I’m a bit of a lazy cook when we’re travelling around, and I’d much rather be bushwalking or exploring than making a mess in a makeshift kitchen. So we’ve worked out a simple and effective way to take along our favourite meals when camping.
What we’re doing is making the most of a vacuum-sealing machine that we bought about four years ago. It uses a simple process, where food is placed in a special bag and then the machine removes air from the bag. The vacuum-sealing unit also closes the bag with an airtight seal. As long as the food in the sealed bag is then stored correctly, its fridge life will be extended considerably.
That’s great for fresh stuff such as steak or chops or chicken, as not only does the vacuum sealing allow portion control (minimising leftovers) but it also stops food from leaking – if there’s anything worse than blood oozing from packages of fresh meat, it’s having to clean that mess out of the fridge.
We then took the process a step further and started vacuum sealing complete meals. This worked an absolute treat! At home, I could prepare food with all the conveniences around – a cupboard full of spices, fistfuls of garden herbs, running water, lots of bench space – and then cook to whatever style we fancied, without the flies and without the fear of running out of gas from our portable cylinder.
At the campsite these precooked meals couldn’t be easier to heat and serve. They can even be heated in a pot of simmering water (depending on the meal). There’s minimal mess and waste, and if you’ve used the simmering water method, washing-up water is just about right to go at the end of the feast.
Of course, vacuum-sealed food won’t last forever and there are a few tricks to learn along the way to successfully vacuum seal meals. Most reputable manufacturers of vacuum-sealing units can provide hints on the best ways to prepare different foods for vacuum sealing and also a guide to how long food will last when stored correctly.