Editor’s note: This post was contributed by one of our team members, Adelina. Read on as she shares her memories of her family camping trips.
Growing up I went camping frequently with my parents and their friends. They all had children around the same age as my brother and I which made the whole experience more fun for everyone. I remember looking forward to our summer getaways. Lazy afternoons of sitting by the water, easy hikes around lakes and making s’mores over the campfire.
We ate very well on these trips. There was never a lack of food. My mother usually did most of the menu planning when we went camping. She had to think about how long we would be going for and factor in that we would not have any kind of refrigeration system. Usually our trips were between 3-5 days. Longer trips usually meant that we’d have meat at the beginning of the trip, but then eat mostly vegetables in the latter half unless we were able to stock up at a nearby city half way through.
There is a lot to think about from the basics: do you want coffee or tea or both in the mornings or evening? What about cream and sugar? To the more complicated: what kind of meat should we bring and how can we keep it cold?
My family is particularly interesting because we are of Chinese descent. My parents never went camping with their families so we created our own traditions and our own way of doing things. It resulted in a trip that was a mix of Canadian and Chinese cultures which was heavily reflected in what we ate during our trips.
Depending on the trip and who we were camping with, our food selection would vary slightly. But Our typical menu went like this:
Day 1 Lunch – Sandwiches on the road
Day 1 Dinner – Barbeque
Day 2 Breakfast – Toast, eggs, bacon
Day 2 Lunch – Sandwiches on the go
Day 2 Dinner – Barbeque and pasta or rice
Day 3 Breakfast – Toast, eggs, luncheon meat or instant noodles
Day 3 Lunch – Sandwiches
Proper packing and storing of your food is just as critical to the planning process as is putting together a menu. We typically went with 3 coolers – two large and one small. One of the large coolers would be filled with meats and other foods solely for our dinners. The other larger cooler would be filled with items for breakfast and lunch. That way you could keep the food you didn’t need for your current meal cold and not exposed to the hot air. The third smaller box would be filled with serving sized items that could easily go bad such as mayonnaise and milk. The smaller containers minimize waste and you only have to bring as much as you will need.
All of our meats for the grill were marinated and frozen prior to departure. They would go into the cooler frozen, mixed in with ice water and ice packets allowing them to keep for 2 days. We would have grilling favorites such as sausages as well as chicken wings and pork chops all with different kinds of marinades. Sausages were versatile as they could also be used for breakfast the next day.
We brought with us a gas stove but also built a campfire. Most of our cooking was done over the gas stove, but foods that could be wrapped up in aluminum foil, such as potatoes and yams, went into the campfire. Not to mention the quintessential campfire food – s’mores!
My family was fond of cooking pasta and rice while camping to supplement our meals – especially on the second day for dinner. The sauce for the pasta was made before the trip or came from a can. Mixing in pre-cut vegetables to the pasta rounded out the meal. Rice was made in a Chinese clay pot and often had marinated meats or Chinese dried sausage cooked along with it for extra flavor.
For snacks, we would have plenty of fruit and vegetables ready as well as granola bars, trail mix and crackers. Plus some unhealthy snacks like chips and candy. Individual juice boxes, which were originally frozen to aid in cooling food, were thawed and consumed. We also had big jugs of water with a dispenser to keep hydrated.
Eating well while camping isn’t difficult. Keeping things simple and preparing as much as you can prior to the trip can really ease headaches. Look for opportunities to use one item multiple ways. Put together a meal plan that fulfills your food groups and you’re all set.
What are some of your favorite camping foods?