Happy 2020 everyone! I can’t believe we’re starting a new year and I’m so happy to be back here posting and recording. We have so many exciting topics and content planned for you guys this year that I can’t wait to share.
Let me start this off by giving such a warm welcome to all our new students and readers that joined us during the Holidays or that received our online program or our course The Roadmap as a gift! I hope our blog and our podcast is the perfect companion for you on this journey, whether you’re trying to make more vegan choices, cook more at home or find a peaceful place with food.
We just got back from an amazing trip to the mountains where we were in the middle of a pine tree forest, next to a crackling fireplace, just Carlos, our dog Vega and I cuddled up drinking hot cocoa. It was perfection! Our trip inspired what I’ll be sharing today, not only some of the beautiful pictures we took, but giving you delicious vegan meal ideas that are easy to create when you’re staying in a cabin, a rented airbnb, or when you’re going camping or backpacking. In some of these situations your space will be slightly limited, whether that’s space in the car to take food with you, or space in the kitchen, and in some it’s a matter of simply taking some goodies in a cooler in the car, or light dehydrated food to bring with you in your pack. I wanted to give you lots of great ideas to make a similar trip to the mountain or forest filled with delicious yummies.
Going to a Cabin or Renting an Airbnb
Carlos and I have never been backpacking, but our favorite and most frequent vacation is renting a cabin (with a kitchen but usually a small one where space is limited), or an airbnb in a very rural area, where we don’t plan on going into town unless absolutely necessary. Meaning, we plan some of the meals we’re going to have and we take a cooler with frozen and refrigerated goodies, and the rest of our shelf stable ingredients along too. That way we have everything we’ll need there and we can cook and eat all of our favorites with what we’ve already bought. Spending most of our time in the beauty that is the wilderness.
Before we get into those meal ideas that are easy to assemble in this type of situation, here are some things to take into consideration:
Make sure to check the details of the place you’ve booked for what they have in terms of kitchen equipment. Don’t assume they’ll have everything when it comes to the basic appliances. Most will have a stove and microwave, but in this particular trip our little cabin didn’t have an oven! I broke my own rule and didn’t check that beforehand and we had to improvise with some of the meals we had planned.
Make sure there’s a fridge and take into consideration the size of the fridge. We’ve always gone to cabins that had a normal sized fridge that could hold all our goodies and leftovers, but on this occasion it was a mini fridge with an even tinier freezer, we were staying for a while and brought a lot of food with us. It fit, but just barely. Take this into account and if needed, take what you need for a few days, then plan on making a little trip to a local store where you can find fruits and veggies that are sold anywhere, taking any vegan specialty foods (vegan sausages, tofu, tempeh, cheese, burgers, etc) with you from the start of the trip.
Most booking websites will include a section about what’s included in the kitchen, in terms of pots and pans, salt, and basic seasonings, oil, vinegar and, very important, a coffeemaker. Check this before you try to travel with your entire kitchen in tow, many places have all or some of the basics.
Check to see if there’s an outdoor grill and if outdoor grilling is permitted during the season of your stay. We’ve gone to cabins during the summer where grilling is forbidden due to temperature and fire hazards. If it is permitted, remember to bring some charcoal if they don’t provide it. So many delicious vegan meals can be made on the grill, and it’s especially handy if you’re travelling with people who aren’t vegan since cooking different staples is easier than in a small kitchen with limited stove space. If you don’t have a starter to light up the grill, putting a pine cone in with your coal or wood will help you get it started. Always use all the safety precautions of course when working with fire outside.
If the place you’re booking is in another country or city and you aren’t going there by car, do a little research as to which city or town is close by, so you can shop for all the things you’ll need once you arrive.
If taking your own car, which is so practical when you’re bringing food with you, bring a couple of food storage containers (you can put some of the foods you’re bringing inside them to save space). These will be hugely helpful for storing leftovers. If you forget them or can’t fit them in, placing an upside down plate over a plate of leftovers will do just fine, it will just occupy a bit more fridge space and you’ll have to eat those leftovers before you leave.
Some meal ideas
Here are some of our usual suspects when we go by car to one of these houses or cabins:
Some fresh tomato sauce for pasta and pizzas, along with frozen pizza dough or pizza bases, and some vegan cheese shreds. A jar of dairy free pesto is also amazing and it serves a crowd, occupying very little space in your packing.
Dried spaghetti or your favorite pasta, or our go-to because of how quick it is to cook, egg free gnocchi! All you’ll need is one pot and a stove, water and salt, and then you can pair these with the sauces just mentioned or any you like.
Some vegan burgers and their fixings. Our favorites are Beyond Burgers but of course this is to your personal taste. We love to make these on the grill, add some vegan cheese slices, put these on buns with some eggless mayo, mustard and ketchup. We also grill some potato (instead of cutting them into fries, slice them into slabs so you can easily flip them and prevent them from falling through the grates. We also grill some onion slices until charred, and serve all of this with our burgers along with raw onion, lettuce and tomato.
Veggies like onion, bell peppers, eggplant, zucchini, corn on the cob and some vegan sausages for having a delicious grilled feast. Some guacamole on the side.
Some ready made chill or stew that you only have to heat up. Great in the wintertime.
Some tortillas, canned black beans, salsa in a jar and the ingredients for guacamole or some store-bought guac for a taco feast.
Greens and fresh veggies for a salad. It can be simple, like lots of delicious crisp greens, some cherry tomatoes and just a drizzle of olive oil and a squeeze of lemon.
