Author Topic: Help me with my 3rd family camping trip  (Read 15803 times)

Offline iamabraineater

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Help me with my 3rd family camping trip
« on: March 30, 2013, 06:42:42 PM »
We've camped twice last year and are planning three separate week long trips this year; spring, summer, and fall.  My wife and mother of my 6 children was not happy the first time trying to truly camp primitively.  My fault, it was a train wreck and it took alot to get her to a state park that we drove right to the camp site and had electricity.  She didn't hate it...thats a start.  We are going to do the same thing this year, state park, shower / laundry facilities a short walk away. camping....kind of.

Our biggest hang up is food.  With 8 mouths to feed (well really 7 since my wife feeds #8 herself) we have to bring a lot of food.  Last year we used a cooler and bought a bag of ice every day.  That got expensive and soggy.  Any suggestions?  Since we are driving to our site wieght is not really an issue (we will not be taking the full size fridge from the garage.  That's just to much plus I dont want to be "That guy").

Also at these type of camp sites racoons are generally well feed and a major pain in the rear.  Any words of wisdom?

Any help would be great appreciated but never expected.

Thanks,
John
« Last Edit: March 30, 2013, 07:09:53 PM by iamabraineater »

Offline chromesoldier

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Re: Help me with my 3rd family camping trip
« Reply #1 on: March 30, 2013, 07:18:27 PM »
When i take my family out i make it a rule that we can bring anything we want as long as there is no need for refridgeration and it can be ready to eat. The only meal we actually took time to prepare was dinner breakfast was mainly fruit and dried cereals with milk that comes in the little  cartons of shelf stable milk made by Bordens if i recall. Lunch was only snacks dinner was a plus if it was heated by the fire but it was always edible even without. Food makes a camping trip bareable as long as it stuff that everyone likes to eat but can become a hassle if you haft to have a mini fridge to do so

Offline chromesoldier

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Re: Help me with my 3rd family camping trip
« Reply #2 on: March 30, 2013, 07:20:20 PM »
Oh the raccon thing coleman makes a line of locking coolers that takes manipulation of a hatch but backed up with duct tape you will be ok

Offline Nate

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Re: Help me with my 3rd family camping trip
« Reply #3 on: March 31, 2013, 05:33:52 AM »
John,

I used to lead wilderness trips for teenagers where we would be out for several weeks.  Our group was 2 adults and 8 teens.  I might be of some help to you for the food.  We got a BIG 5 day coleman cooler.  These coolers keep ice for 5 days and are worth it.  In the cooler we kept milk, block cheese, lunch meat and veggies.  As long as you keep your food above the water line, keep the water until it isn't cold.  Milk jugs can sit in the water.  Depending on the size of your cooler, you can keep a milk crate or something similar inside to make shelf to keep stuff out of the water. 

Breakfasts were usually cereal and milk, oatmeal or pancakes.  Lunches were cold cuts or PB&J with fresh fruit or trail mix.  We had the most fun and creativity with dinners.  We ate a lot of pasta or rice mixed with various spices.  Ramen noodles were also a hit.  We chose bagels or tortillas for bread products because of their durability and packability.  Mac and Cheese dressed up with some taco seasoning, chili powder or garlic powder was gourmet.  When we were in town, we sometimes would buy fresh meat and veggies and make hobo dinners in the campfire.  We also made quesadillas.  These were extremely easy and very popular.  Sometimes the kids would dress them up with some spices or ketchup before folding over the toritllas and cooking.  These were awesome!

For my personal trips I usually bring a log of summer sausage.  I eat this with cheese and a bagel for lunch and cut some up into my dressed up ramen noodles for dinner.  I even will put some in a quesadilla.

A number 10 can of canned beef stew over rice goes a long way in feeding an army.  Invest in a good spice kit and have fun with it.  I would suggest in the spice kit:

Pepper
Salt
Garlic Powder
Curry powder
cinnamon
brown sugar
taco seasoning
chili powder
Tobasco or Franks hot sauce
soy sauce
ketchup

Add any other spices your family enjoys.  The biggest advice I could say is use the spice kit and allow your family to dress up their serving of the meal with whatever spices they choose.  Make the one rule that they eat what they make.  I had this rule on my trips with teens and we stuck to it.  One kid thought he would be cool and add a little of ALL of the spices we brought to his mashed potatoes.  It was horrible and everyone got a good laugh from his reaction.  That was his dinner and he ate every bite.  He also learned not to do it again!   :P

There are some books on camp cooking.  I would recommend the NOLS cookeryhttp://store.nols.edu/store/pc/NOLS-Cookery-6th-Edition-p511.htm

Feel free to PM me with any questions you may have.  Good luck!

