The first thing I ever bought was multi-purpose pot and frying pan set in a red nylon bag. It has been used all over by numerous people on numerous trips. I added a variety of things to that over the years and eventually settled on sets of knives and forks that I bought overseas that integrate into a handle which includes a small salt and pepper pot. If there is no washbasin available, I have a small fold-up basin which is more than adequate. Over the years I have modified and adapted…
About 25 years later I am more organised and have a pretty basic kit that fits into a “Wolf Pack”. It’s pared to the minimum but, dependant on the trip, it allows me to add items. If the accommodation is very basic and self-catering, I still travel with most of the kit as I often stop at a deli and buy a variety of items to eat down the road and will still need cutlery and crockery. One does not need to go out and buy state-of-the-art imported equipment. Many items will pop up cheaply at charity shops, and there are some good local gas cooking options available at a fraction of the price of imported goods. My basic packing list would comprise (as a minimum):
- Stove and fuel, to supplement the braai and boil water or heat a pre-cooked meal. If you are cooking on gas, then do not forget to fill your cylinders. Have your gas bottle key, as well as additional canisters, if you are cooking with disposable cylinders.
- A lighter backed up with matches and kindling or firelighters
- A serving platter
- A plate and bowl per person
- A mug or cup (preferably unbreakable – melamine or stainless steel)
- Fork, spoon and knife
- A variety of knives (paring and carving). I use my Opinel knives as they are multi-purpose.
- A spoon and spatula for cooking
- Tongs, although one can turn a reasonable set using a steel coat hanger
- Pots and pans
- Washing liquid, scourer and dishcloth
- Wash basin
- Water jug or container
- A small wind screen is a useful addition in case of sneaky little side winds.
Don’t forget the small things as you may not be able to get them at the campsite!
The little things are often critical and here I include stuff like:
- Cooking oil and salad oil
- Vinegar (for a salad dressing)
- Salt and pepper
- Spices (include spices such as oregano for salads as well as braai and cooking spices)
- Condiments such as Tomato sauce, mayonnaise, tabasco and Worcestershire
Your heat source is important. Many places do not allow open fires, so you may need to opt for a two-plate cooker. A fire is your cheaper source of cooking and, no matter what people say, there is something magical about cooking and eating around an open fire. Remember the rule to always have a fire extinguisher close at hand. Try and take your braai grids, as at least you know that they are properly cleaned.
Now that you have assembled everything you must pack it correctly:
Have a dedicated storage bin. It should stay packed. Once you return from a trip, everything is washed and cleaned. Items that are returned to the kitchen often get left out on the next trip.
Have a container for all dry goods with a mini container for smaller items such as oils, washing liquid, lighter and matches etc.
Then set up a proper prep area. I know a tailgate works, but a good table for serving and preparation is critical, as is a washing area nearby (especially if there is no communal kitchen). Add a cloth and lantern to the serving table for ambience, drinks and glasses can also be put here. It’s good practice to keep everything close as it makes everything readily accessible and means that you will not have to have people moving all over the place to serve, get drinks and wash up.
We generally clean up after the meal and individuals clean their crockery and cutlery. All waste is disposed of in an environmentally friendly fashion – we prefer campsites that offer to recycle. Otherwise, we take everything out at the end of a trip, other than biodegradable waste. If there is shade available in the campsite then that tends to be the area where I will set up the kitchen area – the shaded area is more comfortable for those prepping food, cooking and washing up. The entertainment area may be further away, also under shade if possible. Most campsites I have visited are well treed. Coolers and fridges should also be part of the kitchen setup. I travel with an electric fridge as well as a hard-walled cool-box which I fill with ice and drinks.
I carefully pack my fridge to be careful of any cross-contamination that may occur and run it 24/7 to avoid thawing and the resultant problems caused by stagnant water. Raw meat is kept in sealed containers, not plastic bags, as an additional precaution – unless vacuum sealed. My fridge generally has the food to be used on top going down to the last meals on the bottom. Lastly, I always make a point concerning hygiene, that extends from hands to utensils, grocery, cutlery as well as preparation surfaces. The “mess” is cleaned up after every meal by the crew who prepared the food on a roster. Evenings are generally handled by folk who do not have small children. I use bleach to clean surfaces and do not leave any food out that may attract animals- especially fruit.
On my return, everything is cleaned and only the condiments, oils, dishwashing liquid etc. find their way to the kitchen. Wishing you all well from us at Cross Country Insurance Consultants, take care and stay safe.