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Tasty and Convenient Camping Food Ideas for the Family

Set out on your camping journey confidently with this guide to delicious and convenient camping food ideas. Whether it’s quick breakfasts to fuel your morning or hearty lunches, dinners and sweet treats around the campfire, these choices will keep you fueled and happy.

camping food ideas

Photo by Myles Tan – contains affiliate links

Meal planning for your next camping trip doesn’t have to be a daunting task. This guide cuts through the complexity, offering straightforward meal ideas and tips to make camp cooking a breeze. With a focus on minimal prep and maximum flavor, these options ensure you spend less time cooking and more time enjoying the great outdoors.

Planning your camping menu

Before leaving on a camping trip, plan your menu around easy meals and meal prep strategies that help ensure a hassle-free dining experience. With some preparation, you can enjoy delicious, satisfying meals that require minimal effort and equipment. Here are some top tips:

  • Pack pre-seasoned meat or other proteins like tofu or tempeh in vacuum-sealed bags. This saves space in your cooler and allows the flavors to marinate and intensify.
  • Pre-chop vegetables and store them in resealable bags or containers. This makes it easier to assemble meals quickly and reduces the amount of prep work required at the camp kitchen.
  • Opt for versatile ingredients that you can use in multiple dishes. For example, a can of beans can be added to salads and soups or served as a side dish. 
  • Pack essentials like spices, condiments and oil. These small items can make a big difference in your meals’ flavor.

You can also experiment with camp-friendly recipes at home to ensure meals are foolproof and flavorful. With these meal prep tips in mind, you can spend less time worrying about food and more time enjoying your camping trip. 

Campfire breakfasts

There’s something genuinely magical about campfire breakfasts. Their comforting warmth is always most welcome and can set the perfect tone for your day at camp. You can make the most of your morning meal in the wilderness with these camping food ideas, whether you prefer the simplicity of homemade campfire recipes or the convenience of store-bought options.

Homemade options

You can prepare easy breakfast choices such as granola or breakfast bars in advance or create one of these delicious meals right at your campsite.

Pancakes: Start the day with fluffy pancakes made from scratch. All you need is a portable griddle or a cast-iron skillet. Mix flour, baking powder, a pinch of salt, milk, an egg and some melted butter or oil to create your batter. For a twist, add blueberries or chocolate chips into the mix. Serve with maple syrup for that touch of sweetness. 

Oatmeal: Bring rolled oats and simply add water or milk before cooking them over the campfire. Customize your bowl with nuts, dried fruits or a spoonful of peanut butter for added energy.

Store-bought options

These breakfast selections are designed to get your day started quickly and conveniently.

Freeze-dried breakfast skillet: These freeze-dried breakfasts usually contain eggs, sausage and potatoes, which you can easily rehydrate with water. This Breakfast Skillet is gluten free, high in protein and really flavorful.

Granola bars and protein bars: Bars are a great way to satisfy hunger without too much fuss. Clif Bars are an essential must-pack item for any camping trip I plan. They’re lightweight, packed with protein, and come in various flavors, so you are never bored.

“Just add water” Pancake Mix: This shake and pour mix is perfect for camping!

Satisfying camp lunches and dinners

When camping, lunch and dinner are an opportunity to gather around the fire, share stories and enjoy the beauty of nature. Whether crafting a meal from scratch or utilizing convenient store-bought options, here’s how to keep your camping meals tasty and easy to prepare.

Homemade options

For those who love the process of cooking and eating freshly prepared meals, these homemade camping food ideas are for you.

Chili: Pre-make a chili at home and bring it to reheat at camp, or cook it over the fire using canned goods like beans, diced tomatoes, ground meat or a meat substitute. Serve with crusty bread or crackers.

Foil packet meals: Combine sliced potatoes, veggies, spices and protein — chicken, fish, tofu, tempeh — with some seasoning in aluminum foil packets. Cook the packets over a campfire or grill for a no-mess, delicious meal that truly captures the essence of camping.

“By far, our favorite dish for camping is fire nachos. Basically, you make your nachos with all the fixings in a tinfoil bowl. Then, you wrap the top in more tinfoil to seal the bowl and bake it over the fire. Not only are they the best nachos you’ll taste, but because they are sealed, you can toss, turn and flip them whichever way you want.” 

