Which ingredients to take camping
Making a meal using just a handful of ingredients you've carried along is one of the joys of camping – as long as the ingredients you've picked are light and versatile. We've chosen 10 staple 'foundation' ingredients around which to build smart dishes for campsite dining, whether you are using a camping stove or bringing pre-made meals.
See our collection of camping recipes and read on for the best ingredients to take on your trip...
This firm sheep's milk cheese travels really well in a cool bag as it holds its form and has a very high melting point. The robust nature of halloumi means it can be cooked in slices or chunks to an almost meat-like texture. Fry or griddle it and have with some salad leaves and dressing, skewer it to cook on a campfire or serve it in wraps.
Unlike an ample loaf, flatbreads pack down into a neat, flexible stack – ideal for slipping into a rucksack or hamper. They can be made into a pizza, either served cold smeared with hummus, or baked with traditional cheese and tomato toppings. Or, go Mexican and fold up some melty quesadillas, or use for a zingy chicken and lemon wrap.
Find more flatbread recipes.
Find yourself a good-quality cured Spanish sausage, nestle it into your knapsack and you're away. Chorizo is the perfect camping sausage as it's ready-cured, so it can be sliced and eaten as a snack, crisped up in an omelette to be served with smoky beans and eggs for breakfast, or combined with potatoes in a hash.
Campfire smoky bean & chorizo brekkie
Chorizo & halloumi breakfast baguette
Chorizo, potato and cheese omelette
Chorizo & red pepper hummus
Chorizo and fried egg wraps
BBQ chorizo potato salad
Sweet potato, chickpea and chorizo hash
More chorizo recipes.
All tinned fish are great for camping, but as sardines usually come in chunky fillets they feel more like a whole meal. Serve on sourdough toast for breakfast, with canned chickpeas and zesty lemon for lunch and with spaghetti, fennel and broccoli for supper (not necessarily on the same day!).
More sardine recipes
5. Rice pouches
As one of the most versatile grains, rice is the foundation for so many great meals. Ready-cooked or boil-in-the-bag pouches are light and portable, and go from cooking stove to plastic plate in minutes. Keep your cooked rice fresh in a bean salad, make it into a spicy curried pilaf, use it as a burrito filling or whip it into Chinese-style egg fried rice.
They may need to be perched atop your apparel and transported with relative care, but eggs are fine camping fodder. Omelettes can take all manner of fillings (it's a good way of using up your chorizo), but frittatas – bulked out with potatoes in the Spanish fashion – served in wedges stretch a lot further. Eggy bread also makes a classic campsite breakfast.
We've got plenty more egg recipes to choose from.
Whatever shape or size, pasta is a much-loved convenience ingredient that rules in a league of its own. Slender spaghetti is best for saving space, but penne and fusilli are more palatable once they've gone cold. Create a simple carbonara with sausage instead of bacon, throw together a fresh pesto pasta salad or melt creamy blue cheese into a mushroom sauce.
Get more easy pasta recipes.
8. Tinned fruit
When it comes to camping desserts, it's often a case of assembling rather than cooking. Tinned fruit can be mixed into an instant salad, but if you want to add a special touch, melt some chocolate to drizzle over tinned pears, then sprinkle with hazelnuts. Sweet, shiny canned peaches with cream are a retro winner too.
Ready-prepared canned chickpeas are far more convenient than the dried variety that requires soaking. Pour them directly into a bowl and dress with oil, vinegar and herbs for a versatile side dish. Alternatively, stir them into a spicy one-pot or use as the base for a salad.
10. Ready-made meals
And we're not talking a microwave lasagne. One of the best ways to cater for your campers is to make a one-pot dish at home that can be finished off onsite. A pre-made ragu or meatballs in tomato sauce can be heated and poured over spaghetti, a chilli can be served with bonfire-baked potatoes and stew can be served with couscous. Just make sure it has been cooled correctly, and store in a chilled environment.
Food safety alert
Camping often means a lack of refrigeration, so make sure you go armed with a cool box and ice packs if you're taking perishables. Cooked food shouldn't be above fridge temperature for longer than 90 minutes, and when you're reheating anything, make sure it's piping hot the whole way through. Take a look at the NHS LiveWell website for 10 tips to avoid food poisoning and how to store food safely.