With the camping and road trip season in full swing, I thought you might enjoy some tips so you can eat healthily and easily when some of the conveniences of home aren’t available. It will take some preparation, but is so satisfying and EASY. Spend your energy out in the world enjoying our beautiful state parks or getting to visit family and friends this summer.
Equipment: your favorite sauces, quart size zip-close bags, aluminum foil or lightweight pan or grill, bamboo skewers, water containers, cooler, and labels or markers.
Meats: Marinate and freeze
Take raw chicken, beef, pork or fish and cut up in individual-sized serving portions. You can do this with hamburger patties too. Then place in a zip-close bag in individual bags. Pour your favorite sauce (BBQ, vinaigrette, ranch, Asian ginger soy, etc.) over the meat or fish in the bag and freeze. What happens is that you are marinating your dinner and will have also made ice packs for your cooler. Small packages thaw quickly each day and then all you have to do is cook on the grill. You can cook wrapped in foil, or if you have a camper you can carry some lightweight pans or even those lightweight aluminum disposal roasting pans. You could also skewer cubed meat and grill or sautee.
Veggies and sides: Chop and cook ahead
There is nothing worse than trying to cut up veggies on a sandy beach or windy campground! There is no way to keep the sand and dirt out. It is also hard to find veggies on the road. So, wash, peel (as needed) and pre-chop potatoes, onions, carrots, peppers, tomatoes, beans, etc. and place in individual zip-close bags by veggie type. Potatoes can be drizzled with oil to keep from discoloring and ready for cooking. Cook veggies on the grill or steam in foil.
For salads, take a gallon bag and fill with your salad mix. Make one for every day you will be gone. Make your salad dressing and place in a small zip-close bag, again in quantities for daily use. Don’t bring bottles. You can cut the tip of one of the corners of the zip-close like a pastry bag and drizzle your salad.
For pasta (1 pound per day) and rice (1-2 cups), cook ahead and freeze for each day — elbow, penne, etc. Cook rice and beans then season with your favorite mixed herbs like Italian, Harrissa, Furukaki. Freeze in gallon bags. Usually a pound of pasta will fit in a gallon bag. Lay flat to freeze so it stacks easily in your cooler. You can grate cheese ahead of time too.
Need a pick me up in the middle of the day, or after a lot of fun hiking, biking or canoeing?
- Dried and fresh fruit, nuts, and granola make the best snacks. They are light, pack well and are great protein and nutrition. I know there are a lot of protein bars available, but just buy some good organic raisins, cashews, crystalized ginger, craisins, mangoes, etc. It is cheaper and has no added sugar!
- Of course fresh fruit always works.
- Create your snack for every day and place in a bag. Label “Day 1,” 2, 3 etc. so you don’t eat it all at once. You can even put names on the bags. Kids like their own and if they don’t finish, you know whose is whose.
- Hummus and salsas freeze well too.
- Don’t forget to hard boil a dozen eggs. They keep well, are good protein and can be a snack or addition to your salad or breakfast!
Drinks: Flavor your own water
Drinks are so heavy, expensive and take up so much room. Use half a gallon or quart plastic containers and fill with water, and put a bunch of lemons, cucumbers or mint in it. It will lightly flavor the water and is so refreshing. You can add any natural flavoring you like. No sugar needed. Bring agave syrup if you need some sweet. Another way is to make lemonade ice cubes and add to your water. Make your own popsicles and place in zip-close bags. Water is available everywhere and you can keep refreshing it with different flavors.
As you consume the bags, your load in your cooler keeps getting lighter and lighter. Be sure to keep all of your bags and recycle when you get home.
As I said, it takes some preparation, but you will love being able to whip up a healthy and satisfying meal quickly after driving or being tired enjoying yourself on your vacation. And you will be independent from locating unfamiliar shopping places. Pull over in the many great roadside campgrounds and relax!