Tight-Arse Tucker: Part 1

Michael Borg — 21 July 2017

I reckon camp cooking is one of the best parts about the whole camping experience. Yep, sitting around the fire, freezing your butt off while everyone tucks into a nice warm feed is all part of the fun. In fact, I’d go as far as saying it’s often the most memorable part of a trip away, especially for the young whippersnapper. The funny thing is, even if your bank balance is looking a bit sad, you can still cook up a feed fit for royalty.

To prove the point, we’ve put our money where our mouth is (all 10 bucks of it, that is), and challenged the entire Camper crew to come up with the tastiest camp feed imaginable for under 10 bucks. Sounds easy enough, right? Well as always there’s a catch – it’s got to feed a family of four! That’s right, the prestigious “Tight-Arse Tucker” crown is up for grabs, and the CTA crew are literally chomping at the bit to prove whose boss! Let’s see what they’ve come up with, shall we?



  • Pre-cooked rice – $2.00
  • Can of sardines – $0.72
  • Tinned tomatoes – $0.80
  • Curry powder
  • Snags – $3.00
  • Odd leftover veggies
  • Bread – $0.85
  • Mars Bars x 2 ($0.80 ea) – $1.60

Grand total: $8.97  

We’ve all got a few old tins or packet mixes lying around the traps, so it’s time to raid the tucker box! If you find the following items you’ve hit the jackpot big time. Two packs of pre-cooked rice, a can of sardines, tin of something the label’s come off (it’s probably tinned tomato) and a spoon full or two of curry. Forage around the fridge for leftover snags and dodgy looking veggies (they’re free), then grab your missus’ glass of chardy when her back’s turned (that’s free too!). Chuck all the ingredients in a pan and cook it all up to become one big tasty pot of grub.  

Dessert: Mars Bar Jaffles

If anyone’s still hungry, this will put a smile on your dial. Grab eight slices of white bread and pop them in the jaffle Iron. Cut two king-size Mars Bars up and strategically place them evenly on the bread and toast them on the coals. Wait until it’s lightly toasted and the caramel chocolate is melted just right!



  • Potatoes x 4 ($0.68 each) – $2.72
  • Diced bacon - $3.00
  • Cheese – $2.99
  • Baked beans - $0.90

Grand total: $9.61

Loaded spuds are always a guaranteed hit, and they’re super easy to make when you’re camping too. Simply prick your new potatoes lightly with a fork a few times, rub with oil or butter and sprinkle with salt. Then wrap them in foil and pop them in your camp oven, or even straight in the coals. Cooking time will vary, but make sure you turn them regularly to avoid burning them. 

Once they’re cooked, cut twice across the middle of the spud. You can scoop out a chunk of the flesh or just open the potatoes out and fill them up with your choice of toppings. Baked beans work well, so does spaghetti sauce, bacon, chopped tomato and avocado. Sprinkle plenty of shredded cheese over the top and place them in a camp oven with coals on the top just long enough to melt the cheese. Talk about yum, rich, tasty and cheap!



  • Three cloves fresh garlic, minced – $0.44
  • Onion, finely chopped – $0.31
  • 2 fresh chilies – $0.26
  • 500g pork mince – $3.75 (you’ll need to shop around)
  • Dinner roll – $0.35
  • Sweet chili sauce – $1.89
  • The rind from a lemon – $0.62
  • Coriander bunch – $0.79 (market)
  • Vermicelli rice noodles - $1.29
  • 1 carrot – $0.26

Grand total: $9.61

Like most journos I am a true tight-arse, so I thought I had this licked, but it took a few stabs to get it right, what with the cost of spices and sauces. Thankfully, my local market hooked me up with fresh coriander (a bargain at 79c a bunch) and unpackaged veg for a genuine tasty $10 meal. Now, you’ll notice I priced the lemon, but a true tight-arse will have access to a lovingly-tended supply, making room in the budget for the broccoli that you may or may not shove down the throats of your precious crew.

To start with, fry the onion on low heat until soft then add the garlic and chili (with or without the seeds, up to you) then cool. Place the mince in a bowl, grate the dinner roll and hold it together with a splash of sweet chili sauce. Add in the rind, a fistful of finely chopped coriander and the onion, garlic and chili. 

Roll into balls and flatten. Fry the outside, then place in an alloy-lined camp oven and bake for 15 minutes, or just char the living be-Jesus until they’re cooked through. Next, soak the noodles in warm water per the instructions and serve with more chili sauce, diced carrot and garnish with said broccoli.

If I’m honest, my girls (aged three and five) preferred the Mars Bar jaffles better – probably due to the green bits – so I’m going to use dried spices next time. My husband loved them though, stealing my next day’s lunch when I wasn’t looking (ahh.. bless).


tasty tucker meal recipe cooking budget