Whether you’re embarking on a weekend camping trip or a month long 4×4 adventure, food planning and preparation is vital to your comfort and enjoyment. Of course, you can forget about three course-gourmet meals, but just because you’re limited in food storage and supplies doesn’t mean you can’t create tasty, nutritious food that the whole family will love.
The trick to eating wholesome foods when you’re camping is preparation and panning and most of this can be done at home before you leave. In some places, supplies aren’t far away and you can duck down to the shops to restock, but other remote places are much more difficult and require a decent amount of planning and preparation.
Creating tasty, easy to cook meals is surprisingly simple and today we’ll be providing you with our top tips for meal planning when camping or touring through the outback.
Storage & Cooling
To start with, the easiest way to store food for your trip is in plastic storage containers. You’ll probably need a couple of containers to carry all your food, but they make it very easy to keep track of everything as long as you label all packages. Keep in mind that your storage solution needs to withstand getting bounced around in the back of your 4WD, so consider using padding such as rubber or tea towels to absorb the impact.
I’ve found the best way to keep food and drinks cold is with a 12V portable fridge, but if you can’t afford one then an esky and ice should do the trick for up to a week. Storing meat, drinks, and perishable items is relatively easy, however you’ll need to properly plan your meals to ensure you have enough space. If you’re traveling for extended periods then a portable fridge/freezer will be able to carry most of your food and drinks and you can pick up fresh produce when you can.
Preparation at home
It’s best to write down each meal at home so you can shop and prepare appropriately. Although you don’t need to eat each meal in a specific order, this ensures you have enough food and drinks for everyone and you don’t miss any meals. Preparing your meals at home saves heaps of time and effort when you’re at your campsite. You’ll also want to bring some extra meals, snacks, and emergency rations in case some food goes bad or missing (trust me, it happens)! Here is how to prepare your meals at home:
- Premix any dry ingredients
Certain meals require a mix of spices and dried vegetables so you can organise each of these at home and store them in a labelled zip-lock bag. It’s far easier to grab it from your storage container than have to measure everything at camp and worry that you didn’t bring enough.
- Repackage and marinate
It’s highly recommended to remove any packaging and divide food up into portions for each meal. This saves times and effort plus you don’t need to worry about excess rubbishand you’ll be using your fridge/freezer efficiently. If you can’t freeze meats, it’s best to vacuum seal them after they’ve been marinated so they’ll last a lot longer in the fridge. Just ask your butcher who will do it for free!
- Cook a few meals in advance
Making some spaghetti bolognaise and curry at home is a great way to start your trip. You can cook a couple of days’ worth of meals at home and simply heat them over the campfire when you’re ready to eat.
Taste & Variety
Eating a tasty, nutritious meal at the end of a long day is very satisfying and you should try to cook meals that are easy to prepare with ingredients that need minimal cold storage. Of course, 2 minute noodles is quick and easy to prepare but they’re not nutritious and you’ll get sick of eating them within a few days. Having a variety of meals is the best way to ensure you continue to enjoy cooking and eating as opposed to each meal being a means to an end.
Foods that have a long shelf life and don’t require refrigeration are perfect for camping and outback trips. Tinned tuna, canned vegetables, UHT milk along with anything that is freeze dried or dehydrated. Bread is very versatile but doesn’t last long particularly in hot climates so it’s best to eat it within the first couple of days for lunch. An excellent substitute for bread is tortillas or wraps which tend to last long periods of time and still taste great!
While it may appear to be daunting at first, preparing meals for you and your family is easy and save heaps of time and effort when you’re on the road. Take your time, get it right, and have an awesome holiday!
If you need any 4WD accessories or camping gear to make your next trip more memorable, get in touch with the professionals at TJM Australia by phoning 07 3865 9999.