A Month of Dinners
Food preparation for a big trip can be one of the most difficult tasks. Life seems to get even busier in the lead up, and it can seem almost impossible to get away.
We recently returned from a month long trip on assignment for Hema Maps through WA, SA, QLD and NSW. We were only two, Martin and I, and although there would be some shops along the way, we weren't sure what they would stock, and besides that we wanted to avoid time spent thinking about food while we were away.
For our longer trips we try to keep things simple. So this is what we packed, how we packaged things, and the meals we planned for our time away.
In one of our easy access totes we packed a pantry of vegetables. Each pack has a ziplock and we cut off the top which is sealed for storage so they were ready to go. For our menu we packed Beans, Broccoli, Cauliflower, Mushrooms, Peas and Potatoes.
Campers Pantry vegetables are Tasmanian produce simply freeze-dried. They are long life, full of nutrients, taste really good and are really simple to cook with.
In our next tote we packed tins of tomatoes, tomato paste, rice, gnocchi, curry paste, dehydrated coconut milk, onions and garlic.
Our next bag was our resupply duffle. This one carried two boxes of extra vegetables, more dry top ups and another kilo of coffee!
On to protein. Our local butcher kindly cryovaced our order in to individual meal portions. Their advice around longevity matched up with our google research. In a 2 degree fridge mince and chicken can last for a week and lean red meats like lamb and beef for 3 weeks. For this trip we deep froze most of the meat to extend this time. It usually takes about a week to defrost, so this extra week can safely be added to the time.
Quality cryovac packets rarely break, in fact it's never happened to us - so a clean fridge is a bonus of packing with this method. We also the butcher not to use trays with the meat, this makes the meat more compact and also minimises messy waste on the road.
To keep our meat frozen for a week in a fridge we pack it as a block and then cover it with a layer of closed cell foam. We leave our meat for our first meals separate, defrosted and ready to go.
So this is our 47L ARB fridge. You can see there is plenty of room spare. Beer, cool water, milk, salad for lunches, cheese, yoghurt, fruit and chocolate can all still fit no problems.
It's amazing how easy it is to fit everything when vegetables become a dry good.
We packed 24 meals and allowed for some pub meals along the way.
Our actual meals were:
6 x lamb or beef and vegetable stews (peas, beans, mushrooms, potatoes)
2 x flame grilled chicken with a side of mixed vegetables with a dash of sesame oil (cauliflower beans, mushrooms)
4 x gnocchi bolognaise with vegetables and parmesan (peas, beans)
6 x charred steaks with lightly buttered mixed vegetable (broccoli, peas, carrots)
6 x singaporean style mixed vegetable curry served on basmati rice (broccoli, cauliflower, beans, peas, mushrooms)
We planned the vegetable quantities by 0.5 pack of the vegetable listed above per meal. It's pretty easy to get a feel for, but it might be worth a couple of test meals at home to adjust the quantities to your group size, culinary preferences and favourite meals.
We spent far less time planning, packing and managing food before and during this trip than ever before, and the meals all turned out well.