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The Lorrimers sold their home in 2015, piled their three kids in a camper van, and have been travelling around Australia ever since. Their and other people's incredible travels were featured as part of World Ready here!
Camping is a great way to teach basic life skills to your children and cooking is a great place to start. You can demonstrate how to cook with minimal resources, how to stay safe around a fire and even show them where their food comes from.
As a mum of three kids, a lot of questions flow through my head before we head off… what food did I actually pack? Do we have the required utensils to cook? What is something simple and easy to prepare? And, we’d better get the fire on!
To keep it simple, there’s a few strategies (and meals) I rely on to make cooking and camping a little bit easier.
Before we get into recipes, I want to share my number one tip: prepare some camping meals before your camping trip. The week before a camping trip I always cook up a few meals that freeze or refrigerate well.
Because we’re constantly on the move, we carry a 60L portable fridge that lives in the back of our ute. I simply put my freezer meals (which I pack flat into a zip lock bag) straight in. That said, you don’t need a fridge to be prepared. This also works well if you’ve got an esky and just going for the weekend.
Preparing in advance is super convenient, especially on the first night. After you’ve set up your tent, unpacked the car, and wrangled the kids, all you have to do is grab a flatpack and heat it up over the fire (or pop it on the gas stove).
Some meals I like to prepare include tuna bake, zucchini slice, spaghetti bolognese or meatloaf. They travel well and reheat easily.
When you’re planning meals, either to reheat or to cook on the fly, you’ll need to consider what cooking equipment is available and what you’ll need to bring.
While campfires are excellent, you can’t always rely on them. Fire restrictions can come into place when you’re on site, so you should always bring another heat source just in case. But if you’ve got the all-clear, some handy cooking items to take with you include a camp oven, two-burner gas stove, a BBQ, jaffle iron, a billy, a gas fire lighter and compressed fire lighters.
If you want to pare it back to the essentials, consider a BBQ or a two-burner gas stove.
Make room for all the other eating essentials too: plates, bowls, mugs, cutlery, utensils a collapsible dish rack, a water jerry, and a fry pan. To keep track of it, I recommend that you write a list of items or add it to this camping checklist.
Our go-to breakfast for the kids is either baked beans on toast or porridge. It’s simple and easy to prepare and takes up very little space. Just heat up your baked beans or porridge over the campfire or your gas cooker.
As for lunch, we keep it pretty simple with sandwiches. Vegemite or ham and cheese sandwiches keep the kids happy and their tummies full. Quick and easy to prepare!
You can never have enough snacks! Kids just seem to graze all day long especially when camping. We take plenty of fruit, muesli bars, popcorn, rice cakes, boiled eggs, mini bites or veggie chips. The kids enjoy them and I know they will be eaten without complaint.
Some days it’s nice to get back to camp and heat up a pre-cooked meal, other times we love to sit around the campfire and get the kids involved in cooking their own dinner.
I find that our kids really do enjoy this way of cooking and I believe it’s really important to teach kids to cook, especially when you’re using minimal resources. Here are a few things of our family favourites:
Our whole family love to fish and we also love to eat it. And what better way to get everyone involved than to catch your own dinner!
Kids will learn an important lesson, that good things come to those who wait (although if you’re lucky, they won’t have to wait too long). Once the fish is caught, you can fillet and debone it. The kids love being part of the process and get to see how their dinner goes from the water to their plate.
A cheap and simple meal is popping your fish onto a pan to cook over heat or a fire. We love to batter ours with flour and beer, cut up some potatoes into chips, and toss them around on the frypan too. Serve with a simple salad. Alternatively, take some wraps and whip up a fish taco. Fish takes no time at all to cook up. If frying it up, allow a couple of minutes on each side to cook. Alternatively, if using batter, add a reasonable amount of oil to cook your battered fish.
It’s an Aussie staple and a must have when you’re camping. A sausage in bread with onion and sauce is delicious and the whole family will love you for it.
Super easy to prepare and cook, and it feeds the whole tribe. Kids don’t like sausage? Ensure you pack rissoles or hamburger patties instead.
If you’ve got a camp oven with you, this simple, easy recipe is a winner. There’s plenty of room for variations so you can make it your own. A basic damper that will never fail you is:
That may be some chocolate for dessert, or ham and cheese for a savoury damper. Wrap up in some aluminum foil, pop it in the ashes of your campfire and check it after half an hour. It might need a few more minutes after that outside of the foil to get nice and crisp.
A jaffle iron is a great addition to your camping kit. Spray some olive oil or coat the waffle iron with butter, place your bread down and fill with whatever you like. We love to put baked beans in ours. Put on the coals of the campfire and wait about 10 minutes. This is a delicious meal for breakfast!
Allow 20 minutes to cook or when and inserted knife comes out clean.
My final tip? Please ensure that you bag up all your rubbish during meal preparation and place it in a bin provided. Better yet, pack it out with you and dispose of it at home. Leaving your campsite clean and tidy for the next family is always a good lesson for the kids too.
Consider ways to reduce your use of plastic as much as possible. Camping can create a lot of waste if not done thoughtfully. Seeking fresh ingredients that aren't wrapped up in plastic and using your own Tupperware to store food is ideal.
Camping doesn’t stop you from eating well in the wilderness with your kids – all you need is a little preparation. These quick and easy recipes are a great way to get your kids involved and make cooking part of your camping adventure.
Before you head off, grab a few more handy tips and learn how to master camp cooking.
Mosquitoes had a field day overnight? Don't forget your camping first aid kit!
Why you don't try to make a souffle on a camping trip.
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