Planning meals for the family is the most daunting task for me when planning a camping excursion, but feeding the very hungry masses is essential to keep spirits high when out in the woods for the weekend. I reached out to some friends with kids for advice, and they came up with an awesome list to add to our family camping series (and a pretty great list of easy meals to make anytime, to be honest)! Many thanks to Stacey, Jaime, Kelly, Nikki, and Amy for their suggestions!
- Bacon and eggs: Fry bacon in a cast iron skillet. Leave a little bacon grease in the skillet when you add the eggs. I love this trick from Kelly: Crack the eggs ahead of time into a milk jug. Add sour cream, salt, and pepper and transport in a cooler. When it’s time to cook them, just shake the jug to mix the contents. Then pour them into the skillet!
- Oatmeal: Pre-measure your dry oats at home in a baggie, and write (with a sharpie) how much water you need so you’ll have it ready to go at the campsite. Add water and cook. (I use a Nalgene or regular water bottle to measure the water.) Once cooked, add anything you like: raisins, nuts, bananas, apples, brown sugar, honey, leftover chocolate bars from the previous night’s s’mores, etc.
- Fiesta grits: Cook grits over the fire, add cheese and salsa (or provide honey if sweet grits is your thing).
- French bread pizza: Slice french bread in half, top with tomatoes, mozzarella, veggies, pepperoni, etc., wrap in foil and cook over fire until cheese is melted.
- Tilapia and couscous served with raw veggies: You’ll need frozen individually sealed tilapia filets – one per person, a bag with couscous already measured out and seasonings added (such as curry seasoning, garlic granules, salt, and pepper). Write with a sharpie how much water you need on the baggie so you’ll have it ready to go at the campsite. You’ll also need a few tablespoons of butter and any pre-cut veggies that your family likes (carrots, bell peppers, mushrooms, cucumbers etc.). Heat butter in a big skillet. Cook tilapia for a few minutes until it is almost done. Pour in dried couscous and spices and cook for another minute to sizzle up the spices. Add water, and stir. Cover with lid. As soon as the water starts bubbling turn off the heat. Sit with the lid on for a few minutes. Fluff and serve with veggies on the side.
- Classic hot dogs/hamburgers or mountain pies. (This one is a personal favorite from cooking over the fire with my dad’s family in Pennsylvania growing up!)
- Hobo dinners: (At home prep) Some combos we like are sweet potato/chicken/peppers, beef or sausage/red potatoes/rosemary/carrots, but you can throw anything in that you like! Wrap in single sized portions in foil, and place them straight on hot coals in your campfire. Make sure you chop veggies that take longer to cook into smaller pieces than faster cooking foods so everything is done at the same time.
- Sweet potato burritos: (At home prep) Cube and roast sweet potatoes at 400 degrees until soft and crisp, put in burrito wraps with black beans, shredded cheese, spinach (Unless your kids have a fear of green stuff!), and salsa. Wrap up tortillas and put each in foil. Start up a good campfire, and set wraps on top until warm, gooey, and a little charred.
- Cobbler: Chop fruit, if necessary, toss with sugar, put in dutch oven or foil, top with crumble (flour, butter, brown sugar, oats).
- Banana s’mores: Slice banana and put on foil, top with chocolate chips, marshmallows, caramel sauce, peanut butter, nutella, etc., wrap up, and put on fire until everything is warm and melty.
- Tortellini: boil in water, heat sauce, serve with a salad, and enjoy!
- One general trick is to pre-make some meals that you can just keep in a cooler and heat up like spaghetti sauce, pesto sauce, beans/rice, soups, pre-grilled chicken strips, etc. All these things can be heated in a saucepan on the camp stove. Just boil noodles/rice, and voila! Dinner!
- Veggies and polenta: pan fry veggies with oil and seasonings, remove from pot, and boil water for polenta, Once cooked, add cheese and veggies. (Also good with sausage!)
- Chili dogs: Freeze the chili before and heat it up when ready to eat on the stove. Cook hot dogs over the fire!
- Pancakes, bacon, etc.
- Sausage, potato, and kale hash.
Straight out of the container or cooler
- PB&J roll ups: Spread nut butter and jam or honey on a tortilla. Roll up, and serve. Can be made ahead of time!
- Pancake sandwiches: Pre-make and freeze these. My kids love them!
- Pimento cheese sandwiches: Shredded extra sharp cheddar, whipped cream cheese, diced pimentos, diced onions, mayo, pepper, lemon juice, celery salt. Stir and store in a ziploc bag (instead of tupperware) in your cooler to keep melted ice out! Instead of sandwiches, try dipping pretzel rods in the pimento cheese. Yum.
- Energy bites (like these from Gimme Some Oven)
- Trail mix (here’s how I make it along with other great travel snack ideas)