› Food to take camping

Must-have food to take camping around Oz

Here’s my list of essential food to take camping on your trip around Australia. I discovered that it was better to buy lots of versatile basics…rather than pre-packaged meal options.

I always kept these items in my camper pantry and fridge.

Having a well-stocked pantry helped me create some great meals out of very little, in some pretty remote places. Of course, we also had lots of fresh ingredients like fruit, veges, bread and meat. We stocked up on these whenever and wherever we could.

Combine these foods with versatile camping cooking gear - and you'll be cooking up a storm in no time!

In the pantry

Keep everything in air-tight, well sealed containers. All kinds of insects, bugs and rodents will attempt to feast on your precious pantry stores. There is nothing worse than waking up to flour everywhere, or special treat foods nibbled and gnawed on!

In baskets or on the shelf

  • Baking powder
  • Dehydrated peas
  • Golden syrup
  • Honey
  • Instant mashed potato
  • Instant noodles
  • Long life milk
  • Long-life wraps (e.g. lavash or mountain bread)
  • Long-life cream
  • Olive oil
  • Olives
  • Peanut butter
  • Soy sauce
  • Stock cubes or concentrated stock
  • Vegetable oil
  • Yoghurt sachets (to make fresh yoghurt)

In tins / cans

  • Beans (three bean, kidney, white)
  • Beetroot
  • Champignons
  • Corn
  • Lentils
  • Pineapple
  • Salmon
  • Stir-fry veges e.g. bamboo shoots / baby corn
  • Tomato paste
  • Tomatoes (diced and whole)
  • Tuna (large for dinners, small for lunches)

In Tupperware

I sat down and worked out how much Tupperware I could squeeze into my camp cupboards. Then I worked out what should go in each container.

  • Coconut* – shredded or desiccated
  • Cornflour
  • Cous cous – great for when you don’t have much time.
  • Dried fruit – I kept sultanas*, apricots, apples and dates. They make good snacks and supplement recipes.
  • Dried lentils / beans
  • Herbs and spices – only keep what you’ll use. I took basil, oregano, paprika, cumin, coriander, curry powder, cinnamon, turmeric, nutmeg, bay leaves, and salt and pepper.
  • Nuts – I kept pistachios, cashews, almonds and walnuts*. They make good snacks and supplement recipes.
  • Pasta – I stuck with spirals and risoni.
  • Plain flour – I always kept at least 2 kgs.
  • Processed bran*
  • Rice
  • Rolled oats* – great for porridge and in cooking.
  • Seeds* – I kept pumpkin, sunflower and linseed.
  • Sugar
  • Weetbix

*I made muesli from these ingredients and put it in one big container. It was our breakfast staple most days.

Long-life treats

This is not essential food to take camping...but it's nice to have a little extra something every now and then!

  • White Wings cheesecake packet mix (no bake, for when you’ve emptied the fridge, what a treat)
  • Tinned dolmades
  • Store bought biscuits (not chocolate, they melt)
  • Home-made custard
  • Popping corn
  • Marshmallows

Fresh produce – the in-between

Fresh veges were not hard to come by in Kunnanurra, WA.Stocking up on fresh food at a local farm in Kununurra, WA.

Here are some great fruits and vegetables that you can store out of the fridge, or store in an esky on ice for a few days before your fridge has space. When I’m planning meals, I tend to use up the ‘fragile’ fresh produce before starting on these...because I know they’ll last a while longer.

  • Apples
  • Beetroot – great for roasting on the fire.
  • Cabbage – use for cooking, coleslaw or in place of lettuce!
  • Carrot
  • Garlic – lasts for ages and doesn’t need to be stored in the fridge, like the minced garlic.
  • Onion
  • Oranges
  • Pumpkin – great for roasting on the fire.
  • Sweet potato
  • Whole melons – They keep longer when they’re not cut.

In the fridge

Store spinach / lettuce leaves in clip-seal bags. It takes up far less space and stays fresh for 3-4 days.

Camping fridge space is always at a premium. I try to limit sauces and condiments that need refrigeration, unless they are really versatile. Each day as you eat fresh food out of the fridge, replenish it with fresh produce that wouldn’t fit in originally.

  • Block of butter
  • Cheese, parmesan – I prefer fresh, but it’s also handy to have some long-life packet stuff.
  • Cheese, tasty – Block, not grated as this takes up too much space.
  • Dijon mustard
  • Eggs – I usually buy two dozen, and keep one carton in the fridge if it fits. Eggs will last reasonably well out of the fridge, but use the room temperature ones up in the first week.
  • Mayonnaise
  • Salami
  • Tomato sauce (even better, sauce sachets that don’t need to go in the fridge)

In the freezer

  • Fresh ginger – Lasts forever and takes up so little space. Just pop it in a clip-seal bag.
  • Frozen spinach – lays flat and you can throw it into all sorts of meals.
  • Other frozen vegetables, like beans – You can pick them up at lots of remote stores to stock up for when you run out of fresh options.

By sticking with the basics, I could mix and match my ingredients to make a variety of meals.

And when we hit a supermarket, I would splurge on all sorts of delicious, fresh food we’d missed. We would all treat ourselves to a gourmet delight for a few days, before stocking up on practical food to take camping again!

› Food to take camping