Eating and cooking when overlanding

Cooking & Eating

When I’m asked ‘What food do you eat when you’re overlanding?’

My answer is always: Good Food!

Most companies set a budget for food (it’s one of the ways your kitty is calculated).

Sometimes the crew do all the food shopping, and other times, it’s up to travellers to do food shopping – within the budget. It depends on how your trip is structured.

If you are involved in the cooking then you’ll probably be put into small ‘cook groups’ and on a rota for this task.

It’s really not as onerous as it sounds and it’s part and parcel of the overland experience.

Though you may wonder why you chose to overland when you’re getting up extra early at 5 a.m. to get breakfast ready!

overland_camping_cooking_kyrgyzstan
Food prep in Kyrgyzstan

Breakfast

If you’re camping in the same spot for a day or so or leaving late in the morning, a cooked breakfast can happen.  But usually, breakfast is short and sharp.  That day’s cook group is usually responsible for setting up and putting away.  You all pitch in on washing up.  It can be a busy time with tents being put away, luggage being stowed, teeth being cleaned, beards being shaved.  There’s hustle and bustle as people sort their seats and work out what they need for the day.

When camping, breakfast is often a modest affair.  It depends on what time you’re breaking camp. It’s usually cereal, tea/coffee, bread and/or toast with a variety of jams/toppings such as peanut butter, honey, Nutella etc.  It’s not uncommon for people to travel with spreads of their choice….marmite, vegemite etc.

Lunch

When on the road, lunch is often done in a lay-by or pulling off the road somewhere.  Sometimes a fire is made for a hot drink, but not always.  It all depends on time and location.  Lunch can be light…usually sandwiches, salad, local cheese, and perhaps some mystery meat – strange pink meat that seems to be every present throughout the world, yet bears no resemblance in taste to any animals.

Dinner

Dinner is where it’s at. Some of the heartiest meals I’ve had have been when overlanding.  Perhaps that’s why overlanding appeals to me! The fire gets going and out come the spoils from the market.  Cook group on duty spring into action.  Chopping, frying, stirring.  Opening tins when you’re unsure of the contents as it’s written in an alphabet you can’t decipher.  Could be pears…might be beans, oh…it’s rice pudding.

It’s camp fare: spag bol, curry, stews, BBQ.  Rice, pasta, potatoes etc. Things that can be cooked slowly over a fire or cooked in batches in a huge wok or poiky pot.

What if I have  specific dietary requirements?

It’s up to you, but you could make contact with the company before you book and ask how these are handled.  By that I mean, ask for example menu’s rather than just ask if they catered for.  I would also suggest you consider ways you can change but appreciate this is not always possible. For example, I wasn’t eating meat before I went on an overland, but wasn’t opposed to it. It had been a choice I’d made the previous year but decided to go back to eating meat in preparation for the overland trip and further travels. It just seemed easier.

Come Prepared

Perhaps you could supplement your food yourself?  Either by purchasing food along the way or taking items with you if it’s a shortish trip e.g.: gluten-free products. This is very difficult on a long trip though and when you’re in countries where a variety of food is not in abundance.  I met someone overlanding through Africa who only ate pasta, cheese, burgers and pizza.  It was day 2 of her overland trip.  I often wonder how she coped!

I also suggest  you come armed with recipes or meal ideas that are suitable for you.

If a particular food group is essential to you, where possible, make your own provision.  The best example here is coffee.  I like a good coffee in the morning.  I can cope with a crap coffee, but I prefer a good one.  So I travel prepared by using something like a Bodum travel french press,  or seeking something en route.

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Much of the information and advice expressed on this website is the personal opinion of the writer. If you choose to follow any advice you do so at your own risk with no recourse to the writer or Adventures in Overland.

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