We get requests from time to time about food and cooking considerations out in the bush. The following is based on our experience and is what suits us as a balance between ease of preparation and nutrition. Of course it will depend on your likes and dislikes; the variety is limited only by your imagination, but I hope it will give you an idea about where to start when planning your next desert trip menu.
The following is designed to help you with some specific suggestions, but adapt it according to your tastes and circumstances.
By the way, to carry it all in, we have 2 sturdy plastic boxes for tins & packets, plus one easily accessible box with lunch things/snacks/cutlery in a pencil case/plates/mugs/tea & coffee, milk powder & sugar. Another accessible box contains billies, frypan, utensils, cooking oil etc and thermos. One big cardboard box works for fruit/veg/eggs/cheese and a smaller box is kept for bread. We also have 2 spare boxes for top ups and bulky extras that you don't want straight away (like paper towel, toilet paper, extra milk powder etc). Ultimately the time between stock ups will determine how much you take; we often have to carry enough for a month. All 6 plastic "food" boxes fit easily in the back of our ute, with the 2 cardboard boxes sitting on top (and our small wash up basin), along with the usual water & fuel, spares etc. My Nissan Patrol station wagon was nowhere near as easy to pack; I found the slide out drawers a must for accessible items like breakfast/smoko/lunch gear & tools like tyre changing equipment.
I know it all sounds like a lot but it is the reason that we advise simplicity; your vehicle will love you for it and it will give you more time on your holiday to relax and enjoy yourselves.
|Water, cordial , milk powder, coffee & tea etc||- Decant cordial into stronger plastic containers. A weak cordial is useful if you're feeling in need of a sugar hit and the higher % juice varieties are very tasty.
- A thermos of hot water is very handy for smoko during the day.
- I find milk powder more useful than cartons of long life milk (and less messy if they break) and you still have access to the water if you need it for your radiator.
|Remember to ration your water intake, especially if you have a long period of time between re-supply.|
|Tins of vegetables, soup, casseroles & stews||- Fluid is incorporated and you can cook without adding water.
- Use as a base for other dishes.
|Check labels for nutritional value – some have more value than others & some have a high fat content.|
|Tinned Leg Ham / light Spam / light Corned Beef / chicken / turkey, tinned fish||Lunches; sliced and BBQ’d for an easy dinner e.g. ham & pineapple; put in with a tin of soup, or chopped up and fried with an onion and packet of pre-cooked rice and a tin of vegetables.||Relatively good value & nutrition.|
|Sanitarium Soy meats||Good to mix into a one-billy dish for dinner; sausages & veg||You can buy from the supermarket e.g. Casserole Mince (wheat gluten), Nutolene (roasted nut loaf), Tender Pieces (wheat gluten in gravy). They are more expensive than tinned stew but are high in protein and a good meat alternative.
We call it “pseudo meat”!
|The famous Fray Bentos meat pies||Cook in a reasonably hot camp oven.||We like the chunks of meat & the puff pastry is pretty good too......|
FRUIT & VEGETABLES
A general tip here - buy as fresh as possible and wrap each fresh piece individually in newspaper to help with bruising & store in a cardboard box out of the sun. For us that means in the back of the ute under canvas. We have had apples and oranges still OK after 3 weeks, potatoes & onions keep very well, carrots in a vegie bag will last for a few days to a week or so depending on the weather. Throw in some garlic too for flavour & doesn’t take up much room!
|Apples & Oranges||- Have you ever had an apple sandwich??
- Mick and I have half each when we are on short rations.
|Pink Lady & Fuji apples are 2 varieties that carry well, but buy as fresh and green as possible.|
|Potatoes||- Baked in foil in the campfire coals. A quick tip – cut potatoes into quarters before wrapping in foil, with a bit of oil spray & flavour sprinkles, and they will cook in 30-40 mins. Turn over part way & don't have them too close to the really hot coals.
- Cut up and cook in a juicy stew.
- Potatoes sliced and fried on the griller with some chicken salt make a nice change too!
|Take care with potatoes – some varieties do not bake or boil very well. I usually buy the all-purpose plain white washed variety (don’t buy unwashed as they require water to properly clean.....).|
|Onions & carrots||Both are good for baking in foil as above as well as the usual uses.||I find the vegie bags do help carrots to keep longer. Wrap the whole bag in newspaper & put in the cardboard box with the other fruit & veg. Use them up first before opening the tinned veg.|
|Tinned fruit||Peaches, fruit salad & apricots in pure juice are the go for us, great for dessert with a small lunch-size pack of long-life custard or tin of Rice Cream. Tins of apples are good to use as a base for a crumble, or with custard for a change.||They are full of moisture if water supplies are low. Fruit in jelly is also a nice change although as we need a pack each they take up more room in our boxes.|
|Tinned veg.||A useful mainstay for us is the handy Mixed Vegetables – chuck the whole thing in a billy with a tin of stew & a small tin of corned beef for a quick & easy meal.||Tinned peas, beans, 4 bean mix, corn, Tiny Taters or similar. There is quite a bit to choose from depending on your taste.|
|Tinned beetroot||Good to add to lunches as it adds a moist touch to an otherwise "dry" sandwich of cheese or tinned meat, especially good for those days when water is not plentiful.|
|Dried veg.||- Peas are better if soaked in cold water before cooking.
