Joacim and Karolina Winqvist, parents of twins and the couple behind the Matkoma (“Food Coma”) blog, live near Änggårdsbergen in Gothenburg, Sweden. A typical Saturday for the family usually involves an outing in the woods. And they always take fika – the ingredients for a traditional Swedish coffee break!
“The woods are the perfect place for kids,” says dad Joacim. “There’s so much to see and very little they can hurt themselves on. It’s also wonderfully relaxing for parents to take a break from chivvying and nagging. In the woods, kids can run, climb, jump and shout to their heart’s content without disturbing anyone. The whole family can let off steam.”
There’s so much to see and very little they can hurt themselves on in the woods.
Twins Klara and Sixten have come along on trips to the woods since they were born.
“The first summer, when they were about six months old, they mostly slept in the pram,” recalls mum Karolina. “We took turns foraging for wild mushrooms. When autumn came, we spread out a blanket for them to lie and crawl around on. As soon as they could sit, they played with pine cones and twigs. By the time they were 2–3 years, they could start to help us by lugging a pail of water from the lake and gathering sticks for firewood.”
Pancake mix in a bottle – easy food for outings
On their Matkoma food blog, Joacim and Karolina share inspiration with other families for simpler and tastier everyday food. But the Matkoma family loves cooking outdoors just as much as they do at home in their kitchen.
“Eating outdoors is the best part of the whole outing,” says Karolina enthusiastically. “We always have fika with us and usually lunch as well, either in a thermos or to cook on a portable stove. It’s actually not as difficult as you might think.”
The twins need time to flap their way out of their pyjamas and we won’t set off until around 11.
“We prefer cooking from scratch, but everything tastes marvellous in the woods,” Joacim assures us. “Things we wouldn’t dream of eating at home – like instant mashed potato – taste delicious sitting on a stump in a glade in the woods. Our latest discovery is how easy it is to bring pancake mix in a bottle. Many lakes have barbecue grills and a crêpe pan isn’t heavy to carry in a backpack.”
“It’s astonishing that fussy little eaters will happily wolf down food outdoors that they’d never dream of eating at the kitchen table,” Karolina continues. “Klara loves chanterelles now and she’s just started eating avocado again, things that were unthinkable a year ago.”
On a typical Saturday, the family takes a car trip to somewhere new and preferably near a lake.
“We take a long time to get going,” admits Karolina. “The twins need time to flap their way out of their pyjamas, stuff needs to be packed and we might not set off until around 11. We often bring along both lunch and fika, and get started as soon as we arrive. We gather firewood, get the fire going and start cooking. The kids pitch in, too. Gathering sticks is a perfect activity for kids. It’s also good for the parents when the kids are having too much fun to notice they’re getting hungry.”
Love the woods
Joacim and Karolina are both from the south of Sweden, growing up in Västergötland and Skåne, respectively. Ever since they met, they’ve loved visiting the woods, if only for a walk. Since the twins arrived, they’ve spent even more time there.
“A trip to the woods is so simple! A blanket, wellies, a packet of biscuits (or two) and an extra sweater are really all you need,” Karolina says. “And fika! I don’t think we’ve ever been to the woods without everything we need for a traditional Swedish coffee break.”
I don’t think we’ve ever been to the woods without fika.
“It’s wonderful to eat out in the woods,” says Joacim. “And it’s even more amazing to eat food you’ve foraged yourself in the woods. Sweden’s right of public access is unique. Everyone is allowed to roam freely outdoors, pick berries and mushrooms, and build fires –so make the most of it! Fill baskets and pails with mushrooms and berries, and invite another family with kids over for Saturday dinner. It’s fantastic to be able to give this experience to your kids.”
“But from time to time you may need little tricks to keep the kids happy,” adds Karolina. “Make sure you have something nice to eat on the journey home. They’re just kids, after all!”
Don’t miss Part 1, where the Matkoma Family introduces themselves and gives tips for kitchen bliss.
Top 3 must-haves for woodland outings
- Fika! I don’t think we’ve ever been to the woods without fika. Also, remember to pack some treat you can dig out for the return trip, when the kids need extra energy for the walk back to the car and the journey home.
- Wellies. Soggy feet can ruin everything in an instant.
- Wear layers and take a spare sweater, so you’re prepared for both a breezy lake shore and a sunny glade in the woods.
Top 3 lunches for outings
- Make a fire and barbecue hot dogs
- Bring a portable stove and make simple spaghetti carbonara or macaroni and meatballs
- If there’s a proper barbecue grill: take a crêpe pan and pancake mix in a bottle.
Text: Katarina Gröndahl
The Matkoma Family
Joacim, 34, art director at an advertising agency. Likes baking bread, cycling and music. Karolina 33, communicator at a public transport company. Likes coffee, DIY and yoga. Klara & Sixten, 5. Like popcorn, bathtimes and pretending to be cats.
When you don’t have much time: “My best tip is to have toasted sandwiches for dinner. Tell the kids it’s a breakfast dinner – that sounds delightfully topsy-turvy! And you can smuggle in all kinds of veggies under the melted cheese of a toasted sandwich.”
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Woodland outings with Kids 0–6 years
Under 12 months – Take the pram and let the baby sleep in the fresh air. When the baby is a bit older, it’s exciting to simply lie or sit on a blanket.
1 year – The most difficult year by far. Toddlers need carrying and lifting, and keep falling over. But a lush sprig of blueberries can keep them busy for ages.
2 years – Now they can get around by themselves. Picking blueberries or collecting pine cones is fun, fiddly and fascinating.
3 years – A three-year-old loves to help! Collecting sticks for firewood and sorting them in heaps is a good activity before lunch is ready.
4 years – Now they can pick more ‘difficult’ berries from ouchy brambles, such as blackberries and wild raspberries.
5 years – Introduce small but important tasks. We began teaching our twins how to build a fire and fetch water from the lake. Under our careful supervision, of course!
6 years – The perfect age to start learning about wild mushrooms. Yellow chanterelles, funnel chanterelles, porcini mushrooms and hedgehog mushrooms are our favourites.