Although we love campsite cooking, there are times when you just want something fast and delicious.
We’ve tested lots of possibilities for easy camping food, and come up with this list of tasty cheats that really work!
(Latest update: December 2019)
Can you really get good-tasting dried food made with natural ingredients? Yes…thanks to the Firepot range.
Made by Dorset-based Outdoorfood, these pouch meals are a healthy and tasty alternative for campers and hikers. They’re our top choice for ready meals.
Handcooked using local ingredients, and dehydrated rather than freeze-dried, they keep the taste and texture.
You simply boil the contents in a pan. The mushroom risotto was gorgeously mushroomy and the orzo pasta bolognese tasted just like a good bolognese should. The posh pork and beans is a little over-sweet. We needed to add a little salt to all of these, which is excellent because so many readymeals are over-salted.
Expensive at around £6.99 each (the cheapest we found was on Ebay, where the whole range was available with free delivery), but the portions are generous. In fact, these were the only meals we found that had enough in them to satisfy a hungry hiker. Now in plastic-free pouches too!
It’s hard enough having food allergies, but when you’re making campsite meals and want a bit of convenience too, your choice is even more limited.
Free & Easy tinned ready-meals, as well as being organic, are free from wheat, gluten and dairy, as well as other allergens such as nuts, celery and mustard. There are no artificial additives and preservatives, they’re low in salt, sugar and fat and are also suitable for vegetarians and vegans.
Crikey! They’re going to taste awful, aren’t they? We tried the balti vegetable curry and the taste was great – nice spices and just the right amount of heat. Our only problem was that it was a bit runny – more like a big soup – and the very soft vegetables might not be to everyone’s taste. One can is barely enough for a two-person meal even with rice or bread, but you could eke it out by adding extra ingredients (ready-cooked lentils, vegetables etc), or having side dishes too. Meat-eaters could also add cooked chicken, prawns and so on.
There are soups and tinned ready-meals, including chilli, chickpea and vegetable curry, vegetable hotpot and bean cassoulet. Other items in the range include falafel mix, gluten-free vegetable gravy and dairy-free cheese sauce. The ready-meals cost around £2.
A new brand for us, but (despite the plastic pouches), a good buy for the lack of palm oil, meat-free menu and decent portion-size. Around £4 for a 380g pouch of dishes such as Chipotle Bowl, Pad Thai and Tikka Masala.
They even do fish-free tuna varieties. We haven’t tried them yet, but wow!
Not exactly a name to make the mouth water, but these are surprisingly good and there’s plenty in the pack.
It’s a big range – from couscous to tartiflette – so you’re bound to find something to your taste. We tried the vegetable pasta, which rehydrated very well and tasted like homemade (nearly).
They cost around £5 and, again, cheapest and best selection on Ebay.
We rather like Tilda’s ready-steamed basmati rice sachets. Fast and easy rice that saves boiling pans of water on a camping stove or inside a campervan.
They come in wholegrain, coconut, lime and coriander and lots of other flavours, and the good bit is that Tilda source ethically and steer clear of artificial flavours, colours or preservatives.
You can stir-fry in a pan with a little oil in 4 minutes. Add some finely chopped spring onion, tomato, fried courgette, red pepper, prawns – or whatever you fancy – to make a faster-than-fast one-dish meal.
Available pretty much everywhere. We always keep two or three packs in the camping kit just in case. Plenty of grains and pulses, including quinoa and lentils, to choose from as well. Around £1.
When we were writing camping recipes the other day, we got thinking about all those other exotic dishes it’d be great to cook while camping.
Thai Taste’s green curry, red curry and pad thai kits come in easy-to-pack plastic (hmmm) boxes and don’t need a fridge. The pastes come in either resealable tubs (which do need a fridge after opening) or in more handy-for-camping one-meal sachets.
We like the fact there were no nasties in the ingredients and that you can add whatever you like (or have around) for very flexible cooking. We aren’t so keen on the plastic, but it’s hard to know how to avoid that if you want storable food – cardboard, perhaps?
When we opened the pack, it looked doubtful that there’d be enough curry paste or herbs to make a decent-tasting curry, but, in fact, they had quite a kick and the sachet of coconut milk was nice and creamy.
It was super-quick to make and we were very pleasantly surprised by the strength of flavour and the quantity of sauce it made (enough for two). Available in lots of supermarkets.
At home, we only use loose tea to avoid throwing all those plastic-containing teabags away. See our green camping article for more about that.
It’s not ideal when camping, though, and especially when wild camping. So, here’s a trick. Get some of these cheap and biodegradable paper pouches and fill with tea (or coffee) at home before you go. It’s basically making your own tea bags. The bonus is that you can use the pouches for herbs and spices too.
By the way, if like us you’re getting sick of all the litter and plastic rubbish, have a look at our articles on reusable coffee cups and on plastic-free camping tableware. You could also join our Campers Against Litter campaign.
Do share your favourite recipes with us! And don’t forget your camping spice tin
Make yourself a neat camping box of herbs and spices and you’ll never have to rummage in your kitchen bag again. We all have our own essentials and favourites, so pick and mix to suit. Wholefoods Online is a great source of all kinds of herbs and spices and mixed blends in sensible quantities for refilling your camping kit and for home. Here’s what we always have:
- Curry powder
- Mixed herbs
- Chilli powder
- Chinese five spice
- Garam masala
- Whole spices – cardamom, star anise, cloves
- Smoked paprika
- Dried lime leaves
- Sesame seeds
Get all your herbs and spices together in one easy storage container and you can stop rummaging! Look for a metal tin or box like our transparent lid one and fill it with smaller spice tins. Or buy a readymade set.
The Indian masala dhaba are an option too (below), but you need tins with lids rather than open bowls.