Offline NWPilgrim

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Re: Help me with my 3rd family camping trip
« Reply #4 on: March 31, 2013, 02:50:43 PM »
When our girls were just toddlers I wanted to go camping as that is how I grew up. ut my wife's family had gone on ONE disastrous camping trip and she was very leary. Plus, she wanted to go camping in the Olympic Rain Forest (150+ inches/yr), in April.  So I promised her I would do EVERYTHING, all she had to do was relax and help with the kids.

This was when we were starting out and did not have much money, so we went pretty basic and cheap. I knew from experience that number one priority was comfort and for the location and season that meant staying dry.  So I got every family member a set of inexpensive rubberized canvas rain wear and boots. Next was shelter so we had a small dome tent with fly and I brought a couple of small plastic tarps for cover. Then fire, so I brought some firewood and kindling. This is all fitting in a Subaru wagon! Basic sleeping bags and pillows.

We had a small hiking stove to cook oatmeal and coffee/hot cocoa for breakfast, P&J sandwiches with Campbell's soup for lunch, and dinners were vegies and corn wrapped in foil cooked in the coals, with burger patties or dogs cooked over the camp fire.  More hot cocoa and s'mores for dessert.

When we got to the camp site is was POURING rain and continued throughout the 4-day weekend.  I immediately set up the tarps and tents for getting out of the rain.  Then I got a fire going (we could sit on the picnic table  bench under a tarp and enjoy the fire even in pouring down rain. I fixed all the meals at first and then as my wife was able to relax and see that this was a well planned mission (I mean vacation) she pitched in and had fun too.  The girls loved to get a stick burned in the fire with coals on the tip and then sizzle them in a mud puddle.  They had a last doing that for hours.  We went hiking and exploring in the rain. Everyone stayed dry, had simple but plenty of food, and we all learned to have fun on the rain.  This turned out to be one of our family's favorite camping trips.  After this first trip my wife fell in love with camping and we did many more camp and hiking trips ever since.

The success was from me having lots of outdoor experience and being able to plan even with limited funds a well equipped trip to keep everyone comfortable.  If you have not camped before yourself, then I would suggest getting out and doing some solo camping or camping with friends before you ring the family along unless your spouse is enthusiastic to try it and work out the kinks with you.  If the spouse is reluctant then get your won experience and then plan a perfect but simple trip with them.

Offline Medicineball

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Re: Help me with my 3rd family camping trip
« Reply #5 on: March 31, 2013, 04:51:04 PM »
I think NWPilgrim's story is VERY instructive: a tarp over the "gathering" area (in this case the picnic table) can totally save a trip. The alternative is to hide in the tent, which really limits what you can do. For family trips, the tarp option can turn a terrible trip into a favorite. (As happened in NWPilgrim's story - thanks for sharing!)

Offline Nate

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Re: Help me with my 3rd family camping trip
« Reply #6 on: April 01, 2013, 05:48:06 AM »
I second the tarp!  It is must have equipment!  Every time my Scout troop went camping it rained.  The dining fly made these trips more bearable.  We had fun in the rain but it was nice to get out of it for awhile and warm up with a cup pf hot chocolate.

The tarp will also give you a covered cooking area during inclement weather.  You do not want to have food in or near your tent where critters have associated people with food.

nelson96

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Re: Help me with my 3rd family camping trip
« Reply #7 on: April 01, 2013, 08:52:30 AM »
Addressing the food issue in the OP . . .  Using a good quality cooler is key to keep ice throughout the trip, including security from animals.  We use block ice versus cube, which definitely last longer.  To control soggy food we leave the drain valve open and store all items in 1 gallon zip-lock bags.  When primitive camping we keep our dry goods and cooking items in plastic containers such as Rubbermaid.  Rubbermaid makes all kinds of styles and sizes to accommodate different items, including secure closers that can lock.  We cook on a three burner stove and pretty much eat like we do at home, sometimes even better given that's it is our vacation time.  We also often take pre-made items such as sausage gravy or spaghetti and such.   

d3nni5

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Re: Help me with my 3rd family camping trip
« Reply #8 on: April 01, 2013, 09:34:12 AM »


Truck/car camping can provide you with the most creature comforts because of the weight factor.  I too have a problem getting the family into the woods.  So, good for you that you are at least getting them out there! 

My advice on food is just echoing what has been said.  Good coolers, lots of ice, use tupperware and ziplocs for everything.   Keep it out of the sun, under the shade of a table or tailgate.   One thing I also like doing for the first night, take some frozen steaks and put them in the cooler just as you leave.   Pack them in tight in the bottom and by the time you are ready for the first nights dinner, you can treat yourself to a nice campfire steak.   Hotdogs, especially with kids, are a staple for me.

