Carlos and I camped often before kids. It was a fun, carefree and cheap way to traipse around the countryside. I have so many fond memories of lush green campsites in northern Spain, surrounded by impressive mountains and then some rather dry, dusty campsites in central Australia complete with dingos! Quite the contrast. But regardless of where we were in the world, camping always brought back the joy in simplicity and a slow paced life.
So with our youngest recently turning one, we decided it was time to start the camping adventures as a family of 5. We went out and bought the speediest tent on the market (6 minutes to put up apparently), arguably too many torches and some super comfy mattresses (ok so camping now isn’t quite as ‘basic’ as it used to be…). We loaded up the car (or possibly over loaded…) and headed for Cape Otway, some 3 hours south-west of Melbourne, to meet the other two families we were camping with.
Before we left we addressed the important business of food. We organised to take one dinner each. If you are travelling with a group, I highly recommend this – not having to think about cooking every night is a luxury in itself.
Needless to say, being our first camping trip, I’m no expert on the best and most efficient way to organise camp meals. But I do think we ate very well for a group of amatures. So I thought i’d share what we ate while lost in the wilderness of the Otway Ranges, without access to supplies, to hopefully give some inspiration for future camping trips.
Eating a delicious breakfast relaxing under the gum trees (complete with jumping koalas) and the smell of campfire smoke in the air is life at its most basic, and I would say, best. Each morning we fired up the paella pan and cooked eggs with whatever we had on hand. I’d packed all of the vegetables in my fridge that I knew wouldn’t last the 4 days we were away and they become breakfast on day one… homemade sourdough toasted with olive oil from roasted red peppers, sauteed kale, zucchini, fennel, broccoli and spinach with a bit of lemon juice and salt and pepper, eggs, goats cheese, hummus and fresh herbs.
Day two we coated the sourdough bread with confit tomatoes (I’m sure there will be a post about them at some stage, they are my new favourite thing) and topped it with bacon, eggs, spinach, hummus, roasted red peppers, goats cheese and herbs.
Day three we were down to the bare minimum but managed a decent breakfast of sourdough, eggs, fried ham, avocado, feta, chutney, herbs and a squeeze of lemon.
The kids mostly ate cereal and fruit but wandered over for some eggs when it took their fancy. I took some frozen raspberries (which then of course defrosted) and they were perfect for breakfast toppings. The kids also snacked on homemade fruit bread which is just as good untoasted.
Between the three families, we managed to bring together a decent collection of bits and pieces that formed our lunches and snacks; zucchini slice, confit tomatoes, chutney, eggs, dips, roasted red peppers, vegetables (radishes, carrots, cucumber, cherry tomatoes), a selection of cheeses (tasty, goats, feta, manchego, gouda, brie etc), meats (rolled and sliced ham, salami, fuet, jamon, chorizo etc), dry biscuits, fruit (apples, watermelon, grapes), dried fruits and nuts and of course bread.
Day two we cooked BBQ lamb shoulder on the weber and had it in wraps with coleslaw and a herb salad, hummus and tzatziki. The kids had sausages in bread with carrots and cucumber. Always a winner.
The night we arrived at the camp, we had chilli con carne. A great one to prep beforehand, easy to freeze and re-heat. The kids loved it with rice, avocado, crispy iceberg lettuce, corn chips and yoghurt… a little extra chilli for the adults.
Travelling with two spaniards, it seemed only natural that paella would feature on the menu. I’m not suggesting that paella is quick and easy to make but if you are willing to give it a go, it’s a lovely slow way to cook and more importantly, it feeds a crowd. I packed the frozen seafood on Friday and we cooked it the following evening for dinner on the beach.
On our final night we had beef short rib ragu with pappardelle and freshly grated parmesan (i’ll post the recipe for this one shortly). This was prepared beforehand so all we needed to do was cook the pasta. For the kids – spaghetti bolognese. You can’t really go wrong.
I’m already planning the food supplies for the next trip and I find myself asking if the meals I make at home are camping friendly! I’ll definitely be taking more cheeses and cold meats, dips, nuts and dried fruit.
I know some of you are seasoned campers… I’d love to hear your go-to camping meals or tips and tricks for camping with kids (you can write in the comments below).