It is no secret that the key to a successful and enjoyable overlanding holiday lies in the prep and the planning that you have put into it. I know there is quite a few people that like to “wing it” as they go along but as I’ve mentioned before, I like to be prepared and this includes planning ahead for meals and food shopping. It is much easier than you think and I’ll give you some ideas on what I do to get the most out of the storage space that we’ve got in our Xcape as well as coping with smaller fridges and freezers. You can also find some of my camping recipes that I have shared here
Our food planning starts by drafting a rough meal list according to our travel itinerary. We keep this list with us and we choose meals from there, depending on what we feel like having. I’m not a fan of a set menu but planning for the meals works like a charm.
We like to get the big distances covered in the beginning of the trip, whilst everyone is still up to spending long days on the road. This usually means that we spend the first night or two at a BnB or somewhere where we can have dinner at a restaurant. We definitely do not feel like cooking dinner after a long day traveling and this arrangement works out well for us. We also use this principal when we know that we will be traveling more than 600 kilometres per day. We also have a few go-to camping meals that we like to prepare when we do not feel like having a braai or potjiekos. These include the following
- Vetkoek and mince
- Roosterkoek burgers
- Spaghetti bolognaise
- Curry and rice
All these meals mentioned are easy to prepare and need minimal ingredients. We try to plan our meals so that we can use the same ingredients in most of the meals, as this frees up space in your food cupboard. You can find ready to cook Vetkoek, bread and roosterkoek mixes at most camping stores and we have started experimenting with making our own mixes in advance, to save time. Speaking off, preparing meals in advance is another time saving exercise. There is a plethora of salads that you can prepare in advance and bottle to take on your camping trips and you can prepare meals like lasagna and cottage pie in foil containers to put in your freezer; just heat up over the fire or gas and your dinner is sorted.
Getting back to your itinerary, we plan for meals such as potjiekos and fruit salad on days after we would have done shopping for fresh vegetables and fruits. We try to plan our trips so that we get to a main town every five days or so, as this eliminates the need to store a whole lot of fresh food for a long time. We’ve also learnt by know that we don’t eat big meals during our overlanding trips so instead of planning a spread of three salads and starch with our braai, we’ll rather make mieliepap and tomato and onion sauce with one or two types of meat. On our first two trips to Botswana, we returned home with half of the food that we took with us so we have learned to be strict and frugal when we do food shopping for our holidays.
After we have completed our meal planning, we make a list of all the ingredients that we will need per meal. We cross out all the double ingredients to get our final shopping list. We then split the shopping list according to our planned stopovers on our route and we do our first round of shopping. We use an app from the iOS store that is amazing – it is called Bring! and you can sync a few different users to the same shopping lists. Planning like this will also save you money as you won’t buy more than you need. Contrary to popular belief, most of our local grocery stores can be found throughout Southern Africa and stores like Spar, Pick n Pay and Choppies stock the same products as what you will find on their shelves in South Africa, at mostly the same prices. Meat products are of an excellent quality and in most cases, cheaper than in South Africa. Due to the recent South African outbreaks of foot and mouth disease as well as swine flu, almost all our neighboring countries have implemented a ban on importing raw meats from South Africa and the list of prohibited products is quite long. My advice would be to buy what you need in the country you are traveling in, and to take pre-prepared meals with you for your first couple of nights. You can also take reasonable amounts of alcohol across the border and we like to take bottled water and snacks from home, as these luxury items tends to be more expensive over there, than at home.
The idea is not to starve or eat poorly whilst you are on holiday but you also don’t want to end up cooking for most of the day whilst on your trip of a lifetime. With some good planning and forward thinking you can still relax and eat well. I hope you find some of my ideas helpful, and let me know if you have any tricks that you would like to share, the easier, the better….