So far as keeping wildlife out of it, will put my cooler and dry boxes back in the bed of the truck w/ the tonneau cover down.  This will keep the "critter" type animals out of it for the most part.  If bears are a problem, in most State and Federal campsites, they have bear boxes to stow stuff in.  I would not lock it in the car, bears will break glass to get in.

Organization is also a key in my camping.  Everything has a place, everything goes back in that spot.  I use big Rubbermaid containers with the lids that overlap the edge...and the lid is snapped on at the handle.   These tend to shed off the rain and everythng stays dry, unlike the containers that have te folding hinged lids.   Also, when I truck camp, I keep my clothes in the vehicle too, for the same reason.    There is nothing worse than wet soggy gear after a sudden rain.  My mindset is that rain is always 30 min away so I never have to scramble if that comes up.

Dirt in the tent is inevitable.  I try to stay out of the tent until I go to bed.   In and out all day long for no real purpose just ends up getting sand in your sleeping bags.   Keep the tent door zipped up, and the rain fly on.

Take lots of games.  I like dice and card games b/c they are easy to pack and don't usually blow away (like Monopoly money :) ).  A frisbee and football can break up the afternoon.  Fishing is always on my list too.  I keep a seperate cooler w/ blue ice for worms. 

Offline Preppin2

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Re: Help me with my 3rd family camping trip
« Reply #9 on: April 01, 2013, 05:22:50 PM »
When my wife and I go car camping we just leave the cooler and food in the backseat of the car or in the trunk. That will definitely keep raccoons out.

Offline andria

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Re: Help me with my 3rd family camping trip
« Reply #10 on: April 05, 2013, 08:26:20 AM »
The dutch oven is a lifesaver for food preparation! You can make soups, stews, chicken and biscuits, etc and only the meat needs to be refrigerated.  Have you checked out the plastic butter, egg, and milk holders so that the packaging doesn't get soggy?  Also, with six kids, I would suggest not getting your groceries until you are very close to the park. You could also can meat before so that you don't have to worry about refrigeration.  I totally agree on the tarp idea too! Being stuck in a tent with bored kids is not fun for you or your wife.

Offline fritz_monroe

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Re: Help me with my 3rd family camping trip
« Reply #11 on: April 05, 2013, 08:52:51 AM »
As has already been said, put blocks of ice in a quality cooler.  Keep that cooler in the shade AT ALL TIMES.  The sun beating down on the cooler will melt that ice in no time.  I have an Igloo Ice Cube that I've used in 90+ trips, I put frozen milk jugs of water in the bottom for the ice.  It has had ice still in it when we left 4 days later.

Take 2 coolers, 1 for all the food, the other for drinks.  That will really help keep things cold.  Use containers to keep the stuff out of the water.

As for cooking, I'll second the idea of a dutch oven.  Works great for trips where you don't worry about the weight.  I cook most of my dinners while camping in a dutch oven.  My favorite is lasagna.


But you have to practice with a dutch oven.  It isn't something you want to try for the first time on a camping trip.

Offline ericksonrs

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Re: Help me with my 3rd family camping trip
« Reply #12 on: April 05, 2013, 09:18:13 AM »
One more vote for dutch ovens...I love having multiple ones for camping and is one of my preps for long term.  I have 100's of pounds of charcoal stored with matches and newspapers in 5 gallon buckets so I always have a cooking option.  Each five gallon bucket holds about a 20# bag and a newspaper and box of matches. 

One of the best containers for the cooler is the quart size nalgene bottles.  I'll crack all my eggs and put them in a nalgene bottle in the cooler.  Then if I'm making fried eggs I just pour them out onto the griddle.  If I'm making casserole or scrambled I'll just shake the heck out of the bottle and then pour. 

I'll echo the ziplock bags for everything else.  I usually do all the prep, grating cheese, cutting onions at home and package them in bags and label the bags (breakfast day one, lunch day three, etc).  We have four kids so a similar amount of food, the more prep you can do at home the happier you'll be.  I even do some of the mixing in ziplock bags.  If I do a chocolate cake I'll put the mix in the ziplock before leaving and when cooking put the oil, eggs, and water in the ziplock and close it up...then give it to one of the kids to squish in their hands until its mixed up.  They'll love it. 

Dry goods all go into rubbermaid totes with the overhanging lids...they either go in the back of the van at night or something heavy on each lid (dutch ovens are good).  It depends on the size of the critters in the area.

