Supermarket sweep

Outdoor shops will happily sell you Mountain House or Travellunch freeze dried meals, and whilst convenient they rarely live up to expectations – especially considering their £4.50+ price tag. Non-dried alternatives are available from the same outlets, such as the infamous Wayfarer meals. I find these better tasting but the price is still a killer – its hard for me to justify spending £4 on a bit of chocolate sponge cake.

Recently I went on a bit of a hunt for some of the finest and most convenient supermarket camping bargains. My hunt was inspired by a post on the One Swedish Summer blog and a thread on the Bushcraft UK forum. Everything here can be had for less than half the cost of a Wayfarer pudding and most is easily available even at the most ropey-looking rural Spar outlet. Lets eat.

Ainsley Harriott Cous Cous
Price: 78p (Asda)
Kcal: 388
Add a bit of boiling water, wait five minutes and you’ve got two servings of flavourful cous cous ready to go. I find its a bit better if you add some salami and a bit of olive oil and will easily make a filling evening meal. There’s plenty of flavours available and it can often be found on offer.

P1020773

Instant rice
Price: 50p (Poundworld)
Kcal: 368
Designed for the microwave, there’s plenty of varieties of this instant rice available with Uncle Ben’s probably producing the best known products. Steam it for a couple of minutes by shoving it in a pan with 30ml of water. Some varieties taste ok by themselves but those such as the one pictured work best when you add a packet of sauce – a favourite of mine being Blue Dragon Hoi Sin and Garlic.

Instant rice

Super Noodles
Price: 50p (Poundworld)
Kcal: 528
Easy as you like. Stick them in some boiling water with a packet of beef flavoured powder (containing a generous helping of questionable additives), simmer for four minutes and then you’re ready to go. Its probably worth noting: If you expect Super Noodles to taste like actual beef then you’re likely to be disappointed, but they’re pretty satisfying nonetheless when you’re freezing your arse off in a tent.

Super Noodles

Spam with real Bacon
Price: £1 (Poundworld)
Kcal: ~600!
How do you improve salty, fatty pork in a can? Add 15% smoked bacon. It might contain all of your daily saturated fat and most of your daily salt but when it’s fried up – my god it tastes great! Share it with a friend if you feel guilty, but be prepared for that friend to love you forever.

Spam with bacon

John West Tuna with a Twist
Price: £1 (Asda)
Kcal: 112
Comes in three flavours, doesn’t need refrigerating and tastes great. No complaints with this fishy little number; it’s especially good in a tortilla wrap or a pitta.

Tuna Pouch

Quaker Oat So Simple
Price: £2.29 for 10 sachets (Asda)
Kcal: 215 per sachet (when made up with semi skimmed milk)
A camping breakfast staple, especially when the bacon’s gone AWOL. I like to empty a couple of sachets into a zip lock bag with a few tablespoons of Coffee Mate or Marvel and then just add boiling water in camp. Makes a quick and easy breakfast with plenty of calories to get you up and at ’em. You can even chuck in some dried fruit if you’re feeling a bit wild, but try not to take it too far.

Quaker Oats

Heinz Pasta Pouches
Price: 59p (B&M)
Kcal: 318 (varies by recipe)
The young pretender to the LWWF throne. Comes in a few different varieties, most of which taste the same. The standout for me is the bolognese one. Heat it up in a pan for 2 or 3 minutes because boiling in the bag will take an age due to the thick packaging.

Heinz Pasta Pouch

Look What We Found
Price: £1.99 (Sainsburys)
Kcal: 289 (varies by recipe)
The rockstar amongst supermarket camping foods. LWWF make a great range of meals that can either be boiled in the bag or heated up in a pan in a few minutes. Personally I’m not a fan of the stew-type recipes but everything else, including the curries, chilli and meatballs are pretty damn good. Make sure you bring two though as the calorie count is fairly low compared to other foods on this list.

LWWF

Finally, the wildcard. Clearly bacon requires refrigeration but can survive a night in the pack and can be the highlight of any summit breakfast (or dinner for that matter). Make mine smoked and streaky and I’ll be a happy man – even happier if you nick a couple of sachets of brown sauce from your local Wetherspoons for me.

P1020772

These are just my top picks, and won’t suit everyone. If you’ve got any other supermarket camping food favourites then please share them in the comments.

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8 comments

  1. Jo Anderson · March 3, 2013

    Try Stagg’s Classic Chilli con Carne. One tin will generally do for two people. The fat/calorie content will no doubt be on the high side, but quite frankly, it’ll be well deserved after a day of yomping about the hills. Just need to heat it up in the pan, make up some instant rice to go with it and you’ve got a rather fabulous meal that’ll leave you warm and toasty!

    • rcbprk · March 3, 2013

      Sounds perfect for when you’re all yomped out. I’ll definitely look for one one of my upcoming trips.

      I’m still trying to figure out how to get a Fray Bentos pie to cook on a camping stove…

  2. ReidIvinsMedia · March 4, 2013

    Good tips! Have you tried Symingtons Mug Shots? Curry & Sweet or Sour flavoured noodles. Make a quick breakfast that tastes OK, very light to carry. Bachelor’s BeanFeast are good too, I like the chilli best. Dehydrated so light to carry and cheap:-)

    • rcbprk · March 4, 2013

      I’m not sold on the Mug Shots actually – some flavours are good, some aren’t for me. They can’t be beat for convenience though.

      Never come across the BeanFeast before but it sounds ideal. Where do you get it from?

  3. Nigel · March 5, 2013

    Hi

    I still like Pasta n sauce. Have to be the more expensive ones or they are too watery. Also quite like a filthy old Pot Noodle at times.

    • rcbprk · March 5, 2013

      Hi Nigel, Pasta n Sauce are quite tasty actually aren’t they? If i recall you have to add milk to them – how do you get around that when you’re out and about?

  4. brightmanoutdoors · May 16, 2013

    Thanks for the post, a man after my own heart, trying to avoid unnecessary spending. Its a tough nut to crack in my opinion – do you take tins of food with plenty of nutrition but bulky refuse afterwards? Or sachets of dried pasta which provide carbohydrates but lack other nutrients? If you can get hold of them for free/on the cheap through a friend in the military, the Operational Ration Pack (ORP) answers all our prayers. Otherwise i use a combination – Oatso Simple pots/Tesco equivalent for breakfast (just add water), sugary snacks/bars during hillwalking to maintain blood sugar (eg Nature Valley granola bars) and then a tin of Tesco chicken jalfrezi (protein to repair muscles) and a bag of Tesco basmati rice (small perforated bags, drop in boiling water) for dinner.

    • rcbprk · May 19, 2013

      Thanks for the comment. A standard menu for me would be a breakfast of Oatso Simple porridge (apple and blueberry flavour) or bacon if I’m feeling lavish, snacking on homemade trail mix (nuts, dried fruit and a pack of minstrels) before having a proper packed lunch for dinner. Evening meal is generally a three course affair of soup, LWWF pouch with rice and then something sweet. LWWF negates the problem of packing cans in/out but on their own they are fairly low in calories.

      I try and have a balanced-ish diet but it does tend towards protein and carbohydrates. And maybe a bit of rum…

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