Getting creative in the campsite: recipes for the great outdoors

by | Dec 22, 2022 | At Home

Words Vicki Ravlich-Horan, Images Ashlee Decaires

I think it’s safe to say I am not the camping type. I’ll preface that by saying I’m known to bring my own loose leaf tea with me when staying in a hotel! Last year when we took a week to motorhome around the East Cape, we took our espresso machine.

In preparation of that trip, the ex caterer in me came out in full force with meal plans and prep lists as I grappled with fitting a week’s worth of food in a mini bar fridge. The key I found was being creative with food that didn’t need to be refrigerated while also using the same foods in several different ways. For instance, where a lettuce needs to be kept in the fridge, a cabbage will be fine in a cool dark cupboard for a week. Carrots, too, are fine out of the fridge, while tomatoes should never be put in the fridge!

No Kiwi summer holiday is complete without onion soup and reduced cream dip, so I doubled up on these basics to make an easy pasta meal. A rotisserie chicken can cleverly be made into several meals from a salad one night, on sandwiches the next day and then in a risotto that night.


Day One
Asian chicken salad

Day Two
Breakfast – Bacon and eggs
Lunch – Chicken sandwiches
Dinner – Chicken and mushroom risotto

Day Three
Breakfast – Cereal
Lunch – Sandwiches
Dinner – Onion soup pasta

Day Four
Breakfast – Cereal
Lunch – Pasta salad
Dinner – Sausages with corn on the cob

Day Five
Breakfast – Banana pancakes
Lunch – Cold sausages and bread
Dinner – Corn fritters with bacon and tomato

Shopping list
Red onions
Seasonal fruit and fresh corn on the cob (picked up fresh from roadside stalls)

Risotto rice
Chicken stock
Onion soup
Reduced cream
Self-raising flour
Salt & pepper
Tea and coffee (life’s necessities)
Marshmallows (because what’s a camping trip without roasting marshmallows over a fire!)


Parmesan cheese


Rotisserie or roast chicken
Chilli lime dressing

Before you leave, make a few dressings and a bit of baking, which will make you feel like you’re not roughing it. For instance, a basic chicken salad sarny is suddenly elevated with a slather of homemade aioli, and that slaw of cabbage and carrot is suddenly delicious dressed in my chilli lime dressing.


This easy to make dressing comes with five left over egg whites. You could make these into mini pavs and take them along for an easy dessert one night or turn them into my friands, which go perfectly with a mid-morning cuppa!

5 roasted garlic cloves (you can use raw but I think roasted garlic is a lot more subtle. If using raw garlic only use 2–3 cloves)

5 egg yolks

2 tbsp lemon juice (or white vinegar)

1 tbsp mustard (wholegrain or French)


sunflower oil (or another neutral oil like canola will work)


Put all the ingredients but the oil in a food processor. With the motor running, slowly pour in the oil.  If you pour it in too fast it will curdle, so take your time. The aioli will get thicker the more oil you put in. It will keep for at least a month in an airtight container in the fridge.

If you don’t have a food processor, whisk all the ingredients, except the oil, in a glass or stainless-steel bowl. While you continue to whisk, slowly drizzle in the oil. This process is helped tremendously if you have someone who can pour the oil in while you whisk!

Chilli Lime Dressing

Double, triple or quadruple this recipe, as it’s a keeper, both in that it will last for several weeks in the fridge and it will keep bringing you joy. Toss it through slaws, or lettuce salads, use as a dipping sauce on noodles …

¼ cup sweet chilli sauce

2 gloves garlic

1 tbsp fish sauce

1 tsp sesame oil

2 limes, zest and juice

2 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp brown sugar
handful of coriander (optional)

Blend until smooth, then refrigerate in an airtight jar.


5 egg whites

1 cup coconut

1½ cups icing sugar

1 cup self-raising flour

125g butter, melted
fruit (fresh or frozen berries or sliced stone fruit are great)


Mix all ingredients (except fruit) in a bowl till smooth. Pour into greased muffin tins and top with berries or fruit. Bake in a 180°C oven for approx. 20–30 minutes.


Corn Fritters

Fritters are a great camping dish, as you can whip them up with basics, such as eggs and self-raising flour, and then change the flavour depending on what you have. Corn is perfect in the summer, either using fresh shucked corn off the cob or from a tin. You can also use grated zucchini, or if you were successful at the beach, steamed mussels, tuatua or cockles.

