In praise of slop – the underrated king of camping cuisine
Fast freeze-dried meals and elegant camp-cooked entrees are delicious, but sometimes practicality is all that matters
You can cook some amazing dishes at camp. Investing in one of the best camping stoves makes life a lot easier (even more so if it's one of the best double burners), but even with a little planning, even a tiny Trangia can help you lay on a mini feast that you wouldn't be ashamed to share at home.
However, sometimes that's not what you need. Sometimes you just need slop.
There's no recipe for slop – it's simply food tossed in a pot, heated in some way, thrown into bowls, and devoured in your tent porch while staring out at the rain. If you've not enjoyed it before, it might seem every bit as unappetizing as its name suggests – like prison loaf (opens in new tab) in semi-liquid form – but when you're tired and cold, and need a fuss-free, cheap meal, it's ideal.
Yes, you could opt for a freeze-dried meal, and that would probably be the more civilized option, but slop has a few advantages: it's cheaper, if you plan it right there should be no plastic waste, and it should feature some fresh veggies. You can also tailor it to suit your needs, and whatever you have in the pantry.
How to make slop
It was my husband (then boyfriend) who first introduced me to the stuff, and his standard recipe consists of dried wholewheat pasta, canned chopped tomatoes, canned mixed beans, an onion, carrots (clumsily scraped and chopped with a Swiss Army knife on a plastic camping plate for authenticity), herbes de Provence (or herbs DP, which is a staple in most of his cooking for some reason), and Worcestershire sauce. Top with cheddar cheese, if you're feeling fancy.
That might sound repulsive, but nutritionally it's pretty respectable, and actually not a million miles from a sort of veggie spaghetti bolognaise if you don't think about it too hard. Best of all, there's only one pot to clean, and you can do the whole thing over a little spirit burner in a few minutes.
Want a meaty option? Fry a little bacon or sausage in the pot with the onion, set aside while you boil the pasta, then mix in everything else. When it's ready, add the meat back in until it's all piping hot.
Not into tomatoes? Pinterest is a surprisingly good resource for alternative slop recipes, including this list curated by the incongruously named Pampered Chef Lady (opens in new tab). Bon appetit!
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Cat is the editor of Advnture, She’s been a journalist for 13 years, and was fitness and wellbeing editor on TechRadar before joining the Advnture team in 2022. She’s a UK Athletics qualified run leader, and in her spare time enjoys nothing more than lacing up her shoes and hitting the roads and trails (the muddier, the better).