Best Meals for Camping

Camping
Oct 2017

Going camping for the weekend? Your main course does not have to be ramen or hot dogs with a side of Sriracha — get creative and cook meals like you would at home! Plan ahead with the great tips below for delicious, fuel-efficient meals that will get you ready for any kind of adventure.

(Our guided camping and hiking trips include awesome full fresh meals!)

 

Meal Prep Tips

The key to preparing delicious meals in the outdoors is to plan ahead. Keep in mind the amount of days you’ll be out there and how many (full) meals you’ll need, how you’ll keep the food fresh, how many people you’ll be cooking for, and your trip’s activity level.

Plan the right meals: If you’re headed out to the wilderness to relax, you may have time to cook more complex dishes. But if you’ll be hiking, swimming, or fishing all day, you want to plan meals that are easy and fast.

Nutrient-balanced meals: Meals with a balanced amount of protein, carbs, sodium, and healthy fats are crucial to supporting an action-packed weekend (or week). Consider simple substitutions, such as protein-rich quinoa instead of rice or whole dried fruit to snack on instead of sugary granola bars.

Keeping food fresh: Plan to cook the most perishable meals first. Freeze water gallon jugs ahead of your trip to use as ice (they’ll last longer than bags of ice) to keep the food cool. Once they melt, they’re a convenient extra water source.

Prep!: You may not have the time, space, or energy for meal-prep once you’re in the outdoors. Cut up the veggies, pre-make dishes that won’t spoil, marinade the meat in big plastic baggies, etc.

Kitchen Equipment: Make sure you have all the pots, pans, dish rags, and garbage bags that you need. To consolidate leftover food, always bring ziplocks or storage containers. See our blog on a Perfect Camping Setup for help on what kind of kitchen equipment you may need.

 Camp Meal Guide

Breakfasts

  • Oatmeal Bar: Oatmeal is an easy and customizable breakfast option. All you have to do is cook the oatmeal; set out your dried berries, nuts, coconut flakes, sweetener (brown sugar, honey); and add anything else you like for oatmeal toppings. Your friends can pick and choose what they like and you can save the leftover toppings for a trail mix snack later.
  • Protein-packed pancakes: You can prepare a delicious pancake mix like this one before the trip, or bring an easy “just add water” mix like Kodiak Cake’s Buttermilk Power Cakes Mix to prepare at camp.
  • Breakfast hash: Throw in leftover potatoes and meat from the night before, add bell peppers, asparagus, garlic, onion, jalapenos, and crack a few eggs on top! Bon appetit! Fresh Off the Grid has an awesome breakfast hash recipe you can check out here.
Photo by Diana Zalucky

Lunches/Snacks:

While lunch is usually eaten along the trail (pre-made sandwiches, granola bars, trail mix, dried fruit or produce that travels well, and some cheeses and meats), there are still options for easy-to-prepare lunches that will hold you over until dinner.

  • Bruschetta or Ploughman’s: It doesn’t take much work to have a fancy bruschetta spread or ploughman’s lunch in the backcountry when you can prepare/package most of it at home or buy pre-marinated fixings. A pre-cut baguette, marinated olives and artichoke hearts, cherry tomatoes, hummus, dried apricot, sliced apples, ricotta and brie cheese, and extras like balsamic vinegar, salt, pepper, and honey. Dig in!
  • Nachos: Have a cast iron dutch oven? Build this easy snack in layers. Start with the chips, then cheese, then toppings (olives, jalapenos, beans, onions, salsa), and repeat. Save the avocado and cilantro for the very top. Devour!
Photo by Diana Zalucky

 

Dinners

  • Skewer Recipes: The best part about this dinner is that there are so many great combinations of goodies you can put on a stick (just veggies, meat/veggies, fish/veggies, meat/fruit) and there are no dishes to wash! Pre-cut veggies and marinate meat at home, then assemble the skewers at camp. Here’s a list of 15 skewer recipes you can drool over.
  • Protein/Greens/Starch: Marinate (this one’s a good one!) the meat at home, throw green beans and (fingerling) potatoes in a pot with salt, pepper, and olive oil or butter. Simple ingredients, but delicious.
  • One Pot Meals (Check out the pasta dish!): After a long day of adventure, you really can’t get much better than a big bowl of carbs — especially when it only takes on pot to cook it all!
    Chili: A quintessential camping meal, chili is especially good for those cooler nights. Make it with the meat (and cornbread on top) or vegetarian, you really can’t go wrong. Leftovers make for a good breakfast, too!
Photo by Jill Richards

 

If you come prepared with all the ingredients and equipment, and are aware that it takes longer to cook while camping than at home, then making awesome camping meals should be a breeze.

Still doubting your camp cooking skills? Go on a guided camping trip and have the guides take care of the planning. Relax in camp while they prepare fresh, healthy, three course dinners (and all other meals) for you!