Filed under: Family Camping, Kid-Friendly Trips, Menu Planning & Cooking, Traveling Tips, Uncategorized
Make Ahead Meals for the Camper
I have done this many many times. Of course, this involves extra work at home but the dividends pay off when you are traveling and visiting a new destination. I have found it to be deliciously helpful to have my travel trailer freezer stocked with twice-baked potatoes, meatballs, previously grilled and sliced chicken breasts, butter chicken, chicken biryani, taco meat, and even homemade burritos!
Without a doubt, that extra effort at home saves me time and brain cells when I am on vacation. Afterall, who really wants to be bothered planning a meal from scratch when you are visiting a fabulous national park or a beautiful beach? And, for that matter, who really wants to endure a mediocre meal at an overpriced tourist trap restaurant after a beautiful day of touring or hiking? (I’ve learned through experience that bad meals at overpriced touristy restaurants can quickly send the best adventures into a rapid nosedive when everyone is tired, hungry and ready for REAL food!)
Over the years, I have learned to pack these precooked menu items in such a way that they take up little space. For example, with meatballs, taco meat, or meat sauce, I freeze those items in a ziploc bag at home. Once the cooked items have cooled considerably, I load the bag, then I put the bag on a cookie sheet, and stash the cookie sheet on a shelf in the freezer. The items freeze flat and are far easier to stack in my compact little travel trailer freezer! I first tested this method about six years ago when we were preparing to drive the Alaska Highway from Anchorage to Seattle. I knew amenities would be few and far between during that journey, so I planned our meals in advance. I used the ziploc/freeze-flat method. Wow! I was impressed when about two weeks worth of dinners easily stacked and stashed into my miniscule freezer!
So, if you are planning a big camping trip this summer, seriously consider cooking a few family favorites at home. Then freeze the menu items in plastic bags or at the very least freeze them in square or rectangular containers in order to save space. What make ahead meals do you create at home before a trip?
Note: The photo above is of a previously frozen Indian butter chicken with basmati rice (cooked at home) and coriander chutney. I quickly took the photo at our campsite at the Madison Campground in Yellowstone National Park a couple years ago. That frozen chicken made a super quick and simple snack for a hungry teenager that day!
–Melissa A. Trainer