September 22, 2015

Vaughan William
Vaughan William

Author

Blogger at Theexplorershome.com, outdoors enthusiast and believer in adventure that shouldn't be limited to the far corners of the world. I'll be posting about exploring your own town, countryside and forests and finding the thrill in the everyday.


Activities › Hints & Tips ›

The Best Foods To Take Camping

Put any guy in front of a flaming barbecue and all of a sudden he thinks he is God’s gift to the cooking world. In reality, most people struggle to not burn marshmallows when cooking in the wild, let alone making anything tasty and nutritious, and so any good pointers on what to eat and how to cook it are usually welcomed with open arms! 

The trick to cooking outdoors is, quite simply: Keep It Simple! See what I did there…? Cooking an amazing meal in the comfort of your kitchen is sometimes hard enough, so when out camping you need all of the little hacks that you can get. Check out below our top tips on the best food to take camping and how to cook it while you're out there.

Equipment

Equipment will always play a big part in what you are cooking. If you plan on having loads of nibble little bits then you may not even need any cooking equipment at all. A cool-bag stuffed with treats and you're away! For the more adventurous of you, the aim is to do as much cooking as possible on as little amount of kit as possible - keep the list short and think of taking:

  • A few lightweight aluminium pots
  • A camping cooker or, if you're allowed to cook on an open fire where you're going, think of taking some long tongs to move pots around on the embers.
  • A lighter (to get the fire started)
  • Some cotton balls covered in vaseline as fire starters. These burn steadily for a long time, giving you ample time to build your fire around them.
  • Cutlery
  • A lightweight frying pan if you have one. Most decent aluminium pot sets will have a lid that doubles up as a small frying pan as well! 
  • A Washing up scourer
  • A small bottle of biodegradable washing up liquid

Breakfast

One word springs to mind here: Carbs. Depending on what you have planned for the day, whether it is a leisurely stroll through the countryside, a day’s rock pooling on the beach with the little ones or climbing one of the beautiful mountain ranges that we have here, you are going to need some real fuel to get you going for the day. Carbohydrates are what you should be aiming to fill yourself up on early on. The best types you can get are small packs of ready made oats which you just have to add boiling water to. This way, you're not burning porridge onto the bottom of your cooking pots at the start of the day and you have a good belly full of porridge to keep you going for the day! 

If you're feeling really adventurous and have got enough pots with you, then it is super easy to fry up some sausages and boil some potatoes (yup!) to really fire you up as well. Potatoes are a great alternative to bread as they are much easier to transport without squishing in your bag, they don't go mouldy and they're a prime source of those carbs you desperately need for the day! Just remember that anything too complicated means a lot of cleaning up afterwards and so you don't want to be bogged down with that at the start of your amazing day! 

Lunch

When we are out on a hike or down at the beach rock pooling, the last thing that we want to be doing is cracking out all of the cooking gear and getting bogged down for hours making something complicated. Just as we always think on our feet, we always eat on our feet as well! Taking foods that you can eat on the go are a must, some of our personal favourites are: 

  • Homemade granola bars
  • Carrot Sticks with hummus
  • Grapes
  • Cherry Tomatoes
  • Apples
  • Hard boiled eggs
  • Scotch Eggs 
  • Sausage Rolls (Always a favourite with kids!)
  • Crisps
  • Dried fruit and nuts
  • Dried/cured meats

When you're out and on the go with the family in those hills, it is important to remember that you're going to need a lot of energy to keep doing all of that fun stuff and to stop you lagging during the day. You shouldn't worry about how much ‘fatty stuff’ you're eating or feeding the kids, they'll burn it off today, just don't make a habit of it! Well, unless you're out here every day… 

Dinner

Now is the time to really shine! You've had a hard day’s walking and adventuring and now all you want to do is have a good hearty meal and relax. There are some interesting facts to talk about before we get onto what food to cook. Your body regulates warmth better when you have had a good sized meal. So, if its cold out, don't skip dinner! You will be warmer at night in your sleeping bag if you get some food in you. We have all been there - After arriving back at camp after a long slog, all you want to do is climb into your sleeping bag and sleep; well fight that urge! 

Now onto the good food… Some of our real favourites revolve around an open fire. Always remember, when cooking with an open fire, that you should never cook with the flame. Always wait until the fire dies down to the point that you have hot embers, then you can rest your pots on top and get going. Some of our favourites are: 

  • Chop up a load of carrots, leeks, potatoes, beans and any other veg that you love before you leave home and put it all in a sandwich bag. Fry up some diced chicken and put that in a separate  sandwich bag. When you get to your camp in the evening, empty it all into a pot and fill to the brim with water, throw in two oxo cubes and some pepper and boil away for an hour. You will have the heartiest and most rewarding chicken soup that you have ever made. 
  • If you have been fishing that day, why not try freshly caught grilled fish and potatoes. Prepare the fish as you would at home and butterfly half it. Grip it between two green sticks and stick them in the ground, holding the fish above the embers. Whilst that cooks, boil up some potatoes and you'll love the result. A few freshly picked chives and some wild garlic and you are in heaven. 
  • If you're really adventurous, bringing some chicken to slowly fry and picking a wild salad can be an extremely satisfying challenge. You need to be sure of what you are picking, but March through to September in the UK can yield some real wild salad treasures. Do your research and you'll be surprised on what you can find out there! 

What foods to avoid…

As with every activity out there, there are some big foods to avoid. When you're relying on your body to be fuelled and set for the day, you really should be concentrating on putting quality nutrition in in order to get the best results out. You should avoid: 

  • Sugar based foods such as sweets, fizzy drinks and the like should be avoided at all costs save for a treat following dinner. The reason for this is that, whilst they may give you a sugar based high for a short while, they can cause a dangerous crash when you least want it. Not so bad if you're relaxing on the beach with the kiddies, but if you're halfway up Ben Nevis in poor weather this can mean the difference between a nice stroll back and some tricky times. 
  • Avoid alcohol. Its great to enjoy a tipple when you're sitting around the campfire at night, but remember that unless you want to be getting up a lot in the night, its always best to be sensible when out and about.

Cleaning

Cleaning up sucks, doesn't it? Well, be smart! If you're the last one using the pots and pans at night, throw some water in the pot while you're eating and stick it back on the fire. The water will simmer most of the yuckyness off of the pots while you eat and the rest should come away easily afterwards. A clever trick that saves us hours of scrubbing (because I am notorious at burning food onto my pans!) is to drop a denture cleaning tablet into a dirty pot and fill it to the brim with water overnight. The tablet will do the trick of breaking down the food and by the morning your pots are nice and clean again! Minimal effort all round. 

Always be sure to take all of your rubbish away with you. We all enjoy our countryside as picturesque scenes and having rubbish blowing across it, harming the local wildlife, is definitely not what we all want to experience. All campsites will have space for you to leave your rubbish and if you're out and about in the hills, just keep a section of a bag handy to stick it all into until you find yourself back in civilisation. 

Last but by no means least… 

Water. Take lots and lots and LOTS of water. If you think you have enough water, take a bit more just in case. Your body uses water to break down food, to regulate temperature, to help you concentrate and of course to rehydrate you when you have been sweating in the glorious sun that we so frequently have here in the UK (ha!).