1. Single use sachets
Sachets are compact, light and easy to pack and dispose of. Single use sachets save you from having to store open ingredients and protect them from moisture and bugs. They are also easy ways to pack small quantities. We found an amazing variety of them, including:
– Thai curry paste (not even Dave and Anne make paste from scratch while camping)
– Powdered coconut milk
– Tomato paste
– Couscous (more about couscous later)
– Pancake / crumpet mix
– Tuna and salmon
– Grated “Parmesan” (this stuff is an abomination, do not buy it under any circumstances)
– Cheese sauce (the Woolies one is almost as good as home-made)
– Tomato sauce
Apart from sachets, you can also buy very useful things in boxes (chopped tomato, 250ml custard, resealable 250ml long life milk) and of course tins of basics like beans.
2. Back away from the braai
Of course grilled meat on an open fire is a core ingredient of a good camping trip, but there are a number of good reasons not to braai every night:
– Even the most die-hard campers get tired of braai eventually.
– Good quality meat can be difficult to find, as can your typical braai accompaniments such as salad.
– Once you’ve found meat, keeping it cold becomes an all-consuming task and wastes valuable champagne chilling space.
– Namibia and Botswana have strict rules about transporting meat and you can’t carry meat across many of the vet fences.
– When you arrive late and hungry, waiting for a fire to burn down is frustrating.
With a good quality cooker, you can make alternative meals really easily. Some ideas:
– Thai curry (meat or veg)
– Indian curry (meat, chickpea, eggs) made with a tomato, cream or coconut base
– Quesadillas made by melting cheese between two wraps
– Pasta with tomato sauce or ready made sauce of some kind or simple chilli, oil and garlic
– Mexican eggs with black beans
Of course you can still light a fire when wood is plentiful, and enjoy sitting next to it without braaing.
3. The beauty of couscous
Couscous can be prepared in under 5 minutes and only requires a kettle of boiling water. Most other starches take at least 20 minutes of boiling, wasting time, fuel and cooking space. So it’s best to leave the rice, potatoes, oats and polenta at home, and stick to couscous supplemented with a bit of pasta as well as bread and/or wraps when you can get them.
4. Back to basics
As with all cooking, a well thought through basic store cupboard and good tools make a big difference. Some essential tools:
- A sharp knife in a protective cover with a flexible chopping board
- A decent heavy bottom frying pan (we use a pancake pan), thin bottomed camping pans are awful and we threw ours away immediately
- An egg lifter and a small whisk (how else are you going to make lump free pancakes?)
- Ziploc bags and tupperware
And essential ingredients:
- Salt and pepper
- Oil and vinegar (peanut oil is good for cooking and dressings, olive oil is nice but overkill)
- Lemon juice
- A few spices including a good Indian curry paste (Amina’s is excellent)
- A few sauces (a good chilli sauce, chipotle and syrup/honey at a minimum)
- Tomato in various forms (tins of chopped and whole, paste and sauce)
- Good hot chocolate and rusks
- Eggs (to hard boil eggs while camping, place in cold water, bring to boil, remove from stove and stand covered for 15 minutes)
- Chickpeas and beans
5. Life is too short for bad coffee
You at least need decent instant coffee (we had instant with Amarula in for game drives) but preferably some of the proper stuff. You get metal French presses but we prefer our Aeropress (google it) and Dave has a Minipresso for espresso emergencies. The Aeropress makes such good coffee that we use it at home. We also have a tiny travel hand ceramic grinder by Porlex.