Oh-So-Portable Pesto and Other Travel Food

When we go camping or on vacation we bring our own food.  There are a number of reason for this.  One, its easier, in my mind, to bring food than to have to find it in an unfamiliar place.  Two, its cheaper than eating out or buying food on the fly.  We travel a lot and it would get expensive!  Three, I am able to eat the organic foods I prefer to.  Four, as a mostly-vegan and a rather picky eater its just easier than reading labels or making special requests of my hosts and/or restaurant staff.

So what do we eat on the road?  I've been asked that more than once.   The answer is lots of things, but there are some things that tend to make up the bulk of it.

Pizza (probably our most frequent travel food.  You can put anything on it and it doesn't require reheating, a plate, or utensils)
Pasta with pesto
Curries, usually over rice or quinoa
Stir-fry (a wide variety)
Soups/stews (vegetable, tomato, chili, carrot, chuckwagon, corn, potato, etc)
Grilled cheese sandwiches
Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches
Quesadillas, either cheese or hummus
Veggie breakfast wraps (sauteed vegetables in a tortilla)
Breakfast potatoes (cubed potatoes fried with onions, peppers, etc)
Fried Tofu
Mashed Potatoes
Carrots with peanut butter
Chips and salsa or hummus
Dried fruit
Spiced lentils with rice (which we affectionately call gruel because while quick and filling it is not prety)
Biscuits and gravy

We have a single burner camp stove that runs off of a small propane tank.  We have one pot and one frying pan.  We bring our round wooden cutting board which also doubles as a plate and a lid for the frying pan.  We do tend to eat a lot right out of the pot to save on dishes, since its just the two of us mostly, but we also have two bowls each and the accompanying spoon and fork.  We bring a serrated knife, butter knife, and spatula.  And a thermos which I fill with tea on the first evening of a trip and lasts me through the night and into the next day.  Perfect on cold mornings as there is no waiting for water to boil and tea to steep.  We pack a table cloth.

We tend to precook most things so that at camp we just have to heat it up.   This is especially true of potatoes.  They take forever to cook on a camp stove so we always precook them.  We will saute up raw onions and peppers in the country.  Once Matt breaded and fried eggplant in the forest.  Another time he ambitiously built a camp oven and baked biscuits.  As a general rule though, we precook.  Its just faster and easier.  (And when I get hungry while backpacking it usually attacks with a vengeance and quick food is a must!)
We stock our cooler with homemade block ice and pint and quart jars of precooked meals.  Curry in one jar.  Breakfast potatoes in another.  Chopped onions and peppers in a third.  A small jar containing pesto.  My jar of hot sauce.  A tub of Earth Balance margarine.  Sometimes a jar of apple juice.  And so on.  Then we will also have the dry food bag where we will have peanut butter, tea, spices, bread or biscuits, nuts, and the like.

And it works for us.  With a little planning we're able to travel on the cheap and have good quality food immediately available when we want it which means we can have greater flexibility in our travels--driving or hiking until the mood to stop and eat strikes us. 
Home-cooked food is right at home on the road as well as in the kitchen.  And I am too used to eating this good to settle for anything less.


  1. It is so much easier to take your own food because it is really hard to eat good, nutritious food when on the road. I eat a mainly vegetarian diet, and I like to avoid salt this pretty much rules out most fast food places.
    Lately I am on a kale kick and an enjoyable egg plant kick, and will be trying quinoa for the first time this evening. So many vegetable dishes keep well, reheat well, and often are good cold. I love roasted root veggies, I always make a ton of them as they are totally awesome and keep well in the fridge for several days and reheat wonderfully.


    1. Yes, roasted root veg should have been on my list (and I may go back in and add it!). They do reheat so well and are so much better (in many, many ways) than anything quick I could pick up on the road.

      How'd you like quinoa?

