Easy Dinners When Camping: Cooking Tips to Make Mealtimes Fun, Tasty and Stress-Free
When it comes to camping, planning your meals can be one of the most fun and rewarding tasks. Camping trips present you with the chance to make delicious meals and have communal fun with your family and friends. But, all too often, preparing easy dinners when camping can be stressful, especially during those busy summer months. You want to make sure you’re providing your group with delicious and healthy meals, while also staying within the confines of your budgets.
Fortunately, with a bit of preparation and exploration, you can come up with easy dinners when camping that require minimal effort, while still tasting delicious. Keep on reading for my top tips for easy dinners when camping, including delicious recipes and meal hacks.
1. Plan Ahead
The key to making cooking easier while camping is in planning ahead. Before your camping trip, look at some recipes that fit with your group’s diet and tastes. Beware of recipes that require complicated equipment or expensive ingredients. If you’re working on a tight budget or keep a minimalistic lifestyle, try replacing expensive ingredients with options that cost less.
It’s also important to consider the size and facilities available at your campsite. Campsites with open fire pits (like in National Parks) are perfect for campfire cooking, while sites with kitchens and hot plates are great for anything ranging from griddles to complicated one-pot recipes. Make sure you plan your meals and recipes around what you know will be possible to achieve at the campsite.
2. Shop Smart
It’s easy to get carried away while grocery shopping for a camping trip. To avoid going over budget, focus on simple foods with a long shelf-life that won’t spoil easily. My recommendations are oatmeal, bagels, dehydrated vegetables, canned beans and proteins, and instant soups.
If you have a cooler with ice, you can stock up on fresh ingredients like cheese, milk, and vegetables. Also make sure to buy some spices, herbs, and seasonings to make your dishes more flavorful.
3. Make Use of One-Pot Dishes
One-pot dishes are a camping godsend! All you need is one pot, minimal equipment, and some ingredients to make a delicious meal. There are countless recipes that require minimal effort, and can be made with whatever ingredients you brought along for the trip.
My favorite one-pot recipes for camping are curries, soups, and stews. They’re easy to cook on a campfire, and provide tons of nourishment, protein and flavor. I also recommend making chili, or the classic mac ‘n’ cheese.
4. Use Your Dutch Oven
A Dutch oven is a type of cooking pot that you can use to roast, bake, braise, fry, or just make a simple stew or soup. It’s incredibly versatile, and perfect for camping. You can make just about anything in a Dutch oven, from roasted vegetables and meats, to whole cakes, breads, and even pizzas.
If you’re new to using Dutch ovens, take some time to research and practice the techniques pre-trip. This way, you’ll be an expert and ready to put the oven to the test when camping.
5. Add an Adventure Twist
When camping, it’s likely that you’ll spend a lot of time outdoors and in nature. So why not make good use of it? Make your dinners a fun outdoor adventure by combining your meal preparation with a new activity.
For example, you can try fishing for your dinner, searching for wild edibles, or just gathering wood for your campfire. You can even cook meals in the embers of the fire, like banana boats or foil-wrapped potatoes.
To make things easier, invest a little in the right materials. Buy or put together your own camping kitchen kit. This should include food storage containers, cutting boards, a portable cooking stove, and a kettle for making tea and coffee.
6. Put Together a Pantry
If you’re heading out on a longer camping trip or just love camping, it would be wise to set up a camping pantry. This would be a collection of various ingredients that you can use for any camping recipe. My camping pantry essentials include:
- Rice — Long-grain, Basmati, or quick-cooking
- Pasta — Elbow macaroni, spaghetti, linguini, etc.
- Flour — All-purpose or wheat
- Canned beans — Kidney, garbanzo, etc.
- Dried fruits — Cranberries, apricots, etc.
- Nut butters — Peanut, almond, etc.
- Instant soups — For quick and easy dinners
- Olive oil — For recipes and pizza doughs
- Herbs and spices — Oregano, thyme, pepper, garlic powder, etc.
The possibilities with a good pantry are endless. Keep in mind that there are some things you should avoid when stocking your pantry. Avoid can openers that may run on batteries as they are not ideal for camping. And, of course, don’t forget to store perishable goods in a cooler.
7. Check Out My Recipe & Meal Hacks Video
As you can see, making easy dinners when camping is easy if you plan ahead and give yourself the right tools. You can always be creative and come up with your own recipes and meal hacks.
At the end of the day, the most important thing is to respect the environment. Don’t forget about the Leave No Trace principles. Clean up after yourself and your group.
If you’re a fan of camping, you know that prepping your meals doesn’t have to be complicated or stressful. All you need is some organization and the right equipment, and you can make delicious and easy dinners that you and your friends can enjoy together.
I hope you enjoyed this post about easy dinners when camping. If you have any questions, leave a comment below or reach out to me on Twitter. Alternatively, check out these resources for more delicious camping recipes.