Whether setting up tent in deluxe campsite or heading off into the wilderness with nothing but a backpack and a camping stove, campers face many of the same problems when it comes to meal times. Food for camping needs to be convenient but nutritious and if you are doing lots of walking, it also needs to be a good source of energy which means lots of carbohydrates and proteins. It also needs to be lightweight and easy to prepare, as well as non-perishable. With all these limitations, taste is often the last thing on the camper’s mind but at the end of a long day hiking through the woods, a plate of beans and rice can seem like a very disappointing prospect. Yet, fear not as there are more options available you than you might think! Borrowing from the hunting recipes of Native American and with a few tips from South African food, you can add a bit of flair to your camping fare.
Around the Campfire
If you intend to have a campfire on your trip, be sure to check local guidelines and always follow fire safety guidance. Many campsites do not allow campers to start a fire but for those that do, you are in for a treat. If you intend to have a barbeque make sure you do so on the first night, as it is not safe to eat meat that has been unrefrigerated for more than a few hours. Make sure that you eat all of the meat you bring and dispose of any leftovers so as not to attract local wildlife.
Apart from roasting meat, a campfire is a great opportunity to try some other outdoor ideas. Make your own popcorn by wrapping popcorn kernels in tin foil with a little oil and placing over the flames. Then serve with sugar or salt. Another great trick with tinfoil is to wrap baking potatoes in the foil and place them into the fire. With both of these methods make sure that you take care when handling and opening the hot tinfoil after cooking.
Snack Like a Squirrel
Nuts, dried berries and fruit make a brilliant nourishing snack food that is full of vitamins and minerals and high in protein and carbohydrate. This is referred to by backpackers as Trail Mix. As well as being lightweight it is also non-perishable, so you should definitely keep some in your pocket and snack throughout the day.
Cereal, granola bars and flapjacks are also a great source of nutrition, whether as a snack or a handy breakfast. If you intend to take bread, choose some that is long lasting and which has a “seven day fresh” guarantee. Also ensure that you keep it wrapped in an airtight zip lock bag. Zip lock bags and tin foil are a brilliant and lightweight option of food storage when camping so make sure to pack some. Take peanut butter instead of a spread for your bread, as this also keeps longer and is a good source of protein.
If you want to take milk with you, make sure it is the long-life variety which stays fresh for longer, even when not refrigerated. If you only want milk for hot drinks, take some powdered milk or coffee whitener instead. A traditional British camping food is Kendal mint cake, a hardened tablet of sugar flavoured with mint and sometimes coated in sugar. This gives a great energy boost for those long walks.
Biltong, a South African dried meat, has been used for decades as a tasty and nutritious snack for hunters. It is a tasty source of protein that can be chewed as a snack or added to meals for some flavour.
Around the Camping Stove
When you can’t have a campfire, you will need to turn to the humble camping stove. Make sure you pack pasta and rice which are both lightweight and nourishing. Tinned foods are heavy so are better for those staying at a campsite but should be kept to a minimum for backpackers. Remember to take some pastes, salt, sugar and small packs of herbs or spices to add flavour to meals.
Jasmin Blunt is a blogger who understands that food when camping can often be a depressing prospect because of the limitations which are put on what you can take. She recommends taking some Native American or South African food to add inspiration to your camping meals.