Got any good food packing tips?
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  1. #1
    Registered User Spirit Deer's Avatar
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    Default Got any good food packing tips?

    My least favorite part of camping is getting all the food ready. I know I need to make up a master list of staples and keep those stocked ahead of time, but haven't done that yet. I had our staples all stocked in a basket and organized a couple years ago, but we haven't camped much the past two years and it's out of control now.

    I could cook more at camp, but it's so much more work it's just not worth it, plus it's easier to clean up at home, too. And on trips where we're on the road all the time, cooking isn't very workable anyway.

    We have a stove top in the trailer (no oven), microwave, fridge with small freezer, Cobb grill (charcoal), and Dutch ovens. We also have a sink and dishpans for clean up and a water heater if we decide to actually wash with hot water. We don't always have power on our campsites and don't always know until arrival if we will or not, so can't count on using the micro.

    I do a lot of prep work at home to avoid having to do it at camp and to save space in the fridge and coolers. So the day before we leave is always madness for me. We try to avoid processed foods including sandwich meats which also make us feel tired and just not right, as does too much sodium. We eat a lot of fresh foods and not much for canned or boxed stuff, so it's always tons of chopping, washing, shredding, cleaning veggies, cooking pasta, and otherwise prepping stuff. I can't do much of this too far ahead or it doesn't stay fresh. Anyone have any good ideas for minimizing all this work?
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    Registered User Contrary Housewife's Avatar
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    I would take the pasta uncooked, because it is easy to do on the stovetop or in the microwave. You can even do it over an open fire (I have) Just bag it and tag it.

    You could wash the veg a day ahead of time. Chop the next day.

    Some vegs like carrots and celery stay fresh quite a few days, even chopped up. Softer vegs and fruits you'd want to do last.

    Are there things you can chop in the food processor? Mine will slice and grate. This spring I discovered the joy of making cole slaw this way.
    Use it up, Wear it out,
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    I pre cook sausage links and a few other things so if we get there in the rain,theres still food. But we tent camp too.

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    I always take a bag of baby carrots, they keep. Maybe a bag of lettuce-but has to be used up in 2 days. A can of gr beans, corn & peas.
    I cook my pasta ahead, cool, a dab of olive oil, freeze in a qt bag. Done.
    I cook most all meat, except for turkey hot dogs, chicken brats, ahead of time. Freeze. I spritz my burgers with h20 before micro'ing.
    Meat includes chicken breasts seasoned with Italian drsg, bbq, or spices. Taco meat, sloppy joes, bacon (baked in oven) cooked ahead & frozen. You can find tortilla's that don't need to be refrig.
    I made chicken salad & a cheese ball for last camping trip.
    If I'm tired-I will set out the carrots, cheese ball & crackers, SF pudding cup & call it supper.
    Basically, I cook, everything I can cook, before leaving. I will write it down & tape it on the frig. Use it/cross it off.
    There's a Walmart everywhere, except for So Dakota, so if you run out/forget-stop & buy.
    Have fun!
    Ali

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    Registered User Spirit Deer's Avatar
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    Thanks, everyone. Good tips! General consensus here and on the camping boards is to use the Food Saver and put things in the freezer, as you are suggesting too. I'm going to have to figure out some better strategies to make things less work, and it sounds like using the freezer is it.

    There's not a Walmart everywhere! The nearest one to us is seventy miles away, and we like it that way!
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    Registered User frugalfranny's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Spirit Deer View Post

    We try to avoid processed foods including sandwich meats which also make us feel tired and just not right, as does too much sodium.
    But lots of things for sandwiches aren't processed..................cook a whole chicken a week ahead.......cut the meat off, put in a bag and freeze.....done deal...sandwich meat. Tuna? Boil some eggs to take........then eat just plain or egg salad sandwiches. Try a cuke and tomato sandwich...................I love sandwiches and think I could live on them. Everything can go between bread!!

    I would also think "fruit salads" where you can just take 'the tins'...........and a bowl and toss it together at camp.........5 cup salad is great for that or can be made ahead as it only gets better the second day.

    Maybe go for an easier menu...................

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    Registered User Libby's Avatar
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    I was thinking the same - make everything ahead and freeze in meals. Each ziploc = 1 meal.

    When we used to camp, we'd cook the meats ahead, slice and freeze. Thaw the night before needed. Roast beef, ham, turkey & chicken.

    We'd prep stir fries this way too - similar to freezer cooking, all the veggies in one bag and freeze = 1 meal. Cook from frozen. If you wanted protein, either precook and freeze or have it sitting in marinade in its own bag and freeze. This one you'll have to thaw before cooking.

    Tuna pasta salad was another fave - cook pasta ahead & prep to freeze. Have flavoured tinned tuna & sliced veggies and/or chick peas ready to toss in once the pasta thaws.

    Prep all sauces, soups, stews & chili in advance and freeze flat. Use as ice packs until you're ready to thaw the night before. Just heat over the fire.

    Do you have a basic pizza dough recipe you could cook on a pan over the fire? Just add water to your mix and knead in bag then stretch out into crust. Add desired toppings.

    One tip I would suggest - have multiple coolers if you can. One for deeply frozen items with extra ice and another for items only to be kept chilled - produce, cold boiled eggs, cheese etc. This way as you keep opening and closing you won't thaw out the other food items until its time. Oh and keep a list taped to the lid so you can cross off items as you use so you won't have to keep opening to check inside.

    Hope that helps.

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    Registered User Spirit Deer's Avatar
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    Thanks, everyone.

