Favorite Camping Dinners

As I drove to the grocery store to buy supplies for our camping trip, I asked Instagram for inspiration. I received a flood of Favorite Camping Meals ideas in response.

One of the groundbreaking moments came among the first messages: you can buy pancake mix in a bottle to which you just add water. This has been on the shelves of my grocery store all this time and I never noticed it. (Admittedly I don’t buy pancake mix because I make them from scratch with a near-obsessive ranking of recipes. But still!)

Back in February, I found out when a nearby church did their camping trip, and then booked a spot for our family. Once the date approached I shortened our trip dates and removed our younger children from the reservation. I did the grocery shopping and borrowed a cooler from a friend to store the food. But it was Joe who loaded up the bikes, found the sleeping bags, packed the cooler and took the two older girls camping for two nights. That’s how we sort these things through these days.

In addition to packing our kettle for making pour-over coffee in the morning, Joe brought our 12″ dual-handle cast iron pan that we use for almost everything on our stove at home. I really prefer the dual-handle style, less risk of random wrist burns on a crowded stovetop.

The girls’ favorite meal were the pancakes, made from the shake n’ pour, cooked in the grease from the breakfast sausage. Vermont maple syrup, of course

The List

Major theme among the messages: Tinfoil dinners. Packets of chopped veggies, hamburger meat (or no meat), butter, salt. I get the sense these are very nostalgic? Lovely idea.

Second major theme: pie irons. Another lovely idea. Primarily people suggested making personalized sandwiches, sweet or savory.

  • Freeze things ahead of time and use them to keep your cooler chilled:
    • Taco meat: I am partial to Julia Turshen’s approach to making taco meat: cook the meat, once it’s no longer pink, add a jar of salsa, let it cook down. Done!
    • Baked cinnamon rolls: I make em, bake em, freeze em, and then get very excited about how they work as an ice pack in our cooler and by the second morning camping they are exactly thawed enough to cut in half. We just toast them over the fire.-nikaelamarie
    • Pork or chicken fried rice (simplicityfound14)
    • Taco soup–serve with toppings
  • If you like carne asada buy some skirt steak and marinade it in ziplocks with Italian dressing. (mhandmaid)
  • Tacos: prep everything in advance and warm up the meat and shells by the fire.
  • Stomboli: wrap it in foil and warm it in/near the farm. (ephie_jg)
  • Pesto pasta, made with jarred pesto sauce.
  • Box of spanish fried rice with diced tomatoes, black beans, and shredded cheese on top. Throw in some cut up hot dogs if you’re feeling feisty. (monicaeshortell)
  • Baked beans with molasses over cornbread in a skillet. (fieldandhome_)
  • Pre-made chili or other soups. (brooklinheirloomhome)
  • Quick cooking oats in a bag mixed with nuts, raisins, cinnamon. (krosenberg3)
  • Splurging on Justin’s peanut butter or almond butter packets.
  • Skillet nachos.
  • Marinated steak tips cooked over the fire with veggie kabobs. (abbiebabble)
  • Chocolate chip cookies s’mores–less crumble than graham crackers. (mcusack7)
  • Shrimp tacos: I love this idea because shrimp cook instantly and are always over-cooking in the home kitchen! (bethannender)
  • Bread toasted over the fire with avocado on top. (scusack3)
  • Kebabs: marinate chicken and veggies beforehand, skewer and roast over the fire. (emilyhgardner).
  • Baked potatoes: rub them in oil, wrap in foil, throw them in the coals. (ritacusack)
  • Breakfast burritos
  • Anything you can make ahead of time and reheat. (kottenweller).
  • Peppers/potatoes/onions & olive oil, generous pat of butter, wrap well in foil and throw on the fire. Top with creole, sour cream, and grated cheddar. (itsahuntlife) Bridget and I have a longstanding joke on how she always manages to eat the most vegetables per meal. This…proves it again.
  • Kendall’s Catwalk Chicken & Dumplings (kkpinckney)
  • Ramen (mulvihilla)
  • Extra sharp cheddar and wheat thins. (jennyschmucker) I gave a little sigh of joy I read this one.
  • Big juicy burgers with grilled onions and avocado and a can of bush’s baked beans. (merrittkinkadegee)
  • Banana boats (honeybeebop): I’ve had walking tacos, but I’ve never heard of banana boats! Such a fun idea. I ended up sending bananas and nutella with Joe, but the inspiration was the same.
  • Steamed mussels: I love this idea because, like shrimp, mussels cook so quickly at home. (mgoscinski)
  • Frozen cheese tortellini layered in marinara sauce with mozzarella. (The tortellini is frozen when packed into the cooler.) Cook over the coals in a Dutch oven for thirty minutes. Serve with bread and bag of caesar salad. (kayceann)

I tried to attribute all specific ideas. Many ideas were mentioned several times! Thank you so much to everyone for helping us!


  • Katharine

    This takes me back to so many chilly mornings and starry evenings around the campfire growing up! My parents were always trying to keep meals as cheap as possible when we were camping, so we did lots of chicken and rice, canned soup, oatmeal, and kebabs. Weird drinks will always hold a place in my heart because of those days: I would, at age five, get so excited about mixing our morning cups of Tang (anyone else remember Tang?!) or hot chocolate from those little Swiss Miss packets. Hardly gourmet camp cooking, but a treat simply because we never had them at home.

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