When we were young, camping involved lots of Spam, baked beans and Pot Noodles with a ‘treat’ halfway through the holiday of Dad’s half-cooked BBQ sausages that tasted like charcoal and made the tents smell of smoke for the rest of the week.
Nowadays, our kids are comparatively spoilt when it comes to camping food. As well as the availability of pubs serving foods, cheap chain restaurants and the occasional McDonald’s, our on-site eating options are much more flexible too.
Our Essential Camping Equipment
Single gas hob burner
Matches – very important in case you need to start a camp-fire.
One pot, one pan and one skillet or frying pan.
Cobb Premier Oven with coals or Cobblestone
Extras for your Cobb – we like the frying dish and roasting rack
Basic cooking utensils – e.g. wooden spoon, spatula and chef’s knife
Plates, cutlery, bowls etc.
Although we always have a single gas burner with a good supply of gas and matches with us we always take along a few dehydrated meals in pouches, tinned fish, dried fruits, nuts and savoury biscuits along with lots of cereal and UHT milk just in case we’re stranded in our tents in bad weather for a few days without gas for our hob. Cereal is a great camping food when you have kids; if they can’t get used to the odd taste of warm UHT milk, you can normally serve cereal with warmed milk instead – its a real treat. Tuna or boneless mackerel on savoury biscuits or pita bread make a nice no-cook lunch especially with some pepper, chilli powder or dried herbs. It’s much easier to create no-cook meals if you have a way of cooling your food as you can incorporate fresh fruits and veg, cheese and cooked meats – meaning you can create child-friendly salads or cold fajita wraps.
Our cans have progressed from baked beans to include ‘meal’ soups, meatballs, stews, and curries which we serve with rice or pasta. If you only have a camp-fire or a single burner stove cook the pasta or rice first as it will soon warm up when you pour over the warm sauce, stew or curry. Canned meatballs and rice are a favourite with our children, and we add chopped carrots or tinned peas or corn to make it a bit healthier.
We usually venture in to the nearest town for some local produce every couple of days, depending on the weather, and recently we’ve camped near a farm that sells us small quantities of eggs, milk, meat and veggies whenever we need them. This means we can do fried breakfasts, scrambled eggs, pancakes and hearty stews and casseroles – all just using one pot or the skillet. We often use ideas from the family friendly Jamie Oliver website.
Gourmet on the Go
We don’t like using BBQs. They are often bulky to transport, messy, smoky and a lot of effort to make sure food is thoroughly cooked. Instead we use a Cobb Premier BBQ which is like having a small oven with us. After a busy day hiking or visiting the local towns we like using the Cobb as it is much less effort than regular camping cooking equipment. They are also cool to the touch, smoke-free and cook healthier food than BBQs, which we find perfect when we have the children with us. Although you can get the Cobb from a few places, if you’re in the UK we recommend Waudbys as they have a price promise and sell quite a few of the extra cooking equipment too. Otherwise speak to your local camping or cookware supplier.
Our favourite dishes on the Cobb are stirfrys, paella, roast chicken and pizzas. The children love the pizzas, of course, which we make with or without cheese with a mix of tinned tomatoes and tomato puree as the base. The toppings depend on where we are. If we don’t have fresh ingredients we use tinned tuna with lots of herbs and a bit of spice and some olives on our half. We’ve also made some pretty questionable pizzas using peanut butter, but they are definitely not for beginners! We get the chicken from a local store or the farm shop and cook it with wine or orange juice in the Cobb’s moat which gives it a lovely flavour. We then serve it with baked beans, instant mashed potato and gravy, salad or in sandwiches for a picnic.