Camping: A How-To for Food

This weekend, we have plans. We’ll be spending the long weekend (and my birthday!) in the Shenandoah Mountains in Virginia. I’ve been looking forward to this camping trip for a couple of months and now that it’s finally upon us, it’s time to start deciding what foodstuffs we’re taking along.


Okay, this is Alaska, but camping there is amazing, too. And isn’t this view incredible?!

Now, planning a menu for a weekend spent in the woods, sleeping in a tent, without a proper kitchen, can be a little daunting. But, thanks to years as a girl scout and parents who took us camping as kids all the time, the task of packing the foodz isn’t so bad.

(Really, we can chalk it up to my dad’s affinity for lists that has been passed down to me. Everything seems more manageable with a list .)

Getting started might be the hardest part, but here a few steps I take to make sure cover all my bases.

D211EAEF-1C30-407A-B3DF-4A966F6E6616What Are The Cooking Conditions?

I always start with this question, because knowing how I’m going to be able to cook my food usually determines what I can bring. This weekend, I’m tent camping, which means no camper or RV with a kitchen. We’ll either be cooking over the fire (dinners) or using my camp stove to boil water for breakfast, and packing lunches that don’t require heat (pb&j!). Knowing that I have a campfire with a  grate gives me lots of options – this weekend we’ll be using trusty pre-made (by me) foil packets. We’ll put salmon filets in some, and sliced potatoes, onions, garlic, etc. in the others. They turn out to be some of the tastiest meals ever. Yum!

meal planHow Many Meals Do You Have to Prepare?

I find it really helpful when packing for a camping trip, to plan out each meal ahead of time, that way I know exactly how much food I need to pack. This weekend, we’ll be out two nights, so as you can see from the above grid, I’ve planned out our days by food. This plan will be my grocery list for tonight and my packing list for Saturday morning. I’ll just throw things in the cooler and we’ll be good to go!

scoot 2What Are Your Daily Activities?

Knowing what you’re planning to do each day you’re out can really help determine what food you should bring. Typically, when I camp, I like to be pretty active, so I know that the food I bring needs to sustain long periods of activity, but also be easy to throw in a day pack. We’ll be hiking for much of the day Sunday, so while breakfast and dinner will be had at the campsite, lunch and snacks will be on the trail. Protein bars, trail mix, granola, and pb&j sandwiches are all great options. They’re easy to pack, both in the car and in your day pack, they’re full of the protein and carbs to sustain a long day of activity, and they’re yummy!

scoot 3Be Bear Aware: Food Storage

One thing that’s important to consider every time you go camping: how am I going to store my food? Remember, you’re going to be in a wilderness area – you’re coming in to an animal’s home and just because you set up your tent and stake your claim to an area doesn’t mean that all of the critters will leave you alone. Growing up and camping in Alaska, I was taught to always be bear aware, and that included knowing how to store my food while in the woods. If you’re car camping, lock it up inside any time you’re not using it. If you’re tent camping, make sure you store your food in a bag, off the ground, away from your campsite – never in your tent! Flimsy walls will do nothing to keep a bear at bay.

IMG_1460 (1)Pack Out What You Pack In

Piggy-backing on the last point, the last key to a successful food venture in the woods is cleanup. Food waste and trash are notoriously smelly, and nothing attracts wild animals like the pungent aroma of last night’s dinner. Proper disposal of these items not only ensures that your campsite stays safe, but also guarantees that you’re doing your part to keep the wilderness clean, so that you and others can come back and enjoy it again. If you’re in a campground, there will be dumpsters for you to use – we usually take our trash out after dinner every night so it doesn’t sit in the car and stink things up. If you’re backpacking, you’ll need to pack out your garbage and dispose of it when you reach an appropriate garbage can.

Ultimately, camping is the funnest and cooking over a fire is one of my most favorite things. I’m looking forward to a weekend in the mountains, relaxing by the tent, hiking through the woods, and enjoying some s’mores by the fire – it’ll be a very happy birthday, indeed!

Time to Break Away From This Day to Day

People, I’m going insane over here. We just wrapped up an entire week of Little being sick.

Pooks was sick with the same thing at the beginning of the month but at age nine, he’s a much easier sick.When Pooks is sick, he stays in his room, relaxes, plays on his 3DS, and watches Netflix (you know, in between the vomiting and whatnot).

When five year old Little is sick, he’s on the couch with me. He wants to watch the same show twenty times in a row. He wants a drink. But not medicine. Never medicine. He wants to cuddle. He’s hot. He’s cold and wants a blanket. Gemma is allowed to lie with him, but only on his feet.


With all this time around the house, I’ve been getting a lot done… so there’s a positive, I suppose. I’m at the point where ALL the laundry is clean. That will last two seconds but I’m going to enjoy this moment. All the dishes are also clean and in their spots. Straightening and chucking things that have been sitting around for far too long has also occurred.

What’s not getting done? Food shopping. Meal planning. Running. Playing. Breathing fresh air.

Although, being at home with kiddo hasn’t been all bad. I’m reading my third book of the week. I finally wrote an overdue letter to Victoria. And I’m planning trips for the summer! Getting in the summer mindset isn’t really too difficult because Little is constantly asking, “Is it summer yet? NOW is it summer?” Kids are always ready for the next big thing before this one is even over.

As of two weeks ago, my only solid plans were heading to California at the end of August to visit bestie Kelly -and her adorable family- and then meet up with my Chicks, Jess and Cam, for the Disneyland half weekend and shenanigans.

Now, more solid plans have fallen into place.

