Preparing food for car camping does not have to be complicated. But sandwiches, burgers and hot dogs can get old, and if you have a vegetarian or someone with other restrictions in the mix, meal planning can be more complicated. Homemade, dehydrated meals provide an excellent way to feed a hungry family in under 30 minutes, even at a primitive campsite.
These four recipes, adapted from a variety of backcountry camping resources, are quick and tasty. Because the meals are portioned out ahead of time, they also allow each person to eat what they like while keeping the preparation and cleanup easy.
Before you leave home, mix all or most of the ingredients in a quart-sized freezer bag with a good seal. At mealtime, bring water to a boil over the campfire or cook stove – for quickest boiling time, measure out only what you need. After you pour the water into the bags, put them inside an old flannel pillowcase or wrap them in a shirt to keep them warm and to protect your hands – the bags will be hot! We sewed a fleece double-layered “cozy,” like a mini pillowcase, to do the job.
Once the water goes in, gently squeeze the bags to mix the ingredients well – and we mean gently. A burst seal makes a mess.
When the meal is cooked, put the bag into a cup or mug, open it and fold the top edges over the lip. Use spoons or plastic forks to avoid puncturing if you eat your meal in the bag.
SEASONED CRANBERRY RICE
1 cup instant rice (white or brown)
1 teaspoon of bouillon (vegetable or chicken-based)
1 teaspoon parsley
1 teaspoon dried onion
2 tablespoons of dried vegetables (soup mix works well, if you can’t find dried vegetables at your grocery store)
2 tablespoons of dried cranberries
AT HOME: Combine all dry ingredients in a quart-sized bag.
AT CAMPSITE: Put bag into your cozy then pour in 1 cup of hot water. If using brown rice, add an additional 1/4 cup of hot water. Seal bag and cover with cozy. Let stand for 10 minutes, or 15 minutes if using brown rice. Carefully squeeze bag to be sure everything is mixed before opening.
OPTIONAL: After rehydrating, add canned chicken for more protein.
1/2 cup plain couscous
1/2 package Knorr Cream of Spinach Soup
1 tablespoon and 1 teaspoon dry milk
1/3 cup fresh spinach, chopped
AT HOME: Mix couscous, soup and dry milk into quart-sized bag. Pack fresh spinach with your perishables in the cooler.
AT CAMPSITE: Put bag into your cozy, add fresh spinach to bag and then 1 cup water of hot water. Seal bag and gently squeeze it to mix well.
Let sit in a cozy for 10 minutes.
OPTIONAL: Add tuna or chicken for added protein.
2/3 cup instant rice
1 teaspoon cinnamon
3 tablespoons instant dry milk
2-3 tablespoons of brown sugar
1/3 cup raisins or other dried fruit (optional)
AT HOME: Mix all ingredients in the quart-sized freezer bag.
AT CAMPSITE: Put bag into your cozy, add 1 cup of hot water. Seal bag and gently squeeze it to mix well. Let sit in the cozy for 10-15 minutes.
Serves 1 (for breakfast) or 2 if shared for dessert
1 cup thin, rice-flour vermicelli (found at most Asian markets)
1 tablespoon bouillon (chicken or vegetable)
½ cup canned vegetables (peas, corn and/or carrots, or steam your own and pack in your cooler)
AT HOME: Break the vermicelli in half and add to the bag along with the bouillon. Pack the canned vegetables separately. (And don’t forget the can opener!)
AT CAMPSITE: Put bag into your cozy. Drain canned vegetables and add to the bag along with
1 cup of hot water. Squeeze gently to mix well. Let sit in cozy for 10 minutes.