Meal Planning for Camping Trips
D and I love to go camping and since it is the prime season for camping, I would like to share with you how we plan our meals. We never do anything fancy or too complicated and everything is vegan. You can, of course, adjust to your dietary needs. Just remember that raw meat needs to be stored at a cold temperature!
We only go car camping (no backpacking for us yet) so we are able to bring a large cooler and a Coleman stove along with other large items. Even though we have all the room a SUV provides, we still keep our meals simple and prep a lot at home. We have small cutting board and a knife but it is so much easier to prep the day before and portion everything into baggies to put into the cooler. Who wants to chop vegetables after a long day of hiking? Not me!
Several things to consider before you pack your food:
Where are you going?
Do you have access to fire or will you be bringing a stove?
How many days will you be out in the campground?
How big is your cooler and does your food need to be chilled?
How many people are coming with you?
Where You’ll Be
Most campsites within state and national parks have a fire pit or a charcoal grill. Oklahoma is big on both so most campsites have both. When we went to Yellowstone there was only a fire pit. Since we don’t cook meat, this wasn’t a problem. We also didn’t have room to store large amount of veggies to roast so we didn’t need a grill or any roasting sticks. Before you go, check out pictures or descriptions of the sites on the park website.
When packing a stove for a car camping trip, you’ll want to make sure you have enough propane to get you through your stay. National parks sell propane canisters but you’ll pay a premium for them. We packed two when we went to Wyoming last year and only used about half of one. You should also pack a pot or skillet and a spatula.
What Meals Work for Your Group
We love tacos. So what did we do? We cooked tacos at our campsite! Find out what your group likes and what can be simplified and build your meal plan from there. Our standard week-long camping meal plan looks like this:
Spaghetti w/Red Sauce
Soup from a Can
Refried Beans in Tortillas
Oatmeal (breakfast everyday)
Tacos/Fajitas: Prep veggies at home – dice bell pepper, carrots, onions, tomatoes (or use canned and split between and place in zipper bag. Pack tortillas and a taco seasoning packet. At the campsite, saute veggies in a tbsp of water and add taco seasoning. Serve in tortillas.
Chili: Prep veggies at home – dice carrots, celery, onions, tomatoes (or use canned and split with the tacos) and place in zipper bag. Pack a can of chili beans and a packet of chili seasoning. At the campsite, saute onions for 5 minutes and then cook everything else down with the onions for another 10 minutes with a 1/4 C of water.
Spaghetti w/Red Sauce: Prep veggies at home – dice carrots, onions, celery and place in zipper bag. Pack one package of spaghetti (or take out the servings you need and break the pasta in have – place in a zipper bag), 1 8oz can of red sauce, and 1 packet of Italian seasoning. At the campsite, cook pasta according to package. Saute veggies for 5 minutes and then add sauce and seasoning. Simmer for another 10 minutes while pasta cooks. Add cooked pasta to sauce and serve.
Baked Potatoes: Prep veggies at home – dice carrots, onions, and assorted other veggies that you desire and place in a zipper bag. Pack baking potatoes, butter packets (I always take extra from restaurants we stop at along the way…), foil, and whatever else you like on your potatoes. At the campsite, wrap each potato in foil and set very close to your fire or in charcoals. Leave there for approximately 45 minutes. Saute veggies while you wait. Serve potatoes with the fixin’s.
We also include meals like refried beans in tortillas and canned soup because it’s super easy and you may not want to cook one evening. These ready-made meals are also good for lunches.
You’ve probably noticed that I haven’t included any “camping food” like hot dogs or backing packing dehydrated meals. We do a lot of hiking when we go camping and we need food with substance that is also healthy. Those dehydrated meals may be good, but they can be just as unhealthy as a hot dog and way more expensive than a taco.
Bulk Prep Method
Since we knew we would be making all of these meals and knew that about the same veggies went into every single one, we prepped ALL the veggies for ALL the meals and put them into one bag. This way, we just poured out what we needed and cooked it differently for each meal. This was much easier for us and it was a quicker prep too. You’re also wasting less plastic if you use zipper bags. 🙂 The spices make all the difference! It didn’t feel like we were eating the same thing every night.
Other Food to Pack
We also eat breakfast and snacks while out in the woods. Here are some of the other staples that we pack:
Hot cocoa packets
Single serve peanut butter
Trail mix (normally homemade)
I hope this gives you the inspiration to go on a long camping trip before school starts back up or in the fall. What meals do you bring with you camping that you always love?