Camping meals that satisfy the whole family have some common elements: The meals are easy to prepare, easy to clean up after and have palate pleasing elements for everyone. For campground cookery, keep things simple; the challenges and joys of eating in the outdoors will add the extra dash of flavor.
Family Friendly Camping Breakfast
It’s not a camping trip without the sizzling of fresh cooked eggs. Keep breakfast in one pan with a hearty hash. Hashes are not only filling, it’s a great way to leverage leftovers from dinner and lunch. Start with browning the breakfast meat of choice – sausage, bacon, or ham. Remove and roughly chop while browning a diced potato that was baked with last night’s dinner. Add family-approved diced vegetables, such as onions and bell peppers. When the potatoes are browned and veggies cooked through, stir in the chopped meat and distribute evenly across the pan. Crack the eggs right on top of the hot hash and cover until eggs are cooked through.
Remember, breakfast preparations begin during dinner the night before; don’t forget to make that extra potato or dice and save that extra portion of peppers and onions.
Unless you’re backpacking or boondocking, make a Crock-Pot an essential part of your camping gear. A mainstay for dinner, a slow cooker is an unexpected boon for breakfast.
Fill your campsite with the amazing scent of warm spices by starting the morning’s wholesome oatmeal breakfast the night before. Add steel cut oats and water to the crock at a ratio of one cup of oats to 4 cups of water. Stir in a pinch of salt, brown sugar to taste, a small splash of vanilla, cinnamon, and any other family-approved spices. Cook on high for one hour then turn all the way down to warm for the next 8-10 hours (using the low setting will result in oats sticking to the side of the pot). The smell of simmering cinnamon will stir sleepy campers into action and the healthy oats are great fuel for a busy morning outdoors.
Crock-Pots can take up a lot of precious space when packing for a camping trip, so be smart and fill the ceramic crock with fragile produce and bags of measured seasonings and dry ingredients.
Never underestimate the appeal of cold cereal, especially on the last morning of a trip, when everyone is involved in breaking camp. Prepare before you leave home, portioning hearty granola into mason jars or sealed plastic containers. Let kids help by choosing toppings such as dried fruit and chopped nuts, cinnamon. Seal and tape or tie a plastic or camping spoon right to the container. At breakfast time, add a sliced banana and icy cold milk for a breakfast that’s filling, portable and easy to clean up.
Family Friendly Camp Lunches.
Keep camping lunches simple, packable, and fuss free.
While you’re eating breakfast, take advantage of the hot camp stove or fire and brown some ground beef or turkey seasoned with taco flavoring and set aside. At lunch break give out individual-serving size bags of Fritos. Top with a spoonful of meat and a helping of black beans. Let family members choose toppings for their “Walking Tacos” from cheese, tomatoes, salsa, and avocado.
Try a new take on the traditional sandwiches, with sandwich kabobs. Easy to prep ahead of time and easy and fun to eat for even the pickiest food grazers, sandwich kabobs can be crafted from the ingredient list for other meals. Stack chunks of ham (double up on the ham so there’s plenty for the morning hash.) cheese, bread-and-butter pickles, cherry tomatoes and bite-sized chunks of bread from crusty easy-to-transport loaves on skewers and serve. Top with a squeeze of ranch, mustard or mayonnaise.
Add a twist to peanut butter and jelly that will please adults and kids alike with a portable PB&J Bar. Before you leave home, pack small containers of chocolate chips, dried fruit, toasted coconut, mini marshmallows and even blueberries and other family-favorite toppings. Let family members build their own PB&J sandwiches with the wild assortment of toppings. There’s only one rule for this lunch: You make it, you eat it.
Dinner that Camping Families Love
Go ahead and enjoy hot dog and hamburger night in the campground, but add some variety, but not hassle for the rest of your stay.
When it’s too hot for a campfire, or it’s cold or damp and the family is clamoring for a hearty warm meal, put your slow cooker to work with a family-friendly “dump” camp meal.
Sliders are kid and adult friendly, easy to clean up, and easy to make. Before leaving home season boneless chicken thighs or breasts and seal in a plastic bag. Pack a big bottle of your family’s favorite barbecue sauce. At camp, before heading off for a day of exploring, dump the chicken and sauce in the crock and turn on to low. Shred the chicken and serve on easy to pack – and kid pleasing — Hawaiian Rolls. Round out the meals with chips (left over from lunch’s Walking Tacos) and fresh fruit.
Thick, satisfying soups and stews are warming, easy to prepare and popular with kids and parents. Known by many names across the south — Camp Stew, Brunswick Stew and Alabama Stew are just a few — Camp Stew is a hearty, adaptable meal that can be prepared in a Crock-Pot, or Dutch oven over a camp fire. Hardcore campers opt might for canned barbecued pork, chicken and beef, but left-overs from slider night can work as well. Supplement with vacuum packed barbecued pork or beef from the refrigerator section of the grocery store. Dump in a diced onion, drained cans of corn and lima beans (or whatever beans your family loves) and a can of diced tomatoes. Simmer on low in the slow cooker or bring to a boil then simmer in a Dutch oven. Serve pre-made cornbread as a side dish.
When the end of the trip is near and bits and pieces from earlier meals need to be eaten, plan loaded baked potato night. Let your slow cooker, set on low, do the work if you’re out exploring (set potatoes on balls of wadded up foil and put a splash of water in the bottom of the pot to avoid scorched potatoes) or roast foil-wrapped potatoes in hot embers of your campfire. Set out leftovers from earlier meals – taco meat, ham chunks, barbecued chicken, veggies, cheeses, salsa, and sauces – and let family members load up on the toppings. Remember, quicker cooking, nutritious sweet potatoes work equally well for this meal.
Prepare family-friendly camping meals without breaking the bank or spending all day cooking and cleaning by planning ahead, using simple ingredients multiple ways, and adding fun twists to old favorites.