Tarps are critical, you need at least one for under the tent as well.  I really like the ez-up canopies for over picnic and cooking areas.  They are much easier to setup in any campground (don't need trees to run lines for a tarp).  They also work well for shade or rain. 

Camping is very rewarding...keep it up! 


Offline Meldrew

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Re: Help me with my 3rd family camping trip
« Reply #13 on: April 05, 2013, 03:15:31 PM »
It's a little difficult to add much to the advice you've been given so I'll add my $0.02 just to complicate things.  The flat pint liquor bottles are great for freezing water in to use instead of using bagged ice.  They are easy to fit in the cooler.  FWIW our sailing bretheren use 3 coolers - a 5-day with dry ice for deep freeze (including,cleverly enough, more ice), another 5 day with "plastic wrapped" ice for daily food storage and any old cooler filled with bag ice that will be opened often for drinks and such.  We've used this system several times and found it works very well, though be careful. I do know that you can freeze eggs solid - ask me how I know ;-).

A screened gazebo over the picnic table is generally easier than trying to string up a tarp over the campsite.  There are compact brooms available from RV shops and it actually works pretty well to take along a fully charged hand vacuum to clean up the tent. 

Be careful to not make the same mistake we did.  We kept adding stuff to the camp kit until we spent so much time setting it all up there was only time for a couple beers before you had to break it all down and get it dried out before you packed it up.  Just so you know...

Good times - enjoy them. 

nelson96

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Re: Help me with my 3rd family camping trip
« Reply #14 on: April 06, 2013, 02:10:34 PM »
It's a little difficult to add much to the advice you've been given so I'll add my $0.02 just to complicate things.  The flat pint liquor bottles are great for freezing water in to use instead of using bagged ice.  They are easy to fit in the cooler.  FWIW our sailing bretheren use 3 coolers - a 5-day with dry ice for deep freeze (including,cleverly enough, more ice), another 5 day with "plastic wrapped" ice for daily food storage and any old cooler filled with bag ice that will be opened often for drinks and such.  We've used this system several times and found it works very well, though be careful. I do know that you can freeze eggs solid - ask me how I know ;-).

I'm not trying to poo-poo your advice.  They are VERY good suggestions under the right circumstances . . .  The flat pint liquor bottles are a good idea, as long as they are plastic, but they don't last long.  Unless it's a day trip they aren't worth the room they take up.  Dry ice is a hard one to manage, you can freeze everything rock hard if you don't take certain steps.

Offline Meldrew

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Re: Help me with my 3rd family camping trip
« Reply #15 on: April 06, 2013, 09:50:55 PM »
Bonus: Dry Ice Fun Tip!

Wrap the dry ice in newspaper.  Wrap the newspaper in a small towel.  Wrap the towel in...  Ice Cream Sandwiches! Wrap the ice cream sandwiches in another small towel and stick that in the bottom of the cooler.  When you're saddened by the end of your dry ice, you'll still have lovely ice cream for the family and friends.  You'll be a hero!

But don't put eggs in there...  ;-)


Offline Gulo gulo

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Re: Help me with my 3rd family camping trip
« Reply #16 on: April 22, 2013, 02:09:33 PM »
rinse and fill empty soda bottles with water, then freeze. put these in your cooler on top of your refrigeratable foods (cold air sinks). not only will you not have to deal with soggy food but when they melt, you got drinking water!

Offline Cedar

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Re: Help me with my 3rd family camping trip
« Reply #17 on: April 22, 2013, 04:33:51 PM »
a tarp over the "gathering" area (in this case the picnic table) can totally save a trip. The alternative is to hide in the tent, which really limits what you can do.

And one over the tent too..

Cedar

Offline Cedar

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Re: Help me with my 3rd family camping trip
« Reply #18 on: April 22, 2013, 04:38:18 PM »
I take canned bacon. Meals which are like Rice-A-Roni, Tuna Helper etc are easy to make and light. If you add more noodles you can make one package go further.

Assign each kid a job, no matter how small the kidlet as long as they can walk. With 8 people everyone needs to pull their own weight and it makes them feel important too, even if it is just drying the forks.

Cedar

nelson96

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Re: Help me with my 3rd family camping trip
« Reply #19 on: April 22, 2013, 05:31:45 PM »
I take canned bacon. Meals which are like Rice-A-Roni, Tuna Helper etc are easy to make and light. If you add more noodles you can make one package go further.

Assign each kid a job, no matter how small the kidlet as long as they can walk. With 8 people everyone needs to pull their own weight and it makes them feel important too, even if it is just drying the forks.

