Save time and effort in the outdoors while improving your camp cooking with our list of the most simple and easy camping food hacks.
1. Cook with couscous
For most campers living it up in the outdoors, efficiency is the name of the game, and as far as meal bases go, there are few as efficient as couscous. As an ingredient, couscous has a number of advantages over rice and pasta: it cooks faster, requires no ongoing attention or culinary nous to cook correctly, and doesn’t need as much water – which in remote areas is a boon – to prepare. Couscous is also just as versatile as its more fancied competitors, which makes it easy to cut down on the time and resources you use while cooking on your next camping trip.
2. Wrap up your bread usage
Bread is a staple food in many households, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it belongs in your camp kitchen. Bread loaves have a limited lifespan compared to many foods, and in a vehicle packed to the hilt with cargo that’s bouncing over unsealed roads, it can quickly become an endangered species (or at least a slightly misshapen one) if you’re not careful.
An interesting alternative to a loaf of bread is its unleavened cousin: wraps. Wrap bread stays fresh for longer, is both more compact and durable than conventional bread, and is also simpler to portion; the idea of encasing a meal in an edible container is also an enticing one for cleaning-averse campers. Whether it’s an egg and bacon burrito in the morning, a ham and salad wrap for lunch or a chicken quesadilla for dinner, wrap breads are the gift that keeps on giving while you’re camping or travelling.
3. Omelettes in the bag
A cooked breakfast is a camping fascination that often ends in intensive pan scrubbing, angry internal muttering and extensive fiddling that many would prefer to go without (often in retrospect) first thing in the morning.
To make life simple, why not boil the billy for a cup of tea and make a classic camping breakfast in one fell swoop? Simply crack some eggs into a zip lock bag with some salt, pepper, ham, cheese (paprika and dried parsley doesn’t go astray either) and a splash of milk, give it a vigorous shake and let the hot water do the rest.
4. Start the day with overnight oats
While many campers could be forgiven for railing against the age of internet fads and healthy-living millennials, in actual fact this movement and its acolytes have unknowingly delivered a winner to the zip-up front door of any self-respecting outdoor enthusiast: overnight oats.
Made famous by a generational obsession with mason jars (and because they look so good in photos), overnight oats are easy to both prepare and eat. The principle of overnight oats is that you layer rolled oats and a dash of milk - often in combination with yoghurt, fruit or other more fanciful fare – in a container and leave them in the fridge overnight to soak up the milk and other ingredients. Then, in the morning you have a well-rounded and filling breakfast to start your day without extra cooking and cleaning attached.
5. Store spices in pill containers
A good collection of spices is one of the most underrated weapons in a camp cook’s arsenal - many would argue they’re an unnecessary complication in a place where simplicity should reign supreme. In actuality, keeping some spices handy in your camp kitchen makes it easy to diversify your meals using similar ingredients, which helps to simplify your shopping list and pre-trip planning.
To avoid bringing a stacked spice rack with you every time you go camping (as well as worrying about keeping track of countless tiny bottles), simply put your spices in a one-a-day pill container (available from pharmacies). This means you can keep all of your spices together in the perfect quantities, allowing you to pivot your beef mince from Bolognese to chili con carne in a heartbeat.
6. Learn how to use a camp oven
Cooking with a camp oven is an art form – many books are entirely dedicated to cooking with them – but their biggest drawcard is their simplicity and versatility. Camp ovens can cook a massive variety of dishes from cakes and casseroles to roasts and rotis (and do it well), opening up a whole new raft of recipes that campers would ordinarily be unable to choose from. This has the knock-on effect of making it easier to shop for your camping trips, as you’re not restricted to frying, boiling or other more basic methods of cooking. Cooking with coals is also just a useful skill to learn, and for many is as much a part of camping as collapsible chairs and insect repellent.
7. Freeze meals to take with you
Cooking before you go takes some foresight and a bit of planning, but for those getting to camp late or who simply can’t be bothered cooking up a storm at camp, the benefits are obvious.
By cooking and freezing meals before you go, you cut down the need for fresh ingredients that have to be protected or take up lots of space in your fridge or cooler, while these meals can also serve to keep other food cool when frozen in containers. If you’re moving from camp to camp on a daily or every-other-day basis (or are simply camping for an extended period), you can alternate between freshly-cooked and frozen meals, or even keep your frozen meals as insurance in case you run out of fresh food at an inopportune time.