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Camping advice...PLEASE!!!!!

So, I don't camp. I don't do wilderness, bugs, peeing in the woods or wild animals. Hell, I barely even go in my backyard. However, my other does and is going camping next weekend and we are in charge of food. This is what I know:

No electricity, strictly tents and a fire
4 men, no women
Alot of muskee fishing to be had

What do I send for food? How do I package it and keep it fresh? What are some basic guidelines? What the heck is he thinking?

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  1. I have only been camping once- in my younger days! Went camping on Martha's Vineyard, and did not have a car- bicycle only! We ( BF & I) actually ate pretty well. We had two small coolers, and kept them filled with ice. Hot dogs, cold cuts, bacon and eggs. We brough lots of potatoes- and used to put the potatoes in the fire after we ate, and they would cook for the next morning breakfast. For snacks we had cheese, crackers and PB. If we wanted something special, we picked it up during the day-.But- we were not in the deep woods, and our bikes gave us acces to stores, etc.
    Note: that is the only time I ever did- or ever will- go campping. No electricity, no bed, no stove (or grill) for a week was enough for me.

    1. Definitely send aluminum foil and lemons for the fresh-caught fish. Trail mix, granola/energy bars, crackers, oranges, apples, etc. don't have to be kept cold. I don't know how much of a hike they'll have, so a cooler may not be easy. But if they can carry one, hot dogs and cheese are a good idea. Bottled water. Friends of mine take those Lipton rice & sauce packs where all you have to do is add water. Make sure to send a cheap pot and a knife along!

      1. As a frequent camper that prides myself on never bringing hot dogs to a campsite, I have many tips to offer. (Not dissing the dogs, you just camp enough and they get old.)

        First, a few questions:

        1) how far will they have to walk with gear to the campsite?
        2) will they be able to get more ice during the weekend?
        3) how many meals are we talking about?
        4) how much do they enjoy cooking...are they looking for good food or easy/cheap/quick with minial prep?

        5 Replies
        1. re: creativeusername

          I'm a camper too - I agree, a little more info would be useful. We're canoe trippers, so no cooler which can be a bit more challenging.
          Here are some tips off the top of my head. Pre-cut everything, and store in zip lock bags. I think muskee covers lots of dinners (unless they aren't biting - in which case I suggest curries, chili or pasta if coolerless - burgers if not!). Easy breakfasts for us have been pancakes (assemble all ingredients in zip lock - just add water in the morning). If lunch is likely to be out on the water, then, bagels are mobile, keep well for a while, and peanut butter is filling. We also like to keep some apples handy - they keep, they're full of sugar (which is great if you've spent too long in the sun) and they hydrate...
          I'll keep a look out to see if you post more info, then maybe I could be more helpful...

          1. re: tochipotle

            >..."unless they aren't biting" Good point. I spent a weekend on a fishing trip counting on catching most meals and went hungry because they weren't biting. Won't make that mistake again.

            1. re: creativeusername

              there is alot of things you can do, if only you had more info like what you have
              access to. and how about the other guys as far as experience camping. and
              one thing you don`t want to fall back on is we sill catch our dinner. as the boy
              scouts always do be prepared. alot of people think I am crazy but I have the
              latest edition of the boy scout manuel in my glove compartment of my pick-up.
              and I have over the years have become thankful for having that for reference.
              you will surprised how much info that book has in it. especial for first-aid that
              alot of people don`t think about. or different types of food you can get on the
              trail if you are far from home or your vehicle. its something to think about.

              1. re: bigjimbray

                Sorry, I should have been more specific. I wasn't hungry, I just didn't eat as well as I'd have liked. After more than enough years in the military camping not-so-fun-style, I camp now because I like to which includes a fire and good chow.

            2. re: tochipotle

              Is the fire the only source of heat and cooking? Many people I know who camp, will be equipped with small portable propane stoves and coolers, unless they are doing backcountry camping which limits the type of food you can bring and cook. Since this appears to be a fishing trip, I presume that coolers will be brought along, no?

              One of my husband's tricks is to freeze some of the food beforehand (sandwich meats, juice boxes, pita bread, wraps, water bottles, etc., try to pack them together in a cooler, perhaps wrap in newspaper if the food is to be used the day after. This allows the food to last into the next day as it thaws.

              First use up the food that is most perishable such as meats & fruits, then leave the non-perishable foods for the later days. My camping experience is that lunches are usually non-cooked (sandwiches/wraps, trail mix, fruit, granola bars) and taken along during the dayhikes, while breakfasts and suppers are cooked back at the site.

