Small cooler camping.

Breakfast in Alabama

Went camping and climbing with my children this weekend, and last. We traveled a ways (8+ hours each way to get to mountains), and camped for 2 days. 

I did not want to spend a lot of money eating out, or a lot of time cooking at camp, which is time away from precious, limited climb time. So I brought food with us. 

This is where it gets tricky. I have a Toyota Yaris, and have 2 children, one big dog, camp and climb gear, food, water, snacks and books (kids school homework) to fit into the car. That definitely precludes a big cooler. Which means that I need to be efficient. 

Last weekend I was too careful about space, and ended up with not enough food for the drive back. Yes, there are a gazillion fast-food chains on the highway, but I don't want to spend my money on that crap.  

So of course I brought more food this time. Obvious solution, except I needed to actually fit my "cold" food into a 12x7 box. 

For drinking, I brought Parmalat-style small chocolate milk containers, orange/apple juice in thermoses, and lots of water- some of it frozen to serve as the ice for the cooler. And beer of course. 

For food, I got burritos to go and stuck them in the cooler, along with baby carrots, a small ziploc sandwich bag of spinach, and some left-over quinoa salad. Outside the cooler I had chicken/spinach/mustard sandwiches I made from left-over roasted chicken, bananas, tangerines, peanut butter, jelly, sandwich bread, pop-tarts, potato chips (for salt), M&M's (they don't melt in the heat), and whole-wheat choc-oat-chip cookies I'd made that morning. No nuts this time, I ran out of them. 

I forgot the instant oatmeal, so the kids had to make do with pop-tarts... they didn't complain. Miles also ate bananas smeared with peanut butter. I opted for quinoa salad with spinach- not great with coffee, but what the hell.

Climbing at Sand Rock (AL), we shared burritos, along with clementines, M&M'S, and lots of water... gave the cookies to Johnny Arms, who had helped us, along with anyone who'd ask him, to find routes, set anchors and belay. And was surprised to receive, in turn, muscatine grapes! which I love... I promptly scarfed them down- they were fresh from the garden, so delicious. 

Chickamauga Creek, TN
Energy renewed, I took the kids to Lupi's pizza (in Chattanooga) for dinner. We ordered a whole pizza, and saved the left-overs for a picnic. I am not really a fan of cold pizza, but after hanging/playing in the river this morning, the roasted garlic/mushroom/red onion slice tasted great- and it kept just fine in the car, outside the cooler. 

Driving back, we shared the last burrito, more spinach, and polished the quinoa salad. 

Lesson learned? Keep it simple to save time and energy. Making fires and cooking at camp is great;  but if I need to drive, set up/clean up camp, pack, unpack, sleep, and actually enjoy myself and the kids, than I must be efficient. 

There are so many choices out there for no-cook, good quality food. Hummus, hard-boiled eggs, yogurt, granola, scones, pasta salads, bean salads, cheese, salami, home-made popcorn,  all kinds of sandwiches... bagels, muffins, donuts... the car may be my limit, but that does not preclude fun, good meals with those I choose to share my time with. Here is to efficient, great eating on the road!

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