Every year we try to go camping, at least once, as a family. We love experiencing the connection to nature and have found that the kids enjoy it as well. We set up tents, hike nearby trails, explore beaches and generally just enjoy nature and its awesomeness.
My older daughter is a huge animal lover and is thrilled to find tadpoles, crabs and other small creatures during these visits. The younger one is slightly more reluctant participant, but if we camp anywhere near beaches, lake she is a happy gal.
Give that lil’ one some mud and she can spend hours playing in it. I voluntarily trade those free hours for the 1 hour I spend afterwards washing out her hair and clothes :). Soooo much grime….but so worth it!!
Food philosophy while camping
There is just 1 major rule while camping – Cook as less as possible!!
Camping is for spending time just exploring, being curious, etc. Prepping, cooking, cleaning – not so much…Priorities, folks!!
But, a few years ago, after the kids were born, I found that a complete lack of preparation can lead to problems. 1) Lot of camping spots don’t have easy access to food. 2) We have the ‘being vegetarian’ constraint. 3) Eating snacks as a meal substitute is an awful idea – it never fills you up, your stomach and head feels lousy after eating it.
So, over the years, my husband and I found ways to keep cooking at a minimum, while still eat fueling meals. Here are some ideas:
Gotto have my coffee!!
Trader Joe’s Instant coffee, tasted like coffee sold in Indian trains, but better watery than none.
The previous week, we went to the store and let kids pick out their favorite cereals. None of the healthy ‘bran’ stuff…Time to ‘live a little’…:)
Topped with plant based milks. These are shelf stable milks (tetra packs).
Note – the refrigerated stuff will not last outdoors. So, be sure to pick the milks that are kept out in shelves.
Sometimes, cereal is not filling enough. So, we had bananas and peanut butter on the side.
We also got these canned Dolmas from Trader Joes that were delicious and filling. The kids did not like it, but we loved it.
Tip – Get cans that have the ‘Easy open’ – tabs attached to them. You don’t have to carry a can opener along.
Wraps with refried beans, pickled veggies and canned sauces
We just picked up some bean and other fillings from Trader Joes – Refried pinto beans, Corn and chili salsa, Giardiniera pickled vegetables, creamy queso sauce and layered it inside a sun dried tomato tortilla.
P.S. – We decided to take our plates from home to avoid taking a huge stack of paper plates. Wherever we ate, if there was water available, we washed it right after use. In other places, we just wiped it clean with paper towels and took it back to campsite where we washed it later.
Tortilla with ready-to-eat Indian Subzi’s.
The ready to eat Indian subzi’s have no preservatives in them. The packaging technology is very similar to cans, except that it is in a pouch.
Here we had spinach tortilla with MTR Ready to Eat Chana Masala, MTR Daily Favorites Bhindi Masala and Haldiram’s Minute Khana Mutter Paneer.
All of us loved Haldiram’s Mutter Paneer. In fact, all Haldiram’s ‘Minute Khana’ varieties were tastier than what I expected. The MTR chana masala was also a big hit. The MTR Bhindi masala was quite spicy. The kids could not take the spice levels. My husband and I enjoyed it.
Note – While these ready to eat packets are highly convenient and a blessing in remote campgrounds, they have the hotel taste to it. A few days of eating it, and you will start craving home food. While I appreciate advances in food technology that allows me to appreciate these delicacies, I also understand their limitations.
Yogurt with fruits
While driving from Oregon to Wyoming, we were in the car for almost 9 hours. During that time, eating a heavy meal felt stuffy. We stopped by a local grocery store and decided to buy sweetened yogurt and fruits. We took it to a nearby rest area, had 2 bowls of yogurt with fruits and continued driving along.
It was a nice and cool treat for the hot summer and both kids and adults approved of this change for a day.
For dinner, we often have a campsite favorite – Maggi Noddles!!
I practically never buy them at home, unless we are camping, and the kids loooovee it. We used the instant pot to cook it because we were able to get spots with electrical outlets. In the past, we have used portable propane stoves.
During cold nights in Northern California, we were happy to use Dr McDougalls brand of ‘Right Foods’ that were a vegan version of Cup O Noodle soups.
Just add hot water and we had light, nourishing soups like Vegan Miso Ramen Noodle Soup (feedback – “kids favorite”), Vegan Pad Thai Noodle Soup (“my favorite”), Vegan Tortilla Soup with Baked Chips (“Meh…not the best, but not too bad either”).
We also used the Haldirams Minute Khana and MTR’s Ready to Eat series again.
This time we tasted MTR Masala Upma/ Khara Bath (feedback – “yummy”), Haldiram’s Minute Khana Dal Tadka (“spicy, but yummy”) and MTR’s Saffron Rice (“the rice gets dry and hard unless you heat it in hot water, so unless you have a heating source, I do not recommend it”).
Hope these food ideas are useful when you plan your next camping trip. I check the ingredient list of every item before buying and highly recommend you do the same.
I have pictures of ingredients lists of these products as well, so if you have any questions regarding them, do post them and I can give you additional info.
Given the advances in food technology, there is very little need to choose foods with preservatives. The only exception we made for this rule was the tortillas, because we were worried any other bread might spoil in hot weather conditions.
What questions/thoughts/ideas/comments do you have regarding camp food? Post them below and we can start a conversation…
Disclaimer: All opinions are mine and I was not provided any compensation for any of these products.