Food glorious food! Oh yes, your camping menu must include the bacon sandwich; but there's more to live than a bacon sarnie (!) no honestly, they do get tedious, this however is where planning your camping menu can become highly useful.
Quite clearly the camping way of life is different to home. Your aga or 5 burner double oven, just can't come with you, no matter how big your car! You will have to make do with a one, two or possibly (!) three burner cooker within your camping kitchen, and therefore you will need to tailor your camping menu accordingly.
How? Good question!
My suggestion would be to try some new things, some that are different, and of course the occasional trip out for a meal never hurt anyone, after all you are on holiday!
Dare I bring up the optimum bacon sarnie again... Oh ok, yes you may well have guessed that I am rather partial to these, and they make a wonderful filling breakfast. So with your fresh thick cut bread (cut like doorsteps), lashings of proper butter (I didn't say this one was healthy), your bacon lightly fried, perhaps slightly crispy (yum), and a decent splash of your favourite sauce. Heaven in your hands!
Of course, you can tailor that sandwich to any time of day (put with lettuce and tomato for lunch; or a fried egg for a light dinner), and it is quite versatile. But even for me the thought of 14 mornings of bacon sandwiches is a little too much for my camping menu planning.
As with any meals, whilst you are on a self catering vacation you need to plan some variety and tailor this to your holiday's activities. Now for us, we usually have a day out and about, then one on site, then out, then on site, we do however utilise the papers' weather forecast and take this into consideration. That said, a box or two of cereal, some standard rations kept in our fridge or cool-bag, ensure that we have the ideal camping menu.
If you are the type of people that usually survive on a couple slices of toast in the morning, you may well need to expand these habits for your camping menu vacation. Cooking toast on 2 burners with no grill, is achievable, but different, and you may well find (only with toast) that the taste and texture is different compared to what you are used to. The type of fuel you cook with, will make the difference.
Remember that if you are camping outside of high season, you may well benefit with the camping menu ideas of porridge, or the traditional full English breakfast served as a brunch.
The Lunch Camping Menu
Are you on an out day or a site day? Is it just the two of you, or do you have the kids in tow too? Quite clearly as if you were at home you'll find a number of questions for you to cater for Lunch. If you are out and about for the day, you may well have considered that it would be easier to pick something up whilst you are out. Who can blame you! I certainly don't, however perhaps budget constraints, dietary requirements or other such food issues mean that you will need to cater for yourselves on site.
...Or do you! One thing I adore about camping, is the request from my husband that we will take a picnic with us, now granted, we haven't been in our tent since the birth of our daughter. So at the time there was just the two of us, oh and a bottle of champagne! It was lovely, sat out under the trees in the New Forest, Hampshire, drinking our bubbly, sat on our tablecloth, and munching a quite delicious picnic. Heaven.
Other quick and easy lunches that we have done whilst on site include, scrambled eggs (add mushrooms, mixed herbs, splash of Worcestershire sauce, and it will really tantalize your taste buds), hot dogs in rolls (don't forget your onions, add a little bit of garlic and ground black pepper; or even some mushrooms, yum!), Omelette, Pasta and bits (bits are purely whatever you have left, or needs using up, break up some lunch meat such as ham/chicken/beef, add some cherry tomatoes, mixed herbs, peppers, sweetcorn and mix together - delightful).
Just a word to say, that if you are going out and about you may want to consider disposable wrappings, such as sandwich bags. That way you are not lugging empty plastic containers with you, and will save you having to do the washing up when back on site.
The Dinner Camping Menu
For us, evening meals are usually the one that we have out, or pick up something such as fish and chips on the way back to the site. One of my favourite dinners when camping is going to the local fish and chip shop, down by the sea front. It's better if its a more windy day, the chips are soaked in vinegar, and the sun is gently setting on the horizon. The salt carried in the air, really flavours the chips differently, and with the gentle lapping of the sea, you have the atmosphere, ambience of quite a romantic evening.
These days with kids in tow, it's not usually as peaceful as I've described, but finding a family friendly location is worth its weight in gold, especially if they provide activities for the kids to enjoy as well. That being said, bringing children with decent table and general manners, will also buy you time, respect and open arms the next time that you visit.
For those that wish to cook dinner back on site, there are some lovely warming dishes that can be achieved in your camping menu, on the coldest of nights. A lovely warming stew, especially if you've been able to marinade the meat whilst you were out, served with peas and fresh french stick (baguettes) is really warming after a cold day.
If you are like me and suffer from coeliac disease, you too may feel like you have a restrictions on eating out, and your camping menu will therefore reflect this. I've found a nice piece of fillet, skinless cod, wrapped in foil, with olive oil, some thyme, a little garlic, lemon and spring onions make a delightful meal. This works wonderfully well if you are able to BBQ on site, as you can put the fish directly into the fire (works good for Jacket Potatoes too, but rub the skins with butter). However do remember that tents, awnings are FLAMMABLE, and you must adhere to the Site's rules and regulations regarding BBQ's.
One of my favourite camping menu dishes comes from my holidays with my parents. Corned Beef (tinned), with new potatoes (also tinned) and peas (buy the small frozen bag, and cook the lot). It's simple, the shelf life of the ingredients is long, (as you can also use tinned peas), and when cooked it's quite delightful.
Whilst you are away camping, remember cooking shouldn't be a chore, get the kids to help, make it a family event, including the clearing up (although you might appreciate half an hour without the kids chattering in your ears!), and keep your cooking simple.
Take a look at the Camping Kitchen if your worried about your kit. As for embarking on sourcing your camping menu, you may well find the camping menu planning document available here of assistance. You can plan your weekly menu, and this in turn will generate your shopping list. Therefore no need to take the computer, print it off, put with your camping kit, and off you go....