Sunday, October 2, 2011

Camping Pans & Basic Food Items

Yesterday, I talked about the different stoves Mark and I use while camping. Today, I'm going to touch on the different cookware we use, and also list some of our camping "pantry" staples.

We use French army aluminum mess kits as our cooking pans. Mark would *love* to find steel pans that are configured as well as these are, but they don't seem to exist. The one that we've found isn't configured quite as well, and it's *way* expensive. Titanium, which is nice and light, is unfortunately not as good at conducting heat evenly - it actually conducts it too well, so you get hot spots. Thin steel pans also can have hot spots, but nowhere near as bad as titanium; Mark has seen some titanium pans that are literally glowing where the flame is hitting, but are cold on the edges. Cast iron is great for cooking, but is heavy and doesn't pack well. Teflon coated pans should never be used for high heat or camp fire coals - they can produce toxic chemicals and will degrade.

The mess kits consist of three pans that nest together like Russian dolls. They're also some of the few mess kits that are rectangular instead of round, and so are much better for packing (for us, anyway). Besides cooking, two pans can fit together and form a container for sandwiches and such. Mark has also made a couple of lids for the pans which nest in with everything else.

And now, for what you've all been waiting - the food! Since we usually don't have refrigeration or ice, we stock up on things that are shelf stable. Our typical stash consists of things like -

From the bulk section of our local co-op -
*quick oats
*instant refried beans
*chili mix
*TVP (both "chicken" and "beef" / tiny and chunky varieties)
*hummus mix
*dried fruit (usually raisins, but sometimes also cranberries, dates, or blueberries)
*Braggs liquid aminos
*canola oil
*sucanat or raw sugar
*mixed nuts

From the rest of the store -
*peanut butter (I love the Peanut Butter & Co. Dark Chocolate Dreams)
*jelly (this is a bit on the dicey side, since it can spoil after opening, but we've been lucky so far, other than one time when it leaked all over the inside of our cooler)
*chips (usually tortilla or Fritos - these go well with the chili)
*Chreese sauce (this goes well with just about everything)
*vegan gravy mix (in packets)
*instant mashed potatoes
*soy milk or rice milk powder (we get the Better Than Milk brand - 2 tbsp make 8 oz of milk)
*instant coffee
*spices (we have a multi-spice shaker with salt, pepper, cayenne, curry, paprika, and garlic salt, and we also bring cinnamon and chili powder)
*heat & eat packaged Indian food
*ramen noodles or other instant noodle dishes
*marinara sauce
*snack/meal bars (usually Cliff and/or Luna, but ProBar and Halo have some very tasty options as well)

If we're camping when it's cool outside, or for shorter periods of time, we will occasionally bring fresh fruit and/or veggies to add to meals or for snacks. Refrigerated meat analogs (like the Tofurky sun-dried tomato and basil sausages) are wonderful additions to meals, but we have to use them on the first day. Though we try to stay away from canned food, we have used canned veggies, canned soup, and canned dolmas in the past to round things out.

Tomorrow, I'll post some of our basic recipes using the ingredients above. If you have suggestions for great camp food staples, let me know in the comments!


  1. I'm more of a room service kind of gal but that food stash you take camping is calling my name. All my faves, I might have to buy a tent with a shower. And that's my favorite tofurkey too!Great post!

  2. Instant re-fried beans?! My zombie-apocalypse-shopping list needs to be updated.

  3. GiGi, did you know they make special small tents just for showers? *grin* You can get solar shower bags that are supposed to heat up the water, and you just walk into the shower tent and wash off. We haven't quite got that far yet, but we're hoping to have Mark's trailer liveable in a few months, so it may be a non-issue.

    Aren't those Tofurky sausages yummy? There's a street food cart in downtown Austin that serves them as an option on their numerous hot dogs, which is awesome, and we also love bringing them along on group cook-outs.

  4. I didn't know that, April. Hmmm food for thought. Yum.

  5. B.A.D., it's amazing what can be found in the bulk section. If you have a local Whole Foods or other heath foods store, check it out. You might be surprised!