This article appeared in the February 2011 issue of ‘Caravan & Outdoor Life’ magazine:
New campers often wonder how to plan meals when camping, especially in remote areas. It helps to think in terms of ‘meals’: how many breakfasts, lunches and suppers you’ll need. This will help you decide what to buy and pack.
For breakfasts, I like to pack rusks and filter coffee. This is usually enough, but eggs and bacon are also good. Nothing smells as delicious as bacon frying in a pan on the fire early in the morning when you are in the bush!
For lunches, try home-made bread or rolls, baked on the fire. This, with cheese, pickles, and cold meat, washed down with a beer, eaten outside under the trees, is wonderful! Or pack some crackers instead, and remember the jam and honey.
Dinners are where camping comes into its own: as the sun sets, and twilight deepens, it’s time to light your fire, sit back with a sundowner and watch the flames for a while, before you start cooking. The cooking and eating should be part of the evening’s entertainment.
Suppers, cooked on the fire, have endless possibilities. Just about anything can be cooked on a fire, including pudding! Try a stew cooked in a Dutch Oven, served with rice, bread or potatoes, or a juicy steak, marinaded in olive oil and lemon juice. Or pork chops, sausages, sosaties, chicken pieces, curry, chicken a la king, soup, coq au vin, ‘mushy veggies’ – all delicious! Experiment with cooking in tinfoil packs. Planning each meal before you go will mean you have all the ingredients needed.
You’ll be out in the fresh air, and more active, which will make you hungry, so pack some snacks – crisps, nuts, biltong, fruitcake and biscuits go down well.
Food storage depends on whether your campsite has power for a fridge, as this will affect what and how you pack. If not, portable gas fridge/freezers work well, but you can get by with a cooler box (or three: one for frozen items, like meat, seldom opened; one for fresh items like butter and cheese, packed in sealable containers, so they don’t get soaked, and one cooler box for the booze). Most camp-site offices sell ice for cooler boxes. Pack each day’s meat in two packets, and, with a waterproof marker, write on it the day you plan to eat it – this will help when digging around at the bottom of a cooler box or gas freezer. Make sure all foodstuff is sealed and critter-proof.
Camp food should not be about survival only – it should be part of the experience. Cooking food in an outdoor kitchen is fun!