Don’t think that because you might be camping it’s too hard to cook delicious and nutritious meals? Put down those frozen sausages and step away from the onions and bread…
Every year, we join the many Australian families camping over the Christmas holidays. I love getting back to basics with cooking when we camp and even though I’m without the gadgetry of my home kitchen, I still manage to prepare delicious, healthy meals in our tiny camp kitchen.
So, with the holiday season upon us, I thought I’d endeavour to inspire you to develop a simple, yet nourishing camping menu without resorting to tinned beans and instant noodles. The great outdoors is also a great opportunity to get your kids involved in helping prepare, cook and wash up too!
It’s all in the planning!
A healthy camp kitchen involves a little planning. It’s a good idea to set aside a little time to work out roughly what you’ll be eating for breakfast, lunch and dinner for each day you’re away. Once you’ve done that, you can pre-buy the meats and other bits, freeze what you can and have all the dry stores packed and ready to go. I tend to think in terms of ingredients for meals which are a little flexible and which we can decide on the order of once we are there. We camp with a small Weber barbecue, one gas burner and very limited kitchenware – so the meals have to be simple – it doesn’t mean they won’t be completely delicious and very healthy too.
- I’ll be taking a container of my toasted muesli (recipe on my website) to have with yoghurt and fruit some mornings. It can also be soaked overnight for a bircher-style muesli and doubles as a healthy snack too.
- Cut up some fruit, top with nuts or muesli, wrap in foil and throw on the barbecue for 10 minutes for a delicious breakfast (also a great dessert).
- We always plan for several cooked breakfasts with bacon, egg, tomato, mushrooms, avocado and greens.
- Leftover meat and vegetable are great cooked into an omelette or scramble.
- Baked spuds. We often wrap a potato or sweet potato in foil and bake it in the Weber. To save gas we might do this the night before whilst cooking a roast, pop in the fridge and just reheat (or have cold) when we want to eat them for lunch the next day. We’ll stuff these with tuna, cheese and salad. You can also chop them up to make a rustic potato salad.
- Meat patties. I make these at home and freeze them ready for camping. Use them as hamburgers or put them into a pot with a jar of tomato puree (passata) and simmer for spaghetti and meatballs.
- Tuna and chickpea salad. I just chop up and grate a heap of salad leaves or veggies and mix through a can of tuna and a can of chickpeas with the juice of a lemon, olive oil and seasoning.
- Leftover Christmas meats are great for a salad or sandwich.
- It’s always a good idea to pre-make lasagna, curries or casseroles to reheat and eat.
- The Weber makes a mean roast, so chicken and lamb shoulder generally appear on our camping menu which I always serve with a big salad.
- Barbecued meats, sausages, chicken or fish with a simple salad is so easy. I buy those herb and spiced sea salts and jazz up the meats by seasoning with these. Rubs are also great (Tandoori or Moroccan spice blends are our favourites) which you simply rub on your meat prior to cooking for a simple, heathy flavour boost.
- Use tortilla or flat bread for bases, chop up some toppings and make your own (my kids love to do this). We just pop them on the Weber and bake for a great result.
- Cheeses and dips with veggie sticks
- Nuts and seeds. I soak, flavour and roast my own to take camping
- Pancakes or pikelets
I always pack lots of lemons and/or limes which I use to make simple salad dressings with extra virgin olive oil or just squeeze over meats. I also always camp with a case of coconut water to rehydrate us after a long day in the sun (as it’s not something you can always easily get from the local shops).
So, that’s it! I hope I have given you some ideas to have a healthy, happy camping adventure this summer.