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!