Cooking breakfast outside is our favorite way to squeeze in a tiny dose of vacation or adventure almost any time you feel you need one. It works really well whenever you need a bit of a break from the routine, but your schedule, or weather conditions, or some other obstacles prevent you from actually going camping.
- Backpacking stove, fuel and lighter (we used an MSR Pocket Rocket 2). Since time is short for this outing, we recommend this over other cooking methods for speed an reliability. A windscreen is a nice bonus, and would allow you to set up your port-a-kitchen anywhere.
- Cook pan & spatula. You could use backpacking cookware, or a lightweight, inexpensive non-stick pan. Both are easy to wipe down after use, and stash in a pannier or backpack. For short outings like this we don’t mind the extra weight of a small cast iron skillet, which is incomparable for creating delicious results.
- Plates and utensils. We suggest easy to wipe down reusables.
- Food! We brought 4 eggs, pre-buttered bread, and pre-chopped veggies (pre-cooked potatoes, peppers, onions, mushrooms, etc) mixed with a little breakfast sausage or bacon, plus a chunk of butter for cooking. You would of course want to adapt this to your dietary preferences, but definitely do your chopping at home the night before. The bag that carries the chopped veggies can be used to store used cookware and plates after you’re done, and keep your bike bag or backpack reasonably clean.
- Hot beverage of choice in a thermal flask.
- Paper or reusable towels for quick clean up.
- Pro Tip: we always bring a tightly rolled up tablecloth or large scarf, so we can set up our meal on a surface that’s less than pristine.
- A lot of bang for the buck: requires less preparation, time and equipment than going overnight, but you won’t believe how much like a vacation this simple outing will feel.
- You’re likely to get in a few extra biking miles to get to a suitable location.
- Food tastes amazing!…
- …and you’ll feel amazing all day.
We prefer a place that’s wooded, away from major streets, and near a body of water. In windy or inclement weather, a little shelter might be nice. In the Chicago area, we’ve tried the following locations:
- Skokie Lagoons
- The Lakefront at Montrose near the bird sanctuary
- Gillson Park on the lakefront in Wilmette
- North Park Village waterfall
- Linne Woods on the bank of the north branch of the Chicago River.
Try it, and let us know you favorite spots (we won’t tell).