If you haven't guessed already, you're reading the work of a cheap-skate. Not a hardcore, haggle-you-down-ten-cents, duct-tape-wax cheap skate - I just have enough self-awareness to recognise that we're travelling just slightly outside of our paygrade. Travelling is not all that expensive if you're a little bit smart, but when you have a very small amount of income and a huge thirsty vechile that you're driving all over the world, you have to start being a little bit stingy* at times.
Food is a big one. Particularly in Norway, where you will easily pay nine Australian dollars for a kilo of apples (at least three times what you would pay at Woolworths).
We’ve learnt to live on a bit of a budget, and we’ve found that there are a few staples that we never forget to stock in the truck. Here’s a handful of them.
Pasta - Cheap everywhere, easy to make, quick to cook, and very adaptable to whatever you’re into (tomato-based sauces are accessible literally everywhere. Everyone loves Italian). Plus, sometimes you can trick yourself into thinking you’re having a different dinner entirely if the pasta is in a new shape from yesterdays. On that note, anyone who thinks that all pasta shapes taste the same, you’re nutty.
2. Rice - We ended up using a bit of boil-in-a-bag rice, because it saves on cleanup in a big way, and made good portion sizes for two people. I just hated the plastic, so went back to buying a one big bag. Even cooking it in bulk and keeping it for a couple of days to put into salads and other meals works. (My mum always told me not to eat rice after three days, but I did and I’m still fine so you probably can, just don’t tell her).
3. Oats - Speaking of porridge, I eat that pauper-sludge on the regular, so oats are an obvious good choice for me. But they’re useful for a lot of fun tricks, if you’re willing to get creative and get oat powder stuck in your lunch. I make huge batches of muesli and/or muesli bars whenever I have access to an oven for a night, and they last me weeks. I use instant oats when I can, but good old rolled always do the trick, too.
4. Cinnamon - Weirdly, I use cinnamon a lot. It’s on my “Top Ten Things To Put in Your Porridge” and my “Top Ten Things Not to Breathe Into Your Lungs” lists. I also don’t want to alarm anyone, but I made the most amazing plant-based French toast recipe that requires cinnamon as it’s backbone and made my husband realise I was probably worth holding onto for another year. Maybe I’ll share it one day, if I run out of things to write about.
5. Plant-Based Milk - Milk that doesn’t go bad like pretty much ever!? Impossible, you can’t milk an almond! Well you’re wrong - someone with too much time and a lactose intolerance found a way. Rohan doesn’t drink plant-based milks (cause over his dead body will he be lumped in with the crowd of picket-sign vegans), but for travelling purposes - and no fridge purposes - plant milks are the bees knobblies. They can be stored at room temperature, taste delicious (to me), and last literally weeks, which is a bonus if you’re trying to drink the whole thing on your own. Also, porridge tastes a bajillion times better with milk over water.
6. Potatoes - Ask any Irishman about the importance of a spud, and he’ll tell you the same thing. Potatoes are the greatest vegetable. A high-carb tummy-warmer when it’s cold, and neat as homemade chips when you fry them in oil and let them sit in room temperature for a sec. I add them to pretty much everything dish I make. They’re filling, cheap and quick to boil. Not bad tasting either (byo salt).
7. Ground Coffee - This is the one thing that we have never forgotten to buy - a divorce is just too expensive to risk it. Just have it. I don’t need to explain why. Just. Have it.
Depending on what you’re into, everything else is fairly interchangeable depending on what you’re into. I'm not a meat gal, (trying to convert Rohan, which will happen in exactly never), and so I also always have
BUT, this is my preference and anything you choose to do with a staple carb will be delicious.
Happy camping, poor folk!
*I hate the word stingy, and I don’t really think it’s a good way to describe me. Once I paid twenty dollars for a pack of chopsticks in Vietnam just because it made the woman happy. They broke after two weeks and I regret nothing.