Camping trips can be the perfect way of encouraging the whole family to get together, away from technology, and appreciate the great outdoors for what it is. But, what you can’t always escape are some of the chores you’d be doing at home — like cooking and washing up — and, without the help of many modern appliances, this can prove challenging.
With plenty of convenience products to help you, camping can be made as easy, simple and straightforward as possible, so you can spend less time slaving away over the camping stove and more time bonding with the family. To take some of the weight off your shoulders, we’ve rounded up our top 5 alfresco dining tips to lend you a hand during your trip. Read on to find out more.
Pick Foods That Travel Well
It may mean ditching some of the meat you were hoping to grill while out there but choosing foods that can last without being refrigerated will help to prevent anybody getting ill. Packing dry foods like bread, pasta and rice pouches or tinned foods like soup and fish are a great idea to help bulk out your meals, and they all have a relatively long shelf life, so there’s limited risk of them going funny during your trip. If you can’t quite live without cheese, take a firm type like halloumi — this will make a great staple item and help satisfy your dairy cravings!
If you’re really keen to eat fresh produce while you’re away, there are many fruit and vegetables which can last without being refrigerated, like onions, mushrooms, tomatoes and carrots. Prolong these even further by storing them in sturdy air-tight containers and don’t be tempted to pack any bruised fruit to use up — these probably won’t hold out for very long.
Make sure you take some portable seating, like this camping chair from Wyevale Garden Centres, to prevent your clothes getting dirty and also save you from being hunched over — supporting your posture. Taking some lap trays will also come in handy for balancing plates on, again saving you from leaning down too much while you tuck in. Large outdoor pillows and rugs won’t go unappreciated either, for those moments when you just want to lay down and star-gaze before bed.
Host Themed Cuisine Nights
Take the opportunity of being outside in the open to pretend you’re anywhere in the world. One night could see you in Mexico, while the next night, Italy. If you think the foods are going to be too difficult to make given the limited cooking provisions you have, cook these meals at home and freeze them. Not only will taking these mean your cool box stays cooler for longer, but it also means you don’t have to miss out on experimenting with new flavours or having your favourite meals just because they’re a bit fussier to make. Get some free inspiration from online recipe catalogues, like BBC Good Food, then hit the world food aisles and get adventurous with your dishes.
Try A Different Diet
With a lack of cooking appliances, now could be a better time than ever to cut back on the meat or eat like our ancestors and trial a Paleo diet, or try a few tried and tested campfire recipes. This can be extremely beneficial if you have kids who are hooked on convenience food and need a bit of a taste bud refresh. Whipping up vegetarian dishes could introduce you into a new way of life that you can continue practising when the trip’s over, or at least something you can take away from it — even if that’s just a new-found love for aubergines! This can be particularly helpful for people who’ve been wanting to make a diet change for a while, but hectic lifestyles have made familiar foods more convenient.
If you’re wanting to create the most authentic camping experience for you and your family, why not try foraging for your own cooking ingredients? This can be a great way to keep everybody busy, and you can turn it into some healthy competition — just make sure you’re collecting responsibly and are armed with proper gear, to protect everyone from stings or scrapes. For more information, visit the Woodland Trust’s guide to foraging for more and check out what we get up to.
Cook Over A Campfire
If there’s anything that requires teamwork when camping, it’s starting a campfire. From wood collection to keeping it going, there’s a lot to be done. But, with the possibility of adding some variety to your trip and cooking over a campfire, it’s well worth the concerted efforts. Campfires that’ll be used for cooking should be built this way, which will burn for longer but at a steadier pace. Arm yourself with the right tools and utensils to do this activity, which differ depending on your cooking method, but should always be metal. You can use skewers for marshmallows, or just use twigs for that authentic camping experience!
If you’re still in need of some food inspiration, check out our guide to easy campfire recipes.
Camping can be a real eye-opening experience, requiring you to use the bare minimum to cook with. Take the opportunity to mix it up a little and experiment!
Tell us in the comments below what your favourite alfresco meals are.