Top 10 Foods for Family Camping

All packed-up and ready to go

All packed-up and ready to go

You don’t have to go overboard when it comes to preparing meals on camping trips. Many of the foods that you already prepare at home make great camping meals, too. Camping is about relaxing in the great outdoors, though, so focus on meals that are easy to prepare and don’t require a great amount of cleanup, afterwards.

Although it may sound boring, we tend to cook the same meals on all of our camping trips. This routine helps ensure that we don’t forget anything and the meals are basic enough that they can be jazzed-up to make them a little different, if we’re in the mood.

1. Pancake mix, butter and syrup have been the quintessential camping breakfast for many years, since it is easy to prepare and cook over a fire.

2. Hamburger, buns and fries, or skirt steak and tortillas, are two traditional meals that are perfect for cooking over a fire.

3. Eggs and sausage or bacon just seems better when they’re cooked over a fire, or on a camp stove. There’s no easier way to get the kids up and out of the tent in the morning, than the smell of sausage or bacon.

4. Pasta and marinara is great for lunches and a quick dinner on Friday night, after arriving at the campground. It is quick and easy to prepare but, particularly in cold weather, is a lot more satisfying than a cold meal.

5. Peanut butter bars are a great snack food to quench the mid-day munchies and they travel well, so they make great trail snacks.

When sizing an ice chest for camping do not forget about ice, which takes-up a significant amount of space

When sizing an ice chest for camping do not forget about ice, which takes a significant amount of space (three 1-gallon milk jugs above)

6. Marshmallows don’t have any redeeming nutritional value, but combined with graham crackers and chocolate bars they become a magical campfire treat that your kids are guaranteed to talk about at school on Monday morning.

7. Milk is great for hot cocoa on those cool camping nights, but milk and cereal are also the perfect Sunday morning breakfast when you are getting ready to pack-up and head for home.

8. Juice is essential when camping with kids and it helps keep them hydrated if they are not big water drinkers.

9. If beer is not essential for camping, then it is very close.

10. Cheese, onion and peppers are what separate a bland camping meal from something everyone will remember. Mix them with eggs in a skillet for a great breakfast, or grill onions and peppers over the fire for tasty fajitas.

See also…

49 thoughts on “Top 10 Foods for Family Camping

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  6. Dehydrated foods are easy to do too. I did an article on basic food dehydration, but something as simple as applesauce is do-able and just add a tiny bit of water. It’s lightweight and delicious.

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  14. We like to have stuffed bananas for dessert. Take a ripe banana and peel back one section without pulling it all the way off. Cut out 1/4 of the banana and fill the open area with mini marshmallows and semi sweet chocolate chips. Replace the banana section, then the peel. Wrap it in a double layer of aluminum foil and place over your campfire. Turn them a few times till everything is heated through and melted. Then just pull the peel back and eat.

  15. Its not camping without the pancakes :) also, if you have kids, a treasure hunt for chocolate of=r something is a good way to keep them entertained xxx

  16. if u use 4 -1/2 gallon milk jugs instead of 3 1-gallon jugs u will save space without losing cooling . try 1 on each corner of cooler or 2 on bottom and 1 on each end

  17. we cook the omelette’s in ziploc freezer bag (smaller sized) we cook our bacon and sausage at home then store in a bag and chop all of our vegetables also at home and place in bags and on saturday mornings we pull it all out of the cooler and the kids can add what ever they want to it. But do not add your cheese till it’s done it’s hard to tell if your eggs all the way done with melted cheese in there.

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  19. One of our favorite camp breakfasts is hot scones. My daughter in law introduced us to this. She purchases Rhodes frozen bread dough and lets it thaw over night. The next morning she heats veg oil in a fry daddy (if power is available) or small dutch oven. The oil should be a couple of inches deep in the cooker.
    She cuts off a chunk of dough and flattens it. She then puts the dough in the oil and lets it cook until browned and then turns it over and browns the other side. Usually two or three can be cooked at a time. We serve with butter, honey butter of various flavors, honey or jam. These are excellent, easy to make and require very little clean up.

  20. Thanks for the great post with good information. I too have been experimenting with the pie irons. Also, there is foil dinners. Foil dinners also do not have as much clean up and the whole dinner can be done in it. This makes me miss camping her in Upstate NY even more. Thanks for the great post.

