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 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:
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!
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:
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…
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:
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:
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!).