This summer, we took a road trip to the East Coast of Canada. We brought a tent and reserved campsites at National and Provincial Parks from New Brunswick to Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island. We made memories that will last a lifetime.
We’re seasoned campers – we love sleeping in a tent and hearing the sounds of the forest around us. We love waking up with the sun and the chirping birds. I love cooking over a fire pit – potatoes in the coals, veggie burgers flame broiled – everything just tastes better when we’re camping.
This summer, though, everything was different. When we arrived in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia, there was a fire ban. We have a simple isobutane camping stove for making coffee but we didn’t have much fuel. We couldn’t light a fire in the fire pits provided. We ran out of fuel after making a pot of coffee and we were stuck.
Aside from our usual stock of fruits and vegetables, we had a cooler stocked with veggie burgers, vegan sausages, veggie dogs and tofu without a way to cook any of it. None of the stores we stopped at carried isobutane so we had to eat at restaurants for the first few days on the island (more about that later).
Eventually, we stumbled on the only store in Cape Breton that carries our fuel and we happily bought a couple canisters and a frying pan. Now we had a way to cook our traditional camping food.
With so many choices for vegan burgers, hot dogs and sausages, you can easily blend in with the other campers. But when you run out of that and you’re in a fisherman’s paradise without another vegan around, it’s time to get creative.
With our minimal camping stove, a pot for boiling water and a frying pan, we found a few things in the rural grocery stores to feed our hungry mob. Our favourite by far was a noodle stir fry.
Note: We don’t usually buy instant anything but when you’re camping and using fuel that is as hard to find as these canisters were, you do what you must to conserve the fuel.
Vegan noodle stir fry
- one package of instant noodles
- oil (sesame, canola, grape seed – whatever)
- one block of tofu
- seasoning (Herbamare is great but use what you can find and what you like)
- one package of broccoli slaw (or another packaged salad with broccoli, brussels sprouts and kale)
- soy sauce packets (if you have them)
Cook the noodles according to the package. Drain and put aside.
Chop the tofu into cubes and fry it in the oil with the seasoning. When browned, add the slaw and cook until wilted. Add the cooked noodles and stir to mix. Add the soy sauce and mix again.
That’s about the easiest vegan meal you can source in an isolated town. Another idea we enjoyed – minute rice and beans.
Camping rice and beans
- minute rice
- can of beans (black or red kidney are great)
- canned corn (normally I’d eat frozen but we were pleasantly surprised)
Cook the rice according to the directions on the box. When it’s done, add the drained and rinsed beans and the drained canned corn. Season to taste and enjoy!
When we’re car camping, I put quick cooking oatmeal in little mason jars with raisins or cranberries, sugar, cinnamon and I leave some space for hot water. (You could use instant oatmeal but I prefer the texture of the quick cooking oatmeal – less mushy.) The jars should be 3/4 full.
When you’re ready to eat, pour boiling water in the jars, screw the tops closed, shake them up a bit and let them sit for a few minutes to allow the hot water to cook the oatmeal. My kids love having their own individual jars.
If you’re pressed for space, fill a ziplock bag with oatmeal, sugar, dried fruit and spices. Maybe include seeds – we’re eating a lot of hemp and chia seeds these days. And you can make your homestyle oatmeal in a pot. There’s nothing like a warm bowl of oatmeal on a cool morning.
There are so many benefits to getting kids out into natural spaces – they benefit from exploring, finding creatures, get to know the provinces they’re learning about in school and they learn to love and protect the environment.
You can make some amazing meals over the fire or you can use some cooking short cuts and head out to enjoy the world around you.