One of the challenges when camping, particularly when camping as a family, is minimizing the amount of refuse generated during the trip. In a campground, minimizing garbage means fewer trips to the dumpsters and a cleaner camp. Outside of established campgrounds, minimizing the amount of trash generated is even more important, since there are no garbage cans to dispose of it.
A big source of camping refuse is food packaging. Much of the prepackaged food that serves us so well on camping trips, unfortunately comes with lots of cardboard, foil, aluminum and plastic waste that must be packed home. Clearly, reducing the amount of packaging-related refuse taken to the woods has a positive impact on the environment and is one of those little life lessons that our children are sure to pick up on.
Fortunately, minimizing prepackaged food-related garbage is easy to do, with a little pre-camping meal preparation. An added benefit to preparing camping meals ahead of time, in lieu of taking prepackaged food, is that the meals will taste a lot better!
The best meals for camping, and the easiest to prepare, are just about anything that can be slow-cooked in a crock pot. These include soups, stews and chili; meals that are easily cooked in large batches, but can be separated into smaller meal-sized containers.
The key to pulling this all together and making it work at the campsite is a great product from Reynolds®, the aluminum foil people, called Slow Cooker Liners. They look like plastic bags, but are made from a heat resistant nylon, which means they can be boiled in water – very handy for reheating your gourmet camping meal!
Crock pot meals are easily transferred into two or three Slow Cooker Liners and allowed to cool, before placing in the freezer. To give the frozen meals a more packable shape, set them in square plastic containers when placing them into the freezer. Tie-off the end with a rubber band or twisty-tie, and the resulting frozen cubes can be easily stacked in any ice chest and, provided you use good ice chest practices, will easily last over a week.
When it is time for a meal, simply drop a frozen cube, still in its Slow Cooker Liner, into a pot of boiling water to reheat. The end-result is a tasty meal, no cleanup, and only the thin and lightweight Slow Cooker Liner to pack home. No cleanup also means no soapy water poured onto the ground and the water can be boiled on any camping stove, so no campfire is required. This is definitely a low-impact way to camp, without sacrificing that homemade taste that is even tastier under the stars.