The key to a successful family camping trip is getting your meals organized in advance. Even if you only have a campfire or camp stove to work with, there’s no reason your family can’t eat like kings! First you need to find out what type of cooking setup you’ll have access to. Most of these dining hacks can be executed on the barbecue, camp stove, or over the campfire.
One thing to keep in mind is that food may take longer to cook over a campfire, so factor that in when planning out your menu. After you’ve picked out your main meals, compile whatever ingredients you can (although keep meat separate from everything else). Chop up a veggie mix in advance that can be added to breakfast, lunch, or dinner and store it together in a sealed plastic bag. Mix up the spices for your planned meals at home, and put them in plastic baggies or empty spice shakers before you leave. A general Mexican spice goes great with campfire chili, fajitas, or even breakfast foods like egg and veggie scramble. Mix together equal parts chili powder, garlic powder, onion powder, cumin, and oregano for a flavorful addition to your meals! Get creative with your dinnerware to cut down on clutter. Empty chip bags or Ziploc baggies can both serve as bowls to eat from.
One of the biggest challenges when planning your camping meals is keeping food cold in advance. A great way to plan for this is to eat the food that needs to be kept cold first. Plan a meat-based dinner for the first night and then try to use canned or dry goods for the next day. Try to think outside the box when it comes to refrigerated foods. You need to have protein at some point, but rather than worrying about keeping meat at the required cool temperature, pack a few different types of canned beans. They can be added to chili as a substitute for ground beef. Also, most almond and soy milks don’t need to be refrigerated before opening so consider bringing those instead of dairy milk. If you buy them in one-liter packages and open one at a time, your family should be able to go through most of it in one sitting without wasting too much.
If for some reason your campfire meal doesn’t turn out the way you thought it would, keep in mind that campfire desserts have long been able to carry the meal the triumph. Try toasting “extreme s’mores” by adding snack-size chocolate bars to the mix. Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, York Peppermint Patties, and Mars bars are delicious when sandwiched between marshmallow and graham crackers. Or, bring along a pie iron to make pudgie pies over the fire. The only dessert that’s easier to prepare than a s’more – the pudgie pie is basically a grilled cheese sandwich with fruit pie filling rather than cheese. Place buttered bread (butter side out) with pie filling in the middle, over the fire and toast for four of five minutes, until golden. Sprinkle with sugar and serve. For a healthier alternative, make dessert kebabs by alternating fruit, berries, and marshmallows on the skewer.
After checking out these dining hacks, you may never eat a campfire hotdog again. It’s easy to get pigeonholed into eating the same foods while camping, but once you start getting creative with campfire meals you’ll realize that the sky is the limit in terms of what you can make in a single pot over the fire. For more campfire dining hacks, read Amy Whitley’s guide to camping hacks for families.