Eating well at home is, for most of us, not that hard--we choose our groceries and tailor our meals to our needs. When you're a bit of a control freak like myself, eating at a restaurant can be a bit harder. Your temped to ask about every ingredient in every dish, until the waitress gives you that look, and then you just order something that seems simple and move on. Camping and trying to stay Paleo presents a whole new struggle. Most of the classic camping fall backs are out: oatmeal (out), granola bars (out), sandwiches (out), hot cocoa mix (out), and s'mores (sadly, out).
This problem in front of me, I spent an hour or two searching the internet for ideas a few years ago. Resources were limited. Now, with plenty of Paleo woodsy weekends under my arm, I feel like I should close that missing gap in the blogdom. So here it is! My tips for eating paleo while living out of a tent.
First, if you're going to be camping often, you'll probably want to invest in some tools:
- A cooler - keeps vegetables, proteins, and other food fresh
- A camping stove - while I've used the tiny single-burner alpine stoves before, I prefer to be able to boil water for tea and cook breakfast at the same time, so I generally bring my 2-burner propane stove
- A lighter
- A pan or two - I recommend a skillet and a medium sauce pan, each with lids. The sauce pan is good for boiling soups, water for tea, or steaming vegetables. The skillet is good for just about everything else. While cast iron is heavy, I prefer it because a well seasoned cast iron doesn't need to be washed (that's awesome all the time, and extra awesome while camping)
- A Metal spatula or wooden spoon with a flat edge
- A small jar for keeping coconut oil
- A large jug to hold a lot of fresh, clean water
- A knife
- A dish cloth
- A french press (good for tea or coffee)
- Silverware (sporks are great)
- Plate or bowl (or just eat straight out of the skillet -- less dishes!)
- Trash bag
- Flexibility! (If you're anything like me, you'll forget something and will have to improvise)
Have we talked about my love for breakfast? Eggs for breakfast in particular. Usually, when I'm camping, it means I'm going to spend my day doing something that requires a lot of energy (climbing, camping, etc), and getting a solid breakfast is important. Luckily, it's pretty easy to bring eggs along when car camping. I usually bring enough eggs for my trip in a sturdy egg carton and put it in a cooler with the rest of the food.
For me, camping is sort of a way of getting away from everything, and part of that simplicity comes through in my meals. I almost never plan a fancy meal when we're camping. Literally, whatever is in the fridge goes into the cooler and whatever ends up in the cooler goes in the skillet to make a luxuriously lazy breakfast for two. And it always tastes amazing, because being in the wilderness has a way of making everything delicious. That said, someone recently told me about the blog Dirty Gourmet and now I am tempted to up my game! (Seriously, stuffing while camping? A paleo rendition will need to happen soon.)
Luxuriously Lazy Paleo Camping Breakfast Skillet for Two:
1 four-ounce breakfast sausage
1 tablespoon coconut oil
1/2 white onion
2-3 cups chopped quickly cooking vegetables
1. Heat the coconut oil in the skillet. My camp stove only has two heat levels (insanely hot and off). If yours offers more precision, aim for a medium flame.
2. Place the sausage in the skillet and cover. Once it has browned on one side, turn it.
3. Slice the onion, and add it to the hot pan. Slice the vegetables. Once the onions are soft, add them. Put a lid on the skillet and allow the vegetables to cook until soft. Stir occassionally.
4. Once the vegetable are cooked through, use your spatula or wooden spoon to push them (and the sausage) to one side of the skillet. If the pan is dry, add a bit more coconut oil. Crack the eggs into the pan. At this point I often turn off the stove, put the lid on the skillet, and allow the residual heat to cook the eggs.
5. Serve hot with salt and pepper!
Lunch on the go has to be simple. We usually eat "at the crag" (the base of the rocks you are climbing) between pitches. I find canned fish to be the most satisfying lunch that is easy to eat anywhere. We bring romaine and make tuna (or salmon) wraps. Hearty vegetables are nice to bring along too. While we're on the subject of food on the move, I should mention that stocking up on paleo bars can be good. Epic Bars may not sound that gourmet, but when you're hungry and on the move, they are pretty dang good. I'm a fan of LARABARs, too. The mini ones make for a tasty dessert.
My Paleo camping dinners follow the same trend of being luxiously lazy as the other two meals pf the day. A little prep at home can make it even simpler--for this meal, I brought precooked burgers and heated them up. This means we got to eat sooner, and avoided the hassle of dealing with raw meat. Raw beef already shaped into patties can be a nice option too.
Easy Paleo Camping Burger Skillet
1/2 white onion
1 clove garlic
1 tablespoon coconut oil
1 medium zucchini
1 medium sweet potato
3 precooker burgers
3 leaves from a leafy vegetable (I used cabbage, collards and swiss chard are good too.)
Salt and pepper to taste
Mustard or other condiment of choice
1 tomato, sliced
1 avocado, sliced
1. Heat the coconut oil over medium heat.
2. Mince the garlic. Chop all of the vegetables, other than the leaves, into equally sized sliceds or cubes. Toss the garlic and vegetables in the skillet (once again, this does not include the leaves). Season with salt and pepper. Cover the skillet with a lid. Stir every 5 minutes or so.
3. Once the vegetables are soft, add the burgers. Put the lid back on, and cover for a few more minutes, until the burgers are heated through. (If you are using raw burgers, you will need to cook them first).
4. Finally, put the leafy greens in the pan, over everything else, covering with the skillet lid for a couple of minutes, or until the leaves are soft and pliable.
5. Remove pan from heat. Set steamed leafy vegetables aside, to use as wraps for your burger, and dig in! Serve with fresh sliced tomatoes and/or avocado.
While these "skillet recipes" are great for cooking over a camping stove, don't under estimate the power of a fire to make your camping dinner taste like the real deal--one of my favorite camping meals to date was chicken drumsticks with barbecue sauce roasted over the fire.
Don't forget the chocolate! A bottle of wine, a bar of chocolate, and apples are perfect for passing around the camp fire.