Camping food & drink planning & packing tips

We are going camping this weekend and as always with a trip away in the offing my mind turns to food. As if it had ever turned away from food. But specifically this week I'm thinking about camping food.
Camping in the Forest Ashurst, New Forest

As one who has grown up camping it is wonderfully comforting to pack pretty much like my mum did - apart from nowadays there are a few changes which make my life as a mum easier.

Take teabags for a start. My parents didn't drink tea at all (I know right?!?) so when packing our beverages bag I used to just hurl in a small box of teabags. Buying this way is not economical though so I moved onto grabbing a handful from the family-sized box at home and stuffing them into an old takeaway tub.

This year, mainly because round tea bags were on offer, I hesitated with my hand over the tubs, spying the tiny sauce pots we are given with Indian takeaways containing raita and chopped onions and the like. Turns out they are the perfect size for round teabags and take up much less space than a takeaway tub.

packing tips for holidays and camping

 Still on the subject of takeaway tubs, this next tip comes from a neighbour who is also away camping this weekend. Her cheeky tip is to collect miniatures of sauces, jams, spreads, sugar, pepper and salt throughout the year when you visit fast food and other restaurants or hotels.

She says she doesn't load up her pockets - just takes one sachet per visit and she soon has a takeaway tub filled with anything you might need on your trip. She even has sachets of chilli flakes in her tub - that'll liven up the BBQ!

packing tips for travel

I pack UHT milk - don't groan - it's convenient and not as odd tasting as it used to be. If you don't tell the children/other half they'll probably not notice. Alternatively freeze real milk so it stays cold longer in your cool box/bag. Remember it usually expands when it freezes and often pops the lid off though so might be worth pouring some out before freezing.

On the subject of freezing I also take frozen chops/sausages/bacon/steak if I'm planning a BBQ on the first night  and we are a couple of hours drive from a site. Just ensure they are fully defrosted before cooking.
vintage BBQ camping, glamping

Check whether your campsite has a block exchange scheme. This is where you take double the number of freezer blocks you need (they are very cheap from supermarkets etc nowadays) and keep some in the site's dedicated freezer. Remember to mark yours with your name using a permanent marker pen.

When the blocks in your cool box have defrosted and are no longer cold, simply swap them for the other set in the site's freezer. There is usually a small charge for this service but saves having to buy fresh milk etc every day and having melted butter.

Alternatively you can buy electric cool boxes which run either from the mains or your car cigarette socket. These are great if you've electrics on site (usually costs extra) or you plan to drive places during your stay. If you leave a box permanently on a stationary car without the engine running you will drain the car battery!

I find the hardest thing to plan is accompaniments to food. BBQ meat is lovely but what to have with it? It can be difficult especially if you only have a one or two burner stove.

At the moment boiled new potatoes are in season. They are simple and tasty with a butter glaze.

Of course you can have salad- although it'd be a cold day in hell when you saw me eating one. I didn't get a body like mine eating salad. Cheat and buy a ready prepared salad which may even come with a sachet of dressing.

You could serve  couscous which comes in a myriad of flavours or plain -just boil a kettle to cook. We quite like instant noodles and ready bagged stir fry mixes are lovely too.

You could go old school of course and heat up sausages and beans - serve with a nice crusty loaf or try making toast using one of the toaster pyramids which sit atop your stove burner.

We did have a camp stove with a grill but find the new burners which use canisters of gas are much more efficient, lighter and less bulky to pack. Using it I can cook an entire English fry-up in one pan - smells delicious!
meal ideas for camping trips, family camping

In the morning nothing quite beats that first cuppa - you can buy gorgeous whistling kettles (and other cookware) from places like Argos and Wilkinsons very cheaply. Even Poundland has a camping section so check those out if you are on a budget. From experience though I would recommend buying a decent water carrier - our £1 one leaked so much we almost created our own swimming pool.

I bought enamelware - firstly because its cute and I love the look of it, secondly it tastes better than plastic. You could just take "real" mugs of course!

madmumof7 camping, tips, meals, food, foodblogger

In the evening it's nice to have a warm bedtime drink. Take along instant hot chocolate  you make with water to save having to wash up milky pans and don't forget the marshmallows.

And if, like me, you like to put the kids to bed and spend a few hours with your soulmate looking at the stars, don't forget the wine and glasses - you can buy amazing and beautiful acrylic versions to avoid smashed glass incidents.

Before you go make sure you do a quick internet search to find out nearest shop, supermarket or petrol station is. You may not even get a mobile or data signal on site and its' worth knowing about local facilities. Your campsite owners/managers are likely to be a good source of information too - ask thereabout good local pubs, restaurants, farmers markets and farm shops.

 And my final tip - check out where the nearest takeaway is. If you get stuck on the motorway or get lost and arrive as the sun is setting, the last thing you want to do is start grovelling in bags for utensils and ingredients to start cooking in the dark.  Get that tent up and head for the takeaway. I promise you  (I know from experience) you will get envying looks from those around you eating beans while you tuck into Pad Thai.