When it comes to camping, the best way to have a great trip is to be prepared. You have to plan and know what to bring for camping to set yourself up for success. That couldn't be truer than when it comes to easy camping meals while enjoying the great outdoors.
Successfully cooking while you're camping involves a blend of planning, the right equipment, and adaptability. If you are gearing up for your next camping trip and need help preparing easy camping meals, then you have found the right article.
Let's take a look at what to prepare before you ever hit the road, the equipment you should bring, and how to cook and keep food fresh while camping. Finally, we top it all off with some of our favorite camping meals you can try out the next time you hit the trail.
What Food You Should Prepare in Advance of Camping
Our suggestion is to think ahead as much as possible. Unless you are a seasoned pro, you are unlikely to find it easier to cook while camping instead of in your home kitchen. If you are doing active things, such as hiking or swimming, you will want to have plenty of high-energy, protein snacks to keep you and your family going. You can easily prepare foods like energy bars or banana bread to have as a trail treat.
Try to think creatively here. A couple of our favorite examples for pre-prepped meals include pancakes, breakfast burritos, salads, and overnight oats. It is easy to whip up some pancake batter so that all you have to do is pour it into the pan in the morning. As long as you store them properly, you can premake every ingredient for a protein-filled breakfast or dinner. Then, reheat it over a campfire or cooking stove, and you have got yourself another meal.
Even if you can't premake every part of a meal, try to prep the pieces that you can. For example, if one of your recipes calls for an onion, chop it and bring it in a bag or Tupperware. The more prepared you are, the less you will have to do and bring on your trip.
What to Bring For Cooking While Camping
The next part of preparing properly for your camping trip comes when you start packing for the trip. No matter how much food you have prepared, if you don't have a cookstove or supplies for a campfire, you will find yourself eating it cold all weekend.
If you are trying to prepare well for your camping trip, here are the camping must-haves you should make sure to pack.
- Cast iron skillet
- Cookstove (OR supplies for a campfire)
- Logs and starter
- Camping table
- Camping chairs
- Utensils for eating and cooking
Depending on what you want to cook, there will be other materials you should bring. Your own preferred list of camping supplies may look a little different. For example, if you want to cook and store food or bring stored food, you should also bring Tupperware and a camping cooler. Consider each meal you plan on making and what you would use for cooking it more conveniently so that your time spent cooking is easy.
How to Cook While You're Camping
Cooking while you are camping will depend on where you are and how much you have prepared beforehand. Get yourself set up before you start in on the cooking. The material that keeps your stove or campfire going is finite, and you don't want to waste too much before your trip is done. Whether you use gas for a camp stove or wood for your fire, it burns quickly.
Set up the food you will be using for the entire meal on your camp table so that you open your camping cooler only once or twice. Once you get going, it can be surprising how quickly everything cooks.
Once you have finished the meal, either choose a place for dirty cookery to be washed when you get home or wash it on-site. Always follow Leave No Trace principles to protect you and the nature around you. Odors from your food can attract wildlife, so clean up thoroughly and never leave food materials lying around your campsite or in your tent.
How to Keep Camp Food Fresh
As always, the first step should happen before you ever leave the house. First, make sure the food you need to keep fresh has been cooled or even frozen. Then, put it in the camping cooler and pack it as the last item before you leave, so it holds onto its chill for as long as possible. The tighter you pack your cooler, the longer the food will maintain its chill since the air around the items will warm faster than the food itself.
Along with the food, you should put ice packs in the camping cooler. These will help to keep it as cool as possible but will add weight. If you need it during your trip, you can also drop bags of ice inside. As they melt, you will need to tip the water out of the cooler. Try to open the camping cooler as quickly and infrequently as possible to keep the cold air surrounding the food inside.
You can also help keep the food cool by placing the cooler in the shade. Even though it is meant to insulate, it is not impervious to the power of the sun.
Easy-to-Make Camping Recipes
- Hash browns
- Tortilla shells
You can cook the sausage and the hash browns at home. Pop them in a container and store them in your cooler to keep them fresh for the morning. Next, cook your eggs, and then add the sausage and hash browns to warm them up. The last step is as easy as scooping from one plate to the next. Pile everything you want into a tortilla, wrap it up, and you have got it made.
There are so many additional items you can put in breakfast burritos if you want as well. Have some room for some salsa? What about some chopped-up avocado or onion? The more options you have, the more filling and nutritious these will be.
Toasted Cinnamon Rolls
These are a bit of a cheat recipe since you don't actually have to make them. Instead, get the ready-made cans of Pillsbury Cinnamon Rolls. Using campfire prongs, lace the doughy cinnamon roll on the stakes. Make sure you do this gently, so they don't fall apart. Rotate them consistently so that they cook on all sides.
Unless you are raring to cook more frequently, camping lunches are generally made up of sandwiches or other ready-made meals that aren't difficult to put in a backpack. Whether you prefer PB&J or meat and cheese, make sure to store all of the items properly until they find their way into the sandwich. Eat it within the next 12 hours, particularly if you use any meats or dairy products.
Brats and Hot Dogs
Looking for an easy get-out-of-cooking free card one night? Take it easy by packing some buns, ketchup, and bratwursts or hot dogs. These are easily put on the end of a campfire prong and held over the fire to cook or put on a camp cookstove. If you want to take it up a notch, you can saute some onions and peppers to top them off nicely.
- 2 white fish fillets
- 1/2 lime
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 tsp chili powder
- 1/2 tsp cumin
Start the cookstove so that you will cook the fish at about medium-high heat. Prepare the fish by squeezing the lime over it, drizzling it with olive oil, and dusting both sides with the spice mix. Put your fish inside a grill wire basket and place it in the store or over the campfire. Cook it for about 3 minutes on each side before removing it. Cut it up to serve with the salsa and any other toppings of choice in the tortillas.
Finally, a list of easy camping meals wouldn't be complete with a satisfying sugary treat at the end. What is more appropriate in this category than s'mores? All you need are campfire prongs, marshmallows, some chocolate, and graham crackers. If you haven't made s'mores before, start by putting the marshmallows on the prong and holding them over the fire until they are soft and gooey. Then, take them off the prong using the graham crackers and chocolate as toolbars and squish them all together to make a delicious sandwich.
Easy Camping Meals from A to Z
Now that you know what to bring camping and have some new camping meals to try make sure you are prepared by stocking up on everything you need. Visit Camp & Go to stock up with any camping furniture you might not have to make your job easier when it's your turn at the cookstove.