10 Easy Camp Meals for Your Next Camping Trip
Camping expert Alex Dolan has some suggestions for easy meals that you can make over a campfire - and share with your whole group!
Food can be your most important resource on a well-planned trip into the great outdoors. Any good camping adventure is paired with fun-filled outdoor activities and outdoor exploration, which tends to burn a lot of calories. Having nutritious and delicious food on your camping trip is imperative for relaxation, refueling, and keeping hanger (hunger and anger) at bay. On your next camping trip, consider adding any of these easy snacks and simple recipes to your menu to keep your belly full without spending too much time cooking.
Some of these meals require nothing more than a simple camp stove to boil water, in which case they will be ideal for even the most ultralight backpacking trips. Others include eggs or cooked meat which will probably require you to bring along a cooler with ice to refrigerate your ingredients and would be better suited for car camping adventures. All of these meals, however, are intended to be as simple as possible so you can spend more time relaxing and less time preparing meals.
1. Scrambled Eggs and Bacon
A staple of western breakfasts, scrambled eggs and bacon are also a perfectly easy camping breakfast. Packed with calories and protein to fill up your gut and get your day in the outdoors started right, bacon and eggs never disappoints. For any recipe that requires eggs, I highly recommend getting a hard plastic egg case to protect these fragile pods of deliciousness.
If you are cooking for a large group, try cooking the strips of bacon by laying them down in the pan in a hatched pattern. Simply get one side nice and crispy, then you can flip them all at the same time. You'll be pleasantly surprised at how evenly all of the bacon will cook through without having to flip each strip of bacon individually.
2. Breakfast Sandwiches
If you have a few vegetarians in the bunch, or a crazy person who just doesn’t like bacon, simply add some English muffins to the recipe and make breakfast sandwiches. Set out a couple of extra toppings like cheese slices, spinach, or avocado, and let your fellow campers line up to make their own custom sandwiches!
3. French Toast
French toast is a classic meal that is as simple to make as it is delicious, and you can make it as fancy as you want depending on how many toppings you want to bring along. All you need is eggs and bread for bare bones French toast. Simply dip the bread in a bowl of beaten eggs before dropping them in an oiled frying pan. Cook until golden brown, and just like that, you’ve made your toast French and delicious.
For some extra flavor most of us prefer at least some maple syrup or honey as a sweet topping, but the sky's the limit for toppings. Some of my favorites are cinnamon, strawberries, blueberries (or any kind of fruit), yogurt, walnuts, and whipped cream.
Oatmeal is another easy camping food idea that requires only hot water to prepare. Oats have great fiber and protein to get your belly filled up in the morning. Oatmeal also does a good job "sticking to your ribs," to ensure that you aren't hungry a few minutes after you pack away your camp stove. If you have pre-packaged flavored oatmeal, you can actually add hot water and eat it straight out of the tiny packet or keep it nice and hot in an insulated camp mug.
5. Mac and Cheese
You can’t go wrong with a good mac-n-cheese while camping. If you go with the boxed option from the grocery store, you'll just need to boil water. Whether you prefer Velveeta or Annie's, you can get by with simply boiling the noodles and adding in the cheese mix included in the box. If the recipe calls for milk, know that water or butter and water will substitute just fine. You can add fresh or re-hydrated vegetables and/or sausage to make it a complete meal.
6. Trail Mix
Trail mix is less of a meal and more of a snack, but as the name implies, it is a great source of energy while you are hiking. It doesn't need to be refrigerated, and for a few bucks, you can mix up a batch of all of your favorite nuts and dried fruits for a bulk batch that may last you for the next decade. Of course the best trail mixes always include chocolate. Keep it at hand for a quick and easy snack between meals.
Of course peanut butter and jelly is making the list. I don't know if you have had one recently but they taste amazing! You don't need to heat anything up and the "stick to your ribs" factor also applies to the American classic. Peanut butter is high in calories and fatty oils that your brain and body will love. Substitute almond or other nutter butters as you prefer.
8. Veggie and Quinoa Bowls
Roast vegetables and quinoa bowls are a healthy and hearty dinner to end a day in the outdoors. To roast the vegetables without an oven, bring along some aluminum foil. Cut up your vegetables into bite-sized pieces. Vegetables like carrots and potatoes are more dense and will take longer to cook, so cut them into smaller pieces than the peppers and onions and the like. Add any seasoning you like. I usually keep it simple with pepper, olive oil, a bit of salt, and maybe some rosemary. Your choice of vegetables may vary but here are some to choose from: bell peppers, onions, beets, carrots, green beans, potatoes, broccoli, cauliflower, and yams.
Wrap your chopped vegetables in aluminum foil. At least two layers of foil will make it easier to pull your veggies out when they are done. Plop them down on the outer edge of the campfire and let them roast until they are ready to eat. The cook time will depend on how hot your fire is, but they’ll take at least 30 minutes. Cook your quinoa (or rice if you prefer) up on the stove (this will take a total of roughly 20 to 25 minutes) and put it all together in a bowl! Top your bowl off with some fresh avocado, greens, and your favorite dressing.
9. Ramen Noodles
Ramen noodles are always a classic camp food that requires minimal effort to prepare. While the noodles themselves don't provide much in the way of nutrients, you can add ingredients to your heart's content to give them some substance. Easily add in some carrots, peppers, chicken, or bacon to your broth. Olive oil or soy sauce makes a nice addition. Once the noodles are cooked, I like to keep the water boiling and crack and egg into the mix. The best thing about ramen is that it is cheap so you won’t feel too bad if you get a little too experimental and mess up a batch.
10. Meals Ready to Eat
By far the easiest camp meals are the ones that are already prepared for you. Prepackaged, freeze-dried meals also known as MRE (Meals Ready to Eat) are packed full of calories. They have been used for a long time by the military both in training and in the field, but modern day backpackers have found good use for them as well. Cooking these meals is as easy as boiling water and adding it to the freeze-dried mix. They come in a variety of flavors and in most cases you can eat them straight out of the packaging or set them out on a plate to feel a little more civilized. You can actually eat them for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
Okay, so this list was only meant to be 10 meals, but we couldn’t leave this last one out! One of the most iconic and best camping treats - did you even go camping if you didn’t have s’mores? Don't forget the graham crackers, marshmallows, and chocolate during that pre-camping trip grocery run. You can argue about the best way to roast your marshmallow and laugh at that guy who likes to catch his on fire until you try it for yourself.
Pro Tip: substitute Reese's cups or Twix Bars for the traditional chocolate bar. Find yourself a nice roasting stick when you get to camp (one that’s already on the ground and not attached to a tree!) and whittle it to a point so you can get roasting!
I have arranged these in a breakfast, lunch, dinner order. But if you are an adult, feel free to go for the s’mores first and have breakfast for dinner. Either way, there are ten meals total, which is roughly how many you would need on a long weekend camping trip. Feel free to use this as a grocery list for your next outdoor adventure as well.
Food has a special ability to bring people together especially when there's a campfire to gather around. If your camping meals are too complex, you could miss out on some special moments around the fire. Not only are all of these meals super simple, they are also incredibly inexpensive and fairly healthy. Keep these in mind for your next camping trip and keep spirits high with tasty food, keep yourself from cooking too much while you are on vacation, and keep a little extra change in your pocket. If you need any camp kitchen gear or have any other questions, reach out to a Curated Camping & Hiking expert for free, personalized advice and recommendations. Remember to pack it in, pack it out, and keep fun the priority number one!