Caravan food is often rather like Forrest Gump’s box of chocolates – you never know what you’re going to get. Sometimes there’ll be fresh fish and salad greens from the local market, other times it’s tinned soup and toast, with UHT milk in your tea.
Pack the staples
Some things you’ll always need, no matter what else is available. Here’s a rough guide for caravan food ideas (depending of course on diet):
- Start with the staples – bread, milk, tea, coffee, cereal.
- Add in sauces, sandwich toppings, tomato paste sachets, dried herbs.
- Finally, put in some tinned or packaged foods such as long-life milk, pasta, tuna or beans, to be used as a filler or stand-alone meal.
Don’t stock up like you’re a mobile supermarket, that just adds weight. Keep a shopping list handy so it’s easy to update whenever anyone notices something’s getting low.
Before going shopping, work out where you’re going to be over the next week or two and plan meals in advance. That way you can ensure a variety of menus according to what’s available.
When you have access to fresh vegetables, plan meals that optimise on them, such as stir fries, salads, curries; that way you can save the barbecues and mac cheese for when you really have nothing else.
Where can you stock up?
There will be grocery stores and supermarkets in towns wherever you go in Australia, so supplies are never far away. Remember, though, that prices might be high because you’re paying transport costs to the middle of nowhere, so try these local alternatives:
- Farmers’ markets. Most towns have markets, usually on weekends, offering fresh, in-season food very cheaply. They’re a good way to meet the locals, learn about the area and even pick up some casual work picking fruit.
- Fishing co-op. If there’s one where you’re staying, you’ll know about it!
- Roadside stalls. Always cheap and freshly-picked.
If you really don’t feel like facing the supermarket while you’re on holiday, both Coles and Woolworths have online shopping services and will deliver to most caravan parks.
Meat, poultry, dairy and salad greens all need to be kept cold so don’t buy more than you can fit into your refrigerator or cold stores.
A lot of vegetables can be stored outside the refrigerator. Tomatoes taste better if they’re not ever placed in cold storage and potatoes kept in a cupboard out of the light will last for weeks. To be really safe, check out these tips from the Food Safety Information Council.
Make a list of your best caravan food ideas, things you missed and what wasn’t used. That way you’ll get better at food packing each time you go away.
Keep fresh greens handy all the time, with our guide to growing herbs in your caravan.