Springtime always gets to me thinking about camping. Granted, at almost six months pregnant I don’t see a whole lot (okay, any) tent camping in my summer ahead (which makes me super sad) but that doesn’t mean I can’t share some good info with you lucky folks who get to go.
I love to eat, and I especially appreciate a tasty meal in the great outdoors. I also like not spending a ton of money, which is exactly what will will happen if you attempt to outfit your camp kitchen with speciality meals from the outdoor outfitter. Below are some of the products I like that are available at regular stores for decent prices.
Tasty Bites Entrees – I love these things. They are sous vide (boil-in-a-bag) Indian entrees that come in twenty different varieties. My favorites are Aloo Palak (potatoes and spinach with onions in a tomato sauce), Channa Masala and Bombay Potatoes. They cost $3.50 each and I buy mine at Cost Plus World Market. They also sell cooked rice to go with their entrees, and offer several types including Basmati and brown rice. The portion sizes per package say they feed two, but for hungry hikers you’ll probably want one package per person. Oh, and if you want to eat all Indian food on your next camping trip, you can order the Go Camping Survival Kit directly from their website for $70.00.
Zanae Mediterranean Deli – We actually eat these at these at home when we want a casual meal. They carry a lof of the Greek classics in cans with pop tops. Cans might be a little bulky if you’re hiking in to your campsite, but for car camping they work just fine (though they have just started packaging a few of their entrees in plastic trays). They have a ton of different products, but my favorites include Vine Leaves Stuffed with Rice (dolma), Giant Beans in Tomato Sauce, Tomatoes Stuffed with Rice, and Peppers Stuffed with Rice. They only cost about $3-4 apiece too, which fits right into the budget.
Fantastic World Foods – They make a great line of instant/just add water products, including Hummus, Falafel (which you then fry in a little oil) and refried beans. I actually like to make up some hummus to serve with pita chips and some of the canned entrees above for a major camping feast.
Maruchan Ramen Noodles – Before you get alarmed that I’ve got ramen noodles on this list, they do have their place. I like to use the chicken-flavored ramen noodles as a base for Thai Noodle Soup by adding a package of vacuum-packed or canned chicken (you can find this in the aisle with the canned tuna at the store), some dehydrated carrots and onions and fresh garlic with powdered ginger. It makes a great, easy camp lunch.
Manischewitz -This brand focuses on Jewish/kosher cuisine – you’ve probably all seen the Matzo ball soup mixes and whatnot that are prevalent on the shelves around Passover. They also make a great line of packaged dry soup mixes, which run a couple of bucks each. I really like the Minestrone, but they’ve got about ten varieties to choose from, including Lentil, Split Pea & Barley, Hearty Bean and Bow Tie Noodles. You can make them even more hearty by adding some vacuum-packed chicken or tuna if you want to. Paired with some oyster crackers, they make a pretty filling lunch or dinner on the trail – and they’re super portable and lightweight.
Thai Kitchen – They make a variety of Asian soup and noodles dishes that are pretty tasty. The single-serving sizes are usually under two dollars with the family size portions under five. I like the Garlic & Vegetable Instant Rice Noodles the best, but the Spring Onion and Thai Ginger Instant Rice Noodles are both good as well. They also have Pad Thai, Spicy Thai Basil and Bangkok Curry entrees as well as Hot & Sour Rice Noodle Soup and Roasted Garlic Rice Noodle Soup. They’ve got a bunch of other flavors of those products as well.
Knorr/Lipton Sides – I discovered these back in the microwave-in-dorm room college cooking era, and they’re fairly decent for what they are. I like the Pasta Sides line, with Chicken, Chicken Broccoli and Butter & Herb being the best, in my opinion. They also have flavors like Stroganoff, Alfredo Broccoli, Tomato Parmesan, Creamy Garlic Shells, etc. They also have a line of Rice Sides (which I’ve never tried) that come in variety of flavors, including Mexican, Cajun and Asian styles.
Zatarains – Known for their Cajun-style rice dishes, a box that serves four can be had for under five bucks. I like the Red Beans & Rice the best, while my husband likes the Yellow Rice. They’ve got a bunch of other flavors too. They apparently also do a line of pastas, including Jambalaya Pasta Dinner – interesting.
And there is a great marinara sauce that comes packaged in a white foil pouch (about two servings) that I get at Whole Foods for under two dollars, but for the life of me I cannot remember the name of it. Paired with some elbow macaroni, it makes a super-easy, tasty dinner. I wish I could remember what it’s called, but there are quite a few ready-to-eat foil-packaged pasta sauces out now, so you can likely find a brand at your regular supermarket that you like. It’s certainly much easier to take a few of those on a camping trip rather than a bulky glass jar that requires refrigeration after opening.