  1. We’ve joined a local swim club.
  2. Little is signed up for five weeks of camp for the mornings.
  3. Pooks is heading to Florida with Grandpa on the auto train. (shhhh, it’s a surprise!)
  4. We’re going to Florida too! We’ll be meeting them down there for a week of Beach, Pool, Ice Cream. I think that’s basically my version of GTL (Gym, Tan, Laundry for those who have never seen Jersey Shore). Oh, and FAMILY. We’ve got a slew of family down in Florida and I want to see them all.
  5. California!

Throw in a couple of races, the ever-constant training – running and weights, our Alex’s Lemonade Stand, a Sweet 16, Disney Social Media Moms Celebration, and a wedding and we’ve got quite a full schedule!

With all the plans, there are still a couple of things that I’d like to focus on.

1.  Focus on swimming. Since we’ve joined the swim club, I would like my five year old to learn how to swim. Additionally, I’d like to get back into the pool and add that into my workout routine. I was on the swim team for years as a child but haven’t used it as exercise since my young teen years.

2.  Cook dinners, order out less, and focus on healthier food decisions. Why is this so challenging? Seriously. I feel like it shouldn’t be and yet, the planning of meals is something that has never come easy for me. Sometimes I’m REALLY on with things. And then there are times like this week/month/few months. Maybe I’ll see if What’s For Dinner? errrr, I mean BEC can come up with a meal plan for us.

3.  Be present in the moment. So much of my time seems to be spread out between things I want to do and things I feel obligated to do. However, with all of the moments, I would like to try to be more present. It might mean leaving my phone at home more but do I really need to be in constant contact with everyone all the time? No. I do not.


Although look at the gorgeous pic I took just a few blocks down from my house while taking the pooch for a walk!

What do you have planned for the summer months? Do you leave your cell phone at home to disconnect for awhile? Any recipes or meal plans you can recommend?



What’s For Dinner?

I’m considering having my name legally changed to that. It’s what everyone calls me anyway. (I kid. Kind of.)

Are you the person in charge of meals at your house? Do you routinely get called ‘What’s For Dinner?’

And do you sometimes not know how to an answer?

This is what happens when I don't plan.

This is what happens when I don’t plan.

I feel you. I really do.

What’s worked for me over the years is to plan. It takes some time, but I figure what I lose in planning time, I make up for in getting to skip Wednesday night runs to the store because I didn’t have anything in mind for dinner. (I still make them. Just less often). I’m not going to get into the nitty gritty planning details. Pick your recipes, check the pantry for what you have, check the sale flyers, make a list, get thee to the grocery store. Or you can start with the sale flyers and the pantry and go at it that way to keep cost down. Either way.

This is more about WHERE to get the ideas. I get up on Sunday Sunday mornings, pour myself a cup of coffee, and sitt down in my dining room. From there, I’ve got access to my cookbooks. I have… a few cookbooks.

20140519_053343 20140519_053350

What? I like options!

All kidding aside, I have a major cookbook obsession. Last year, between my birthday and Christmas. between gifts and gift card purchases, I think I got nine new ones. But I use them, so it’s all good. Some get used a lot more than others. Some are for special occasions. Some are just to make the stacks look even (not really).

My babies!

My babies!


Pictured above are some of my favorites:

The Oh She Glows Cookbook: Oh my GOSH, I love this book. If you don’t know Oh She Glows, it is a website for vegan recipes. While I’m not a vegan, everything Angela makes looks amazing, and everything I’ve tried IS amazing.

Keepers: This is a newer book for me, and hasn’t gotten a lot of use yet, but the “Jump-In-the-Mouth’ Turkey Cutlets are really, really good.

Relish: I don’t watch The Chew, and I didn’t even make the connection that Daphne Oz was the daughter of Dr. Oz, but this book was reccommended to me and it’s fab. Part cookbook, part party planning manual (which I ignore because HA). I took this out of the library first (I do this a lot, I hate cookbook buyers remorse), but I’ve already added it to my GIANT cookbook wishlist on Amazon.

Weight Watchers One Pot: If you are on Weight Watchers, or if you are trying to eat healthier, or if you like FOOD, go get this. Everything I’ve made from here, from the Cinncinnatti Four Way Chili to the Chicken in White Wine (the one on the cover), has been incredible. It definitely does NOT taste like diet food.

The Food You Crave: Oh, Ellie. You’re my hero. I have every one of Ellie Krieger’s cookbooks, but this was my first and it is still my favorite. Baked Shrimp with Tomatoes and Feta. Make it. Trust me.

How to Feed a Family: Not pictured. Because I don’t have it yet. But it’s top on my list.

Skinnytaste: You probably know the blog of the same name. I’ve been waiting for this cookbook for a while. And there is still a while to wait, because it doesn’t come out until the fall, but if you’re a cookbook dork like I am, you can preorder it!

And even with all those cookbooks, I often turn to the internet. I will usually have something in mind and just start with Google, but these are the sites I wind up on most of the time.

Emily Bites: This site is newer to me but the tagline of ‘Lightened Up Comfort Food’ means it’s already a favorite. Make the Deep Dish Sloppy Joe Casserole. Trust.

Skinnytaste: There it is again. It was worth repeating. Recipes are healthy and have Weight Watchers point listed. This is NOT your mama’s Salisbury Steak with Mushroom Gravy. Unless your mom made that really well and healthy.

LaaLoosh: Weight Watchers Points included. Asparagus Goat Cheese Risotto. YUM.

And that is how I get here.




Anyone want to come over?

How do you meal plan? Favorite cookbooks? Website suggestions?