Camping trips are an *excellent* opportunity to reconnect with nature, hang with loved ones, smack some bugs and enjoy delicious meals under the open sky (note: apply sunscreen frequently and liberally!). While camping is truly one of the best summer (or spring and fall) activities you can do, preparing food while camping can be challenging without proper planning. In this blog post, we'll explore essential tips and tricks for efficiently preparing meals and snacks ahead of time for your entire family, so you can focus on the fun. Plus, hit up the camping aisle on the site, to stock up on everything you need.
Plan Your Menu
Before hitting the road on your camping adventure, create a detailed menu for each day. Check in on the dietary preferences and restrictions of your family members and camping buddies, and aim for a balance of nutritious and enjoyable meals. Choose recipes that are simple, require minimal ingredients, and can be easily prepared over a campfire or with portable cooking equipment.
Choose the Right Foods
When packing food for camping, opt for items that are easy to store, have a long shelf life, and are versatile. Here are some excellent food options:
- Dried and canned foods: These include fruits, vegetables, beans, and meats. They are lightweight, don't require refrigeration, and can be used in various recipes.
- Instant or quick-cooking grains: Pack instant rice, quinoa, or couscous that can be cooked quickly. Full list here.
- Pre-cut and pre-washed fruits and vegetables: Slice and store them in airtight containers to save time during meal preparation.
- Trail mix, energy bars, and jerky: These snacks are convenient for quick energy boosts while hiking or exploring.
Prepping and Packing
Efficiently preparing meals ahead of time will save you valuable time and effort at the campsite. Follow these prepping and packing tips:
- Pre-cook and freeze: Prepare dishes like chili, stews, or pasta sauces in advance, then freeze them in sealed containers. These can be thawed and reheated easily at the campsite.
- Pre-measure ingredients: To minimize mess and save time, pre-measure ingredients for each recipe and store them in separate containers or zip-lock bags.
- Use marinades: Marinating meats and vegetables in zip-lock bags ahead of time adds flavor and tenderizes the ingredients. This step reduces prep time and mess at the campsite.
- Vacuum seal bags: Vacuum sealing helps prolong the freshness of perishable items such as meat and cheese. It also saves space and prevents leaks in your cooler.
Invest in practical camping cooking equipment to make meal preparation easier:
- Portable stove or grill: These versatile cooking tools allow you to prepare a wide range of meals in any camping setting.
- Lightweight cookware: Choose durable and lightweight pots, pans, and utensils suitable for outdoor cooking.
- Collapsible storage containers: Opt for collapsible bowls, measuring cups, and storage containers to save space in your camping gear.
- Cooler with ice packs: Ensure you have a reliable cooler to store perishable items and keep them fresh throughout your trip.
- Coffee hand grinder: Bring one! Unless you’ve thought ahead enough to grind your coffee before you left the house. Or maybe you’re like us, and you love that fresh ground smell. Your choice - just plan ahead :)
- Label containers: Clearly label all containers with the contents and cooking instructions for easy identification.
- Group similar items: Store similar ingredients together to prevent confusion and make meal preparation more efficient.
- Use resealable bags: Store small items, such as spices or condiments, in resealable bags to prevent spills and keep everything organized.
With proper planning and efficient meal prepping, preparing food for camping can be a hassle-free experience for the whole family. Just follow these steps above, and you’ll maximize your time with the family and minimize the time stressing about cooking (and will also make sure the family doesn’t just eat hot dogs the whole time - but not going to call you out on it, we love hot dogs!) Did we mention lathering up with sunscreen??? Have fun! Plus, stocking up at Martie on these items, perfect for the campsite, can save you some serious coin.