Saving money with a roadside meal? Here are nine products to make it comfortable

Even with soaring gas prices, millions of Canadians will be hitting the road this summer to vacation or visit family. But many will also be looking for ways to save a little money on their road trip. Opting for a park or roadside picnic instead of eating out is one way to save a few bucks. Here are nine products that can make your outdoor experience a little more comfortable.

Charcoal cooking

The charcoal barbecues are excellent. They’re safe, they don’t require pressurized or flammable fuel, and because they don’t contain valves, igniters, regulators, or other complicated parts, they tend to run trouble-free for many years. The Weber Go-Anywhere Charcoal Grill lets you easily take the charcoal cooking experience on the go. A rectangular shape and lockable lid mechanism make it easy to pack and secure, reducing the space required to transport it and keeping your vehicle tidy. It will cook six burgers at once and has adjustable dampers for precise heat control. ($99.99, weber.com)

Instant Shadow

Designed to cover a large area but also fit in a small bag for storage, the portable MoonShade canopy makes it easy to find shade and shelter no matter where your journey takes you. Its lightweight design allows for quick setup and easy portability, while a variety of anchoring systems make installation safe and secure. (Its suction cup clamps let you use your car’s windows or roof as mounting points.) It features UV-protected ripstop polyester and all-aluminum tension poles, and weighs less than four kilograms. (US$350, moonfab.com)

pocket stove

Whether you want to boil a kettle of water for your tea, percolate roadside coffee, or enjoy a serving of ramen noodles on the go, the PocketRocket Deluxe Stove will have you covered. This little stove feeds off a fuel canister (not included) and has a pressure regulator for faster boil times than other models. Connect a fuel canister to the base, push the simple ignition button to ignite, and a wide burner head will apply heat evenly to your cookware. When you’re done, the PocketRocket disconnects and folds up to fit in a stuff sack. ($99.95, msrgear.com)

Cooking space

For more complex meals — or more serious tailgating — consider getting the GCI Slim-Fold Outdoor Cooking Station. Folded up, it’s about the size of a portable lawn chair. Open, this cooking station gives you two levels of shelving and counter space, as well as built-in utensil holders, a paper towel holder, hooks and stemware holders on its side tables integrated. The center counter surface is heat-resistant for cooking, so you can place a portable grill there, while a lower shelf is perfect for a cooler bag so you can keep all your ingredients close at hand. ($159.95, Mecca)

Trash can

The problem with many trash cans is that they are large and rigid and difficult to take with you on the go. A worthy alternative? This Coghlans 1219 spring-loaded camping bin is made from an easy-to-clean polyethylene material that can be wiped down or hosed down and features a zippered top that you can fully zip to contain the nastiest messes. The best of all? Once set up, it will hold 33 gallons of waste, but folds up safely into a thin disk when you’re done, thanks to the built-in Velcro tabs that keep it closed until it’s time for your next barbecue. ($30.26, amazon.ca)

stay cool

If you spend hours behind the wheel, dehydration can make you feel tired, uncomfortable and even inattentive. That’s why it’s important to always have enough drinks on hand for your trip or roadside meals. Enter the Igloo 2 Gallon Sports Drink Jug. Well insulated, sturdy and fully ventilated, it can be filled with water and ice or juice to keep everyone in your car – or at your picnic – well hydrated. ($43, homehardware.ca)

Comfortable seats

With excellent user and expert reviews, the Coleman Oversized Quad Chair is one of the most sought after on the market. Although many lower cost camping chairs are available, this one can be equipped with a built-in cooler, can holder, storage pouch and other features. Adjustable armrests and a padded seat back provide comfort for quick meals or long after-dinner conversations, and its powder-coated, rust-resistant frame is built to last. ($94.75, amazon.ca)

tailgate table

If you spend a lot of time outdoors, chances are you use a Jeep Wrangler to do it. Popular for its off-road capability and adventure-ready attitude, the Wrangler is backed by an extensive aftermarket of parts and accessories. One of these is the Rough Country Tailgate Table. Available for various Wrangler models, its rattle-free engineering and convenient folding design are the stars of the show. It features an aluminum tabletop in a steel frame and includes two built-in cup holders. ($89.95, roughcountry.com)

Hitch chart

You don’t need to own a Jeep Wrangler to enjoy the benefits of an integrated dining table. The Libra Adjustable Hitch Mount Tailgate Table attaches to your trailer hitch and has three height settings so it can be used for food prep, as a serving area, or as a table you and your family can sit at or your friends can sit.

The table top, which can support 45 kilograms, can be folded down when not in use. ($149.99, amazon.ca)


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Rozella J. Cook