Feature: Camping meals – what to cook?

12 July 2010

Camping meals 7

The great outdoors. Fresh air.  Sleeping under the stars. Meals cooked and eaten under the sky. There’s something of a great adventure about camping. Maybe it is being outside. But I find that I have simply the biggest appetite! So I’ve scoured the internet and asked PlayPennies parents for their easiest and yummiest ideas for camping meals. Here’s what I found!

If you’re after information on what to cook the food on, then take a look at last weeks feature: Festivals, Camping, Food and Cooking.

Camping meals 5The easiest option is to simply eat out, or buy convenience foods. But what’s the point of going camping if you do that? OK so I’m not talking from the vantage of experience here. I have yet to take a family camping holiday! I might change my mind after I’ve sat stirring a pot over a fire with the sun blazing down. But, I really do want to do a bit of cooking outdoors myself. It is part of the fun and experience, isn’t it? Plus it is much cheaper. I’m on a mega tight budget – one week for less than £100!

Be prepared!

Preparation isn’t just for scouts and guides. The key to a happy tummy when you’re camping is to make sure you plan before you go. I’ve been told to make a daily menu up, and then take the right amounts of food for each meal bagged up. That way you don’t have to measure and you don’t have to take whole packets. Will let you know how that works out.

On the other hand mum of two teens, Karen, takes a more laid back approach.  “Buy food daily. Also camping is the time for packet mash and everything out of a tin (not if you're hiking, obviously).”

Camping Meals 1Kay, mum to three and grandma to two, says “We used to do three day hikes. We'd start off the first night with steak and veggies, and then graduate to things that wouldn't spoil for the next two days. Bagels and peanut butter travel well. Make some homemade granola, lots of water, bread and hard cheeses. Oh and peanut M&Ms - absolute must have food when camping”.

Nicki plans out her meals before heading off. “I usually make up a spag bol or a nacho bean/mince mix for the first day. I freeze it; then it defrosts on the trip in time to reheat the first night. By the last night we're on tins of spagetti.

One Pan Wonder

If I’m going to be cooking on my hols then it has to be quick, easy, tasty and light on the washing up. Preferably, I’d like to just use one pan. Two ideas I have come across that sound promising are to take your wok, or slow cooker . Both make sense, although the slow cooker only works if you’re in a campsite with power hookup.

Camping meals 6I use my wok like a saucepan all the time, and have found it is fab for making quick casseroles at home. With a slow cooker you’ll have a nice hearty stew at the end of the day without having to slave over a hot fire. Genius!

BBC Good Food has a page of the yummiest looking one-pan recipes for camping .

Or try this simple recipe idea from PlayPennies dad Phil “When we go fishing, we bring tins of tomatoes (or light cartons from Sainsburys), puree, garlic etc for a sauce and slice up some salami to add to it. All of which, along with the pasta, won't spoil before use.”

Camping meals 3I’ve had more than one person tell me to make my own bread on the fire each morning. I’m really still not sure about that. I found a video on making campfire bread on Videopedia http://www.5min.com/Video/How-to-Cook-Campfire-Bread---Bannock-18630405. It looks easy enough but I am definitely not sold on the idea. Especially after seeing what looks like a spider crawling out of the berries he tips into the mix. Maybe I’m not really cut out for this after all!

And finally

Really want to impress the family in the next tent? I found these recipes from Annie Bell’s latest book The Camping Cookbook, handily available online here. Not sure I’ll have the courage to try out the ‘fish in a newspaper’ one. You wrap the fish up in wet newspaper and cook it on the BBQ. I’d probably manage to burn the campsite down!

Camping meals 4However, as yummy as Annie’s recipes sound, they also seem like too much hard work to me. That sort of culinary fannying about is the sort of thing I prefer to do at home in the comfort of my kitchen. Not stooped over a gas ring or portable BBQ, while trying to chop vegetables without getting grass or insects into the mix.

Claire recommends starting every day “with a big fry up. A large breakfast Camping Meals 2really sets you up for the day, and can often skip lunch and just have a small dinner.”

So here I am, about to go camping as a family for the first time, and I feel more than a tad under prepared. Any advice, or tips, anyone has to give will be gratefully received!


  • Susan
    I would never mind camping in a place like this, so calm and peaceful. And besides, I have always been dreaming of living in the top of the world!
  • Lynley O.
    Ah yes, bliss. And my fave Carpenters song too :)

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