The whole point of going camping is to escape from the rush and stress of modern life. Exploring nature, leaving behind the world of social media and work emails, and finding a little bit of calm – absolute bliss.
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Which is no good at all if you then start to worry about how to feed the clan while you’re supposed to be taking it easy. Nobody wants to have to spend hours prepping meals, or being anxious about whether food is safe to eat.
The conveniences of the modern kitchen at home are probably one thing you’ll miss a little while you’re camping, but with these easy meals, you’ll be able to keep everyone happy – including any fussy eaters – and focus on enjoying your week.
Pssst– this camping meal planner, shopping organizer and checklist might help you! Check it out below!
Here’s what it looks like:
What do kids eat camping?
Just because you’re roughing it on a campsite, that doesn’t mean you need to get completely back to basics with food. You still want to enjoy your time away, and empty tummies could soon turn a happy family vacation into one that’s filled with hungry, moaning kids.
But the above meal suggestions are easy to prep, filling, and most importantly they’re relatively wholesome foods that kids will enjoy. Sure they’re not always the absolute healthiest, but they’re not the fattiest either and you’ll no doubt be keeping them active anyway. Throw in a few of their favorite snacks to keep the hunger at bay too – with the amount of adventuring you’ll be doing, a few bonus treats won’t be too unhealthy.
What should you eat for a week camping?
If you’re going camping for a couple of days, it can be tempting to live on snacks and junk food. But it’s not the best idea because these foods, while packed with sugars, will often make you feel lethargic. And ideally you want lots of energy to help you enjoy being outdoors. Plus, you’re more likely to be sleeping a little worse anyway than you would in your bed.
So, when you’re camping for a whole week, it’s important that you plan properly and aim to eat good food with a balance of nutrients. Enjoy yourself – it is a vacation – but don’t go overboard with the unhealthy snacks. Fresh fruits (that you’ve packed yourself – don’t forage unless you’re an expert), veggies and lean proteins will keep you energised throughout the week.
Don’t assume that camping food needs to be super basic too. As the ideas above show, with a little bit of pre-planning you can still have flavorsome foods.
What can I make ahead of time for camping?
There are loads of foods you can pre-make before you go camping to save a little effort, including things like cakes or other sweet baked items. A lot of food will be best cooked fresh though.
Good foods to make ahead of time when camping are things like stews or broths. You can get a lot of good quality food packed into these, and then batch-freeze them in containers. Secure them in your cooler, and then it’s just a one-pan job for reheating them until they reach the right temperature.
If you’re planning on cooking fresh meat or fish, you can prepare things like spice mixes in advance. Make small bags with your herbs and then you simply need to cook your food and add your pre-mixed spices.
For breakfast, you can always pre-make batches of pancakes. A quick heat through in a frying pan, with a little syrup or fresh berries added to the side, and you’ve got a wholesome meal to get you ready for the day ahead.
Can you pre-cook meat for camping?
You can pre-cook some meats such as stews before you go camping if you want to. Just make sure that when you reheat the food over a campfire or stove that you get it to at least 160 degrees Fahrenheit (70 degrees Centigrade) before you serve.
You should only reheat meat once, otherwise dangerous bacteria can develop. Processed meats such as burgers should really only be cooked once, while foods like steak will not be as tasty if you pre-cook and then reheat them.
How do you keep food fresh when camping?
If you’re serious about planning your food for camping, you’ll need to invest in a good quality cooler. There’s no other way to guarantee that your food will stay fresh, and unless you want to keep interrupting your trip to visit local stores near your campsite, you’ll need a cooler to make sure everything remains safe.
Here’s some top tips for using a cooler:
- Pre-cool your cooler with ice for at least 30 minutes before you start adding food
- The larger the ice blocks you use, the better – they’ll keep the temperature lower and take longer to defrost
- If you live somewhere where you can buy dry ice, use that as it’s much colder. Make sure you wrap it up before adding it to your cooler or it’ll damage it, and be prepared for any food next to the dry ice to be frozen.
- It seems obvious, but keep your cooler out of direct sunlight while you’re camping
- Aim to keep uncooked meats separate from other foods, ideally in a different cooler, to avoid cross-contamination
What can you cook on a stick over a campfire?
Everyone knows about marshmallows – and so they should, they’re an amazing food to cook on a stick. But here are some other ideas for foods you can cook on a stick over a fire:
- Hot Dogs – super simple, since they’re already pre-cooked and just need heating through. Slide one onto a stick or skewer and hold over the flames – not too close or they’ll burn, but close enough to heat through. Then just slide off into a bun.
- Fruit – there are some great fruits you can roast over a campfire. Bananas are easier to skewer but if you cut other fruits into sizeable chunks then you can easily give them a little caramelization. Pineapple chunks with a dusting of cinnamon are amazing, but chopping up a whole pineapple isn’t easy when camping – maybe buy pre-cubed to take with you?
- Kebabs – or kebobs depending on where you’re from. Simple, but oh so delicious – chunks of meat with a few veggies and you’ve got a healthy, fulfilling meal that is delightfully rustic
What meals can you make when camping?
Campfire nachos are a really fun snack that you can totally customize to your own preferences. They’re perfect for eating with messy fingers too, as long as you’re careful to let them cool down first.
The easiest way to prep nachos when camping is to use a foil tray, and then cover it with a sheet of baking foil. The trays can then be placed over a fire or burner and left to cook – just watch out as the trays themselves get super-hot.
The only real essentials for nachos are the nachos themselves (though you can sub these for sweet potato if you want to be a little healthier) and cheese.
From there you can throw in whatever extra ingredients make up your own favorite nacho dishes, whether you add salsa into the mix, or avocado, or any other vegetables or meats you prefer.