              But definitely (as noted already), the Lipton packages of noodles/rice where you just add water are always handy and should be brought along. Powdered milk, sugar, salt, seasoning can be brought along in ziploc-type baggies. You can pre-make certain foods, like bacon and cheese muffins, and leave them in a ziploc for the first breakfast. Pita bread for sandwiches or wraps work well because you don't have to worry about squishing them.

              Don't forget to add a number of old cloths for cleaning and as potholders for hot pots simmering over the campfire - everything gets heated up over the fire including handles and lids.

          2. The original comment has been removed
            1. Okay, here is more scoop on the issue...

              They will be in a state park and will not have a very long hike to the campsite. They are mainly going for fishing only. No pleasure hiking or anything like that. Muskee are not good eats. Its a catch and release kind of thing. They will be able to get more ice to replenish. They all love to eat but realistically haven't made more than mac n cheese in their lives so are depending on me for sending something other than burned hot dogs on a stick. My others dad (Poppy) is bringing his camp stove, whatever that may be! There is a small cafe kind of deal near by that they may grab their outgoing meal at on the drive home Sunday. The only thing I have for sure is the goods for S'mores!

              11 Replies
              1. re: chelleyd01

                In that case, I'd stick with a lot of the above suggestions and say maybe in addition to regular hot dogs and burgers, you can provide bratwurst, sauerkraut and mustard for one meal. You can par-bake potatoes and wrap them in foil to be added to the fire to finish. Butter and sourcream aren't great in a cooler, but cheese will be fine and they can melt cheese on the potatoes. Send some salt and pepper with them, maybe those disposable shakers you can get in the spice aisle. Fruit, bagels, and cream cheese are great for breakfast. Lunchmeats will hold in the cooler on ice, and bagel sandwiches could be tasty. Maybe even some carrot/celery sticks and peanut butter and jelly.

                1. re: chelleyd01

                  Breakfast and lunch are easy...trail mix, protein bars, fruit, pb&j, bagels, beef jerky, whatever.

                  Night one: steaks (pre-marinate), potatoes (par-bake as mentioned by mojo), canned veggie of choice (transfer to ziplock)
                  Night two: bag o' frozen chicken, bbq sauce (amount needed in baggie), canned veggie of choice (ziplock), artisan bread to toast.

                  They'll need a couple of utensils if they're going to cook this way but they will be happy campers.

                  Coffee. Lots of coffee. I camp with a percolator, if they don't, go [shudder] instant. Don't forget lots of water.

                  1. re: chelleyd01

                    Funny story and you tell it well. Your guys have the opportunity to really, really eat well while "camping" and fishing. I love backpacking, camping, fishing..and eating while doing so. Food in the outdoors is a bit of a challenge, but done well, there is nothing better--everything tastes better than it is. But its really too bad if your guys don't know how to cook (i.e. "...but realistically haven't made more than mac n cheese in their lives...").

                    What to do: multiply mojoeater's suggestion--do a bunch of dump in a pan and heat packets, like the brautwurst and kraut.

                    Just a question, however: everyone I know who goes from car camping to scaling the big rock faces on multiple day climbs does so with quite a bit of thought to the food. What's with your guys?

                    1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                      I've actually been on camping trips where folks eat raw hot dogs, granola bars, premade mixed stuff that needs only water, PB&J and that's about it. In fact, I've never been camping with people who put much thought into the food. They just take little that needs cooking and drink a lot. Perhaps that's part of why I have chosen never to camp again (and the bathroom thing).

                      1. re: mojoeater

                        Heh-heh.

                        Went beach camping with a load of good friends who are British and get rowdy and stop making sense eventually. At some point in a typical evening, I just check out.

                        I pitched my tent far enough away for peace and quiet. Knowing the communal food might not be so great and might not even end up being available, I snuck in a small, secret bottle of half-and-half on ice with some coffee tea bags and a little tin pan and some bottled water (and my own matches because I try to not be too reliant on the crowd). [<---an only child]

                        I remember waking up in the middle of the most beautiful misty morning just around sunrise, and padding over to where the fire pit was, starting a little fire, boiling my little tin of water and retrieving the half-and-half from ice to have a lovely cup of morning coffee just sitting there watching the mist and the seagulls... surveying the mayhem and damage (broken flimsy camp chairs where an impromptu rugby game might've broken out - and various other actually comical messes... that they eventually were very good about cleaning up).

                        I didn't bring a china cup for the coffee but it was a wonderful little respite from the fray.

