I love camping – some of my most memorable meals have been cooked on camping trips. You don’t have to survive off canned baked beans; with a little preparation you can whip up some amazing dishes that will make you the envy of the campground.
Got your tent, sleeping bag and picnic basket? Not sure what else to pack?I’ve had my fair share of amazing camping trips where we have had some incredible food, as well as camping experiences where we’ve had nothing to eat but canned beans (and only after we borrowed a can opener from a neighbouring camper!). If you want to up your camp food game, read on for my best advice and recipe ideas when it comes to camp cooking…
Don’t forget to bring…
> A gas cooker or portable barbecue (also don’t forget gas and a lighter or matches)
> Dishwashing liquid, tea towels, paper towels and a plastic tub for dishes
> Oil, salt and pepper
> Ice packs for the chilly bin (or an even better idea is to freeze your meat and any bottles of milk, water and juice you are taking; they’ll defrost over a few days, lasting longer and doubling as ice packs)
> Containers to put leftover food in (so you don’t end up wasting precious food!)
> Cast-iron skillet
> Sharp knife and chopping board
> A can opener!
What to cook?
It’s useful to take one or two pre-made meals in the chilly bin which you can heat on your first night at your destination – after an early start, long drive, setting up camp and getting your space organised, the last thing you’ll feel like doing is cooking. Containers of pre-cooked pasta and bolognese sauce or meatballs are perfect for a quick, comforting meal – just heat and eat.
Pack some home baking for the long drive and for hungry tummies after swimming. These banana-bran muffins are a favourite.
I’m lucky my husband Carlos is an avid fisherman, so we’ll often camp near water so that freshly caught fish is on the cards – yum! A good ‘catch of the day’ recipe? Fresh fish wrapped in tinfoil with tomatoes, olives and parsley. Scale, gut and fillet fish, then place individual fillets in large pieces of tinfoil, season with salt and pepper, and top with chopped tomatoes, olives, parsley, a good squeeze of lemon juice and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil. Wrap into parcels and cook on the barbecue or an open fire. They will only take about 5-8 minutes, depending on the size of the fillets and the heat source.
Don’t forget to bring skewers for barbecued kebabs – everyone can help to thread meat and vegetables (whole mushrooms, pieces of capsicum, onion, courgette, cherry tomatoes) onto them. If using wooden skewers, first soak them in water for at least 20 minutes to avoid burning. Some of my favourite skewers are these haloumi and chorizo ones, and these super tasty BBQ prawn skewers.
A boneless butterflied leg of lamb (pre-marinated if you like) always barbecues well and makes a simple, delicious meal served with a potato salad and leafy green salad.
It wouldn’t be camping without marshmallows on the campfire. Simply spear marshmallows on sticks or skewers and toast. Or make banana, chocolate and marshmallow parcels. Run a knife along the inner curve of the banana; it should go through the skin and into the banana. Gently push the banana in from either end to open up a cavity, then stuff it with pieces of chocolate and marshmallow. Wrap each banana in tinfoil and place in hot coals or on the barbecue for about 15-20 minutes, turning occasionally until the banana skins are black and soft. Carefully unwrap and use a spoon to scoop out and eat the gooey goodness.
Coconut rice pudding is a camping favourite of mine – I use pre-cooked rice, a can of coconut milk, some cinnamon, vanilla and a bit of honey or sugar to sweeten, then serve with canned tropical fruit or peaches.
To be doing what I am today is a dream come true. It all started when I was 12 years old. I was watching TV after school one day and Jamie Oliver was cooking up a storm on The Naked Chef.