Convenience and portability are key when it comes to packing your camping larder. We count down 10 basics to get you started.
Know what to take camping
Making a meal out of 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 form some smart dishes for campsite dining.
This firm sheeps' 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 and bendy stack, ideal for slipping into a rucksack or hamper. They can be made into a pizza, served either cold smeared with houmous or baked with traditional cheese and tomato toppings. Go Mexican and fold up some melty quesadillas or use for a quick steak sandwich.
Find yourself a good quality cured Spanish sausage, nestle it into your knapsack and you're away. Chorizo is the perfect camping sausage as its ready-cured so can be sliced and eaten as a snack, or can be crisped up in an omelette, served with eggs for breakfast or combined with potatoes in a hash.
All tinned fish are great for camping, but as sardines usually come in chunky fillets they feel more like a whole meal. Serve Spanish style on 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).
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 transportable 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 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.
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 storecupboard puttanesca or melt creamy blue cheese into a mushroom sauce.
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 into a sauce and drizzle over tinned pears sprinkled with hazelnuts. Sweet shiny canned peaches with cream are a retro winner too.
Ready-prepared canned chickpeas are far more convenient than the bagged dried variety that requires soaking. Pour the peas directly into a bowl and dress simply 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.