CREATIVE MEAL PACKING FOR CAMPING OR EXPLORING
When camping, traveling, exploring or entertaining allergy free/safe food is always our primary concern. We don’t have the luxury of stopping by a deli for a quick bite, so we had to come up with some creative food storage ideas over the years. Although you might only need to think about what your lunch scenario might be like on your hike, we need to think about each and every meal ahead of us. Whether it is an overnight stay, a day trip, a mid-day snack or 3-day camping excursion, packing food creatively has become a lifestyle for us.
We have come up with some simple food packaging ideas, recipes, and creative container solutions to share that might help all campers well beyond allergy sensitive explorers.
Our food storage concerns always begin with keeping food at the appropriate safe temperature during the time away from the kitchen. The most important tool for us is an ideal cooler, which we usually stuff full with our to-go foods.
In lieu of ice packs we often put frozen spring water bottles. Although we primarily drink water from our stainless steel canteens, the frozen plastic bottles are there for us if we need them as emergency water. We also go to the plastic bottles when we want to carry in some cold water and leave the plastic in a recycle bin on the way out as we carry a light load.
On our most recent trip to Disney, we packed our backpack full of food so as to be completely self-sufficient for most of the day. In our backpack we opted to keep things light and efficient. We packed some plastic bags of popcorn, several frozen water bottles, and two packages of store vacuum sealed frozen sandwich meat. The sandwich meat (ham, turkey, etc.) is our primary secret weapon. It is easy to grab from the freezer, stuff it in a bag and head out the door with an apple or banana. The frozen package doubles as an ice pack and is usually perfectly thawed by the time lunch or mid-day arrives. We only use prepackaged meats so we can check the ingredient list and confirm no allergens have made their way into the product, but you can bag and freeze deli sliced meats if you wish.
Preplanning our travel day meals is challenging as well but possible with some effort. Days when we are in between camping spots, setting up the kitchen slide outs etc. is a task we try to minimize. On days that we know we will be traveling longer than 6 hours, we need to have a meal ready that is quick and easy to assemble at a rest stop or parking lot. One of our go to road meals is Chicken Lime Pasta. It can be pre-made and served cold.
You can get the recipe on our blog here. To eat it creatively, you can pre-portion it into plastic bags and eat it right out of there if you wish to not wash dishes, but we usually just use paper bowls.
Stainless steel bento boxes are another saving grace in food packaging containers. They make it easy to store and distribute everyone’s box while driving in the truck. An easy road lunch for us is “Shayla’s Chicken Avocado.”
Essentially it is a chicken guacamole proportioned into bento boxes and served with easy to grab carrot sticks and corn tortilla chips. The chicken avocado sometimes is substituted for homemade buffalo hummus.
Bento Boxes are lighter than glass, chemically safer than plastic and more durable than any silicone accessory you might come across. To keep a couple of them cold without using a cooler, we stack one on top of each other with an icepack (or frozen sandwich meat) in between; then wrap it all together in plastic wrap.
One last creative meal that stores well and stays well is a cold quinoa fruit salad. Whether on a hike or day at the beach, this lunch is so delicious. When we know we have a sit-down location ahead of us to enjoy it, the LunchBots are used.
For lighter travel, we fill a plastic sandwich bag full of the quinoa, and eat it right out of that same bag with a spoon. The plastic kind of goes against our daily practices of only using glass and stainless, but for those times on the road or general exploring we are able to just toss/recycle the packages and basically come home empty handed. Side note: double bag the quinoa just in case the primary bag ruptures, you won’t have to deal with that major inconvenience.
The learning curve of creative travel food is so large; it would be exciting to hear some of your unique ideas as well. Comment below – we would love to learn some new tricks for transporting food and helping us continue to live a safe allergen free lifestyle.