— Shelby, Fit As A Mama Bear

camping food ideas

Photo by Dmitriy Zub

Store-bought options

When convenience is vital and time is of the essence, these store-bought meal options are a camper’s best friend.

Instant rice and pasta meals: Available in a variety of flavors, these dehydrated meals are a godsend for campers. This Cuban Rice Bowl is delicious and made with clean ingredients. All you need is a little boiling water, and then you’re good to go. It really doesn’t get easier or tastier than this.

Canned soup and stew: While less glamorous than other options, canned soups and stews can be lifesavers on chilly nights. They’re easy to pack, require minimal preparation and warm you from the inside out. This Rustic Italian Vegetable Soup reheats over a small camp stove in just a few minutes and hits the spot after a long day of exploring.

Best camping snacks

The best camping snacks provide a quick energy boost, are easy to pack and can be enjoyed on the go. Whether hitting the trails, relaxing at your campsite or enjoying the sunset, having the right mix of homemade and store-bought options can elevate your camping experience.

Homemade options

Creating your own snacks not only allows for customization according to your taste preferences  and dietary needs, but also adds a personal touch to your outdoor meals.

Trail mix: Create your own trail mix by combining nuts, seeds, dried fruits and a sprinkle of chocolate chips for a sweet touch. 

Energy balls: Blend oats, nut butter, honey or maple syrup and add-ins like chocolate chips, dried fruit or seeds to make energy balls

Store-bought options

Store-bought snacks are a reliable choice for those seeking an easier path without compromising nutrition.

Jerky: Jerky of any sort is a high-protein snack that’s lightweight and non-perishable. Beef and turkey jerky are common choices, but there are even plant based options.

Dried fruit and nut packs: Individual packs of dried fruits and nuts are perfect for camping. They don’t require refrigeration, are easy to distribute and satisfy cravings in a pinch. This pomegranate cashew fruit and nut mix comes in perfect individual serving portions and has such an enjoyable variety of textures.

Sweet campfire treats

Desserts are the perfect way to end a day of adventures, gathering around the warmth of the fire with something delicious and comforting. Whether you prefer to prepare your treats at home or choose convenient store-bought options, these sweet delights will surely make your camping experience even more memorable.

Homemade options

Here are some homemade options that bring classic and creative flavors to your camping nights.

camping food ideas - s'more

S’mores: The quintessential campfire treat, s’mores are simple to make and endlessly customizable. Sandwich a piece of chocolate and a roasted marshmallow between two graham crackers. For a fun twist, try using different types of chocolate, like white or ruby chocolate.

Campfire cones: Fill waffle cones with mini marshmallows, chocolate chips and other toppings you like — think strawberries, bananas or caramel syrup. Wrap them in aluminum foil and heat over the campfire until everything is melted and gooey.

Store-bought options

For those looking for ease without sacrificing sweetness, these store-bought camping desserts offer a quick and easy way to indulge in delicious desserts without the prep work.

Chocolate bars with fillings: Chocolate bars with caramel, peanut butter or other fillings add flavor and texture while satisfying your sweet tooth. I love these raspberry chocolate bars for their incredible fruity flavor.

Fruit cups or pudding cups: Bring some fruit or pudding cups for something a little different. They’re easy to pack, don’t require refrigeration and, best of all, require zero prep work.  The kids love these fruit cups that contain popping boba. It’s so much fun to pop those tiny pearls with each bite.

Whether you lean towards homemade classics or opt for the ease of store-bought goodies, there’s a plethora of camping food ideas to keep you going from sunrise to sunset. From the first crackle of breakfast bacon to the last gooey s’more under the stars, each meal and snack is an opportunity to create lasting memories in the great outdoors.

Kristen Wood is a photographer, recipe developer, writer and creator of Schisandra and Bergamot, a nature blog. She is also the author of Vegetarian Family Cookbook, Fermented Hot Sauce Cookbook and Hot Sauce Cookbook for Beginners. Her work has been featured in various online and print publications, including Healthline, Martha Stewart, Yoga Journal, Willow and Sage Magazine, Chicago Sun-Times, and more. Kristen is a syndicated writer for The Associated Press.

This article originally appeared on Food Drink Life.

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