Planning the food is one of those elements of camping where it truly depends on what style of camping you are doing! Different camping types have different requirements or limitations. It’s a great idea to plan your meals specific to the food that will work well with the kind of camping, thus, cooking you will be able to do.
Car camping with electricity or RV camping
If you’re going out to relax and enjoy nature but you know you’re going to have access to a plug, why not bring your instant pot or your crock pot or even a griddle or any other kitchen appliance you just love! These are such handy kitchen gadgets that allow you to enjoy a well-rounded meal while camping with all the same meals you could make right at home. Why not try packing a few meals in some large Ziplock bags that you can dump right in to the instant pot, or pack some pancake mix to put on the griddle, or a big batch of stew to throw into the crock pot. It saves time for sure. If you’re in an RV, then you will probably have a pretty easy time cleaning up afterward. If you’re not it’s still pretty easy to give the appliance a quick wipe and more of a deep clean at home when you put it back on the shelf!
Here are a couple of my favourite meals when “electric camping”. Use the instant pot for pulled pork, shredded BBQ chicken, chili, pot roast and potatoes, lasagna casserole…really there are just too many options to list them all here. Even soups, stews, rice dishes, full meal casseroles – the sky’s the limit. On the griddle you can make some pancakes, quesadillas, even fancy grilled cheese tuna melts!
So, if you are going camping with electricity, take full advantage of having those kitchen appliances! My recommendation (as much as possible) is to do as much prep as you can ahead of time at home. It’s sooo much easier to dice up the meat or veggies in the comfort of your own home, and deal with garbage that you won’t need around your camp! You can even freeze your meals ahead of time so that they thaw in the fridge of the RV, or in the cooler; that way your meals can help keep all of your other cooler items…well…cooler!
Car camping without electricity
If you don’t have electricity, have no fear. You need a bit more planning behind your meals if you can’t just dump them into your special handy dandy kitchen appliance. To plan your meals with more success, it’s helpful to decide HOW you are going to cook them. Are you bringing a Coleman stove? Cooking on the fire? Bringing a small charcoal grill? Each cooking method has foods that are better suited for them. Some people just think about hot dogs, burgers and Kraft dinner. I find that when you are camping, it’s fun to really look forward to your meals.
Try to keep ‘easy cooking and easy cleaning’ in mind for your meal plan. You can prep ahead (and even freeze) some parts of the meals to ensure simplicity at camp. Some easy meals to make use foil packs. Think fish, potatoes and veggies, or cheese and bacon with fries, or even, sausage, corn and rice. You can easily put together each individual packet then slide them into a gallon sized freezer bag for freezing! You can also consider one pot casseroles like chili, Shephard’s pie, mac and cheese, or even spaghetti and meatballs! Some other great things to pack are deli sandwiches with a high salt meat like salami, and tacos in a bag (use a small bag of cheese Doritos and add all your taco toppings to your bag, shake it up and enjoy! You can also do a simple lunch on the fire by taking a hot dog and wrapping it in bread dough like Pillsbury crescent rolls!
I love desserts and snacks so we generally bring some stove top popcorn, trail mix, chips, some other candy treats and we can’t forget smores! You can also change up your smores by adding different kinds of chocolate (like Reese’s, mars, or even all the varieties of aero bars), or different cookies (like celebration cookies with caramel and, I am told, Oreos make a great graham cracker)!
These are actually the trips I LOVE to plan food for! I even use my oven to get crazy and dehydrate some of my meals!! Some meals that you would use an actual food dehydrator for, require a temp of 170F, which happens to be the lowest temp for my oven!!! How perfect! I have mostly made full meals that you cook all in. I dehydrate the meal by spreading the food on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, and I stir and re-spread everything out each hour until it’s fully dehydrated. I pack the dehydrated meal into a Ziplock bag, then rehydrate it on the stove while camping. There are so many resources out there if you’re looking for more tips about the process. I am NOT an expert at this, so I don’t want to risk you getting sick while you’re out camping (that would not be fun)! Do your own research here so that you know what you are doing BEFORE you rehydrate your meals while camping. I just started dehydrating my own meals last year for a longer trip and I knew that I did not want to buy some of the premade freeze-dried meals.
Last year I made chicken burrito bowls (I recommend using ground chicken because it rehydrates better), chili, and unstuffed peppers. I also packed some precooked bacon, some (add water) pancake mix, and made my own oatmeal packets trying to add a bunch of filling ingredients like PB powder, protein powder, nuts and raisins.
I am going on another back country trip in a few weeks and I can’t wait to explore more options and prep different meals to dehydrate. I guess I better get on that!
If you go camping this summer, don’t forget to stop and really enjoy the food!
Thanks for coming home!
Just look at the deliciousness!