camping meal prep using Tvan camper

Meal planning for a remote camping trip (or any trip for that matter)

Catherine Panich Camping Tips

Stating the obvious trips require careful planning. Peter looks after the “boy stuff” vehicles and packs the car; all those essentials like spare parts, oils, tools, recovery gear, compressor etc. and I pack the trailer which of course includes food.

Who hasn’t looked forward to a hearty meal at the end of a long day? Start planning weeks before you leave home. I like to mix my meals up by having cooked/vacuum sealed meals as well as meals I cook on the road. This way after a long day in the saddle you can opt for a precooked meal. My precooked meals always include vegetables. My favourites are: Thai curry with zucchini and eggplant, Spaghetti bolognaise with carrots, mushrooms and red capsicum (just boil the pasta in camp), Lamb Rogan Rosh (cook rice at camp), Beef targine with squash, pumpkin and chickpeas. My trick is to cook too much in the weeks leading up to the trip and freeze the left overs (enough for 2) in chinese food containers. Before the trip I take the brickettes of food out of their containers, vacuum seal, label and throw back in the freezer. When you pack your travel fridge put these in the bottom. They stay frozen for a while but when thawed will last for several weeks. Make sure the packaging remains air tight.

As you get further away from civilization fresh food is harder to get in your track campers. I remember in Maree being so happy when I found a whole pumpkin. We ended up sharing it of course. If you are going to the Big Red Bash or Birdsvile Races don’t depend on buying a whole lot of provisions in the surrounding townships. We found everyone at an outdoor concert on Saturday afternoon with the supermarket well and truly closed.

This is the list I put together for our Hay River (North Simpson Desert) trip and was the basis for our Canning Stock Route trip where we had to plan for 20 days remote. On the Hay River trip we were away for about 3 weeks but only 8 days of this was in remote country, i.e. no shopping.

What you forget you don’t have unless someone else on the convoy is willing to share. At the end of the day every town has a super market so you may be able to pick up that forgotten item and treats. I like to buy all my basics from my local (known) supermarket and have a full pantry (labelled boxes under the bed of the Tvan) to start with.

It’s amazing what you can find, when using ‘travel’ selection criteria. There are so many packaged salads now. Try them at home first. Look for already vacuum sealed food eg smoked salmon, kransky, chorizo. Dried vegetables are lighter and smaller than tinned. Containers must be easily disposed of and light. Food must be nutritious, tasty and easily cooked or warmed up. Variety is essential. Once you have your food plan creating a shopping list is easy and shopping actually fun.

Breakfast could be

  • Pancakes (packet premix) with maple syrup or tinned/vacuum sealed fruit (nice Sunday special)
  • Bacon & eggs or scrambled eggs
  • French toast with maple syrup (layover day special)
  • Muesli, toast
  • Yogurt (make your own)
  • Dried fruit and nuts, tinned fruit (Goulburn Valley fruit in a plastic container)
  • Long life juice and milk
  • Tea, coffee, cocoa or hot chocolate

Lunch can include

  • Canned or packets (lighter, easier to dispose) tuna, salmon, sardines
  • Ham, cheese etc
  • Instant or package soup
  • Baked beans
  • Grained bread, Pita bread, wholemeal wraps, Nan
  • Vegemite, peanut butter, hommus
  • Sprouts (make your own), tomato, cucumber, capsicum, lettuce
  • Beetroot, tinned asparagus when the tomatoes and lettuce are finished
  • Leftovers in wraps with grated cheese
  • Butter, mayonnaise, mustard
  • Tang (if you need a change from plain water)
  • Apples and oranges, these last the best. Eat any soft fruit first.

Dinner (depending on supply vegetables are fresh, tinned or dried)

  • Supermarket roasted chicken. Left overs make wonderful sandwiches
  • Schnitzel, sautéed tinned potatoes, peas
  • Tuna and pasta with dried vegetables
  • Creamy smoked salmon with zucchini and pasta
  • Chicken curry, rice, dried green beans
  • Apricot chicken, rice, dried vegies
  • Stew with carrots, celery (cooked and vacuum sealed) and mashed potatoes (packet)
  • Spaghetti bolognaise, with mushrooms and capsicum (meat/sauce cooked and vacuum sealed)
  • Sausage or kransky or chorizo with onion, baked beans and tinned capsicum (this is such a simple, quick nutritious standby)
  • Onion & garlic omelette and potato cakes, beetroot
  • Chicken nibbles, (vacuum sealed) rice and vegies
  • Rissoles (prepared mince and vacuum sealed) jacket potatoes, dried peas and corn
  • Meat balls in tomato sauce, pasta, dried vegies
  • Tuna rissoles using tinned fish and potato powder, egg and onion
  • Mexican Fajitas (chicken, tortillas, taco sauce, cheese, lettuce, tomato)
  • Tuna Mornay with corn, pasta, cheese
  • Chilli con carne (onion, garlic, mince, kidney beans, tomato paste)
  • Chicken paella (precooked and vacuum sealed)
  • Jacket potato with left overs and sour cream
  • Stir fry (if have fresh vegies) with rice
  • Corn salad, Bean salad, Coleslaw

Dessert or Supper: We aren’t big on dessert, but these are some ideas

  • Scones with jam
  • Fruit cake (fresh and tinned) with custard
  • Nuts, chocolate, dried fruit
  • Apple crumble (tinned apple) and custard
  • Hot chocolate, peppermint tea, lemon and ginger tea

Pantry items (these will vary with your meal plan)

  • Olive oil (light and extra virgin)
  • Salt, pepper, stock cubes, curry powder (I mix my own), cinnamon and favourite herbs and spices
  • Tea, cocoa or hot chocolate, ground coffee (back up supplies are vacuum sealed). We use a stainless steel plunger. Our glass one broke 200K from civilization and that was a major disaster!
  • Rice (standard and quick cooking), hoikken wok ready noodles, pasta, couscous
  • Potatoes, fresh, tinned, instant
  • Kidney beans, 4 bean mix, baked beans
  • Onions, brown and red
  • Fruit, fresh, canned and dried, sultanas
  • Soup packets, instant soup (can also be used as the basis of a sauce in meals)
  • Biscuits, crackers
  • Jam, honey, vegemite, peanut butter
  • Long life cream, Long life milk
  • Custard powder
  • Sugar, white, castor, brown
  • Tomato sauce, chilli sauce, soy sauce, any favourite sauces
  • Small tins of coconut milk
  • Tomato paste, whole peeled tomatoes, pasta sauces
  • Flour, plain and self-raising
  • Breadcrumbs


  • Tin foil
  • Glad wrap
  • Freezer bags and ties and/or Zip lock bags, couple of empty chinese containers or Tupperware

I’m sure you will add to and delete from this list. Happy planning and shopping.

Oh and don’t forget those little treats for “happy hour” after the camp is set up and fire lit, when you relax with a cold drink and nibbles enjoying friendship, the scenery and magnificent sunset.

Safe travels,
Catherine Panich