Wednesday, 11 January 2012

Camping - Meal Planning & Food Preparation

I blogged last year about camping organisation here and here.  I wrote my Ultimate Camping Checklist, and also How to Organise Camping Supplies.  The other key to a relaxed trip is to plan your meals.  I always try to meal plan at home (you can read about that here), but it is absolutely necessary when going camping. When you have limited space, refrigeration and cooking options, it is essential to plan ahead.  I created this template, which you can download here, to record a variety of meals for each meal of the day that you are away.  

We usually try to buy meat in advance of a trip, and if going for an extended trip (like if we go to Moreton Island for 10 or 12 days), we buy the meat at the Super Butcher and have it 'cryovaced' to seal in the freshness.  Cryovacing generally doubles the shelf-life of refrigerated meat.  I then put the packet into a labelled snap-lock bag, and freeze it in the deep freezer at least a week before we leave.  This ensures the meat is frozen solid, and will take longer to defrost once it is transferred to the esky or fridge. 

When we pack the car fridge, or esky with dry ice, for an extended trip we try to pack the meat in order of its intended use (according to the meal plan), so that we limit the amount of time we handle the meat, and thus extend the time that it will potentially stay frozen.  It really gives you peace of mind knowing that your meat is fresh.

The same goes for fresh produce... We plan so that the fresh produce is used in our meals first, and save the tinned veggies or less-veggie options for later in the trip.  This way, we use the fresh produce before it goes off or gets freezer burn.  We pack our fresh fruit and vegies into containers, to help keep things from getting squashed, but also to help lock in the 'freshness'.

But if we are only going for a weekend or a week, we generally just take a 'bank' of meals (which I list on the menu plan) and we pick what we feel like that day.  It is not a strict regime, but it is good to have the reminder about what we have, and it also ensures that we don't waste any food.

We have a bank of our favourite camping meals, which are quick and easy to cook with our minimal camp kitchen.  Our favourite would have to be a roast in the camp oven - oh, it is just divine!  There is nothing like cooking over an open fire with the waves rolling onto the shore in the distance...

Some of our other faves are:

Spaghetti bolognaise
Soft tacos
Butter chicken
BBQ's (steak, snags, chops, kebabs, etc)
And of course we love to eat our fresh fish as we catch it!

And don't forget the hot dogs!  They are great for a day trip away from the camp site - read about how to do this here.

What is your favourite camping meal?  I would love to hear your ideas so that I can add it to my Camping Menu next time I go away :)


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