    2. I really like quinoa. I cooked some up last night, and while it was cooking I sauteed onion, mushroom, yellow and green zuchinni, and eggplant seasoned with a liberal sprinkling of garam marsala. Once the quinoa was cooked I mixed everything up together and enjoyed my dinner. Had some for lunch today, and will probably eat the rest for tomorrows lunch :)


    3. I love those kinds of meals. The meals that don't have names. Just good ingredients mixed together into something delicious. Who needs a name?!

      It sounds wonderful the way you made it.

  2. When I traveled for craft shows, I carried most of my food. I did leave room in my mind for one great sandwich at the show. I want food that I am familiar with. I could not afford a gastic upset by changing my way of eating. Lots of raw or dried fruit, a Hershey for each day, sandwiches, salads, and pretty much whatever was in the refrigerator. If I were going to be home at night, it was easier. I packed a tupperware glass with oh and one with milk.

    If I stayed in a motel, I had a can of sardines at night along with fruit and treat that I stopped and bought--a pint of chocolate milk.

    At outdoor shows, I packed a largish cooler with plenty of ice and drinks and different things I could munch on. I would carve out an apple-sized piece of cauliflower and eat it like an apple--whole thing in hand.

    I have never been to a show where a stove would have been allowed. My friends carried a mini crock pot and dumped a huge can of soup or chili in it. That was just gross. But, they loved it, a hot meal and no spending.

    If I am just traveling, I have an open basket on the seat where all sorts of things are kept for munching on. It saves stops and it saves buying garbage just because I am hungry or have the munchies.

    1. Planning ahead makes it so easy, doesn't it?!

      Yes, it is also faster to just snack on what is on hand in the car rather than stopping all the time for something. Good point.

  3. Hi, that's quite a selection there, and while we eat meat, it has given me some ideas for when we go on future camping trips (one coming up in January). I like your spoon/fork combo!
    Just two questions though, what is chuckwagon soup/stew? and I'm not sure what you mean by biscuits and gravy either :-) Thanks!

    1. Ooooh, its so nice to have a camping adventure on the horizon to look forward to! I think camping season is over for me until, oh May, or so. My friends just went on a backpacking trip last week, but there is snow already in the mountains and I am not sure I am that...hearty.

      Biscuits and gravy is a breakfast thing. Typically it is a creamy white gravy with sausage (or in our case bean with sausage spices like fennel) served over what is essentially a non-sweet scone. Like this: http://www.food.com/recipe/southern-biscuits-and-gravy-236284

      I'm surprised I haven't posted the recipe for Chuckwagon Stew, but apparently I haven't. Its a thick vegetable stew from a cookbook called Vegan Vittles. It has a really unique taste (I think its the ketchup/soy sauce combo) as far as vegetable soups go and is very satisfying. The recipe is below:

      Chuckwagon Stew

      3 cups vegetable stock
      2-3 potatoes, peeled and chunked
      2 onions, cut into wedges
      4-6 carrots, sliced
      1/2 cup ketchup
      1/4 cup soy sauce
      1 teaspoon garlic powder
      1 teaspoon dried tarragon
      1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
      Salt, to taste
      1/4 cup flour
      1/3 cup cold water
      parsley for garnish (about 2 tablespoons chopped)

      Put the stock, potatoes, onions, carrots, ketchup, soy sauce, garlic powder, tarragon and pepper in a pot and get it boiling. Reduce heat, put on a lid and let it simmer nice and easy, stirring every now and then, for 30 minutes. Add salt to taste.
      In a bowl mix together the flour and water and stir into the soup to thicken. When it's thick and bubbling, ladle it into your bowls, garnish with some parsley and chow down with a hunk of bread.

      Have a great day!

  4. Wow! A recipe with tarragon. I'm going to have to try it. I haven't had tarragon in a long time.
    BTW, thank you for the postcard. I've proudly hung it on my fridge under my manatee magnet. I have something for you and will send it along when I get Matt's something done too.

    1. Yay! I'm glad it made it safe and sound and that you liked it.

      We have dried homegrown tarragon, but we really don't use it too much. This is probably one of the biggest users.


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