Camping Menu: Easy Meal Ideas for Every Camping Trip
Food is an essential part of everyday life, and a good camping menu can make or break your camping experience. This 3-day camping menu will help organize your camping meal plan and make your camping experience more enjoyable. This camping menu assumes that you will arrive at your campsite before dinner on Day 1 and leave the campsite after lunch on Day 3. A few of these meals include prepping ingredients at home before you leave for your camping trip, thus allowing more time to enjoy the outdoors instead of hunkering over the camp stove all day.
New to camping? Check out our Camping Tips: A Beginner’s Guide to Their First Trip
Camping Menu Day 1
When you arrive at the campsite on your first day, you will have to spend some time setting up camp: selecting a good site, pitching a tent, unloading the camping gear; and most likely exploring the area to get a feel for the campground. To make things easier for the first night’s dinner, we find it is best to prepare some of this meal at home.
Dinner: Smoked Tomato Pasta
Pasta is a simple dinner dish that just about everyone loves. Plus, ingredients are easy to find. By making your pasta at home, cooking time at the campground will be greatly reduced.
Ingredients: Pasta of your choice, olive oil, garlic, basil, oregano, pepper, and shredded parmesan cheese.
At home: Cook your pasta, and dress it with olive oil, fresh garlic, fresh chopped basil, and a dash of oregano. Prep thick-sliced tomatoes by marinating them in a bath of olive oil, pepper, and freshly minced garlic. Place this in a sealed container and pack it into your cooler.
At the campsite: Put your pasta in a pot on the stove with a little oil and let it heat, stirring often. Take your marinated tomatoes and place them on the fire pit grate; let sit for 3 to 4 minutes and flip. Once both sides are wrinkled, take them off the grill, and cut them into quarters. Mix these into your heated pasta and top with shredded parmesan.
Camping Menu Day 2
Today will most likely be full of activities that may include hiking, biking, swimming, paddling, or perhaps just lounging around in a hammock reading a book. For this day, your meals should be loaded with nutrients to fuel your body.
Breakfast: Camping Farmer’s Breakfast
Potatoes are rich in vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, plus they are incredibly filling. It’s important to note that peeling potatoes can significantly reduce their nutritional content. Prep your potatoes at home and store them in a cooler to reduce cooking time at the campsite.
Ingredients: 6 medium-sized potatoes, 1 package of bacon, 1 diced onion, 6 eggs, chopped kale, salt and pepper, butter, parsley, shredded cheese
At home: Boil potatoes whole in salted water until tender. Cool, cube, and store in a plastic container inside your cooler.
At the campsite: Fry bacon on medium heat to the desired crispness. Set aside on a paper towel. Add approximately 2 tbls. of butter to the bacon fat and fry onions until golden brown. Add potatoes to the pan with the onions until a crust forms, then add the kale. Chop the bacon into bite-sized pieces and add to the mixture. Crack the eggs into the pan and scramble them around with everything. Mix in the cheese until melted. Salt and pepper to taste, top off with parsley.
Lunch: Tuna and Veggie Wraps
Tuna is protein-packed, low in fat, contains Omega-3 fatty acids, and a good source of several essential vitamins and minerals. Plus it keeps well and is inexpensive. Prepping your tuna at home and storing it in a plastic container reduces prep time at the campsite while also minimizing waste.
Ingredients: canned tuna, tortilla wraps, romaine lettuce, celery, cucumber, red onion, tomatoes, garlic, salt, and pepper; mayonnaise and mustard are optional
At home: Dice your vegetables and mix with the tuna. Season with salt, pepper, and garlic to taste. Store in a plastic container inside your cooler.
At the campsite: Spread the tuna mixture on tortilla wraps, add mayonnaise or mustard if you did not include it in the pre-mix at home, fold in the ends of the wraps, and roll the tortilla closed. Enjoy!
These wraps can be eaten at the campsite or packed in your daypack to be eaten on the trail if you are out for a hike. We prefer wraps over bread because they are easier to pack and they will not smush as bread does.
Dinner: Hobo Dinner Hamburger Foil Packets
Foil packet meals can be made with almost any combination of meat and vegetables, can be customized with seasonings to personalized tastes, and require almost no cleanup! More importantly, they can be cooked over an open campfire or on the grill.
Ingredients: ground beef, potatoes, mushrooms, onions (thickly sliced), salt, pepper, oregano, garlic, olive oil, Worcestershire sauce, cabbage (if cooked over a campfire)
- Add the beef, salt, pepper, garlic powder, and Worcestershire sauce to a bowl. Use your fingers to gently work the seasonings into the beef. Form into patties.
- Combine the potatoes, mushrooms, and onions with olive oil and garlic powder. Sprinkle it with salt and pepper.
- Cut four strips of heavy-duty aluminum foil about 2 ft long.
- If you're making these on the campfire, lay a cabbage leaf on the bottom of each strip of foil before adding the veggies. Otherwise, layer the packets with veggies first and the burger patty on top.
- Bring the two short sides together and fold them down to seal. Fold/roll up the remaining two sides.
- Place directly on the grill grates, cover, and cook for 25-30 minutes.
- Carefully (really carefully--the steam can be very hot!), unwrap the packets. If desired, place a slice of cheese on top of each burger. Loosely roll back up and allow the cheese to melt for a few minutes. Top the burgers with additional sauces and seasonings, plus your favorite toppings, and serve.
If you're planning to cook these over the fire, we recommend placing a cabbage leaf on the bottom of the packet. The cabbage isn't for eating, but it helps prevent the outer edges from burning before the center is done. This recipe works best on a campfire that doesn't have a lot of active flames and is mostly coals. Lay the foil packet directly on the coals and cook for 20-25 minutes.