Have a tapas night, taking along some yummy bread, olives, hummus, make some sautéed mushrooms with garlic, any dip you might like and some delicious vegan cheeses, roasted potatoes and or peppers, raw crunchy veggies to serve with dips, leftover vegan sausages from your grilling or some vegan deli slices, and some wine or apple cider. It’s fun, and in my experience, the amount you plan for will probably end up being enough for two meals.
Vegan deli slices (Tofurky is our favorite brand) and some vegan cheese for making sandwiches and packing a lunch for taking on your hikes and eating in nature. For the bread, we either take sandwich bread that is shelf stable, or half-baked baguettes you’ll get in a sealed bag that can also be left out of the fridge, and just baked for a few minutes in the oven right before making your sandwiches.
If you know you won’t have as much time to cook once you get there, making a vegan lasagna or a casserole before you leave, that you can warm up in the oven and serve to a crowd is also a great idea.
You can also make some no-egg salad using tofu, eggless mayo, some chives or green onion and turmeric powder plus a tiny squeeze of lemon juice and agave, and take it in a container, then easily eat as a salad with some greens, or in a pita, bagel, sandwich or tortilla wrap.
Same goes for an no-chicken salad made with tempeh or other meat alternative. I love our recipe for tempeh no-chicken salad with grapes, especially inside a warmed up pita pocket or on some crisp lettuce.
We always take oats and fruit for breakfast, as well as some frozen bagels, peanut butter, and preserves.
Bring some cocoa and non-dairy milk, and coffee or tea, especially in the winter.
Bring all the goodies you’ll need to make s’mores: some dark chocolate, vegan marshmallows, and vegan graham crackers.
We always bring some cookies or brownies, or simply some dark chocolate to satisfy those sweet cravings.
Pack some vegan protein bars and fruit too, especially if you’ll be going on long hikes.
Going Car Camping just for a night or two
This scenario is very simple since you’ll just be packing a few meals. You won’t have the comfort of having a fridge or kitchen, but you’ll probably have a campfire. Here are some quick and easy meals that require no prep:
Take a cooler with ice or dry ice to keep perishables in. This will give you so many options of goodies you can take that need to be kept cold.
Ready made fixings for sandwiches which you can assemble ahead of time or at your campsite and take with you on hikes (any of the ideas mentioned before will do).
Vegan hotdogs or sausages, buns and your favorite sauces or fixings. Hot dogs can be warmed through right in the fire which adds amazing flavor and even more fun to the experience.
Take some chips and salsa for snacks, as well as some protein bars.
Take some packets of oats and peanut butter to add a little boost of protein to your morning breakfast. Don’t forget a small pot for making this or heating anything up.
Take some canned beans, soup or vegan stew, and simply warm the contents up and serve with some tortillas you can warm up right in the fire or a yummy bread you like.
Don’t forget your s’mores supplies!
Visiting a camping store (where you get tents and seeping bags and such), will have great portable supplies that will make cooking and eating easier. Always try to take reusable equipment that is non-plastic when possible.
Don’t forget water and drinks.
Ah… finally we’ve arrived at the type of trip I have no experience with (haha!), and for this I turned to others who do, to share some of these great resources. Backpacking means you’ll be really heading into the wild with nothing but what’s on your back. Chances are, if you’re trying this you’ve done plenty of research and you’ve found great stores with camping supplies and know what to expect.
The question remains, is it possible to go backpacking and eat vegan? Well, of course!
Your main ally will be dehydrated or freeze-dried packaged meals. This means you just need to add hot water and you’ll have a warm satisfying meal to refuel after a long hike. Where to find them? Camping and fishing supply stores will usually have a huge section, and you’ll find many vegan meals within them. Things like spaghetti with tomato sauce, whole grain pilafs, Louisiana red beans and rice, coconut rice and black beans, curry with veggies, chana masala, stews, soups, and even pad Thai or guacamole!
If you don’t have a camping goods store near you or they don’t have a wide selection of freeze-dried or dehydrated meals, order them online where you can pick options to your hearts’ content. Some brands I was able to find online were: the vegan options at Backpackers Pantry, Alpine Aire (has instant guacamole! Plus a limited but yummy selection of vegan and gluten free meals), Good to Go meals which you can get on Amazon (with a wide array of vegan meals like smoked chili, curries and even risotto. Oatmeal as well), Harmony House (with individual veggies, spices and meals to choose from) and you can find many other brands here at Rei Co-op. These are just to name a few. Another great tip is to find some vegan hikers on instagram and ask them what their favorites are or do some light stalking through their stories or posts on Instagram. Chances are there’s a post recommending some yummy meals you can buy. A simple search for vegan dehydrated or freeze-dried meals on Amazon will give you even more options.
All of these need hot water to be rehydrated, so make sure you’re packing water and a water filtration system or water filtering tablets, and the needed gear equipment to warm it up.
Take some vegan protein bars, and I love the spacebar, a vegan sausage that doesn’t need to be refrigerated, to satisfy that meaty comforting texture.
All of these can be taken on any of the previous traveling scenarios too of course, if you want to keep it simple and light on the packing.
I hope all of these ideas help you plan the adventure of a lifetime, to me there is no place that is as special as the wonders that nature provides, and that sense of awe is something I always make an effort to have more of in my life. I leave you with some more cozy photos of our New Year’s trip and if you have any favorite meals that are a must when travelling to nature, leave them below in the comments!
This wasn’t the house we stayed at but I had to do a double take when we suddenly stumbled upon it while on a hike.
I hope 2020 started in the most delicious and fun way for you too!
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