Whether you’re going for a hike or camping out of your car, getting into the outdoors is an important part of our lives. But for many of us we opt for more ‘convenience’ foods which are less delicious and produce more waste.
Caption: Damper is a simple yet delicious camp meal option that you can make from scratch
So how can happy campers eat well while reducing their impact on the local environment?
It might take a little thought and preparation, but it’s worth it. Simple things like creating a meal plan, working leftovers into lunches, and making things from scratch can help reduce your food and packaging waste, and a “home” cooked meal always tastes better!
La Trobe University Outdoor and Environmental Studies student and VNPA intern, Bianca Jones shared her tips on how she goes about delicious, low waste camp food on a weekend getaway.
Breakfast- a visit to the local bakery
If I’m heading out early in the morning, I like to stop by a local bakery for breakfast. I do this to support small, local businesses and because it tastes great.
I usually also pick up a few extra goodies for breakfast or snacks.
It’s also a good opportunity to break up driving and a chance to change drivers.
Lunch- quinoa and felafel salad topped with feta
Recently, I’ve been trying very hard to go single-use plastic free, and this often involves making your own foods. One of the most common lunches I’ve been making includes spinach, homemade carrot and chickpea quinoa and homemade falafel, topped off with feta cheese in a bowl.
Dinner – baked potatoes
Baked potatoes are a great option for a single night trip as they can be cooked on a fire and can be smaller in portion size to cater for your needs- definitely one of my favourites.
Top potatoes with your favourite selection of baked potato topping, either prepared at home or at camp.
Breakfast – toasted croissant
As many would believe camp breakfasts to consist of cereal and powered milk, I like to treat myself whilst I’m away. Many of my peers go for the egg, bacon and mushroom breakfast while base/car camping whereas I go for a toasted ham and cheese croissant, using a fresh croissant purchased from a bakery along the way.
While hiking I go for the powered milk, oats and honey option, as they are lighter to carry, last longer and are less fragile.
Lunch – more salad!
I usually pack enough of my falafel salad, mentioned earlier, to have for two days.
Dinner – mushroom risotto
Mushroom risotto is one of my current go to favourites as it is really good on cooler nights and can be prepared fresh on a camp stove or fireplace. There is also usually leftover wine!
Breakfast – toasted croissant #2
I tend to pack enough for two breakfasts and go with a toasted cheese and tomato croissant for the final morning.
Lunch – rice crackers with tomato, brie cheese and avocado
Before heading home and after packing up I often have lunch so I’m ready for the drive.
Rice crackers or vita-wheats with tomato, brie cheese and avocado make for a simple final day lunch.
dried fruit and trail mix, carried in small cotton produce bags.
Tips for low waste meals
Only take what you need! Plan your meals before heading out so you only take the essentials, this will lead to you having less waste while you’re out adventuring!
Buying things from within your local area helps minimise your carbon footprint and promote the local economy. Small specialty grocers often have things produced close to where you live.
Look for more sustainable ways to prepare and carry your food, such as buying in bulk and using Tupperware, silicon ziplock bags or cloth bags instead of single use plastics.
Making things from scratch often lowers that amount of waste you have, both from packaging and food scraps, as you only buy what you need and can source things that aren’t packaged.
Leftovers make really good lunches, be that from the night before a trip or if you over cater while your away.
Believe it or not, many fresh foods like avocado (as long as it isn’t too ripe) can last for several days without being refrigerated and can provide more variety in your diet for trips of longer duration. I always pack fresh food when I go camping.
Buy things without the plastic wrapping – you don’t need to buy the packet of 6 potatoes in plastic, buy loose ones and give them a wash when you get home.
Bring along a small sealable bucket, such as a hommus bucket. You can use this to keep compost scraps and take them back to your home compost bin.