Car camping. It's one of my favorite things about living out here in the West. Last weekend my husband and I took our two kids out to the desert in Southern Utah—Arches, Canyonlands, and some lesser-known spots along the San Rafael swell. We had three days and I wanted to make the most of it, including what we ate, so I started shopping and organizing two days before we left. Although I gave in to boxed mac and cheese and a bag of not-so-natural marshmallows, I wanted to think outside the tofu hot dogs and carrot sticks, too. Here's what I came up with.
Homemade quick-cooking oatmeal mix: 2 cups organic quick oats, 1/2 cup shredded unsweetened coconut, 2/3 cup raisins or chopped dates, 1/2 cup sliced almonds (or other nut). Why hassle? Most flavored instant oatmeal packets contain too much simple sugar and not enough protein or fats to keep me or my kids full for long.
Bob's Red Mill buckwheat pancake mix. It doesn't require milk, but it does require some light-flavored vegetable oil and eggs. I love the nutty taste of buckwheat and these are amazing with a little maple syrup or (to avoid chance of leaks in the cooler) a dollop of berry preserves, such as Crofter's organic super fruit spread.
Plus an assortment of natural low-sugar cereals and granolas and single-serving milk boxes (I like Pacific Foods almond milk or Edensoy vanilla soymilk).
LUNCH & SNACKS
Sprouted-grain bread, such as those from Ezekiel or Alvarado Street bakery plus an assortment of natural nut butters and organic cheeses. Sprouted breads tend to hold moisture and shape better than other types of bread. Tortillas are also good.
Apples, bananas, plus dried fruits, nuts, whole-grain crackers, etc.
On one night, I made green lentils (red lentils would be even easier!) flavored with a Simply Organic mushroom sauce mix. Lentils are pretty quick cooking, and they taste so much better made from scratch than from the can. It was delicious served with whole wheat couscous, which is the fastest-cooking whole-grain item you can find. Next time I might make this Mint Couscous with Tart Cherries recipe which adds just two simple ingredients to the basic couscous recipe).
Whole grain penne (I like Bionature) served with organic crushed tomatoes (such as from Muir Glen) + Simply Organic tomato and basil sauce mix. Don't forget a good-quality olive oil.
Marshmallows. They are pretty hard to beat! Plus graham crackers and Chocolove dark chocolate for the adults. (My two-year-old got into the chocolate on one night and then stayed up bouncing on our heads until 11:00 p.m. - big mistake!!!)
Next time, I might make more ahead and store in a cooler (we wanted to go light, so I opted for lots of dry goods and foods that didn't require refrigeration). If you're an adventurous outdoor cook, check out our quick & easy archive for ideas. Have your own favorite natural camping recipes or tips? Share them below!