Back in June, we had the chance to head off camping for a few days. We didn’t go far – primarily because there’s work ongoing at home and we needed to be able to get back if necessary, but mostly because I didn’t want the whole weekend to be consumed with the drive. We’re going to be doing enough of that over the summer holidays so I really wanted this trip to be about relaxing.
That said, there was absolutely no way that I could afford to eat out for most meals so food needed to be:
– non-perishable because we don’t have a fridge/cooler.
So here’s what we ended up taking along.
So, what do we have here?
- Marshmallows! I’m taking two children camping. These are the most important item here.
- 3 cans of sweetcorn
- 3 cans of kidney beans/chickpeas
- A jar of flavoured cous cous
- A 500g bag of pasta
- A jar of curry sauce
- A jar of pasta sauce (homemade)
- 2 packs of easy cook rice
- 1 pack of chocolate hobnobs (because Rik Mayall and Bottom!)
- Child’s favourite tea
- Some emergency oat cakes
- Breakfast bars (not pictured)
- Coffee (not pictured)
I chose not to pack lunches – this is probably the cheapest meal to eat out and as I didn’t know what we were doing each day, it didn’t make sense to bank on being at the campsite to cook.
Where I’ve priced stuff below, I’ve used the Morrisons website (because that’s what I’ve got a log in for), but it’s not really a supermarket I shop at now because I try and fit my shopping in around other trips. You’ll see a ridiculous range of brands photographed below because rather than waste fuel, I tend to buy items from a combination of a mid-sized Tesco/Asda and a refillery near my local library.
Rather than pay for pre-made granola/breakfast bars, I had a go at making my own, using this recipe from Pick Up Limes. In an attempt to reduce the cost, I used peanut butter instead of almond butter, I didn’t bother roasting the hazelnuts before blending them, and I swapped out the pecans for walnut halves (the pieces are cheaper than the wholes and since you break them up anyway, it’s a good way to lower costs). I happened to have cranberries in my pantry, but if making these again, I reckon I could get away with using raisins. Normally I wouldn’t bother with the chocolate on top either, but we had some in a bowl, left over from baking so I thought I might as well use it up.
In the past, we’ve taken porridge with us – mixing rolled oats, powdered milk, cinnamon, cranberries/raisins and sugar in a jar to make our own ‘instant’ porridge. You just need to cover the contents in boiling water, stir, rest the lid on the jar, and then wait a couple of minutes. This has the added bonus that after a quick rinse, you can pop the jar into a recycling bin – less to take home, no dishes, and lots cheaper than the jars above. As we do this whenever we travel, though (including the huge walk we went on), I wanted a change.
Dinner #1 – chickpea curry and rice
We started with a super easy dinner – empty some things into a big pan, dish up, and eat. Looking at the Morrisons website, basics sweetcorn can be had for 35p per can, KTC Chickpeas are 45p per can, a jar of plant based Tikka sauce is £1 (though I got this one from Tesco for less than that, I’m sure). The Tilda rice sachets are £1 each, but you can get cheaper ones (i.e. sachets of microwave rice for 35p each and which heat up just fine in a pan). With the expensive rice, that’s £3.80 for four, or 95p each. With the cheap rice, that would be £2.50, or roughly 62p each.
Dinner #2 – chickpea cous cous
For this one, I made my own flavoured cous cous. Again, this was because we happened to have some plain cous cous in the pantry and I’m very stingy. I used 300g plain cous cous, a tablespoon each of bouillon powder and mixed herbs, and a pinch of chilli flakes. And then because my eldest is obsessed with the stuff, I threw in a spoonful of nutritional yeast for good measure. I’m not sure this adds much but…
I then added a good handful of raisins, and one of cashew nuts, and I shook the whole thing up in a jar.
Here again, the sweetcorn is 35p and the chickpeas are 45p. Flavoured cous cous sachets run to 50p per 110g so you’d need roughly 3 for the amount of cous cous I have here. That makes the whole meal at £2.30, or 57p each. Plain cous cous is 70p per 500g, so 14p per 100g, and 42p per 300g (which I’ve used here. If you’re just adding herbs and bouillon, it’s definitely cheaper to flavour your own but as I’ve added nuts and raisins, I’m not so sure. Either way, those are the sums.
Dinner #3 – pasta and sauce
Again, the sweetcorn sits at 35p, and KTC kidney beans at 45p. 500g of wholegrain pasta is 75p – I expect us to use roughly 300g of this, so 45p. I made the sauce myself from random things in my fridge, put it into a sterilised jar while hot and then waited for it to cool. It won’t keep indefinitely, but it’ll last a few days out of the fridge this way. The cheapest pasta sauce looks to be 65p and of a fairly similar composition, so that’s what I’ll price this as (I used 2 sad onions, some celery offcuts, half a pack of cherry tomatoes, a can of tomatoes, some herbs, and a lonely jar of roast peppers and sundried tomatoes which had been in the fridge for about a year, in case anyone is interested).
This is the cheapest meal of the lot, using the store-bought items. It comes to £1.90 all in and 47p per person.
For the dinners over the long weekend, it cost me roughly (because as I said, I used Morrisons costing and don’t shop there) £8, or around £2 per person. As detailed above, this could come to more or less depending on how much you do/don’t spend on cous cous/rice, and whether you make the pasta sauce yourself. I think the stuff that I made probably works out as more expensive than the supermarket option, but as it used up some things I might have otherwise had to bin, I’m calling it a win.
We did also take our own coffee with us, boiling the water first thing and taking that in a flask so as not to have to buy any while out and about. We weighed it into filters before leaving, and took our own collapsible filter holders with us (pictured above). This is pretty much my only indulgence when I’m camping and I make no apologies for it. We save a few pennies by weighing it out ourselves compared to coffee bags, but the main point in doing this is the lack of waste – the filters here are compostable and the site had compost bins, so it just made this luxury a little more earth friendly.
The rice sachets and the pasta bag are the only non-recyclable packaging we took along, though obviously if you’ve not got the time/inclination to make the breakfast bars, these would come in packets too.
Well, that was a massively long post! With bigger trips coming up this summer, I’d love to hear any ideas you’ve got about what to eat while camping! Do you cook on a gas stove, or a fire? If you try any of the above, I’d especially love to hear how you got on! ❤