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Keeping a party of 5 alive while camping

The question was raised yesterday about how I kept my family from starving and yet staving off botulism while on our 4 day/3 night camping trip.

I cheated.

I cheated a lot.

I created a menu for each day, consisting of 3 squares.  The main dishes were basically one-dish casserole type affairs, that even included vegetation of some sort.

Over the weekend prior, I cooked everything up and froze each dish in a large tupperware container.  For example, I made a pot of spaghetti with meat sauce, adding diced zucchini.  Another meal was Turkey chili which froze very nicely.  I added a tupperware container full of corn bread which also froze well.  Two other one dish meals that I cooked were Swedish Meatballs with noodles and green beans mixed in, and Chicken Tetrazzini with peas.

Since the boys in the family are gluten free, I simply made everything gluten free with the use of my favorite rice pastas, Tinkyada.  We all actually prefer rice pasta to wheat now.  And the corn bread was a gluten free mix, and frankly, I’ve never had better.

On the morning that we left, I loaded all the frozen food into our big igloo cooler and packed it with gallon sized bags of ice (keeps better and less messy).  I also brought our Coleman portable refrigerator that I reviewed long long ago.  It runs on both car battery or plugs into an outlet.  That way, all of our dairy products stayed cold during the drive, and we could plug the refrigerator into the outlet as we set up camp.

Oh how I do love the electricity feature of Disney camping.

Which also ensured that I had my daily frozen coffee concoction thanks to my mini-blender.

The roughing it portion of the trip was that I couldn’t fit my entire Vita-mix into my kitchen paraphernalia.

And speaking of which, I packed everything into rubbermaid bins, including everyone’s clothing, in the unlikely event of rain, sleet, or snow.

Back to feeding our little family of 5.  My mind, it does wander.

I was frankly surprised how well everything stayed frozen.  But I threatened bodily harm to anyone who opened the cooler chest unnecessarily.  A couple of hours prior to the evening meal, I pulled out the appropriate tupperware container and placed it in a plastic bowl of cool water to thaw.  I also brought along a roll of quarters to purchase ice at the comfort station each day, to, you know, avoid the food poisoning aspect of camping.  Oh, and the ice was also a necessary feature for the frozen coffee concoction.  WINNING (a phrase which is now so Summer of 2011).

Our breakfasts consisted of BACON, because no camping trip would be complete without the requisite slab of bacon.  I pre-scrambled and seasoned the eggs and placed them in a pourable tupperware container before the trip.  I also pre-cooked pancakes and hashbrowns which were also frozen.

As far as cooking on a Coleman stove, I think I did amazingly well considering I kept most of my eyelashes.  I brought along a nice long Bic lighting thingy so that I could keep 90% of me a relatively safe distance from the propane.  Once the initial fear of setting myself ablaze while wearing a good deal of flammable flannel subsided, I was Camping Chef Extraordinaire.

Another discovery I made was that I did not need any fancy shmancy cooking pans or griddles.  My non-stick calphalon from home worked wonderfully heating meals and cooking up the bacon and eggs.

And because I am always looking for ways to improve the camping experience, I have set my sights on finding a camping kitchen (like the one featured on the left) used.  A girl can dream.

For all of my fellow camping com padres, what cooking essential can you not live without when braving the wilds?

 

5 Responses to Keeping a party of 5 alive while camping

  • Looks like you’re well on your way to becoming a professional tent camper! We LOVED our tent camping days. I have one of those kitchens and it’s SO well worth the money. Ours doesn’t see much use these days since we graduated from tents to a motorhome almost a decade ago but it’s a purchase you won’t regret. I also used large plastic containers to store our gear complete with a list of what was inside each taped to the inside of the lid. Happy Camping!!!

  • I’m with Lisa above. I don’t go camping without, well our camper. It has a full kitchen with large frig. to hold all my diet coke! 🙂 I’m glad you and your family had a good time. May there be many more family memories made in the tent at the campground.
    Merry Christmas!

  • Wow. Beats the heck out of a dozen tortillas, sausage, a couple cans of beans, salsa, and three cases of beer…

  • We don’t camp as much here as we would if we still lived in SoCal. (I’m just a wee bit scared of cougars and bears!) But I bought one of those cool kitchens – without the side table – for $75 NEW at Bass Pro, and we used it for a 10-day hotel stay this summer. I LOVE it, and wish I’d sprung for one years ago. It truly makes me a happy camper. Tehe.

  • I am so impressed with your cookin’ and preparin’ ahead skilz girl! I love it. And I know you all ate better and healthier because of your frozen meals…(except for the bacon part, that is. LOL) I’m always so jealous that you can just hop in the car and enjoy all WDW has to offer so easily. We would be there all. the. time. if we lived that close. Sigh… : )