Cooking in a Camper Van
You’re heading to Iceland! As you may or may not know, the cost of food in Iceland is quite high. Makes sense when you think that anything not originating in the country needs to cross the Atlantic Ocean.
So, like I said, food is expensive and trust me when I say you much rather use that extra money to spoil yourself at the Blue Lagoon! To help you save on food costs, here are some helpful tips!
Stock up at Grocey stores
Bónus and Krónan are well-known as amongst the cheapest budget grocery stores in Iceland. These will become your best friend if you’re trying to save money on food.
We suggest you stock up at one of the grocery stores located in or around Reykjavik, since grocery stores are less common outside the city. Here is an interactive map showing where you can find grocery stores in Iceland:
Test yourself: Take our Iceland Quiz!
Here are some suggestions for MUST HAVE grocery store items:
Granola/energy bars: Lots of the time, you want something to eat that is quick and easy. You might be heading out on a hike and need some fuel, or in the middle of driving from Reykjavik to Vik and you just want a quick snack. Either way, these bars are quick, which gives you more time to explore Iceland!
Bottled water: It is true that the tap water EVERYWHERE in Iceland is drinkable (and delicious), but sometimes having some bottled water is very handy (like when you are hung over!).
Bread: Up there with granola/energy bars in terms of must haves. You could make an egg sandwich, spread some peanut butter (great with banana or honey), throw on some deli meats, add an avocado, coat in eggs to make French toast…the possibilities are endless!
Eggs: Easy to cook in your pan, short cooking time, and warm! You’re going to want lots of hot food to warm your bones in the morning and prepare you for the day ahead.
Peanut butter: Mid afternoon snack go-to. Spread it on some bread, and that’s it! No mess to clean up, you can do it without going out of the vehicle, and…it’s delicious.
Deli meats: These are great in sandwiches. We suggest you warm them up in a pan first, then throw them in a sandwich with some avocado and eggs. You can also eat them without anything else, making them a great snack food.
Ramen noodle soups: Any broke college student knows that you can LIVE on ramen noodle soups. Boil some water on the camping stove, throw in the noodles and flavor and you’re done! At less than $0.99 (110 ISK) each, we suggest you buy enough for a few meals.
Sriracha: Sriracha or another hot sauce can liven up those boring meals! Well worth the $4 (350 ISK).
Alcohol in Iceland is very expensive. Here are some ways to get around that.
Option 1: Bring your own. Travelers can bring up to 3 litres of wine/6 litres of beer/1 litre of spirits (above 22% alcohol content). For full details, you can check out the Keflavik Airport site here:
Option 2: Buy your alcohol at Keflavik Airport duty-free. No really, do it. Alcohol at the airport is almost half as cheap as alcohol outside the airport. There are limitations on how much you can buy, but you’ll be happy you stocked up instead of having to always pay crazy prices in bars and restaurants.
Option 3: Vínbúðin. The state-run alcohol store is Vínbúðin (fun fact: Vínbúðin is Icelandic for liquor store). These are normally open from 11h-18h, and CLOSED on Sunday. If you thought the food was expensive in Iceland, wait until you see Vínbúðin. However, the alcohol is a little cheaper than bars. Here’s what you can expect to pay:
$4 per beer (450 ISK), or $40 for a 24 pack (4500 ISK)
$16 for cheap wine (1800 ISK)
$65 for hard alcohol (7000 ISK)
Here is a map of the Vínbúðin in Iceland: Please don’t drink & drive!
Gas stations are great for restocking. You can normally find essentials in there, like bread. It will be more expensive than the discount grocery stores (see section on grocery stores), but outside of Reykjavik it can be much more convenient. You can always buy hot food here, like hotdogs, soups and sandwiches.
Gas stations are also a great place to wash those dirty dishes of yours. It can be tough to wash your dishes in the car, which makes gas station bathrooms a great alternative. Bring your dirty dishes, soap, sponge and brush into the bathroom and take care of business! Gas station attendants are normally very friendly when it comes to this; on one occasion, an attendant actually invited us to use the employee dish washing sink and supplies!
Gas stations can also help you reup on fuel for your camping stove. However, it is sometimes tough to find fuel for your camping stove. We were able to find the fuel we needed at most of the Olis that were west of Vik.
Here is a map showing the location of the Olis spread across Iceland. Rent.is has a partnership with Olis, so you get a discount on gas there AND free coffee! Trust me, you’re going to be drinking lots of that free coffee.
It’s great to save money on food, but you can’t go to Iceland without eating at a restaurant at least once or twice! Though it will be expensive, it’s worth it – Iceland is famous for its cuisine.
You may have already heard that one of these famous dishes is the Icelandic hotdog. Icelandic hotdogs are made with lamb, which gives them a really interesting flavor.
Another great dish is the lamb. There are so many different variations, but our favorite was the lamb sandwich served at Halldórskaffi. And, of course, the fish! You can’t go wrong with the fish in Iceland.
Also, there is no need to tip at restaurants or bars. All of the costs are included in the original price, including taxes.
So that’s it guys. Enjoy your time in Iceland! It is a beautiful country, everyone is friendly and speaks perfect English, it has a great party scene and wait…did I mention it was BEAUTIFUL? Happy travels!!!
Cooking in a Camper Van
Our camper van trip in Iceland in March
Read more: Our summer adventure in Iceland
Happy Camping! #CamperStories