As you learn how to keep food cold while camping, organize food in bins and other tricks to create a makeshift kitchen at the campsite, you’ll soon realize it takes work. But when camping is supposed to be a relaxing place where you can spend time with friends and family, the last thing you want to be doing is cooking.
While some camp chefs love to show off their gourmet cooking skills in the wilderness, most of us prefer the easy route and simple, quick meals. Not sure what we mean? From breakfast to dinner and even a sweet treat for dessert, here are 10 easy-to-bring camping meals that will make your life much easier.
Fresh eggs tend to break, no matter how delicate you pack them or how smooth your rolling cooler glides across the stumps and rocks at the campsite. So, do yourself a favor and make a scrambled egg dish instead. Pair it with bacon, sausage links and a side of hash browns (from the freezer aisle, of course) and you have yourself a complete breakfast. However, if you prefer a sunny-side-up yolk, keep the eggs isolated in a personal cooler away from other foods. This is an excellent idea for all types of meats.
Bring along a store-bought can of cinnamon rolls and arrange them at the bottom of a cast-iron Dutch oven. Then, place them over the fire and let them cook. It takes practice to learn how to cook with a Dutch oven, but once you grasp it, you’ll want to cook every camp meal in it — sweet or savory. As the rolls are firming up and almost done baking, add some fruit toppings like blueberries, canned peaches or apples. If you like, mix up a glaze at home and pack it in the cooler. Garnish with chopped glazed pecans, too, for a bit of crunch.
Another easy-to-bring camping meal is English muffins and jam. Perfect for a lightish breakfast, just pack a few English muffins, preferably ones with lots of nooks and crannies, and give them a slight char over the fire or stove. Then, spread on a pat of butter and a fruity jam, such as peach or raspberry. If you want a salty taste along with the sweet, you can top it off with a sausage patty or leftover slice of bacon from the scrambled egg meal.
Avocados are one of those great fruits that have their own wrapper, so to speak. Slice open an avocado to make guacamole or — even better — avocado toast. Whether you prefer it mashed or sliced, crack open your avo and place it on a slice of sourdough bread or an open ciabatta roll. Sprinkle red pepper flakes and garnish your avo toast however you please to create one super-tasty, easy-to-bring camping meal that can work for both breakfast or lunch.
Not sure you want to lug around a loaf of bread that could wind up crushed amongst all the camp gear? Then skip the doughy stuff and bring something more portable, like tortillas. These flat round slices of bread allow you to make all sorts of simple camp meals, such as wraps. However, one of the most fun easy-to-bring camping meals you can make out of tortillas is quesadillas. Just sprinkle a little pepper jack cheese on one side, along with onions, black beans or corn, and fold it over. Make sure to bring the salsa and hot sauce to complete the meal.
Speaking of salsa, with the same jar and shredded cheese, you can make nachos another night. Just pack a bag of chips, spread them out in a cast iron skillet and pile on your favorite toppings. Diced peppers and onions, black beans and a can of sliced jalapenos — this easy-to-bring camping meal is a real crowd-pleaser.
Skewered kebabs are done right when grilled over an open flame. So if you have a firepit, strike up the bonfire and skewer some meat and veggies. Before packing the cooler, prepare the meat and slice the veggies, placing them in separate containers, and bring the skewers along to complete the dish at the campsite. Think of combinations like pineapple and pork sausages or chicken, apples and onions. Then, when the family gets hungry, have everyone chip in and put together the skewers.
Chili is one of those dishes that can get complicated if you let it. But when you just want a bowl of something warm to stick to your ribs on a chilly night camping, any simple chili will do the trick. This easy-to-bring camping meal doesn’t need tons of ingredients. Just pick up a can of stewed tomatoes, a few cans of pinto or kidney beans, dice up green peppers and onions and the protein of your choice and stew it all together. Not sure what kind of spices you need? That’s what premade chili flavoring packets are for! Of course, no chili is complete without a side of cornbread. But for this side dish, make it easy on yourself and buy it straight from the store’s bakery.
While s’mores is a camping classic, there’s one dessert that often goes overlooked: the bonfire banana boat. Slicing a banana into a piece of foil, sprinkle it with chocolate chips, caramel or whatever sweet toppings you love. Then, wrap up the foil packet and place the banana boat over the fire. After a few minutes, it will come out warm, melted and delicious.
Similar to the way you might cook the cinnamon rolls, you can make a peach cobbler for dessert. Just line the bottom of your Dutch oven with shortbread cookies, followed by two cans of sliced peaches. (Make sure they’re in syrup.) Spread the peaches out evenly across the Dutch oven and then empty a package of yellow cake mix and create another even layer. Add 10 pats of butter, sprinkle on some cinnamon and cook for roughly one hour. And if you’re wondering — yes, it’s worth the wait.