Monday, July 11, 2011

Guest Post: Eating Well in the Great Outdoors

This post is brought to you by Merry, the author of Merry With Children and a long time reader of Notes From the Cookie Jar. Merry is going to be my roomie at BlogHer 11, and I wanted you all to meet her! This brave lady camps, which is something that I just don't do-and she's going to share all the camping foodie goodness type tips with you that a hotel loving woman like me just couldn't. Make sure to click on over to her blog and take a look!

Camping is a summertime ritual that my family loves. Time spent outside in nature and away from the TV and the computer is the perfect way to reconnect as a family and get some much deserved downtime. While I am not going to lie to you and tell you that we don't eat our share of hot dogs and s'mores, I am going to tell you that you can eat more than junk food on your next camping trip! My family is lucky because we have a trailer which makes cooking and cleaning so much easier but even tenters can eat well!

First off, I recommend camping with a Coleman stove and a small bbq if at all possible. This widens your options immeasurably over cooking with a campfire only. You will also need a skillet, one small saucepan and one large saucepan. I also have a griddle that I picked up from the Army Navy store. You will also need ample room to store your provisions. If you are in a can use your fridge. If you are a tenter, a cooler and a plastic bin will do the trick.


Next you need to find some recipes that your family likes that are camping friendly or can easily be made more camping friendly. The keys to camping friendly recipes are: minimal ingredients, quick cooking (w/o needing an oven), and easy to prepare. Some of our favorites are pork soulvaki (purchased pre-marinated at the grocery store) served in pita with humus, spaghetti and meat sauce (I use ground turkey because packages are sealed and don't leak), Grilled chicken thighs (easier to grill because they don't dry out like breasts) and grilled steak. Pair any of these with an easy side dish of green salad, bean salad, cut up veggies with dip, grilled asparagus, grilled corn on the cob, etc and you've got an awesome meal. We've even made stuffed mushrooms using our bbq. A little out of the box (literally) thinking can make a big difference.


Mmm....stuffed mushrooms.

Another time saver.... prep before you go. If you are making stirfry, cut up all the veggies and put in a zip lock before you go. Serve marinated salads, like bean salad, that can be made ahead. Always have a big bag of veggies cut up for a quick snack. Our favorites are carrots, bell peppers and cucumbers....add a little ranch dip and they're good to go. You can also mix the dry ingredients for most pancake recipes before you go. Just measure into a ziplock bag and write what you need to add on the front of the bag in marker.

Last but not least, my favorite suggestion is to camp with friends. We have a few families that we camp with regularly. Every time we go out on a trip, we chat before hand to plan at least one potluck night. In the past we've had appetizer night, pasta sauce night (2 guys made a huge pot of meat sauce, I made salad & garlic bread, everyone else brought their own pasta) and paella night. We also routinely "host" a breakfast for everyone in our group. Our specialty is breakfast tacos though others have done pancakes, Greek breakfast and Scottish breakfast. It makes the trip such a fun experience and it gives the "foodies" in the crowd a chance to show off their mad cooking skills.

So remember, while hotdogs and S'mores will most likely always be part of camping, it doesn't have to be the ONLY thing you eat. What are your favorite camping foods?

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