I’m thankful my husband and I already enjoyed social isolation before it became mandatory. One of our greatest pleasures is to take our horses and dogs to an out-of-the-way place where we can ride and explore nature.

So here we go again on our longest trip yet, to the warmth of Arizona. Besides a couple stops along the way to see family in New Mexico, the next three weeks we will be “hamping” — or whatever the term is for camping with horses.

Day 5 into this adventure brings me to the realization that the outing will be different than our usual long weekend getaways. For one, I’m learning to be flexible with meals.

Yesterday, for example, spaghetti with meat sauce sounded like a good idea for dinner. We have a propane stove to cook the meat we brought from home and electricity to plug in a slow cooker for the sauce. All good, right?

It wasn’t until I pulled out the pasta, tomato paste and other ingredients that it dawned on me — I have no pot to boil water. We had burgers and salad instead.

Newsletter signup for email alerts

Today we’re prepared — I think. That’s because we found a local secondhand store and added a pot and lid to our camping gear.

Limited space does make us more aware of what is essential and what is not. Fresh and frozen veggies and fruit: essential. Eggs and peanut butter: essential. Leftover Halloween candy — how did that get in here?

I also appreciate certain convenience items that save preparation time and space. Pre-washed and chopped salad mixes are a must. Baby carrots are perfect for snacking or throwing into soup or stews. And pre-cut melon keeps me from making excuses to not eat well.

I’ve become hooked on ultra-filtered milk like Fairlife that doesn’t need refrigeration until you open each individual carton. (Saves space in my small fridge.) And those apples I threw in from my trees at home are really a better snack than leftover Halloween candy.

This morning I made eggs and — missing my toaster — decided to toast bread slices in a pan on the stove. Turned out great!

One other thing about camping with horses: We all get plenty of exercise. In fact, we’re getting ready right now for our afternoon ride through some unexplored country. And when we get home, we’ve got spaghetti sauce in the crockpot waiting to be added to the pasta I’ll cook in my newly acquired pan. Yay!

Feel free to share with me any of your ideas or experiences for good eating while away from home. I’ll be happy to share with our readers in a future column.

Barbara Quinn-Intermill is a registered dietitian nutritionist and certified diabetes educator affiliated with the Community Hospital of the Monterey Peninsula. Email her at to barbara@quinnessentialnutrition.com. ©2021 MediaNews Group, Inc. Visit at montereyherald.com. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.