                        Say, to keep this discussion on track, let me pitch that point in... if your guys drink coffee, little single-cup coffee packs embedded in filters would be good - either make some yourself with ground coffee or buy a small pack of the Folger's coffee (like tea) bags. (The Maxwell House are awful, in my opinion, while the Folger's are pretty good if not gourmet.) Likewise see what you can do to provide single-serving actual creamers and/or sugar depending on what they use... if there's no refrigeration, a small can of evaporated milk (not condensed milk, evaporated milk) is quite good in coffee.. that's what they routinely put in coffee in The Netherlands, anyhow.

                      2. re: Sam Fujisaka

                        We are in Northeast Ohio...about half an hour from Mosquito Lake and an hour and change from Lake Erie. My other and his dad are Tournament Bass Fisherman (actually, that is where he is at as we speak...a 2 day tournament for 10k....say a little prayer, Chowsers!!!!). After ALOT of complaining, whining and budgeting, we made a major bass boat purchase this year. That's his passion, I guess. I'm just interested in the fresh Walleye they bring home!

                        1. re: chelleyd01

                          Quite early in my marriage I decided it was better to learn to love fishing than to lose my husband every weekend. I do enjoy fishing, I only wish Bass tasted better. Usually when we go I try to catch some pan fish (bream, crappie, etc.) for eating, let him do the lunker catch-n-release.

                          Got my fingers crossed for you that he brings in the big one today...

                          1. re: chelleyd01

                            i agree with the suggestion for steaks for the first night. The most foolproof steaks i can think of (even those who are grill-challenged or cooking-challenged can make them) are Korean beef short rib (kalbi), available at some groceries/meat markets or Asian markets (if there are any in your vicinity). These are real bone-in steaks (not ribs), usually less than 1/2" thick and so heavily marbled that you can brown them a couple minutes (no more) on each side and they're done, guaranteed tender/juicy unless you way overcook them. In side-by-side comparisons on a backyard grill with "conventional" steaks, the kalbi steaks came out better (assuming you like your steaks juicy/fatty as opposed to lean). If you get them from a Korean grocery, get a jar of kalbi marinade to go with them, otherwise salt/pepper or your steak sauce of choice are fine. Try them at home first.

                            1. re: barleywino

                              A great suggestion, I always buy large quantities and freeze batches for later. You can't overmarinate and the caveman fire cooking will make them feel like they're accomplishing something.

                              Any butcher can slice beef ribs up for you if you ask. For marinade soy sauce, ginger, garlic, sesame oil and hot pepper sauce will get you started if you can't find a bottle of pre-made. I make my own since most of the bottles are high in sugar which makes the ribs burn a little fast for me.

                              Chicken wing pieces marinated in lemon garlic and oregano are more easy fun on the grill food. A pasta salad made with vinagrette instead of mayo will keep in a cooler and fills hungry stomachs.

                              Garlic bread can be made ahead and placed next to the fire in foil to cook. Step up from hotdogs and throw in some italian sausage and go for a sandwich that will scare off the local wildlife.

                              Weird as it seems, fondue is good camp food. Everything precut and in zip locs, cheese melts in one pot and it takes almost no time to make and as long as you want to eat.

                          2. re: Sam Fujisaka

                            Everything tastes better when you've paddled all day and hauled all of your belongings on portages! Food is so important to the trip (can I carry that around for 5 days?). The good thing is, the food bag gets a lot lighter as the trip goes on... Plus the challenge is fun - no cans/bottles, nothing perishable etc - you get pretty creative.
                            chelleyd01, they can have pretty much anything! I'd suggest that one pot meals are easiest - chili, hamberger helper type meals, casseroles etc packed in zip lock bags. A camp stove is only one small burner, and that means there's only one pot to clean as well.
                            I'm assuming lunch will be on the water - Sam Fujisaka's suggestion below isn't bad for lunch! But I would make sure that they have some containers for water - they should try to drink some water if they're going to be in the sun all day... Also, somebody suggested bacon cheese muffins - that's a good idea. If they're really there for the fishing, then they'll want to get up early and get on their way and not have to fuss with making an intricate breakfast - and cleaning up after it...
                            Hope they have a great time!

                          3. re: chelleyd01

                            I've camped quite a bit in the past couple of years and one thing I've learned is that even if we're only camping for two nights, we all crave hot meals. It's easy to plan out 6 or 7 no-cook meals but we prefer cooking every meal except maybe lunch. We have a camp stove and a huge non-stick pan just for camping. Most of the camp sites we've been to have firepits with grates to cook on (pack LOTS of foil and paper towels). I also find that a French press is the easiest way to make coffee while camping. It has become a bit of a competition btwn my friends and I over who can plan and execute the best meals and snacks while we camp and we really enjoy the challenge. There's a recipe on this board called boozy campfire cheese (or something close) that's excellent.