This summer we went back country camping as a family. Normally, our kind of camping is car camping. That is, we pack everything we think we will need, throw it in the van and off we go. Need an extra pillow? No problem, throw it in. Need the kettle, extension cord & toaster? In it goes.
This summer, we set off on a different kind of adventure. One that required our planning & packing skills to be put to the test. Everything that we would require for 3 nights and 4 days of camping had to fit in our canoe with three people or in the foot space of a kayak with one determined teenager. We visited the Kawartha Highlands Provincial Park and it was stunning!
How did we do? Pretty well if I do say so myself…well aside from the thrown out back of our fearless leader. More about that later.
One of my main roles was that of meal planner. No surprise there really. My husband and I sat down the week before camping and made a solid plan for what food would look like while we were gone. I collected the food items and he collected the gear. Our camping cookouts looked a little like Jamie Oliver meets James Bond. We opted to drink filtered lake water instead of lugging a ridiculous amount of weight in liquid. The process was really quite simple, just a little time consuming. We also bought some fancy little burners instead of a large camping stove. While we were out, there was a fire ban set in place. If we had relied entirely on camp fire cookouts, we would have not been very happy campers by the end of our stay. The burners were very compact and worked great. The heated up food surprisingly fast. They pots & pans a little wobbly on our uneven picnic table, but we just exercised a little extra caution while cooking. Click here to see what we used.
Now, keep in mind that we had to keep our food all inside this blue barrel strung up in a tree to discourage racoons, bears and the like. We were also about 2 hours worth of a canoe ride away from civilization. There was no option to run to the nearest store to replenish our ice supply. Everything we ate, needed to be okay without refrigeration. We had to get creative and by the end, our meals were beginning to lack in the fresh & raw produce department. I also splurged a little in the packaged treat department. Trust me, when trying to coax, encourage or bribe children to paddle, you get a whole lot further with a Fruitsations snack they can’t believe you actually bought, than with carrot sticks.
Tuesday Supper: precooked sausages, foil wrapped baby potatoes and mustard.
The kids raved about dinner that night. I think that by the time we ate, they were so famished, anything would have been delicious!
Wednesday Breakfast: fried eggs, pre-cooked boxed bacon – found right beside the tomatoes in the produce section, cherry tomatoes, oatmeal, apple
There is much debate as to whether or not eggs have to be refrigerated. We’ve traveled places where the eggs sit out all day with little concern of temperature. In our case, we chose to carefully select our eggs and eat them for two days. This is not a recommendation for your next camping trip, merely just what we did. I strongly discourage doing this if you have small children, a pregnant or nursing mama in the bunch or someone with a compromised immune system. Click here to read more about refrigerating eggs.
Wednesday lunch: quinoa salad with cucumber & cherry tomatoes, summer sausage
Wednesday Supper: Kohinoor – Baigan Bharta – ready to heat & eat; surprisingly enough the ingredient list on the package was fairly decent but it was spicier than I imagined. We needed a little bread to help cool things down a bit! We also ate it with Seeds of Change organic Indian style pilau rice – a little spicy but delicious.
Thursday Breakfast: fried eggs, pre-cooked bacon, tomatoes, oatmeal, apple
Thursday Lunch: soup, summer sausage
While many just add water soups are abundant in questionable ingredients, you can find pretty decent ones too. I let everyone pick their favourites for this camping trip and chose to overlook the ingredient list. The soup that I chose was Jade Pearl Rice Ramen Miso Soup. It was yummy and nutritionist approved!
Thursday Supper: The Spice Tailor – Punjabi Channa Masala Daal – seriously delicious and again a pretty good ingredient list. More Seeds of Change organic Indian style pilau rice.
Friday Breakfast: oatmeal, apple
Snacks : snap peas, mini cucumbers, cherry tomatoes, apples, cherries, trail mix, Larabars, pepperettes, Dad’s cookies, Enjoy Life gluten free cookies, canned tuna, fuzzy peaches, marshmallows, granola bars, rice krispie squares, Fruitsations fruit roll, Fruit to Go, dried mango, dehydrated hummus mix that just needed water
Drinks: filtered water, Nestea iced tea powder (I chose this because we were drinking lake water and had been warned by others that sometimes the taste can take a little getting used to. I searched a bunch of different options and ultimately, this was the best choice for our family. I knew the kids would drink it and there were no artificial sweeteners in it.,) & wine for the grown ups – they actually sell wine in tetra paks!
As you can see there were some nutritional highlights…and also some lowlights. This is where balance comes in. Normally, our family intake of fresh and raw foods is considerably better. This allows us to deviate from our normal diet from time to time without the worry of nutrient deficiency or all of our healthy habits being thrown out the window.
What about our fearless leaders back? It has been a slow go for recovery. We’ve been told that he may have ‘sprained,’ his back. While it was tough going without his mighty strength to lift heavy things, the kids and I surprised him, & ourselves with our determination and ability to get the job done! There were a few times on our journey back from our camp site that I just wanted to set adrift and hope that a kind boater would rescue us from our journey. But in the end, what kind of story would that have made?
Wishing you a summer full of adventure and starry night magical memories!