Food and Travel - Tips and Advice
Combine food and travel in a healthy way. Useful tricks and tips for planning, buying, packaging and managing your food as you travel.
For some, food and travel fit together perfectly - enjoy one, enjoy the other. But for those on a tight budget, with a large family, and with very little storage, food and travel can be a major source of stress.
Below we've listed some of our experiences and things we've learnt as we make our way around Australia.
Food and Travel: Planning and Management Tips
- Milk. Our family loves to drink fresh milk, but with only a bar fridge in our caravan, it is not always possible, and particularly in remote areas it becomes impossible. We drink fresh milk when we can, and at other times drink 'long life' (UHT) milk, or powdered milk. A nutritionist has assured us that powdered milk is nutritionally sound, even for long periods.
- Bread. Again, our family loves to eat fresh bread, but the further away from the towns we travel, the less possible this is. We choose to stock up on enough bread to eat for about
three days after leaving a town. After that, we rely on 'wraps' (flat bread) which last for weeks (months?) in unopened packets, or fill up on rice cakes, ryvita, cruskits or home-made corn
Many people choose to bake their own bread (or damper ) in a 'cob' or camp oven, and
if you have the time and inclination, this may be a great choice for you too.
- Always have... nuts and dried fruit on hand. Why?
- These products are handy in just about every travelling situation. For hiking, for a snack to get you through to dinner, or in the car to reach your next stopping point.
- They are healthy.
- They are small and light-weight for the amount of energy they contain.
- They don't spoil rapidly or easily, and don't require refrigeration.
- Carry snacks with you. Especially if you have children. Products such as apples, carrots, pretzels, nuts, popcorn, low-fat biscuits, dried fruit and muesli bars are all good choices.
- Consider fitting a car fridge to your vehicle. We travel with a car fridge in our 4WD, and find it comes in very useful for grocery shopping in hot climates, for taking food on day trips, and particularly if leaving the van behind on side trips.
- Carry some type of insulated cool pack in your day pack. This is particularly handy if you don't have a car fridge to store food on day trips, and for when you are hiking in hot regions.
- Take water bottles everywhere. This one goes without saying, particularly if you have children! Pack the water bottles in the car - we have a 'water bottle bag' which fits 6 water bottles fairly neatly, and gets taken with us on every car trip, and gets carried around easily. The bottles can then easily be transferred to backpacks for hiking.
It's also a good idea to carry an extra bottle or two of water in the car (car fridge?) for when you arrive back at the car after a long hike or for emergencies, and it's almost always needed in hot weather on a full day out.
- Be aware of Border Crossings and Fruit Fly Exclusion Zones. At some state border crossings, and at many places in NSW/Vic/SA where there are Fruit Fly Exclusion Zones (FFEZ), you will be required to dispose of any fresh fruit and vegetables, honey, and plant material you many be carrying.
Specific rules exist for different state crossings and fruit fly zones, so it is best to check on the government website: Quarantine Domestic what the rules are for the region you will be travelling to.
We've been caught out numerous times with this one - stocking up on fresh fruit and veg, only to have to dispose of it at a fruit fly exclusion zone (different to state border crossings). The trick is, be aware of where these zones are, and plan ahead.
We trust these food and travel planning and management tips will come in handy as you seek to save money and eat well as you travel Australia.
Food and Travel - Packing Tips
- Re-package food where necessary to save space or reduce risk of breakage.
- Consider carefully where you pack any glass bottles, particularly if you will be travelling on any dirt roads or corrugated tracks. We travel along all sorts of roads and tracks with glass bottles in our caravan (eg olive oil, and some spice jars), and fortunately have never experienced any breakages, but we are careful to not pack two glass items next to each other.
- Use non-slip matting in pantry cupboard and underneath/between crockery to stop items moving around. This non-slip matting can be purchased at discount stores and grocery stores.
- If you are lacking freezer space, and will be away from shops consider having your meat "cryovaced" ie, vacuum sealed.
Cryovac is the brand name of a heavy duty plastic packaging that allows fresh goods to be kept fresher for longer. All the oxygen is removed by a vacuum process.
Depending when you plan to eat your meat you can choose to keep products in the fridge for a longer period of time and avoid freezing your meat.
According to 'The Free Range Butcher', there are some effects of using Cryovac packaging, such as a deterioration in the surface quality of the meat. The meat will change to a darker red colour while in the packaging due to the lack of exposure to oxygen. The meat will also sweat while in the packaging and this can result in an unpleasant smell when you first open the packaging (this is not an indication of the freshness of the meat).
To overcome both of these effects, all you need to do is when you’re ready to eat your meat, simply remove it from the packaging and leave it out for 10-15 minutes. When out of the packaging and exposed to oxygen again the meat will return to the usual red colour. Once you’ve removed the meat, simply rinse out the bag and throw it in the bin and the smell will disappear too.
- Cryovacing is particularly useful when spending a long time away from shops eg Gibb River Road, Desert tracks, Nullarbor Plain
- Meat doesn't need to be frozen, and will last quite a long time refrigerated. A conservative estimate is:
- Beef will last the longest: 3-4 weeks at 1 degree celcius.
- Lamb: 2-3 weeks
- White meats: 10 days
- Sausages and mince: 1 week
- Meat portion takes up less refrigerator space (due to removal of air).
- Less risk of packaging deteriorating and meat spoiling (and creating a big mess). But do be extra careful with any meat which has bones, as it can pierce the packaging.
- Costs approximately $1 per package of meat if done by the butcher at time of purchase. (Some will cryovac at no extra cost.)
- Most butchers and even supermarkets in remote areas will be familiar with the request to cryovac meats. Many butchers in town and regional areas will also have the equipment to
cryovac upon request.
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