Food, glorious food…

We’re in low single digits, folks. Eeeek! It’s really starting to hit me just how much we have to do, how much we have to pack, and how long we will be gone for! My nights are slowly getting more and more restless as I lay awake thinking through everything over and over, mentally making lists, crossing things off lists, and making yet more lists. D-Day is fast approaching.

This past weekend I focussed on food. I completed the first big shop of non-perishable items (who knows where we’ll be for the next one!) and grabbed the last few non-food items on my shopping list. I’m struggling with the concept of being so self-sufficient which is really surprising me. I’ve always assumed that packing up and driving off into the sunset would be easy but it’s not. It’s actually quite tricky.

Lately I have found myself pondering how much tuscan seasoning should I be bringing with us? And do we need Vegemite and Cheesymite or just one? How much actual cooking do I think I’ll want to do? You’re supposed to be roughing it when you’re camping but what if your camp is your home for the next 107 nights? There’s only so much roughing it this little black duck can tolerate, particularly when it comes to food! So in goes the tuscan seasoning, the cornflour, the pesto, the salad dressing, the breadcrumbs, the Lots-a-Noodles soup, the Coco Pops and the honey oats. Plus lots more. 

We have two tubs for non-perishables. I was actually able to replace the big blue tub with a smaller blue one so I must have packed well!
Here is all that needs to go in the tubs. Let the Tetris games begin…

Did you know you can get tinned tomatoes in square boxes now? Yes, that’s a thing! So much easier for packing!

One thing I am trying for the first time, to help reduce space needs, is dehydrating some vegetables. I borrowed a dehydrator (thanks CF!) and set to work on 3kg of carrots, 4-5 large heads of broccoli and 6kg of potatoes. It was a time consuming process and I’m not entirely sure how they’ll taste afterwards but once cryovac-ed with our 12v rechargeable vacuum sealer, the space savings were certainly noticeable.

Before…
Brandon says the broccoli looks like it should have a street value 🤣
The vacuum sealer we have
I may end up saving the dehydrated veggies for times when we can’t get fresh stuff (or it’s hideously expensive) because I’m just not drawn to the look of those carrots! The potatoes turned out the best by far but I forgot to photograph them!

Tetris food packing success 😀

On the topic of food, I also recently had to get Dobby’s food prepped and ready, as he will be staying with grandad while we are away. (Note: when I did this, Lucy was still alive so I was planning for 2 dogs…) We feed our pups BBQ chicken, mixed with rice and vegetables. When you have small dogs this works out cheaper than canned food and is a darn sight better for them (and as another plus leads to less smelly number twos, but we don’t need to go there Lol). So I was needing to get 107 nights worth of doggie bags for 2 pups – that’s 14 BBQ chooks, 2kg of (uncooked) rice, and 21 cans of vegetables. And if you’ve ever wondered what that looks like…

Getting everything ready…
Chooks ‘plucked’ and starting to add veggies…
The mixing trough…
 

Dobby would have just about jumped in here if his little legs would have allowed it!

4 more sleeps until departure…!!

Let them eat cake… ummm… bread!

OK, so we don’t have much call for Marie-Antoinette style cake eating at the moment but as we start to get to The Serious Countdown (as in, super close to departure) one of the things that is crossing my mind a lot is food. I know that probably doesn’t make today any different to any other day in my life (!) but we really need to work on our food storage options. I plan to have a test pack of everything at least one week out from leaving but that’s also going to mean finalising our food needs.

We have a lovely big fridge/freezer – well, ‘big’ by camping standards. It’s a Waeco CFX 95 litre that should certainly keep us out of trouble. We also have a little Waeco 10.5 litre centre console fridge in the truck for drinks and lunch snacks etc. But what about the rest of the food, the non-perishables? When you don’t have the ‘luxury’ of a full caravan kitchen with cupboards and the like, you have to think carefully about food storage.

Those people who know me will know that I’m a planner and that’s certainly true of my cooking/meals. I like to plan my dinners at least so I know that I have what I need in the cupboard and have less decisions to make as the week wears on and my nerves start to wear thin. So how does one meal plan when you’re camping and have to live more simply and with limited space? I can’t plan for two weeks in advance and then buy two weeks worth of food, we just don’t have the room. But some of the places we’ll be, we could be two or three weeks between grocery stores – I can’t imagine finding a Woolworths on Cape York or half way along the Gibb River Road. (OK, there’s a Woolworths in Weipa, but we aren’t going to the western side of Cape York). So I’m torn. I think it’s probably going to be a case of ‘buy a whole heap of whatever I can fit in our food boxes and hope for the best’. Some creative cooking, perhaps? (No, Brandon, there never is and never will be a home for corn kernels in pea and ham soup!)

tub1These are the food boxes we have – this is 68 litres (it comes with quite a good fitting lid) but I also have two smaller ones to choose from; one of those is about 1/2 this height and the other is about 1/3 this height. I will most likely use two boxes this size for food, plus use the half height box for kitchen bits and pieces that won’t fit in the camper storage. So that’s three boxes in the back of the truck plus our suitcases and quite a lot of other stuff! That being said, now that we have a boat loader, we will be able to fit more on the back of the camper which will remove some of the need to have everything in or on the truck.

But back to food – what does one take when one is camping for 4 months?! I know, I know, I won’t be buying 4 months worth of food before we head off. But even just thinking about the basics is enough to do my head in. We have yet to discover what is readily available and how expensive it is, but I’ve been told to expect the worst. So simple cooking is the way to go. We have our camp oven and our Dreampot thermal cooker so lots of casseroles, roasts, soups and the like will be done. I will keep pasta and rice on hand, with a selection of sauce mixes to be used sparingly between supermarket visits 😉 The obligatory sausages, chicken and steak, of course, plus a supply of baked beans. I’m guessing we want to limit canned or bottled foods due to added weight, so packets of things will be popular. We can make pizza dough reasonably easily if I carry flour and yeast, and a good selection of things like mustard, UHT cream, tomato paste (does that powdered stuff really taste all that good??), and a few common herbs/spices should certainly help things along. We can carry eggs and bacon for breakfast or dinner, I can do stir fries when I can get fresh vegetables, spaghetti bolognese when I can’t! I was pointed in the direction of a great cook book for camping (although I’m not a fan of the title) – A Woman’s Look at Camping Cookbook (thanks TK!) There are some great recipe ideas there that I’m keen to try. And the Dreampot cookbook comes with quite a number of good ideas too. So I guess it won’t be that hard. Just so long as I can fit it all in the boxes!!! This is about to become the story of my life, methinks.

Hit me with your ideas, folks! (Note: I don’t eat fish… although Brandon and Charlotte do, so anything he catches, he can cook!)

Speaking of bread, I had a discount voucher so I stocked up on my favourite bread yesterday – just as well it freezes well!

File 6-6-17, 2 44 55 pm

24 days until leave commences, 27 days until departure…