When you think of camping one of the first things that comes to mind is sitting around a fire and roasting marshmallows. Unfortunately man cannot live on sweet, fluffy treats alone and so finding other foods that can be easily prepared in the wilderness is a must. In this guide we’ll take a look at what you’ll need for campsite cooking and help you prepare meal ideas for your next excursion.
Packing Food and Supplies for Camping
Before you can plan your camping menu you’ll need to determine how much you’re able to bring with you. In a perfect world you’d want to bring a cooler with lots of ice and all of the foods you might crave over the course of your trip. However if you have a long hike to your campsite or you plan on moving sites, this may not be feasible.
The supplies you bring and types of food you pack will depend greatly on the type of camping trip you’re planning. For example, more casual campers who can drive directly to their campsite (or are staying on camping grounds) may choose to pack boxes and coolers full of food and leave them in their vehicle. Others may only have room for a few culinary options and might want to bring little more than a small camping stove to cook with. And even more hardcore adventurers may only have room for foods they can cook over an open flame.
Here are some things to bring regardless of which category you fit in.
Camping Cooking Supply List:
– Aluminum foil
– Utensils (large spoon, spatula, and any desired flatware)
– A small pot and/or skillet
If you have a bit more room, you may also want to bring:
– Propane camping stove
– Grilling baskets
– Ice chest
What Foods to Bring
Now that you’ve figured out what supplies you’ll be bringing along, it’s time to decide what foods you’ll be dining on. If you’re trying to keep your load to a minimum, it may be wise to create a menu or schedule of the meals you’ll have on your trip. This way you can ensure you’re not wasting space on foods that will go uneaten.
The best types of foods to bring on a camping trip are those that are ready to eat out of the package or that only need to be heated to serve. Incidentally campfires aren’t the most controllable methods of cooking, so bringing precooked foods will help prevent you from getting any illnesses than can occur when food is undercooked. However even cooked meats, cheeses, and certain condiments (I’m looking at you, mayonnaise) need to be kept out of the “danger zone” — between 40 and 140 degrees Fahrenheit — for extended periods of time.
In order to keep your food at the proper temperatures be sure to bring along icepacks and a cooler. If you can’t bring along a full ice chest, look into bringing a small, insolated lunchbox that can do the job. Also remember that those ice packs won’t stay cold forever so try to plan on eating foods in need of refrigeration at the beginning of your trip when they’re at their freshest.
Classic Camping Food Ideas and Tips
There are a few foods that have almost become synonymous with camping. S’mores, hot dogs, and canned beans have all been staple campfire dishes for many years now. However there are a few other foods that are camping favorites because of how easy they are to prepare on site.
Baked potatoes have become a standard of campfire cooking for a number reasons. First they’re not temperature sensitive. Secondly they can be surprisingly hearty and filling. Finally they happen to be delicious!
To cook baked potatoes using a campfire, double wrap each one in aluminum foil. Before sealing add any butter, oil, salt, or anything you’d like for seasoning. Once it’s wrapped and ready to go, simply place each potato in the coals of the fire. They can take anywhere from 30-45 minutes to cook, so keep an eye on them, Also be sure to keep track of where you put them as blowing ash can sometimes make it difficult to find them once the foil starts to darken.
Almost nothing says “breakfast” like pancakes and thus the promise of flapjacks can be highly effective for getting you out of your tent in the morning. Before you can make pancakes at your campsite you’ll want to prepare the batter at home. One clever tip is to take a clean, squeezable ketchup bottle and fill it with pancake batter. That way you not only have a place to store it but can also easily pour the mix onto your camping griddle or frying pan. For a side dish, you can try cooking bacon on skewers as demonstrated here.
One food that may seem simple to prepare at a campsite is pasta. While it’s true that all you need in theory is to bring water to a boil in order to cook the pasta, the reality of that might not be as easy as you’d think. At altitude getting water to boil and maintaining it can be challenging. Instead try cooking pasta at home until its al dente and place it in a thick, zippered bag to bring along. This will ease the preparation process and save you lots of time standing over the fire.
If you really want to save space in your pack and still have meals that are incredibly simple to prepare, you may want to check out freeze-dried foods. Originally conceived for soldiers at war, today freeze-dried foods are sold to civilians mainly as hiking and camping food. Mountain House, one of the largest sellers of freeze-dried foods, offers dozens of meal options ranging from breakfast to dessert. Yes this means there’s even freeze-dried ice cream!
According to Mountain House, their pouches of food have a shelf life of 12 years. Even more impressive, their canned foods are good for up to 25 years. Even though many of these products contain real, dehydrated meat, there is no need to refrigerate these products.
Although some freeze-dried foods are MRE’s (meals ready to eat), most do require hot water to be added. Because of this you will still want to bring along a pot and some fresh water to boil. Each package will have directions printed of how to prepare the dish but all of them are fairly simple and quick to prepare.
Cooking around the campfire can be as fun and exciting as camping itself. No matter if you’re a newer camper or a seasoned expert, these cooking tips and packing guidelines will help make sure you get to enjoy some good grub without lugging the entire kitchen along with you. Enjoy!