Friday, 12 July 2013

Caravan cuisine

As you might guess, eating is a major concern when on the road, or once safely set up on a caravan site. While travelling, you have a working fridge and a flask of hot water, and can easily put together a satisfying cold lunch plus a nice cup of tea. Like this lunch, for example, which I devoured while stopped on the M1 motorway at Toddingdon Services, northbound, on the first leg of my recent Northern Tour:

Ox tongue, pesto olives, sun-ripened tomatoes, mozzarella, Doux de Montagne cheese and buttered crackers, apple. All washed down with tea. Most refreshing.

Cuisine fit for Master Chef isn't always appropriate. On the first night, I generally have something quick and easy. This is what I ate when I arrived in the East Midlands on that first night back in June:

That's right: a curry from Sainsbury's, cooked in the oven, helped out with some frozen spinach I boiled on the hob, a dollop of chutney, and a Pink Lady apple.

In subsequent days on site, one can be a little more ambitious. Here's an evening meal from the following day, now in Northumberland:

Roast pork loin, new potatoes, carrots, green beans, gravy, apple sauce and mustard. I remember having another Pink Lady apple. It looks like a large meal, and it was, but then it had been a long day's tow, and I was hungry, and a ready meal from the freezer wouldn't do at all.

Here's another evening meal from a few days later, now up in Scotland, near North Berwick. On the hob, new potatoes boiling; mushrooms ready to sauté; and chopped bacon, diced black pudding and sugar snap peas ready to throw in.

This bit of rough cooking magically turned into meal that seems as if I just piled it on anyhow...

...but which I consumed with relish, in the front of the caravan, sitting at the pull-out table-top:

A date and another apple followed. Then coffee.

My point is this: there is no need to survive on baked beans on toast, or fish and chips from down the road, and I don't. It's dead easy to cook up something hot, appetising, and properly nourishing from ingredients you cook yourself. I find it's practical to do beef, lamb, pork, chicken, fish, and all kinds of fresh vegetables. If I fancy a change, then I can still have a pizza, or a curry, embellished with extra things to sex it up. I don't eat anything for dessert except dates or apples. This is all pretty much what I would usually eat at home - except cassaroles, which would use up too much gas.

If I hanker after something more exotic, or prepared with more finesse, or just want to dress up smartly and treat myself, then I eat out at a dining pub or a restaurant. What I will not do is be lazy, and eat out simply to avoid cooking. Nor will I resort to time-saving methods. None of  my caravan meals take more than half an hour to cook - and with a timescale that short, I don't need instant meals, and never need to have a microwave oven on board.

Besides, in-caravan cooking is a key way to keep costs down, so unless there is a proper reason to eat out, I play the chef and congratulate myself on saving a few quid. There is also the matter of keeping some control over portion size and calorie intake: cooking for yourself is obviously better for that.

Once home, I found that my weight had crept up by half a pound. Not too bad, considering that there had been some pretty self-indulgent meals while I was away!


  1. Black pudding and ox tongue, girl after my own heart...

  2. We are currently in a campground near Georgian bay and an essential for us is the portable grill. We put two 20lb tanks of propane on the trailer and they serve stove and barbeque. As you say, no meal ever takes more than a half hour, and we eat as well as we do at a restaurant. Now and then it is nice to have someone else do the work preparing and cleaning up.

  3. Who else are you going to pamper unless yourself Lucy? Cooking the meals is all part of the caravanning experience or should be. Besides if you like to cook then why not? Must say though ox tongues are not for me and though I love black pudding I never eat it now, too high in animal fat.

    Shirley Anne x


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