPG bbqs [to be used outside] dominate RV store showrooms for good reason.
Here’s some good camper recipes.
Ovens and microwaves are often seen integrated into the galley of 4 and 6 berth motorhomes. If you’re lucky enough to have a partner that loves to whip up a batch of muffins or a Sunday roast while you’re out doing what you do, you’re one very lucky soul. Of course these appliances take up a lot of valuable storage space and power.