Make your next Family Camping trip go better with these food hacks
Camping can be great fun with lots of fresh air and quality time together as a family.
But, if you are a bit like us and don’t really go camping very often it can be tricky to know what to do about food and you can end up buying and carrying a ton of food you don’t need for your trip and it will all be inedible after twenty four hours away anyway, especially if you have good weather.
So to help with this, over our last couple of camping trips we’ve been looking at what food to take and have been able to identify eleven really useful food hacks to help make those camping trips a bit easier.
1. Freeze the Bacon, Sausages and Milk the day before you go
Camping breakfasts are all about frying up something nice and hot in the morning to set you all up for the day. And while you will have a few ice blocks in your cool bags a good tip is to freeze the bacon and sausages (including vegetarian versions) before you go. This way they can help keep other items and themselves cool until that first morning when you can cook them up and enjoy with an egg or two.
Plus, Milk freezes really well and it is a good idea to take one frozen two pint bottle and one not frozen (depending on how much coffee, tea and cereal you like). This way you’ve got a good supply for the first few days of your camping trip while you suss out the local shops.
2. Buy meat and dairy as you go
Following on from tip number 1 don’t take a lot of meat or dairy products with you as unless you have an electric hookup and a really good camping fridge you will struggle to keep things cool beyond twenty-four hours.
Especially if you get some much sort after hot weather during the trip and you will discover that your tent could double a sauna during the day.
Instead, buy what you need as you go and we favour buying for the evening and the following morning as a good rule of thumb.
This also gives you the chance to adapt your menu according to the weather and therefore buy more BBQ food when the weather allows.
3. Use Wraps instead of bread
Wraps are such a great food to take camping. They take up hardly any space when compared to a loaf of bread and yet are so versatile when it comes to meals.
They can be used as wraps around almost any food including BBQ sausages to make an alternative hot dog. But, then they provide so many other choices. For example,
- Simple Pizzas (under a camping grill)
- Fried up for dipping in dips, soups and other food
- Any type of sandwich
Also, kids find wraps fun and it is a good chance to get them involved in the cooking.
4. Get a hard cooler box and fill it with ice
While they can be a bit of a pain to pack we find that the hard cooler boxes work much better then the soft material kind when it comes to keeping things cool, especially if you pack them full with ice.
Either make the ice in your freezer at home in batches if you have the space or pick up a few bags from the supermarket. For example Tesco sell bags of ice for around X per bag.
What we found on a recent trip to Watercress Lodges during record breaking bank holiday temperatures was that it took quite a while for all the ice to melt when you pack it in tight and we were able to keep our butter and drinks cold for the duration of our two night trip.
This meant that after a day of walking, playing and enjoying the sunshine we were able to enjoy a cold beer or two in the evening with our dinner.
5. Take a few seasoning items with you
One thing all food needs is flavour so it can be useful to take a few of your favourite seasoning items with you to help with the cooking. We would recommend the following but it is really up to you and the tastes you like.
- Smoked Paprika
- Garlic Salt
- Onion Salt
Use some small plastic jars or alternatively try a camping / picnic salt and pepper set like this one.
6. Use Proper Fat
While spray oil is a convenient option for camping you will find that the average camping stove doesn’t kick out enough heat intensity to activate the limited fat inside the spray and instead the water and emulsifiers just sit around your food and while it will cook this will actually slow it down.
Therefore, we would recommend you take some proper fat with you in the form of oil or butter. But also consider dry frying as a healthy option or buying bacon etc with a good amount of fat on it to help with cooking…and flavour.
7. Make up a thick American Pancake mix and take with you in a well sealed bottle
Another one from our recent trip to Watercress Lodges Campsite. Before we went on the trip Travelbetter Mum made up a batch of thick American Pancake mix in our blender and poured this into an Ikea bottle that has a great seal on it. We then took this in our cool box and in the morning were able to enjoy some great pancakes with our bacon. And building on the tip above these can be dried fried in a small frying pan.
8. Eat Out
While camping is all about enjoying the great outdoors you must remember you are on holiday and eating out is allowed and means you don’t have to take quite so much food with you. Therefore, you can plan to only take food for breakfast and snacks and then have your main meal of the day while you are out and about.
9. Take a good supply of biscuits
The kids, and you will most likely be more active when camping then usual and as a result they get hungry and while you don’t want to be preparing food every five minutes take a long a good selection of biscuits as a quick and easy snack.
They store well, don’t need to be kept cold and go great with a large mug of tea or coffee.
Plus, you can use them to make S’mores.
10. Take a good supply of eggs
Just like wraps, eggs are an extremely versatile and useful food. As well as a variety of eggs dishes from simple fried to tasty omelettes they can be used to thicken sauces or make items like rice a lot more interesting.
Just remember when using eggs to thicken a sauce the heat must be low and add a bit at a time to avoid scrambled eggs. For more on the wonders of eggs take a look at the Food Science of eggs.
11. Take giant couscous rather than pasta or noodles
Everyone should have a simple go to staple dry food with them when camping and the default is pasta and this makes sense. It is easy to use and generally well liked.
However, Giant couscous can be just as versatile, filling and takes less cooking and water saving you precious gas on your gas stove and crucially time.
Plus, the bags tend to be smaller so it will take up less room in your car.
12. A Takeaway is fine when camping
It doesn’t all have to be about BBQ food when camping. In fact, it doesn’t need to be about cooking at all. There is nothing to say you can’t enjoy a takeaway under the stars. Especially on that first night when you’ve put the tent up.
13. Use Parma ham as an alternative to bacon
Bacon is a firm favourite when camping. But, Parma ham makes an interesting alternative.
It cooks quicker than bacon, has a great flavour punch and and turns lovely and crispy.
14. Empty bottle make great food containers
Now, the only reason I discovered this tip is due to me forgetting any storage containers for left over food during a camping trip with Travelbetter Boy.
But, the best ideas come from adversity.
Camping Food Hacks – In Summary
Hopefully, you will find the above food tips useful for your next camping trip and help you travel better as a family.
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More Family Camping Tips
If you want more family camping trips then check out our family camping guide that explains just how to get started and get the most out of family camping trips.
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