  21. Love the idea of the corn on the cob. Will have to try that.

    I have just discovered “Pie Irons”. I have a waffle maker, a panini size cooker, and little round and a little square closed one. Its like having little cast iron skillets. The panini one is good for grilled sandwiches as well as grilling meat because it has the raised ridges inside. The little round and square is good for cooking anything: tube cinnamon rolls, any muffin mix (they come out looking like English muffins), biscuits, etc. I can also cook a single egg in the rounds and squares, adding extras to them if I want. I also have an open sided round one for cooking hamburgers. Open slits let the grease drip out and crisps up the meat…yummy. They are heavy, but if you are car camping, they are very useful. I find I do less pot cooking. You don’t have to wash these, just burn out any food that sticks, spray oil it, wipe it out and put away. Less water and yummy food. I love my big cast iron pot, but these give some similar products in an easier to use format. I don’t camp with kids anymore, but I think they are a good way for older kids to learn how to be creative with their own meals.
    Thanks for this 10foods list. Very helpful. As a single camper now, I am really having to restructure my food and its actually hard to switch from big family meals to what works for just one person. How about a blog for us non-family campers to exchange ideas?

    • Jenn – I was hoping to tryout a pie iron this year, but I just didn’t get the chance. It’s definitely on my list, though!

  22. Kass – I’m not sure you can go overboard, camp cooking is a lot of fun! I’m on a pizza kick, lately, so I’m going to experiment with some campfire pizza :)

  23. Laura – they are a lot of fun (and tasty, too!)

    Pinch – we grill corn on the cob quite a bit, it’s really tasty!

  24. Omlette in a bag… thanks for the tip!

    Another good camping recipe is Grilled Corn on the Cob

    Soak the corn (husk and all) in water for about 5 minutes. Place the corn onto the grill and let cook for about 5 minutes and flip it over, keep flipping every 5 minutes to ensure the corn doesn’t burn. Remove the corn from the grill once the husks have turned dark black. Husk the corn as usual and serve with salt and pepper and butter. It gives the corn a completely different taste!

  25. They make an over the fire popcorn popper. I actually saw it online at bassproshop.com today. Kind of like the hot dog roaster stick with a kettle on the end…very cool and reasonably priced.

  26. Pingback: Topics about Camping » Archive » Top 10 Foods for Family Camping

  27. Mike – I agree, but I’m just not a big fan of beer in a can, unless it’s Hamms – and that’s only for special occasions :)

    Rick – we have 1 Jiffy Pop left (it’s hard to find, these days) and I should have put it in the picture – my bad. I guess when we can’t get it anymore I’m going to have to find some kind of popcorn popper for the campfire.

    Shawna – I’ve got a dutch oven on my shopping list and I can’t wait to tryout some new recipes! Once in a while we take a can of Pillsbury cinnamon rolls and let the kids wrap the dough on a stick and cook it over the fire – that’s always a big hit!

  28. Great Post! We do the pasta and marinara as well! Apealing to adults and kids. We did the omelet in a bag last summer…but after the whole BPA plastic thing I think we’ll pass now. My favorite by far though is dutch oven dump cake. People think it’s difficult but it’s not at all, you just have to start cooking it sooner than normal meals. Plus if you don’t eat it all for desert at night it makes a great breakfast!

    shawna’s last blog post..Climbing Harness For Kids

  29. I’ll second pasta as a great first meal after setting up camp. I actually like to make a big pile of spaghetti at home, put it in a gallon ziploc, and then just re-heat at camp.

    Beer=yes! However, Roy, I see you’ve packed bottles. Cans are easier to stack in the cooler, and create less waste to haul out (once smashed-down). Plus, broken glass in the campground=bad!

    I’m curious about the ziploc omelette! Are these bags safe to heat (no leaching of chemicals)? Great idea if it works!

    Mike’s last blog post..Rediscovering the run.

  30. True, Dan – beer is the one thing that is rarely left behind in the fridge!

    VE – I just suck at omelette’s. Every time I try it, it just ends up being a skillet scramble – heh.

  31. Thanks, Roy. Now I’m sitting here drooling all over at the thought of bacon and smores. Good thing it’s almost lunch time! As far as #9–it may not show on many “camping lists”, but that’s because everyone knows not to forget it. :)

    Dan’s last blog post..Sea Kitten Surprise

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