- WORDS AND PHO­TOS BY TOM SEVERIN Food · Lifestyle · Healthy Living · Lifehacks

We were in a real jam. Two days into a 10-day trip, me­chan­i­cal prob­lems forced two ve­hi­cles to head home. We hated to lose our four­wheel­ing friends, but more im­por­tantly, we ran into a mi­nor food cri­sis: How do we ac­count for the meals those in­di­vid­u­als were sched­uled to pre­pare?

Each of us brought food for our des­ig­nated meals, but we were count­ing on those in­di­vid­u­als to con­trib­ute on their as­signed days. Sud­denly we were scram­bling to ac­count for their de­par­ture.

This in­ci­dent, while not typ­i­cal of a 4WD ex­pe­ri­ence, does hap­pen. A good Trail Mas­ter un­der­stands and ac­cepts this, and fac­tors it into trip plan­ning. Of all the myr­iad de­ci­sions you make, one is how to han­dle meals. There are three pos­si­bil­i­ties, although only two are prac­ti­cal for the av­er­age 4WD trip. 1 Ev­ery­one cooks his or her own meals 2 Cook­ing du­ties are ro­tated among the par­tic­i­pants 3 All or most of the meals are catered.

At the end of a long day, I am not in­ter­ested in cook­ing for a large crowd, so I won’t deal with the catered meal op­tion. It can and does work if you have a club (with lots of vol­un­teers) putting on an event.

Make this de­ci­sion early on so you can move for­ward with your plan­ning. Gen­er­ally this is a fairly easy de­ci­sion when trav­el­ing with friends or fam­ily mem­bers. Even bet­ter, you might have a cook in the group. That’s a huge plus. It gets a bit more com­pli­cated when you travel with those you don’t know as well.

Want to make it easy on your­self? Ask ev­ery­body to be re­spon­si­ble for his or her own meals.

Let’s study your op­tions for meal prepa­ra­tion.

Par­tic­i­pants Cook Their Own We talk a lot about self-suf­fi­ciency in four wheel­ing. It’s im­por­tant for par­tic­i­pants to have the right gear and sup­plies with them. Re­spon­si­ble four wheel­ers never go off-road hop­ing they can lean on oth­ers. Food is no dif­fer­ent. At a min­i­mum, all four wheel­ers need to pre­pare for emer­gen­cies, which can in­clude be­ing stranded alone. A big ad­van­tage here is that ev­ery­one en­joys his or her favourite meals. Re­mem­ber that we’re talk­ing about break­fast, lunch and din­ner. The en­tire party doesn’t en­counter is­sues re­lated to per­sonal pref­er­ences, al­ler­gies or other mat­ters. In the­ory, ev­ery­one is a happy camper, at least as far as meals go.

As Trail Mas­ter, your trip plan should in­clude enough in­for­ma­tion so that par­tic­i­pants can plan their meals ac­cord­ingly. Even so, be pre­pared to help a guest who for­got a key item or uten­sil.

And, you may have a cook in your group—that’s a big plus. On my last trip, I heard “cook you break­fast if you have the ba­con and eggs.” I did and en­joyed it.

There are a cou­ple draw­backs to this model.

If one group for­got to pack a par­tic­u­lar food item or uten­sil, those folks may have to go with­out. It just de­pends on whether or not any­one else has what they need.

The larger is­sue I’ve seen is more of a so­cial one. Ev­ery­one tends to grav­i­tate to­ward and hang around his or her own camp­site. We don’t get as much in­ter­ac­tion and bond­ing. I pre­fer that in my out­ings.

Fam­ily Style

There is a hy­brid model that works pretty well for din­ners. With this, we set up a big grill over the camp­fire. Ev­ery­one cooks his or her own food on the grill. Par­tic­i­pants still con­gre­gate, and there is no squab­bling over pref­er­ences. Those who don’t like grilled food, of course, are en­cour­aged to bring some­thing else. Ro­tate Cook­ing Du­ties With this ar­range­ment, each ve­hi­cle/ group cooks at least one day’s worth of meals (break­fast, lunch and din­ner). That can en­tail a sig­nif­i­cant amount of food for larger par­ties and longer ex­cur­sions. Each ve­hi­cle/group would be re­spon­si­ble for more than one day of cook­ing.

This ar­range­ment pro­motes fam­ilystyle din­ing. Ev­ery­one gath­ers around a camp­fire at day’s end, and then en­joys what the “cooks of the day” have pre­pared. It’s a great way to spend an early evening.

It is nice to have sev­eral days off from ‘cook­ing de­tail’. The di­ver­sity of meals is gen­er­ally en­hanced. But ask ev­ery­one for his or her menu to avoid chicken every night. The next out­ing might pro­mote some com­pe­ti­tion among the chefs to the ben­e­fit of the “eaters”.

It takes sig­nif­i­cantly more plan­ning and co­or­di­na­tion. You need to know all the par­tic­i­pants can cook a rea­son­able meal for ev­ery­one’s en­joy­ment - be­yond hot dogs and beans.

One risk with shared meals is that you’ll get shorted if a ve­hi­cle backs out, as on one of our trips. The re­main­ing meals are now spread among fewer par­tic­i­pants.

Those leav­ing of­fered us the food planned for their meals. Prob­lem was, we were re­ally tight for space, espe­cially for per­ish­ables. One guy lent us an ice chest, but the on-board re­frig­er­a­tors left with their own­ers. The re­main­ing ve­hi­cles didn’t have the room for those any­way. Had those ve­hi­cles de­parted later in the trip, ev­ery­one’s sup­plies would’ve been lower and stor­ing the ex­tra food would not have been a prob­lem.

If this hap­pens dur­ing your trip, make sure you grab any uten­sils, spices or other in­gre­di­ents nec­es­sary for those other meals. They are easy to for­get in the chaos of the mo­ment.

Din­ners can also go potluck style. Make sure ev­ery­one is clear on what they’re ex­pected to bring. Oth­er­wise you could end up with noth­ing but chips and salsa.

As Trail Mas­ter you have many re­spon­si­bil­i­ties. One of th­ese is co­or­di­nat­ing the meals. What are some is­sues you’ll face, and how will you ad­dress them? Based upon the make-up of your party, try to de­ter­mine what of­fers the most en­joy­ment for your par­tic­i­pants.

Lots of other things can go wrong on a trip. That just adds to the ad­ven­ture. But great meals and plenty of food make the trip! Tom Severin, 4x4 Coach, teaches 4WD own­ers how to con­fi­dently and safely use their ve­hi­cles to the fullest ex­tent in dif­fi­cult ter­rain and ad­verse driv­ing con­di­tions. Visit www.4x4­train­ing.com to de­velop or im­prove your driv­ing skill.

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 ??  ?? Cater­ing would be great, but not prac­ti­cal un­less you have a large group with ded­i­cated vol­un­teers.
Cater­ing would be great, but not prac­ti­cal un­less you have a large group with ded­i­cated vol­un­teers.
 ??  ?? Hav­ing each truck pro­vide a meal is an easy way to dis­trib­ute cook­ing du­ties, as long as no one drops out.
Hav­ing each truck pro­vide a meal is an easy way to dis­trib­ute cook­ing du­ties, as long as no one drops out.
 ??  ?? Added food pack­ing space is al­ways ideal, just in case you loose a cou­ple ve­hi­cles.
Added food pack­ing space is al­ways ideal, just in case you loose a cou­ple ve­hi­cles.

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