On our recent annual camping holiday, the one thing we mums determined was essential when camping with kids was food. And plenty of it. It’s not always easy to keep stored, especially in the recent hot weather we’ve been having, but I’ll give you some tips in this post. Plus share my love of the new cool box we were sent from Millets in preparation for our trip.
Children love camping and are able to cope more easily living in less luxury than us parents are. But you can ease their enjoyment in several ways when it comes to food.
Routine goes out of the window
Your baby might do Gina Ford routines at home, but that won’t wash on the campsite. With quiet curfews usually at 10pm, most children are still running around in the playground or outside tents up until then. Or is that just our kids?
You have to let things go – let children regulate when they’re tired and when they need to sleep.
N still wakes early, but he did sleep in until 7.50 one day (unheard of at home or on holiday in a hotel) and I had to wake him at 7.15 on our final day because I’d packed up everything around him and needed to take the tent down.
When you’re camping, everything seems to take longer, so meal times are never when planned. Especially when you’re cooking for a big group like we do. That means you might have to let children snack right up until meal times. But they’ll still eat a good amount because they’ve been in the great outdoors all day.
Everyone has to get stuck in
Children are capable of helping out on the campsite. While they might be too small to help put up the tent, they can do the freezer pack changeover, prepare food, go to the shop, or get everything out and ready onto the table before meals. Children relish the responsibility – I had N (and one of his friends) hammering in tent pegs and doing the breakfast washing up on the last day.
Be more relaxed about food
I have to admit, we don’t eat the healthiest when camping. Generally we only cook with one gas stove so vegetables tend to be limited to anything that’s salad based and can be eaten cold, or it’s chopped and included in whatever meal I’ve taken for the first evening meal.
Fruit is easier to eat, but often gets forgotten (our bananas went off so quickly in the heat, and have a tendency to get too easily bashed). So tinned fruit works well, especially if you want to serve a pudding (just add instant or tinned custard).
Stick with basic meals and everyone is happy, plus you don’t need lots of different ingredients.
Keep food easily accessible and safely stored
Tents get so hot and stuffy even when it’s not 30C in temperature. When we were in Woolacombe this time, it was so hot. We were definitely relying on having as much food as possible in our electric coolbox. We love camping in our group of friends, but all of us want some luxury so always opt for electric hook up.
The first year we relied on a normal cool box and kept changing the ice packs, but that usually costs money or you have to keep remembering to change them in the general freezer if your campsite has one. The last couple of years I’ve borrowed an electric one from work colleagues, but Millets sent me a 36L Campingaz one from their camping gear range.
While non perishable foods are stored in plastic boxes with lids, anything chilled or produce gets put in the cool box. Even N can access food as and when, and I trust him not to make a mess. It’s lucky he can access the cool box because this year I lost my phone and spent ages looking for it, only for him to find it under the tomatoes box in the cool box. Oops. I’m never going to live that one down.
With both a normal plug fitting and car cigarette lighter option, we were able to keep our cool box food cold on the journey down and then change it to the electric hook up in the tent. With 4 settings we could turn it down in the evenings to make it quieter, and there was no condensation like we’ve found with other electric coolers. And there’s no smells becuase there’s a special antimicrobial liner.
Opt for relaxing fun food
Yes you can cook normal family meals when camping, but why not do some more exciting options. Get the children making kebabs, do salmon in foil or baking paper envelopes, or have snacks like these quick to make sausage rolls.
Make damper bread sausages
To make these you can either make a simple damper dough from self raising flour and water. Or just use ready made croissant dough or rough puff pastry. Using frankfurters means the sausages cook quickly.
Make up the dough, put each sausage on a skewer, then wrap a strip of dough round the sausages (in a diagonal twist). Ours were done without a skewer.
Cook each one over hot coals on a campfire, or on a greased baking sheet over the grill to avoid them sticking.
Turn to cook each side and you’ll see the dough expand around the sausages.
It’s great fun making these, and even more fun eating them. They were demolished by both adults and children on our camping trip.
So if you want to make your camping trip easy as a parent, and give children what they need, the first thing to think about is food!
How do you do food when camping? Do you use an electric cooler or rely on a standard one?
Disclosure: I was sent a cool box for the purpose of this post. All words are my own.
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Fab tips! I really want to take my little ones camping this year actually! xx
It’s a great holiday for children. Go with friends – makes it all a lot more stressfree
I haven’t been camping since I was a child myself. I wouldn’t have known where to start.
I hadn’t for 20 years, but going with friends makes it a lot easier
I think we need an electric cool box! Our normal one is good for less than 24 hours! Looks like your son loves camping
They are brilliant. The whole having to change ice packs twice a day in summer is a faff and just ends up with lots of water in the bottom. The electric ones can be a bit noisy but this one is great for having a quiet mode.