2 eggs

1 cup self-raising flour

salt and pepper

2½ cups of corn kernels
½ red onion, finely chopped
fresh coriander and parsley (optional)


Mix the eggs, flour and seasoning together to form a batter. Add in the remaining ingredients.

Heat oil in a pan or on the hotplate of your BBQ and cook fritters in batches over a medium heat.

Serve with grilled bacon, fresh tomato and, if you have some, avocado.

Chicken and Mushroom Risotto

This risotto serves four but can easily be doubled. If you have other veg like zucchini, asparagus or baby spinach you can add these in halfway through the cooking.

4 cups chicken stock

25g butter

1 onion, finely diced

1–2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 cup risotto rice
white wine (optional)
1–2 cups mushrooms, chopped
1 cup cooked chicken, shredded
parmesan cheese


Heat stock in a small pot.

In another pan, over a low heat, sweat the onions in the butter. Add the garlic and cook for another 2 minutes.

Add the rice and stir for 2 minutes till rice is well coated. Add a dash of white wine, if using, and stir until all the wine has evaporated. Stir in the chopped mushrooms.

Ladle at a time, add the hot stock to the rice, allowing the rice to soak up the liquid before adding another, stirring often.

When the stock is nearly all used, add in the chicken, and check to see if the rice is al dente. Remember, it will continue to cook a little once removed from the heat. Finally, stir through parmesan cheese. Check for seasoning before serving.

Onion Soup Pasta

This genius pasta is unbelievably simple to make. I’ve added mushrooms, but you could also add cooked chicken or sausages, baby spinach …

Cook more pasta than you need, and then the next day make a pasta salad for lunch by tossing the pasta with aioli (and a little pesto if you have some) along with chopped ham or salami, capsicums, thinly sliced red onion, baby spinach and some grated parmesan.

250g dry pasta
25g butter
½ onion, sliced
1–2 cloves garlic, crushed
200–300g mushrooms, sliced
tin of reduced cream
packet onion soup
parmesan cheese

Bring a large pot of water to the boil. When boiling, add salt and the pasta and cook until al dente.
Meanwhile, heat the butter in a pan and sauté the onions for 3–4 minutes. Add the garlic and mushrooms and cook for 5–6 minutes or until the mushrooms are soft.
Add the reduced cream and onion soup and stir well.
When the pasta is cooked, drain all except approx. ¼ cup of the cooking water. Place the pasta back in the pot along with the sauce. Mix well and serve with grated parmesan on top.


Banana Pancakes

These work best with very ripe bananas. They are such a favourite in our family we purposely make bananas go ripe so we can have these for breakfast. The beauty of this recipe when camping is again it uses basics like self-raising flour and eggs, but also the bananas add a real sweetness to the pancakes you don’t need any syrup. They are delicious on their own or with fresh berries.

Makes approx. 8 pancakes

2 ripe bananas
2 eggs
1 cup self-raising flour
butter or oil

Mash the bananas in a bowl. Mix in the eggs, then fold in the flour.
Heat a little butter or oil in a pan or on the hot plate of your BBQ and spoon on approx. ¼ cup measures of batter. The batter is very thick so benefits from being spread out slightly.
Cook over a low to medium heat (to avoid burning them), flipping the pancakes when air bubbles appear on the mixture.


Skillet Cake
In need a of a dessert or some baking when on camp? This cake is it! No oven, no problem! It is cooked in a heavy (25cm) cast iron pan on the BBQ. Use anything from fresh berries or fresh stone fruit to a tin of peaches – this cake is as versatile as you are.

1¼ cups self-raising flour

¾ cup sugar

120g butter, melted

1 tsp vanilla paste

2 eggs, lightly beaten

fruit, approx. 4 cups (peaches, apricots, nectarines, plums, berries …)


Mix all the ingredients except the fruit in a bowl. Pour this batter into a greased 25cm cast iron pan with a lid. Cram pack the top with the fruit.

Place on a med-low heat and cook for around an hour, or until the top is cooked and before the bottom burns. Check it is cooked by inserting a skewer. If it comes out clean the cake is cooked.

About the Author

Vicki Ravlich-Horan

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