Heading out for a trip to the outdoors can be a fun time for a group of friends or a family, as it allows you the ability to have fun and relax together without the usual distractions of day-to-day life. But while the burdens of TV and internet might be things you leave behind, you will still have to deal with some of the same chores and tasks that you do at home, but without your modern conveniences.
Cooking can be one of the more difficult tasks to successfully accomplish on a camping trip if you’ve not done it before, so if you’re looking to go camping, here are a few things to keep in mind and a few easy cooking strategies for beginner campers.
Camp cooking is more than a grill…
For the novice camper it can be easy to think that your camp cooking will live and die by the grill, and while your grill (gas or coal) will be your number one heat source for cooking, it’s important you remember a few other pieces of cookware. At least one pot and/or pan are a must for your trip, as you’ll want to heat water and cook items you can’t grill like eggs (by simply placing a frying pan on top of your grill). Chopping boards are extremely helpful as well, along with a range of knives, plates, and utensils for eating, check out retailers like Tesco to pick up some bargains.
Dried food or cold-cut meals…
For those who are less fussed about making every meal a major event, a great way to take care of breakfast and lunch is by making meals where you don’t have to cook. Think about bringing a big portion of cereal, mixed nuts, trail mix, and dried fruits on your trip, which work great for breakfast. For lunch, there is nothing easier than making a traditional cold cut sandwich. Just remember to plan your cold storage options before you visit the campsite.
Cook with what you have…
If you’re a simple, light-weight camper, you might be limited to a grill and a pot, but this doesn’t mean that you can’t make a delicious spaghetti with black olive and tomato sauce, or even a risotto with easy to transport seafood like tinned tuna, smoked mackerel or salmon.
A barbecue is obviously the big hit when camping, as the open flame and smoke are part of the effects that bring us back to the more simple and primitive times of our ancestors. Grilled meats and vegetables with a drizzle of olive oil make a delicious meal, and with the extra time you have it is easy to braise meats as well. If you’re looking to add a little flavour to your meals collect some tic tac boxes. They make great, compact, containers for herbs and spices that you can pre-mix at home, adding an instant zing to your meals.
And remember, to make life easy be sure to do as much prep as you can in planning your meals before you head out on your camping trip, as this will both cut down on the work needed to be done on-site, and will allow you to carry less produce and goods, because you’ll have enough to pack as it is.
Our top tips to find the best meals to make when camping…
1. Fully plan your first meal at the campsite and bring all the ingredients with you. Setting up the tent, camper van, caravan, awnings, etc. can be exhausting enough, so make it easy for yourself.
2. Think about bringing your second meal ready cooked, but frozen. This will help to keep your cool box cold for an extended period and it will also make sure you have an easy to prepare meal for the second day, allowing you to really relax during your vacation. Home cooked stews and curry are perfect for this as their frozen size means they defrost slowly and its easy to cook rice to go with it.
3. Always plan an easy pasta dish and keep the easy-to-store ingredients with you. This is perfect for those times when you have been so busy with other activities, meal time unexpectedly sneaks up on you and your ravenous family start to get cranky.
4. Eliminate those moments when you can’t think of what to cook, by roughly planning out meals you and your family like to eat and are easy to produce at the campsite. You can easily purchase the items needed whilst out and about during the day and it guarantees an easy meal you know everyone will like. There are a number of books and apps to help you find the best meals to make when camping, which are very useful cooking accessories for camping.
Image Credits: Zachary Collier and Goodmami used under the Creative Commons License.