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Planning a week’s worth of food for an entire family can be overwhelming, especially for a camping trip. Without a kitchen, a camp stove is essential, especially if your campsite doesn’t have a fire grill. However, limited cooking resources shouldn’t stop you from making drool-worthy meals.
Before you pick your favorite recipes and finalize your grocery list, make sure you have the essential cooking items for your family camping trip.
Washing dishes without a sink can be a pain, but it’s a necessary part of the cooking process! Unless you use aluminum foil to cook all of your meals, you’ll need to clean up after cooking. Bring biodegradable soap that will not harm the environment and pack a sponge and dish towel to reuse. Paper towels work too, but are less environmentally-friendly. Consider letting your dishes air-dry if it’s warm or breezy enough. Dishes often air dry within a matter of minutes, and the less damp towels, the better.
Cooking while in the great outdoors requires preparation, and there are many common questions, such as, how do I keep my food fresh in the cooler? How should I store my food? What are good non-perishables to bring? For the answers to all these questions and more, read our Complete Camping Food Guide: Prep, Storage, and More.
Start the day right with these five easy and mouthwatering ideas for a family camping breakfast.
Breakfast burritos are a camping favorite and can be made ahead. Cook the eggs at home, wrap in a tortilla, and wrap burritos in foil. When you’re ready to eat, place the foil-wrapped burritos on the coals of your fire, or on the stove top for a quick, yet filling breakfast. Refrigeration Required
If you’re opting for a slow, relaxing morning, cook up a scramble full of potatoes, eggs, and fajita veggies. This meal isn’t as easy to grab-and-go, but it’s sure to satisfy hungry campers while lounging around the site. Refrigeration Required
Did you know you can make pancakes with just three ingredients? Mix eggs, flour, and milk; add butter and syrup; and you’ve got a sweet way to start the day! Combine two eggs, one cup of flour, and one cup of milk into a mixing bowl, and whisk until there are no lumps. Pour onto skillet, flip, and enjoy! It’s really that easy. Top with syrup and whipped cream to satisfy your sweet tooth. Refrigeration Required
Oatmeal is an essential camp breakfast. A bowl of warm oatmeal is easy to make, great fuel, and really economical. If you don’t feel like making a fancy breakfast, but have a full day ahead, oatmeal is a great option. Start cooking the oatmeal in boiling water for about five minutes before adding apple, cinnamon, and syrup. For each cup of oatmeal, add another apple. Cook for another five minutes or until oats are tender, and then feed the family! No Refrigeration Required
French toast is not only delicious, but it’s also a great way to use any leftover bread from lunch sandwiches. The ideal egg-to-milk ratio is three eggs for every one cup of milk. Whisk eggs, milk, and two to four tablespoons of sugar together in a large bowl. Dip bread on each side, soaking for 10 to 20 seconds on each side. Fry the bread on skillet, for three minutes on each side. This quick and easy breakfast is a family favorite. Oui! Refrigeration Required
Midday, refuel with delicious, healthy meals like these:
Chicken salad sandwiches are a super easy way to keep the family fed while hiking or jumping into watering holes. If your kids are old enough, they can make the sandwich for themselves. Prepare the chicken salad ahead of time by mixing together cooked chicken, mayo, mustard, and celery. Pack the tupperware in a cooler so it’s ready to go for lunch time. Refrigeration Required
It doesn’t get much easier than peanut butter and jelly. Make sandwiches ahead of time, and store in ziplock bags for 2-3 days. To go above and beyond, add drizzled honey and a few banana or strawberry slices for a a deluxe sandwich. No Refrigeration Required
Another easy, healthy lunch option is pita wraps. To make lunch super simple, skip the meat as hummus is packed with plenty of flavor, substance, and protein. Hummus wraps are a great, energizing alternate to sandwiches. Refrigeration Required
Chances are, you’ll hang around your campsite for at least one lunch. Kabobs are simple, delicious, and make a great camp cookout. Prepare and marinate ahead of time for an effortless yet tasty lunch. Refrigeration Required
Eating under the stars is a magnificent experience by itself. Enhance the beautiful sights and sounds with a tasty and delicious meal for the perfect end to your day.
This meal couldn’t be easier, tastier, or more filling. There’s something about pasta with red sauce that tastes great after a day of exploring. If you’d like, you can easily add meat or veggies, but there’s something comforting about a classic bowl of simple spaghetti and marinara while sitting under the stars. No Refrigeration Required
Bean and rice burritos are filled with protein and super easy to make. It’s cheaper to buy bagged rice, but boxed rice cooks faster. Choose from a variety of flavors to spice things up! Cook the rice, add canned black beans to the pot, stir, and fill up each tortilla. Add salsa (and cheese, if you like), and enjoy! No Refrigeration Required
Who doesn’t love an easy foil dinner? Foil dinners are great because they require very little cleanup, and each family member can put what they like inside, including meat, cheese, and veggies. Use whatever you’ve brought along! The main and most important ingredient is potatoes, sliced or cubed. Make sure to wrap the foil tightly so nothing spills out. Set each meal on hot coals for about 30-45 minutes, rotating regularly. Open the foil, season with salt and pepper, and dig in! No Refrigeration Required
Cooking brats over a campfire is a longtime tradition the whole family can appreciate. More importantly, they’re delicious, yet require minimum effort. Grill the sliced onions and brats in the same pan, stirring the onions and turning over the brats as needed. Top with mustard, and chow down. Refrigeration Required
Pizza doesn’t immediately come to mind when planning camp meals, but it’s a surprisingly quick crowd pleaser. Slice a loaf of french bread in half; spread on marinara sauce; and add cheese. Wrap the bottom in foil, and place onto the grill for about 10 minutes, or until the cheese is melted. Keep it simple, or add additional toppings. You can never go wrong with pepperoni, sausage, bell peppers, and olives. Refrigeration Required
Sharing meals while camping together will create quality memories your family will never forget. Meals don’t have to be complicated! The easiest meals definitely hit the spot, especially while appreciating the simplicity of the outdoors. Plan ahead, and your family will be as enthusiastic about your food as they are about waking up each morning surrounded by lush greenery. Don’t forget to check off these Essential Camping Items, and embrace the family adventure.
Check out our trail chef styles: