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Our Favourite Car Camping Foods

While on our three-month road trip in Europe, we didn’t really plan the food side of things at all. We filled up two big containers of lentils and rice before we left the UK and figured we’d just work out the rest of it on the way.

While it’s true that we were never too far away from civilisation i.e. a supermarket, we definitely learned some lessons on which type of foods were better to stock up on, and which were just not practical (especially in 36 degree heat as we experienced in Albania!)

Now that we’re planning to do some long canoe trips and more off-road driving, I’m trying to use our road trip experience and previous camping knowledge to prepare us a little better this time!

Food must haves for car camping

  • Chickpeas – hearty, filling and versatile. For road trips, the cans of cooked chickpeas are awesome, while dried are easy to carry for camping (soak overnight). Burgers, salads, falafel and curries are all easy to make with chickpeas, with little else required to make a decent meal.
  • Avocados – fantastic for camping as they carry well, are not too heavy and will ripen a few days into the trip. These will be great when most other fruit and veg are gone. Use for guacamole, in tortilla wraps, on toast, for salads, on burgers.
  • Nuts – not just great for GORP (good old raisins and peanuts) mix, also useful for main courses i.e. cashews in curries and pine nuts in stirfrys.
  • Tortilla wraps – these things last absolutely ages (about two weeks once opened!), take up little space and can be used for so many things – quesadillas, salad wraps, pizza, chips (cut and then fried, savoury or sweet), breakfast wraps (think eggs or peanut butter and jam). If you usually eat a lot of bread, then tortilla wraps will be your saviour.
  • Quinoa – I LOVE quinoa, mainly because it’s a great protein source and so versatile. Use in place of rice, or make salads or burgers. A little quinoa makes a lot (3 parts water to one part quinoa) so it’s worth the space.
  • Peanut butter – sandwiches, toast, with fruit, curries (satay sauce)………this is the good stuff.
  • Bonus food for meat eaters: Dried sausage – Jean Robert swears by this stuff. It might be initially expensive but the strong taste means you don’t have to use much. Eat on it’s own, or put in pasta dishes, risotto, on tortilla pizzas, curry etc.
Cooking on Dempster Highway 4

One food to avoid

Fresh mushrooms! With consistent 25+ degree warmth and no fridge, we found we could not store mushrooms at all. We would literally be buying them at lunch and they would be mushy and unusable by the evening. It’s a shame because we both really like them and use them in a lot of dishes. Dried mushrooms are a good option but can take some time to hydrate again.

Here’s a strange thing; I really like cooking while camping! Yes, you can take it easy and stay with the mac ‘n’ cheese and noodles, but I think there is something immensely satisfying about cooking an awesome meal while out in the wilds, just on a camping stove. Savouring a great meal with a great view is one of my favourite parts of a trip.

cooking in the van jr pei

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Tuesday 25th of June 2013

Easy fav camping recipes easy with 2 kids under five kind of easy.


Wednesday 17th of April 2013

Great tips Gemma! This is really handy for me as i'm currently finding a lot of this out for myself on my mini road trip. Maybe after my big trip and I too am an experienced van dweller we should get together and pool our cooking tips and recipes together and complie a book/website!