- "Deb" and other dried potato products fit into this category although you can use these straight from the packet to thicken a soup or stew. You can add boiled vegie water to Deb to reconstitute (have you ever had green mashed potatoes?).
|We don’t use dried veg as much because they require water to reconstitute. I tend to keep a few packets for "civilised" camps near water.|
OTHER BITS AND PIECES
|Cereals||Packets, instant porridge etc. A healthy breakfast is important, especially when you don't have access to your usual menu.||Buy a good cereal like Sustain which is important for nutritional value. Don’t be tempted into buying Coco Pops........|
|Pure butter without oil additives||It keeps out of the fridge better than you might think. I put a couple of pats in a small lunchbox and keep it in the back of the vehicle where it’s coolest.||It will get soft of course if it is hot but it hardens again overnight. I’ve usually got some left after a month and it’s perfectly OK. For those of you who prefer margarine or the softer alternatives I would not recommend it for carrying in this manner.|
|Cheese||Use for lunches or thinly sliced on top of spaghetti bolognaise and egg dishes.||Fresh block cheese will keep for a week or 2, also wrapped in newspaper in your cardboard box out of the sun. Kraft processed cheese is the go after that, already wrapped in foil and carries well for months. I open a small packet for lunch and we eat it over 2-3 days.|
|Eggs||Make a toasted egg sandwich for brekky as a change from cereal. Omelettes are easy for a light tea with vegies, tinned ham, onion & cheese on top.||Eggs also keep well out of the fridge – wrap each egg in a bit of newspaper and put back in the carton. I then wrap the whole carton in newspaper and keep on top of our cool fruit and veg box.|
|Bread||We also carry a couple of boxes of crackers and/or long-life flat bread to have once the fresh bread runs out, plus I make my own in the camp oven.||Take a few loaves and wrap each loaf in newspaper & put in a cardboard box in a spot out of the sun. It will keep for a week to 10 days depending on the weather. I find good old Wonder White and Mighty Soft generally keep longer than multigrains & the like.|
|Bread mix||Make up the mixture at lunch-time if you want to save time and put in a dish in a warm part of the vehicle to prove during the afternoon’s travel. Knock down on stopping and give it a final prove before cooking. Add sultanas for a yummy fruit bread.||We like Laucke’s being proud South Australians, although I have used Tip Top and others and find they work perfectly well. It does take around 300 - 400mls of water to mix up though, so be sure to budget for the extra water use if re-supply is a long way off. I usually carry a few extra sachets of yeast as well.|
|SR flour||Keep a kilo or 2 for scones, crumble mixture (Butternut Snap biscuits & walnuts are also excellent to mix into crumble toppings), pastry for the top of pies etc.||There are some good pre-mixed products available for scones & cakes. They are easy but check out the ingredient list first. There are nice cake mixes that only use one egg for example.|
|Microwavable flavoured or plain rice||They also fry up well with vegies & tinned meat or cook in a saucy hotpot. Much easier to boil in their packet if you have access to water – less to clean & you can use the water to wash up with!||Available in handy packets & flavours.|
|Pre-cooked noodles||Great to add to a tin of soup & veg, or with a tin of spaghetti sauce.||Come in sachets that last for ages & you don't need water.|
|Small pasta spirals||Mick loves them with a tin of Spaghetti sauce & grated long-life cheese on top.||I keep a couple of packets for cooking up when we are near to water. There are also tinned or packet pasta meals around that are good for a quick snack.|
|Extras||We carry lots of BBQ sauce as Mick puts it on everything! It can also be added to stews etc for a touch of flavour.||Salt, pepper, meat sprinkles, chicken salt, lemon pepper & dried packet soups are also useful according to taste.|
|Spreads like creamed honey, jam, Vegemite||Toast & lunches. Vegemite is also good to flavour stews. Creamed honey is thicker and doesn't spill.||Buy in plastic containers if possible. I have a little cardboard box that fits a small jar of Vegemite & jam wrapped in a rag to keep them apart.|
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