Eating Well When You Camp: Part 4: Convenience Foods that are Worth Using

So last time we discussed some ideas about what sorts of pre-cooked home-made dinners could be vacuum packed and reheated in hot water. This food is truly yummy – after all you made it yourself, but extra calories are often a mandate when you are camping. So what can you do that will be yummy, and maybe even a little healthy? Now first of all, let me say that I use very few preprocessed foods at home when I cook, but I have found a few that are truly awesome, especially when camping.

Dehydrated potatoes. A standard for our camping events. You can buy them completely plain, and rehydrate them with milk and butter, or by the “butter flavored” version and just add boiling water. They take less than 5 minutes to make, and they are darn good. Some versions even come with things like cheese and bacon – check it out in the pasta aisle.

Couscous and couscous blends. Be sure to read the instructions well to be sure of what you are buying. Some of these products are almost totally instant – add boiling water, allow to sit, fluff it up with a fork and serve.

Dehydrated stuffed pasta meals. I try not to mention brand names, but Barilla makes some really good pasta dishes – ricotta & spinach, and three cheese. A two person package is small, shelf stable, and cooks up in about 10 minutes in boiling water. You can serve it as a meal, or a side dish. Add butter, or sauce, depending on what you prefer. These meals also come in a four person serving size. The quantity is fairly generous.

Pre-made Roll Biscuits. These are the biscuits that come in the tubes, usually in the dairy section at the grocery. We rarely use them at home – we prefer to make rolls from scratch, but they cook up really well in our little camp oven. Be careful not to burn them, some camp ovens are a bit fussy. Once you have conquered biscuits you can also buy breakfast rolls and cookie dough. We often make our cookie dough at home, create uniform cookies with a scoop, and freeze the uncooked cookie dough. If you want instant friends at a camping event bake up some fresh chocolate chip cookies or cinnamon rolls in camp.

2009-03-12 - Potatoes & Biscuits - 0007

2009-03-12 – Potatoes & Biscuits – 0007 (Photo credit: smiteme)

Canned Fruit, V-8 Juice, individual fruit cups, granola bars, individual yogurt cups, individual fruit juice drinks, and store-bought cookies are only a few of the other items that you can add to your basic cooked meals to make them special. Reheated Roast Pork and gravy served with applesauce and freshly baked biscuits – not a bad way to finish the day. “Cheating” by adding a V-8 juice or fruit juice during the day helps to up the “healthy factor” on your diet, and obviously reading the labels and choosing your products carefully makes a huge difference.

We even carry an emergency kit for my Service Dog that includes a container of shelf-stable pre-cooked rice and a can of chicken stock. This will actually work for people with upset tummies, too. We rarely need it, but it is cheap insurance.

As someone who regularly camps at SCA events for a week or more, having something safe and yummy to eat is a very important thing to me. And you may ask: But What do We do for a REALLY long war like Pennsic? Next week.

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