Food ideas for the fire-challenged
An outdoor camping holiday with burn bans preventing most traditional food prepared on a campfire on site does not mean you have to endure a vacation long fast.
Just because you can’t have a fire doesn’t mean you have to starve.
Here are some good ideas that you might not have thought of, and if you are out several days, you might try several of these ideas:
1) Plan continental breakfast. Continental breakfast sounds elegant, but it’s really bagels, pastries, doughnuts, PBJ, jelly sandwiches…and several cold fruit juices, tea and coffee and chocolate milk. I think tea is a wonder beverage, good at just about any temperature. My husband and I “eat healthy” at home; when camping, breakfast may be granola, cinnamon rolls, Pop-tarts, breakfast bars….we rarely cook breakfast when camping. It’s cheaper, and we put the money saved on breakfast usually on dinner.
2) Lunch is cold cuts, PBJ, or summer sausage and cheese and crackers and fresh fruit. Not all sausage and cheese is automatically high-fat, check the labels. We never have summer sausage or salami in the house normally; it is a “treat.” Sometimes we find bison sausage, elk sausage, deer sausage…nobody says sausage has to be beef or pork. Peanut butter, butter, jelly and bread: You’ll always have something to eat!
3) Make main meal food at home, freeze it ahead of time and pack it in a cooler.
(Might not work for tomorrow if you’re jumping in the car right now, but hey, the night is young.)
My family never cooked at midsummer family picnic reunions. Grandma fried up a mess of chicken, and froze it the night before. We had cold slaw, pasta salad, fruit salad, (no mayonnaise!) plenty of raw fruit and cookies. With the usual Midwestern heat, the chicken and sides generally had thawed by midday. And no one had to cook. They could talk and visit instead.
There is no food so good as cold fried chicken. Except maybe if it has strawberry roll to go with it.
If you have a lot of washed raw veggies, fruit, lettuce…things with no or very light dressing, finger carrots, and even mixtures of raw fruit, nuts and packaged veggies (in a grocery store intended to be cooked, but you don’t have to) sometimes grazing all day works instead of a sitdown meal.
4) If you’re really lazy, have a fast food smorgasbord. Instead of taking orders, just buy several varieties of fast food (pizza, chicken, burgers, roast beef, whatever) and let overchoice be the rule of the day. Cavers are notorious for this. We even had a “banquet” for 250 people once that was all carryout pizza. Why not?
5) Visit a local restaurant or ice cream shop. And by local I mean “mom and pop” in a small town. Someplace you never would have normally gone when camping nearby. The air conditioning will be welcome, the business with the locals will be welcome, and you might have a cultural experience, too boot.
(Disclosure: my husband and I always try to visit a local restaurant on any trip, whether or not we are camping. Some places, like Eminence or Van Buren, we just eat in town. While it might not work out with a large family, for the two of us, the total money spent on food either way is a wash.)
Drinks? If it’s this hot and dry, water is the way to go. Other drinks; mix half and half again with water. One trick I learned in Lander, Wyoming, at 8000 feet in the summer heat was to add 1/2 teaspoon of salt and about a tablespoon of sweetened powdered drink mix to a 2-quart canteen of water, freeze the canteen the night before, then drink early and often. Not syrupy or sticky, and you got a little replacement salt without the “candy” effect of most hydration drinks.
Another student would put a regular teabag in his 2-quart container of tepid water and let it leach all day. No sugar, so it was bitter, but did add a little caffeine, which came in handy late afternoon.
Instead of chips, try nuts. Nuts are better for you anyway. Buy unsalted nuts and salt to taste. You’ll need a little salt out in this heat, but most commercial salted nuts are way too salty.
And if you just have to have a S’more? Try graham crackers, marshmallow creme and a little bit of chocolate or sundae syrup. It works.
Have a wonderful Fourth of July! – Jo