Camping is an experience unto itself and you’ll never really know whether you enjoy it until you’ve experienced it. At least that’s what I tell people who refuse to give it a try. For us, it’s a bit of freedom from the every day routine. An escape. Everything from where you’re sleeping (and sleeping on) to what you’re eating is different. For us, this is really fun and actually quite exciting – although that’s not to say that it doesn’t come with it’s own challenges.
Despite always having a lot of fun, one of the challenges we always question ourselves over and over about is food. What should we take? Will it last the journey? Will it last the weekend?! How will we cook certain things? Do we have enough alcohol? We always worry we won’t have enough whilst also worrying about waste.
Over time though, we’ve quickly mastered our list and now have a go-to guide on the best foods to take. If you’re not too sure on what to take camping, maybe our quick shopping list will give you a helping hand.
Before you start, you will absolutely need some storage – taking several shopping bags worth of food will not only weigh you down and take up room in the tent, but think of the packaging you’ll have to get rid of throughout your weekend.
We have some plastic storage boxes from IKEA for everything from our snacks to dried goods like pasta and rice. Storing everything in boxes like this will save room when packing the car but it means you can keep everything tidy in the tent. Plus, if there’s some spillage like a split bag of rice – it’s going to remain in one place. The boxes come in a range of sizes and can also come in handy for cans or storing waste so animals don’t help themselves.
Onto the food…
When you’re camping you need to keep it basic but filling at the same time. You also don’t want to be using up all your pans or borrowing your neighbours pans just to cook a meal. Think of the washing up! Here’s what our breakfasts normally look like:
Beans with sausages (or minus the sausage if you’re veggie/vegan) and a bread roll to dip. We’ve tried toasting bread in the past but it was rubbish and slices of bread just go soggy.
Scrambled Egg. We use long-life milk in this recipe because the cartons are smaller and it lasts longer if you have any left over.
Pre-bought/Pre-made Pancakes. These can often be frozen for the journey and then all you have to do once defrosted is heat them gently in the pan. Don’t forget the syrup!
Porridge Pots. These are an absolute god send and keep you full for ages. You don’t even have to buy an expensive brand for it to taste good (We bought a few pots for under a quid at Lidl). All you need is boiling water (and some jam/honey if you have it).
Frankfurter or Bacon Roll. Both these items can be frozen prior to the journey and one pack of either does the three of us fine, so that’s one less item of food in our tent!
Cereal. Depending on your milk situation, cereals are a good filler if you or your children need that little extra something before they get going. We take those multipacks with us so we don’t run the risk of spilling rice crispies everywhere!
Pastries. These are always a winner in our tent, especially as they last for some time and taste great even when they’re a few days old. Stick a bit of bacon in them and you’re onto a winner.
Fruit can be hit and miss when you go camping – it all depends on the weather. From experience, fruits like Apples, Pears, Satsumas, and Grapes all last a weekend, but bananas lasted two days max no matter what the weather was like.
Lunch & Dinner
Whenever we go camping, we tend to buy our lunches out so we don’t have to keep travelling back and forth – especially if we’ve gone out for the day. When we go to Camp Bestival we even try and save for the occasional evening meal as the food (and entertainment) is just too good to miss.
But if there have been times when we’ve decided to give something a miss or if we’ve headed back to our tent a little early we always want something quick and easy to rustle up.
Soup and a Roll. It may not sound like a filling meal, but there is such a huge amount of choice when it comes to soup. We always go for a traditional tomato, but I’ve always thought about getting chunky broths or ones that come with a noodle.
Noodle Pots. Now, I don’t mean a Pot Noodle – that won’t fill you up and it’s likely to have zero nutritional value. I’m talking about those gigantic Chinese noodle pots from Chinese markets or even a Super Noodle. You may not see a difference, but they often have a decent amount of veg in them and they’re a lot more filling.
Pasta and Sauce. This is a large umbrella and can come in the form of a filled pasta and jar (or sachet/container) of sauce or dried pasta with pesto.
Jacket Potatoes. Pre-cook some spuds before you go and then all you’ll need to do is wrap them in foil and leave to warm through in a pan. Your choice of topping can be left over beans from breakfast or some pre-grated cheese!
Pudding! Are you even camping if you don’t toast some marshmallows over a camping fire/stove and then spread them between two chocolate hob knobs?
Obviously there are tons of meal options if you visit the canned goods aisle, but we try and avoid doing this as most of the time it’s not particularly healthy (we’re saving those moments for the on-site food).
Having snacks available is an absolute must when we go camping. It means T has that regular boost of energy and we can have a sit down for a few minutes whilst we browse the map or schedule. A snack also comes in handy when you need to wait in a queue. A snack in between lunch and dinner may also mean we can save that churro for pudding! Here are our favourite and most reliable snacks:
Malt Loaf (there’s also a banana version available), Flapjacks (bonus points if you make your own before hand) Apples, Rice Cakes (spread a bit of peanut butter on for some extra energy), Nuts, Granola Bars, Hard Boiled Eggs (if you have time in the morning), Rice Crackers, Carton / Pouches of Smoothie, Dried Fruit, Boxes of Raisins (Yoghurt covered ones are a real treat in T’s eyes), Satsumas or Oranges, Babybel / Cheese Strings.
Whilst alcohol isn’t ‘technically’ a snack, it is for us adults when we’re getting ready to go out for the evening. Because glass isn’t often allowed onto family camp sites, we tend to bring a few cans of drink. For T, we freeze some juice cartons that act as a brilliant ice pack for the journey.
- Sugar lumps are better than carrying a whole bag of sugar.
- Don’t forget those water bottles – most sites have free water bottle filling points.
- Sporks are a great alternative to taking tons of cutlery.
- Keep seasoning and/or condiments in a plastic pot or special container as campsites don’t often allow glass. These are often overlooked until you need them so set aside a special, camping-only stock. You can also find condiments in sachet form in you visit a cash and carry!
- Buy spray oil instead of bringing a bottle of oil. Again, it’s unlikely you’ll be allowed glass on site, plus it’s a lot healthier!
- You can still have a decent cup of coffee in the morning by buying coffee sachets. We always take coffee mate instead of fresh milk.
- Buy smaller cartons of milk for children so they can have a carton of milk with breakfast or dinner for an extra filler (there’s also plenty of dairy free/soya options out too!).
- Bring plenty of kitchen wipes and tea towels for cleaning and washing up after.
- A washing up brush that also stores liquid in the handle is space saving in comparison to a brush and bottle of liquid.
So there we have it, our food list when it comes to camping. It’s a little bit naughty but not that bad that you come home a stone heavier!
Have we missed anything out? What are you tips and best buys? Got any hacks to keeping things fresh?