Right, you’ve decided that you want to go camping, maybe touring a bit, or staying somewhere remote. Your destination has been decided, bookings made – now – how to plan what to eat.
A lot depends on whether you will have access to shops or not, and also if your camp-site has power, for a fridge. We generally prefer to be far from towns and to camp without power.
Your fridge arrangements are important, as this will affect what and how you pack. We have a caravan, with a small built-in 3-way fridge, which is ideal. Portable gas fridge/freezers work well, too. But most camp-sites have a small office, and have ice available to buy, so you can get by with a cooler box (or three: one for frozen items, like meat, seldom opened; one for fresh items, like butter, cheese and veggies, which should all be packed into sealable containers, or they end up soaked and floating, and one cooler box dedicated to the booze, haha). Pack each day’s meat into a second packet, seal it well, and write on it the day you plan to eat it with a waterproof marker – this will help no end when you are digging around at the bottom of a cooler box or gas freezer!
I usually start by thinking in terms of ‘meals’. Work out how many of each you will need, then jot down ideas. This will help you decide what to buy and pack. Here are some of my ideas, tried and tested…
For breakfasts, I usually pack home-made rusks. We always take along filter coffee – we make it in a stainless steel tea-pot – poured through a fine tea-strainer, it makes a good cup of coffee! This with a rusk or two is usually enough for breakfasts, but sometimes, something else is nice, so pack yoghurt, muesli and maybe some eggs and bacon for the occasional fry-up. Nothing smells as good as bacon frying in a pan on the fire early in the morning when you are in the bush!
For lunches, I like to bake a home-made bread. Try this wonderful recipe for an easily-made brown seed loaf, which we bake on the fire in a cast-iron pot. This with a selection of cheeses, pickles, olives, tinned smoked oysters, and maybe cold meats, all washed down with chilled white wine or a beer, eaten outside under the trees, is SO delicious! Or pack some crackers to go with your snacks, and don’t forget the honey/jam/chocolate spread. On our last trip, one of the days was quite chilly, so we made a delicious rustic vegeteable soup, on the fire.
But dinners are where camping comes into its own…..as the sun sets, and twilight deepens, it’s time to light the paraffin lamps and hang them from the trees around your camp. Then light your fire, sit back with your sundowner of choice and watch the flames for a while. Remember camping is all about getting back in touch with nature, and the outdoors, making do without modern appliances, and letting your body, mind and soul regain some peace.
Now dinners, cooked on the fire, have endless possiblities. If the evening is cool, a fragrant stew cooked in a Dutch Oven on the fire, served with rice or bread, is wonderful. If the evening is hot, then a juicy steak, marinaded in some olive oil and lemon juice, and cooked to rare perfection over the coals, with a green salad, is just right. Or pork chops, sausages, sosaties, chicken pieces, curry, chicken a la king, coq au vin…..let your imagination go wild. Just about anything can be cooked on a fire, including pudding!
Don’t forget to pack some snacks – crisps, nuts, biltong, and so on, to go with drinks, and cake or biscuits to go with coffee or tea. Think of each day you will be camping, and try to plan what you will eat on each of those days. Oh – and don’t forget to take your lists with!
You’ll be out in the open, in the fresh air, going for long walks in the mountains or on the beach, or in the forests, which will make you hungry, so be prepared. Camp food should not be about survival only – it should be part of the experience. Preparing food in an outdoor kitchen is fun!
Any other ideas/tips?? Or questions? I’d love to hear from you!