At camp we make a lot of rice and/or noodle meals.  We add some kind of meat, onions, mushrooms, and greens like peas and/or broccoli to make it go further.  It also makes it more of a complete meal, nothing else needed and no more pans to clean.

Offline iamabraineater

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Re: Help me with my 3rd family camping trip
« Reply #20 on: July 11, 2013, 07:14:04 PM »
Update

Gone camping twice this spring/summer.

Got the extreme 5 coleman cooler and a ratchet strap.  That worked great.  It also helped us go in it less because we left the strap on it at all time.  We also did the two litter soda bottles ice packs.  They were still frozen, not solid, after 4 days of over 80 degree weather.

Breakfast was easier than i thought; pancakes, oatmeal, and cereal...and coffee.  Wish we could find a way to bring our eggs with us.  Any ideas?

Lunch was a bit harder.  Lunch meat was a good idea but the bread went fast and takes up a lot of room.  The children do not like MREs.

Dinner was burnt a lot the first trip.  We had oatmeal a few nights.  The second trip was better.  Hotdogs, mac and cheese, and mac and cheese with hotdogs cut up in them.

nelson96

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Re: Help me with my 3rd family camping trip
« Reply #21 on: July 11, 2013, 07:24:11 PM »
Beanee Weenees make a good lunch for kids (I love them too), along with fruit and cheese & crackers.

Next time you make mac & cheese, add the hotdogs chunks like you did and include a can of chilli.

.

Offline ttubravesrock

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Re: Help me with my 3rd family camping trip
« Reply #22 on: July 11, 2013, 07:54:05 PM »
Eggs don't really need to be refrigerated if they are purchased fresh.
      Alternative: hard boiled eggs transport easily if you boil them at home.
Cheese doesn't need to be refrigerated if it is kept dry and shaded.
      Alternative: Kraft Singles really don't need to be refrigerated.
Cured meats (salami, pepperoni, bologna, etc) don't need to be refrigerated.

Below will be a bunch of free-thought ideas for you.

Minute Rice makes a great addition to camp food.
Instant Mashed Potatoes make a great lightweight addition to camp food.
Ramen noodles should be brought along as a failsafe. If everything in your meal plan goes wrong, you can always do ramen.
            Bonus Ramen Tip: If you put ramen noodles and seasoning in cold water and let it soak overnight, you have cold ramen in the morning.
            Bonus Ramen Tip: If you put instant mashed potatoes in the ramen broth, you have a hearty meal.

I always take Ranch Style Beans camping.

If you camp near a creek, you can submerge an Action Packer about 3/4 of its depth and use that as a cooler (unless the stream comes from a hot spring). Ditto for winter/snow.

You can chop up beef jerky and rehydrate it in broth/potatos/beans.

Offline ericksonrs

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Re: Help me with my 3rd family camping trip
« Reply #23 on: July 12, 2013, 10:22:27 AM »
Crack the eggs and put them in a nalgene bottle...you can even scramble them in there if you want, but they'll keep whole if you aren't malicious with it :)

Offline Zef_66

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Re: Help me with my 3rd family camping trip
« Reply #24 on: July 12, 2013, 12:46:30 PM »
We use a hard case made specifically for eggs, like this:

http://amzn.to/13FNwCV

I think we got ours at Wal-mart.

nelson96

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Re: Help me with my 3rd family camping trip
« Reply #25 on: July 12, 2013, 04:54:46 PM »
We never have a problem just keeping them in the paper carton they come.  The carton is soggy by the end of the week, big deal.

Offline Cedar

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Re: Help me with my 3rd family camping trip
« Reply #26 on: July 12, 2013, 05:06:38 PM »
or buy the styrofoam egg cartons (ugh)...

Cedar

nelson96

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Re: Help me with my 3rd family camping trip
« Reply #27 on: July 12, 2013, 05:09:58 PM »
or buy the styrofoam egg cartons (ugh)...

Or use home grown eggs. . . .  you need a sharp edge to crack mine open.

Offline Cedar

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Re: Help me with my 3rd family camping trip
« Reply #28 on: July 12, 2013, 05:11:29 PM »
Or use home grown eggs. . . .  you need a sharp edge to crack mine open.

No kidding. You should have been on our last TSP campout. We cracked 100 quail eggs for breakfast LOL

Cedar

Offline inconel710

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Re: Help me with my 3rd family camping trip
« Reply #29 on: July 12, 2013, 05:16:49 PM »
I've used the Ova-Easy crystallized eggs for backpacking - low weight and no refrigeration.  A lot better than the powdered eggs we used to eat in the Navy.