A campfire grill can be used for all sorts of food, but if you’re firing up the barbeque then you simply have to cook cheeseburgers. They’re a camping essential, being super-simple and low maintenance but a great meal for the kids.
There’s no big secret to camping cheeseburgers – just make sure the burgers are cooked all the way through. Add the cheese while they’re on the grill to get that perfect melt (since you can’t really steam them over a camping grill). Add any salad or sauces that the kids love, and tuck in!
If you’re a family of vegetarians or vegans, then as normal you can simply swap the patty for a meat-free alternative. If you are choosing a meat burger, it’s recommended that you take a food thermometer with you.
You can pick up a battery-powered one super-cheap, and it’ll just help you make sure that your food is properly cooked before serving. The USDA recommends cooking burgers between 160 and 165 degrees.
Breakfast burritos are a really tasty way to start the day (although they’re just as good for dinner too). To cook them while camping, you just need to fry off some sausage, and once cooked add in some eggs. Keep stirring as it cooks and starts to come together. You can also fry potatoes for a little extra bulk to your burrito, or throw in some cheese.
Once cooked through, spoon some mixture into a burrito, wrap tightly in foil, and throw it onto the grill or campfire. In a few minutes, you’ll have a delicious, melty snack.
What’s great about breakfast burritos is how simple they are to make in advance as well. Prepare the burritos at home and freeze them still in the foil. Then just give them time to defrost before you heat them through on the fire.
It’s worth using strong foil, or double-wrapping. If your burrito unravels on the fire, it’s almost impossible to rescue it.
Tomato and basil pasta
A lot of people assume that grilling is going to be the main cooking method when camping, but if you have a good stove or a fire with a pot you can hang over it, then it’s just as simple to try other foods. And this tomato basil pasta dish is one of the easiest possible.
All it takes is pasta, fresh or tinned tomatoes and some basil, which you can prep in advance if you want to.
You can throw in some garlic too if you want. Just boil the pasta over the heat, and stir in the rest of your ingredients as it softens.
A simple pasta dish like this is a good way to break up a week that might have more snacks than you’d like. It’s really filling, but it makes it easy to get some nutrients into the food plan without compromising on flavor.
An absolute campfire classic – we could hardly leave this out, could we? And they really couldn’t be simpler. All you need are some Graham crackers, some chocolate and some marshmallows. Heat the marshmallow on a stick until it begins to brown and melt, and then sandwich it between the crackers with some chocolate.
The heat from the marshmallow will melt the chocolate, and that’s it – a gooey, messy and warming camping favorite. You can add your own flourish too – maybe replace the chocolate with thin pieces of a candy bar that you love for a little extra caramel or nougat?
Have fun experimenting, though make sure if you do make a big batch that you’ve got a good hike planned for the next day!
Cooking pizza when you’re camping, while not impossible, is a bit of a bigger job if you want to do it right. So instead, cheat and go for this delicious and simple pizza toastie.
All you need is two pieces of bread or an alternative – an English muffin is the perfect choice. Then you’ll need some cheese and either some tomato slices or tomato paste, depending on your preference. Add in any extras like pepperoni that the kids want. Construct a sandwich, and either hold it over an open flame or use a griddle pan on a stove.
After a couple of minutes, flip it over to cook through on the other side. The cheese will melt, creating a warm pizza sandwich that is super-fast to prepare but a great hack if the kids don’t want to miss out on their normal pizza night.
Buttery corn on the cob
Another campfire classic, this is also one of the easiest things to prepare when camping. All you need to do is strip off the outer husk (and the inner husk if you prefer to, although that’s not essential).
Smother the cob with butter, wrap it in foil, and throw it onto hot coals or grill. It’ll take 30 minutes to cook and just need flipping over once half-way through.
The important thing with this is to make sure that foil is wrapped really tightly. You don’t want the butter to leak out, or you’ll lose a lot of flavor (and potentially get some big flames). Once cooked, it can be left to cool slightly and then it’s ready for the kids to enjoy.
Another healthier option to add to the list, stuffed peppers might not suit every child’s tastes but you can fill them with some of their preferred foods and, when fresh off the coals, they’re a great snack that’s nice and colorful too.
All you need to do is halve some peppers and scoop out the seeds, then add in your favorite filling. Things like mac and cheese or chilli work really well, but you can use pretty much anything that you’ve already cooked. Then, wrap it in foil and throw it onto the hot coals until the pepper has charred and softened.
Rice is another staple that you can boil to be used alongside other meals, so if you’re preparing a chilli then it could be the perfect camping partner. If you’ve any leftover rice, then whipping up a fresh fried rice will create a whole new flavorful meal, and it’s a great one for hiding lots of veggies in if the kids are a little fussy.
All you need to do is heat a little oil in a frying pan over the fire or camping stove and toss in the rice.
Add an egg and your chopped vegetables, along with any other seasonings you want to, and stir until the rice has turned a golden yellow and the veggies look nicely softened.
Chocolate baked bananas
One last sweet option, but another really simple one that makes for a really tasty camping snack. If you wrap bananas in foil with some chocolate, you’ll get some wonderful flavors combining when you pull the warm gooey fruit from the coals.
It’s best to leave the bananas within the peel, creating one slit that you stuff chocolate (and marshmallows too, if you want to) into. This helps protect the actual banana from burning and acts as a handy serving tray for the snack too. Just be careful not to open it too soon once you’ve removed it from the heat.
So, there you have it – some delicious camping meals that the kids will love without you needing to spend hours preparing everything in advance. You’ll get to enjoy the benefits of camping with your family, and the kids won’t complain about being hungry.
Just remember to pack a lot of baking foil – it’s a key item in so many of the best camping recipes and meals!