    I really assessed our eating habits this past trip and I concluded we're really grazers. We like to nibble all day long and then just eat supper. So now I need to figure out the best healthy snack foods that aren't messy to eat in the truck as finger food. It also has to be available everywhere and need almost no prep. So far I've thought about baby carrots, radishes, bananas, grapes, and cherry tomatoes. I need to figure out some proteins that are not high in sodium. Hard boiled eggs would be good.

    I got a week's worth of food in our little camper fridge, except for canned beverages and a few condiments. We also took a seventy-quart cooler for the drinks and condiments, but mostly for ice. We like ice water and each drink about a half gallon per day. I don't think the freezer in the camper would keep up. We've accepted that we'll just have to buy ice to feed our habit. It's a good, healthy habit, so we don't mind.

    Thanks for your tips, everyone. I'll be implementing some, for sure.
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  9. #9
    Registered User frugalfranny's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Spirit Deer View Post
    I need to figure out some proteins that are not high in sodium. Hard boiled eggs would be good.
    Other things I have done while traveling........cut up a cooked chicken into strips---easier to eat in the car, less messy. Also cheese pieces----but might be more sodium than you want..........still good protein w/o the processed factor. And..........don't over look putting some refried beans ---or ??? in a 'wrap' and cutting into strips. (can you tell I never stop to eat while traveling??)

  10. #10
    Registered User Spirit Deer's Avatar
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    I prep pasta salad beforehand. I get everything ready and mix it all except for adding the mayo. Mayo is what makes everything wilt and the pasta get soggy. We bring along a squirt bottle of mayo and mix that in to taste just before we eat the pasta. It keeps a long time time that way, up to a week. I'm going to try freezing a small portion next time I make it and see what happens. If I could have that ready ahead of time it would save me a lot of work the day before a trip.

    I'm going to do more wild rice/bean salads, too. We like those and they're easy to throw together. The wild rice freezes well and doesn't take much room, and the rest is canned goods except for the dressing which is just a small container. That's good with lots of fiber and protein and can be served by itself if we're too tired or busy to cook and clean, or it's a nice side with something grilled. Winner, winner, beany dinner!

    Peanut butter in a wrap is good, too. Although not very healthy with all the stuff in processed peanut butter.

    I've concluded this travel food thing is an ongoing process, like every other food issue.

    Every trip we find new things that work and ideas we really like. This trip it was ice water in the Bubba Kegs.

    I loaded them up every morning with water and ice from the cooler, and a lemon slice, and we had cold water all day long. Two of them fit nicely on the storage lid between the front seats and they don't fly around much as long as I remember to put my arm on them if we hit a sharp curve. LOL. This is a big change from drinking pop all day long, and we feel a lot better when we're properly hydrated meaning enough water and nothing carbonated. We're not as tired when we drink water vs. pop. Plus we don't have to drag along as much for canned beverages, which is helpful. It's probably not any cheaper because we go through a lot more ice, but we're willing to make that sacrifice.

    We also liked having raw veggies and grapes available, so I'll be doing more of that. Every store sells baby carrots that are ready to eat, and every store has grapes that just need a good rinse to be ready to eat, so those are two easy things. Plus working in the trailer is easier now with higher counter.

    I stocked up on sandwich bags at Dollar Tree yesterday, so will have those in the trailer now to make up baggies of snacks. That will help, too. I'll be on the hunt for just the right cooler to have under my feet, too.

    I make seafood wraps for most trips but we're getting sort of tired of them. I need to change up the recipe and also take fewer of them so they get eaten faster.

    I figured out space to put the toaster oven in the trailer too, so that will change everything again if we can heat or cook stuff in that, although of course it will need power.
    Last edited by Spirit Deer; 08-11-2012 at 10:43 AM.
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  11. #11
    Registered User frugalfranny's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Spirit Deer View Post

    Peanut butter in a wrap is good, too. Although not very healthy with all the stuff in processed peanut butter.

    I've concluded this travel food thing is an ongoing process, like every other food issue.

    .
    Have never done the PB in a wrap.........but I would have to have jam..........too dry without.

    But the food thing is part of the fun of traveling, I think, and to see how long you can go w/o eating out. I will eat out at breakfast if I have to or running low.........as that is cheap........large......and filling. Gotta love Denney's!!!

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    Registered User Spirit Deer's Avatar
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    We almost never eat out when we travel. Too expensive, too hard to find the right foods, and since we travel with a dog, the weather often is too hot to leave her in the car. If we're really tired we might grab a Subway, but that's even rare. We're usually off in the boonies and not near any place to eat anyway.
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    if you have a foodsaver and a jar attachment you can fix salads in the jars and process-
    cook up your meats (sausage patties etc) place in pint jar seal and turn upside down the fat that remains will form a seal- my mom does this all the time when she has extra. no refrigration needed.

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    Registered User Spirit Deer's Avatar
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    I like the idea of the salads in jars, but they would take up too much room I think. Plus I'm not sure I want all that glass in the trailer or cooler, considering the shaking and stuff getting knocked around on rough roads. I might try that at home though.
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    Registered User bookwormpeg's Avatar
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    Sounds like you have some good idea.........don't know if you mean you are going to feeze the pasta salad with the mayo mixed in, Don't.....Mayo does not freeze...

    I use to have a cookbook for camping and boating....got rid of it just few months ago...had alot of good recipes in and lots of good idea....can't remember the name of it but I can "see" it in my mind....I'm getting old.......

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