Sleeping under canvas in the great outdoors may work wonders for the soul but it isn’t usually too kind on the tastebuds, which is a holiday deal breaker for this foodie family. Cremated sausages on stale bread rolls are not really how we roll and equipping us with nothing but an Esky and a campfire is not going to change that.
In spite of this we love ‘going wild’ because we’ve discovered with some simple camp cooking hacks that, unless you’re planning to pop up your tent at Everest base camp or are hiking deep into uncharted Amazonian jungle, there’s really no need to skimp on good food.
The trick is not to overcomplicate things by planning dishes that require enough utensils to equip a restaurant kitchen, or hours of campsite preparation. Instead, we pre-chop some ingredients and pack enough foil to keep Snoop Dogg’s dealer in business. Or we pre-prepare a few foil-wrapped meals that we can heat up at camp.
That way all we need is something to eat off and with, an Esky to keep the food fresh, and garbage bags to properly dispose of food scraps so the local wildlife doesn’t stop by for an all-you-can-eat garbage bin gourmet buffet. And instead of balling up the leftover foil and turfing it, we flatten and re-use what we can and keep the rest for recycling.
Oh, and though I hate to state the obvious we also need a fire. Our tip is to fire it up about an hour before we plan on cooking so there are plenty of hot coals, not blazing flames, as they offer more constant temperatures. Cooking over coals does take a little longer but the smouldering, smokey result is good enough to take out Masterchef in the Wild.
Related post: First time family camping essentials
Here are six of our favourite fool-proof, no-pot, camp cooking hacks;
1. Flamin’ French Toast
This isn’t the prettiest French Toast you’ll ever see, but my kids love it, and it’s not like the local wildlife is going to be dishing out plating critiques. Place two thick slices of bread (crust off) side by side on a buttered layer of baking paper. Mix 2 eggs and a third of a cup of cream or milk in a bowl and drizzle evenly over the top of the sliced bread. Wrap tightly. Wrap parcel again with a tight layer of foil and place in coals for around 15 minutes (turning every few minutes to cook evenly). Check and return to fire if still soft. Once cooked, serve with fresh berries or a drizzle of maple syrup. Or both!
2. Forest Fondue
Wrap a whole wheel of Brie and some fresh herbs in heavy-duty foil and heat it over the fire until it’s soft and oozy. We enjoy our favourite campfire treat with chunks of crusty bread or fresh baked damper.
3. Muchos Nachos
These deliciously smoky campfire nachos are one of our fave camp cooking hacks as they are always a sure fire hit with our kids. On a large sheet of foil, or a disposable foil baking tray, layer corn chips, refried beans, black beans, salsa and grated cheese and cover with aluminium foil. Cook over campfire coals or on a BBQ for about ten minutes and top with sour cream, jalapenos and guacamole.
4. Campfire Cones
No, not for Snoop… though these would do the trick should he happen upon your campsite with a case of the munchies. This is an ingenious twist on s’mores that comes with all the flavour and none of the mess. Simply fill waffle cones with marshmallows and chocolate chips as well as your choice of caramels, nuts, peanut butter, or fruit. Cover in foil and place on a camp fire for a few minutes. Remove (using tongs of course), unwrap and enjoy.
5. Feeling fruity
If you prefer to keep the campfire treats healthy, our kids love grilled fruit skewers. Simply thread fruit pieces onto pre-soaked skewers alternating varieties – stone fruits, banana, pineapple and strawberries work best. Brush with coconut oil and place on grill or over fire and cook for around ten minutes, turning occasionally. Combine honey, lime juice and a little more coconut oil in a bowl and brush fruit sticks before cooking for a further two minutes. Serve drizzled with remaining honey mixture!
6. Top of the pops
Stick a tablespoon of popcorn and a teaspoon of oil onto a large sheet of heavy-duty aluminium foil. Fold into a loose, sealed packet allowing plenty of space for corn to expand. Place it on the fire or barbecue and wait for the corn to go wild. Remove once the popping has stopped! Unwrap and enjoy.