Camping Menu Day 3
With this being your final day at the campsite, feel free to empty the contents of your cooler and get creative with your leftovers. But it may also be another day full of outdoor activities so a quality breakfast should be served.
Breakfast: Johnny Apple Seed Oatmeal
We know what your thinking...oatmeal is so bland. A plain bowl of oats on its own is bland, but this recipe adds in apples and a variety of spices to reinvigorate your morning bowl of oats.
Ingredients (makes 2 bowls):
- 2 cups water
- 1 cup rolled oats
- 1 medium apple, diced into ½ inch cubes
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
- 1/4 teaspoon allspice
- 2 tablespoons hemp, flax, or chia seeds, (use a blend of equal parts)
- 2 tablespoons maple syrup
At home: Combine all dry ingredients (spices and seeds) into a zip lock bag and store them in a camping container. This will cut down on packing instead of bringing all these little bottles of spices to the campsite with you.
- Heat water and salt in a medium pot until it comes to a boil.
- Add oats, simmer for about ten minutes, or until the oats are tender, stirring occasionally.
- Halfway through the cooking time, add the apple, spices, and maple syrup.
Lunch: Mandarin Black Bean Salad
A quick, easy, and nutritious meal that can be mixed all in one bowl, thus limiting the number of dishes you will need to wash! This meal keeps well too so if you want you can make it at home and store it in a plastic container inside your cooler.
Ingredients: 2 cans of black beans, 2 cans of mandarin oranges, 2 cans of corn, ½ cup diced onion, vegetable oil, red wine vinegar
- Dice the onion, about ½ cup, and put it in a large bowl.
- Open and drain the cans of beans and corn. Add to the bowl of onions.
- Open the can of mandarin oranges. Save ⅓ cup of the juice. Drink or discard the rest. Put the orange slices into the large bowl, and stir gently to mix with the beans and corn, and onion.
- In a small bowl or mug, whisk together ¼ cup oil, ¼ cup vinegar, and the reserved ⅓ cup mandarin orange juice.
- Add this dressing to the large bowl. Stir gently until everything is well mixed.
Tip: Serve with tortilla chips or corn tortillas
Camping snacks and desserts:
Fruits, vegetables, nuts, potato chips, and other easy, ready-to-go snacks will surely be a part of your camping menu. However, there are a few campfire snacks that are worth cooking on your camping trip as well.
Make a long slit in each banana. Leave the skins on. Sprinkle mini marshmallows and chocolate chips in the slits. Sprinkle them with cinnamon or brown sugar. Wrap tightly in foil and place over a campfire until thoroughly mushy.
Apples by the Fire
Core an apple and fill it with brown sugar and cinnamon. Wrap the apple in a large piece of heavy foil, twisting the extra foil into a tail for a handle. Place the apple in the coals of a campfire or barbeque and let cook 5 to 10 minutes, until softened. Remove and unwrap, being careful of the hot sugar.
Heat the marshmallow on a stick over an open flame until it begins to turn brown and melt. Break the graham cracker in half. Sandwich the chocolate between the cracker and the hot marshmallow. Allow the marshmallow to cool a moment before eating.
Line a sugar cone with peanut butter and then fill the cone with your favorite toppings like mini marshmallows, chocolate chips, M&Ms, and bananas. Wrap the cone in aluminum foil and warm it up over the campfire for 5 to 10 minutes.
Stuffed Orange Brownies
Slice the lid off of an orange and remove the fruit (save to reuse in another dish), then fill the orange with brownie mix. Place the top of the orange back and wrap the stuffed fruit in aluminum foil, then place it over the campfire. Bake until the brownie mix is cooked, which usually takes about half an hour.
Essential Gear for Your Camp Kitchen
To make preparing your meals at the campsite a little easier, add these essential pieces of cooking equipment to your camping gear.
- A good cooler: An insulated cooler that can keep ice and food cold for at least three days is worth the investment.
- Plastic tote with a lid: Great for packing all of your dry goods and snacks that don't need to be kept cold. Additionally, a small plastic tub with a removable lid can double as a dishwashing tub and a bin for storing camping tools.
- Reusable plates & utensils.
- Chef's knife or other sharp knives
- Cutting board
- Fire-started kit or small portable grill: Research your campsite to see what is available to you during your stay.
- A cast-iron skillet: A skillet is great for cooking bacon and eggs or warming up chili.
- A pot holder or two to move around a hot skillet
- Long tongs: For moving things on and off the heat of a campfire.
- Camp soap & sponge: You'll want to be able to clean off your cookware and utensils between messier meals.
Things to Consider When Planning Your Camping Menu
- Nutrition: It’s important to keep your meals on the healthy side, ensuring that you’re getting the proper nutrition for vigorous activities like hiking. Adding dried fruits and nuts to your meal plan will help get proteins and complex carbohydrates into your system.
- Taste: If it doesn’t taste good, then you aren’t going to enjoy it. Bring spices and sauces to add some flavor to your meals.
- Weight and size: This is especially important if you are hiking to your campsite, as you will be carrying your food in your backpack. Even if you are car camping, bulky packages take up space. Divide up food into plastic baggies and portion out your meals beforehand. Don’t forget to remove extra packaging to save weight and space, such as removing the box from your granola bars before packing them.
- Preparation: Consider how much time goes into your meal. After an active day, you may just want a quick and easy meal. If you have a time-consuming meal, you may not have the energy to make it worthwhile. Be sure to pack some meals that simply require “add-boiled-water” like rice or pasta.
- Fuel/propane: If cooking time is long, then you’ll burn lots of fuel. You want to check cooking times on meals and check that it corresponds with the amount of fuel you bring along with you.
Further Reading: Top 20 Camping Destinations for your First Trip and The Top 14 Best Parks to Visit in California
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