Camping is a fun way to spend time with your family and have a great time away from home. As you won't have access to a refrigerator and all of the other appliances you have in your kitchen, it's important that you think about what you'll eat on your trip. Whether you plan a weekend or a full week away from home, there are tons of camping meals for families that are easy to make and taste delicious. You'll even find some that come dehydrated and ask you to just add water and others that work when you have no cooler. Here are some ideas to get your wheels turning. (And be sure to check out our “Camping With Kids Checklist” to make sure you have everything you'll need beyond food!)
Breakfast Meals to Make While Camping
Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. It gives you the energy you need to get through the day and helps you start the day off on the right foot. One of the best and easiest meals you can make for breakfast when camping is an omelet in a bag. Though you can make a few at home and toss them in your cooler, it's just as easy to whip this recipe together on your campsite.
To make an omelet in a bag, whisk two eggs per person and pour the beaten eggs into a sealed plastic bag. You can then add any toppings that you love. Try adding chopped ham and veggies along with a small amount of cheese. Your family will like that they can choose their favorite toppings. Fill a pot with water and place it on your campfire. Once the water comes to a boil, drop the bag inside the pot. It takes around five minutes to cook an omelet made with two to three eggs.
Campfire granola is another fun breakfast dish that you can customize. Place a cast iron skillet over your campfire and add ½ cup of vegetable oil. Once the pan is hot, add two cups of almonds or your favorite nuts. Stir the nuts until they're hot and toasty. You will then add six cups of rolled oats. Cook the mixture just long enough for the oats to turn a light brown color. Once you remove the mixture from the heat, add a little maple syrup and brown sugar. You can also add plain white sugar and any flavorings that you like. While you can eat the granola hot from the fire, you can also wait for it to cool and then put it in a bag to enjoy granola on a hiking trip when you're away from your campsite.
When looking for camping meals for breakfast that need no cooler, consider canned biscuits. Unroll a sheet of aluminum foil and place it on your picnic table or a flat surface. Open a can of biscuits and spread them out across the foil. You'll then wrap the biscuits with another sheet of foil, making sure they are completely covered. Place the biscuits directly in the campfire and cook for roughly 20 minutes. If you need a more hearty breakfast, snag a can of sausage gravy. You can heat the gravy in a cast iron pot and have a filling breakfast ready to eat in 30 minutes or less.
Lunch Meals to Make While Camping
Finding meals for kids is often hard, especially if you have a few picky eaters. You can bring ready to eat dishes from home like peanut butter and jelly sandwiches that you make and freeze before your trip. By the time you finish setting up your camp, the sandwiches will be thawed and ready to eat.
Another dish that many kids love is camp nachos. When making camp nachos, make sure you have a good fire going. You need a metal pan that you bring from home, which you can line with aluminum foil to make cleaning up a breeze. Cover the bottom of the pan with an even layer of tortilla chips and top with half a can of refried beans. Add any toppings that you want like peppers and onions or olives and cooked hamburger. It's also helpful to sprinkle taco seasoning over the top. Finish with a second layer of all of your ingredients and a hefty amount of shredded cheese. Cover the nachos with foil and place them over the campfire for 10 minutes or until the cheese melts.
As you look for recipes for kids, consider potato boats. Kids who love baked potatoes will get a kick out of this recipe. Place a large potato flat on your picnic table. Cut through the potato, leaving just a small flap still attached to the skin on the bottom. Make several coats across the top and place a piece of cooked bacon inside each cut. Add a pat of butter and a little salt and pepper or any other seasonings that they like. Wrap the potato in aluminum foil and place it inside the campfire. You can also cook the potato on the metal grate over the fire. It usually takes 30 to 45 minutes for the potato to cook. Once you remove it from the fire, let your kids top their potato boats with sour cream and cheese or anything else they want.
Tuna and chicken salad are also fun lunch ideas. These recipes need no cooler because you can use individual packets of yellow mustard, pickle relish, and mayonnaise. Mix one small can of tuna or chicken with two packets of mayonnaise and one packet each of mustard and relish. You'll even find some lunch kits that come with everything you need to make chicken or tuna salad in a small container that fits in your backpack. Pair the sandwiches with chips for a convenient lunchtime meal.
Dinner Meals to Make While Camping
After a long day of playing in the water or hiking through the wilderness, you might not have as much energy as you thought you would have. That doesn't mean you can't get a delicious dinner on the table for your family though. Some of the best and easiest camping meals let you throw some ingredients in a pot and just add water like the recipe for camp stew.
Camp stew is so easy to make that you might wonder why you never tried it before. Start with a large pot and both potatoes and onions. Though you can use small red potatoes, you can also use larger potatoes as long as you cut them into smaller pieces first. Add corn on the cob that you cut in half and smoked sausage. It's helpful to add the smoked sausage later. As it's already cooked, you just need to heat it through. Fill the pot with enough water to cover the ingredients and place it on the campfire. You can also use broth to add more flavor to the stew.
If you want a quick meal that doesn't require a lot of work, consider fiesta rice. One of the best things about this recipe is that you can make it at home and store it in a bag until it's time for dinner. Combine 2/3 cup of instant brown rice with ½ cup dehydrated corn and ½ cup freeze-dried chicken. You'll find these ingredients at camping stores as well as on Amazon. You'll also want to add ¼ cup of freeze-dried onions and the same amount of freeze-dried tomatoes. Mix and match the seasonings that you love in Mexican dishes like chili powder, garlic, cumin, and oregano along with salt and pepper. Add one tablespoon of freeze-dried tomato sauce and chicken stock. Combine all of the ingredients and store them in a bag until you reach your campsite. To cook this dish, bring a pot of water to a boil and gently place the bag inside. It takes around 10 minutes for it to cook through before you can serve it.
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Dehydrated meals for kids include recipes like minestrone soup that even the pickiest of eaters in your family will like. The basic recipe calls for one chopped zucchini, one chopped carrot, one chopped celery stalk, and one small chopped onion. Place all of the vegetables inside your food dehydrator in an even layer. Open a can of white beans or any other bean that you like. Drain the can and pat the beans dry before you arrange them in the dehydrator. You also need to drain a 15-ounce can of chopped tomatoes and place them in the dehydrator. Leave the ingredients in your machine for up to 12 hours at 135 degrees Fahrenheit.
You will then add all of the vegetables to a plastic bag with ½ cup of your favorite pasta and seasonings or spices such as garlic, salt, pepper, dehydrated onion, and dried oregano along with two vegetable or beef bullion cubes. When it's time for a family dinner, add the contents of the bag to a pot and just add water. You need enough water to just cover the top. Bring the mixture to a boil and then move to a cooler spot on the campfire until the ingredients are warm and the pasta is done. Make this dish more filling with some hearty bread.
No matter how long you plan to be away from home, try some of these camping meals that your family will love.