Now that it’s officially summer (as in, past June 21st and has reached 90°F on at least one day), it’s full-blown camping season for many people—including me! I only started going camping last year, but now it’s something I prioritize in my summer/fall plans. I love delving into nature, not having any service so I can truly disconnect, and honestly, being kind of dirty. Ok, obviously not in a super gross way (if that’s you, no judgment!), but not feeling the pressure to shower every time I get sweaty or to look presentable all the time, and simply having a little dirt under my fingernails makes me personally feel more human. Anybody else?
Of course, as with any new activity in my life, I was thrilled to dive into the food aspect of camping. After lots of Pinterest searches and analyzing expert blogs, I created two different meal plans for our last two camping trips. The first one involves a bit more meal prep, and the second can be pulled together fairly quickly (as in, you barely had time to think all week and then it’s the morning you’re supposed to be leaving and you have nothing ready—I got you). As usual with my blog, both try to be fairly simple and (mostly) healthy. Good luck and let me know if you use any of these tips/recipes for your next trip—or if this post has inspired you to plan a camping excursion!
Meal Plan 1: Cooking Ahead
Since we were driving to the location that morning and then setting up the site, I knew we would want something quick and easy for lunch. I figured a cold bean salad would work well because we could make it entirely ahead of time and it would be filling. We bought some pre-sliced cheese to throw in the cooler and crackers to round it out. We also have been bringing cut-up raw veggies and hummus to have on hand for healthy snacks and also to supplement meals in case we forgot to cook a vegetable.
For dinner, we made a camping mac n’ cheese ahead of time in aluminum pie dishes that we were able to just heat up right over the fire, and also threw sliced peppers, cherry tomatoes, and button mushrooms in a container with olive oil and salt and pepper. When it was time to cook, we threw it all in a cast-iron skillet and roasted the veggies over the fire as well. Because the person I was with really wanted to try dehydrated camping food (to my dismay), we bought a chili version which I thought could work with the mac n’ cheese, but it was honestly so bland and just gross that we barely ate it. I think that stuff is really for hard-core campers and hikers who are eating berries from the forest and spearing fish from the river haha.
This meal plan was from a fall camping trip so home-baked pumpkin bread was a great addition for breakfast! We also always bring simple fruit (as in, doesn’t have to be refrigerated or cut up) like bananas, oranges, and apples. We have a kettle for hot water, which we use for instant coffee, hot chocolate, or tea. These ham and cheese croissants were great because you can heat them up over the fire to be a warm sandwich or just have them cold, and since croissants are a bit sturdier I feel like they held up better than normal bread.
For dinner we made the most amazing campfire nachos—which were especially easy because a lot of the ingredients were canned or jarred (so easy to throw into the car) and we assembled on-site. They came out delicious and we barely had room for the frozen burritos I had made earlier (also easy because they act as their own ice pack and then you can just put them on over the fire to heat up). Note: those can be a meal, not an appetizer as I originally intended!
Granola / trail mix
Meal Plan 2: Classics & Salads
Veggies and Hummus
Chips, Salsa and Homemade Guacamole (mixed avocado with a seasoning pack and lime juice to make it easier)
Similarly to the last trip, we drove to the site in the morning and by the time we set everything up we were itching for some grub! And, it happened to start raining right when we finished, so we had to sit still for a little while. We kept it simple with cold cuts (picked up ham, salami, provolone) on hamburger buns, which were were already using later in the weekend. Looking back I think it would’ve been easier to make the sandwiches ahead of time, but since we were on a time crunch this worked out just fine.
Potato Salad (pre-bought)
Canned Baked Beans
Corn on the Cob (grilled in the husk over the fire)
Fudge Striped Cookie S’mores For dinner we started off with chips, salsa and guac while we tried to get the fire going (I mean, lit it very easily, of course), and then did the camp classic of cheeseburgers, baked beans, threw some corn (in the husks) on the fire, and made it easy with premade potato salad. Raw veggies and hummus kept it semi-healthy! Also, I upgraded our “s’mores” with Keebler’s Fudge Striped Cookies—I wish I had thought of this myself, but full disclosure, I saw it on Pinterest! It makes it easier than buying the graham crackers and chocolate separately, and though a tad sweeter, they were delicious.
Meats and Cheeses
Veggies + Fruit
One of the few “prep” things I did for this trip was just to hard boil eggs quickly—the protein is great for keeping your energy up, especially if you’re being active etc., and topped with some Everything Bagel Seasoning they were quite scrumptious as well. For we lunch this day we ate by lake, post-hiking and pre-canoeing. We kept it simple by just doing meats and cheeses with crackers (from the cold cuts, and also brought a chunk of Brie), sliced apple, and veggies with hummus.
Caprese Pasta Salad
Green Bean and Corn Salad
Another “prep” we did was to make a Caprese pasta salad—solely because it was supposed to rain and I was worried we might be stuck with raw meat and no fire one night! I just cooked pasta like normal, let it cool and then mixed it with halved cherry tomatoes, small mozzarella balls, olive oil and balsamic vinegar with salt and pepper, and then since the person I was with didn’t like basil, a few handfuls of arugula. We had hot dogs with that and another quick camping salad we’d made before: canned green beans and corn (both drained) mixed with balsamic vinegar and salt and pepper. Sounds really simple, and maybe even a little weird, but trust me, it’s addicting!
Granola / Trail Mix