Camping Food Hacks: Ultimate Camping Cooking Guide

Camping Food Hacks? Let’s face it – food is almost as an important part of the camping experience as the location and tent. As long as you plan to enjoy nature instead of hunting out the local restaurants, we should have you covered in our camping cooking guide.

Camping food hacks article collage image with camp food

Camping Cuisine varies per person or family

The type of food that you eat while camping is totally dependent upon the type of storage you have for your food. If you have an RV, you can store and prepare meals that aren’t much different from home. But if you only have access to a cooler, a campfire, and maybe a grill, then everything is different. These Camping Food Hacks will try to help you cover all the bases.

Consider Storage

OK, not a Camping Food Hacks, but important. Can you keep cold food cold and hot food hot? If not, then you may want to opt for safer raw food ingredients like salad and fruit, along with canned items.

One way to do it is to eat well the first night (something like steak and potatoes cooked over the fire), and then the latter days eat more canned food since food in a cooler will only last as long as you have ice. We did write about this before: How do You Keep Your Food Cold When Camping Without a Fridge?

Prep before You Go

HUGE on the lists of camping food hacks! However you decide to do it, always prep everything before you go. Get all the prep for each meal and snack out of the way because it’ll be a lot easier to pack and store this way. Plus, it’ll make fixing it a breeze. You don’t want to spend all your vacation cooking and cleaning, so make it easy for yourself.

OK – I love these 10 quick tips and how it helps pack the cooler before you actually leave the house!

How do you plan food for camping?

If you’ve been camping before, then you know how difficult it can be to make healthy eating choices when camping. The desire to just pull out hot dogs and nuke them in the microwave or roast them over the fire on a stick can be difficult to ignore.

However, just because you’re in the great outdoors doesn’t mean you need to sacrifice healthy eating choices for convenience. Here are a few tips on how you can still meal plan for a camping trip.

Camping Food Hacks: Breakfast Burritos

For those who love to start their day with a hot meal, then you can easily meal prep breakfast burritos before you leave for your camping trip. All you need to do is cook your ingredients like scrambled eggs, sausage, ham, bacon, and peppers.

Then you simply wrap them in a tortilla, add whatever ingredients you desire for further flavor, and then wrap the entire burrito in tin foil. These should be kept in a freezer or fridge until it’s time to cook them again. At breakfast time, simply throw them on the fire inside of their tin foil to heat it up. 

Pancakes

You can even make pancakes while out camping! All you need to do at home is prepare the batter. You can either make it yourself from scratch or simply mix together the store version. Once the batter is prepared, you just have to store it in a plastic squeeze-bottle or even a plastic baggie. Once breakfast time arrives, you can just squeeze the batter onto a pan and cook the pancakes over the open fire. 

–> Check out our Crazy Camping Girl Etsy store – new items are added weekly!

Chili

It’s difficult to go wrong with chili. Not only is it a favorite meal for many but it also freezes quite well. That makes it the perfect choice for campers. You can easily cook the chili at home. Then store it in a container and freeze it until it’s time to cook. Again, cooking it can be easily done over the fire.

This is an easy recipe to cook in bulk. So, if your family doesn’t mind eating the same meal for a few days, then this could be all you need for your dinners. Bring along a few extra ingredients to top off your chili in order to make it fresh and exciting.

I don’t want my vegetarians to feel left out! There are a lot of tasty ideas that work great for your too: Outdoor Gourmet Vegetarian Camping Food and Recipe Ideas.

What are easy foods to take camping?

Foil Pack Meals are always easy! You can cook them over any heat source, they are self contained, and a complete meal in one easy to eat out of package.

I want to share one important tip if you are preparing for a camping trip: do not assemble the foil packs in advance. Things like potatoes don’t age well if you cut them a few days in advance, even if you freeze them.

You are better off bringing all the ingredients with you, having most veggies pre-cut, and then assembling the foil packs just before you grill. We have a great list for you to pick from here: 40 Great Hobo Packets for Camping.

Think about Where You’ll Be Cooking

Another thing to think about is where you’ll be cooking. If it’s a hike from your sleeping site due to the rules and regulations of the area, consider how you’ll tote everything there and back. This is where sandwiches and protein bars come in handy. If you are big into hiking, this would be a great video to check out:

Why buy MREs when there is this great video about do-it-yourself backpacking meals! Thrifty too!

Are you cooking on a camp stove? In your RV? Over a fire pit? Then you really can’t go wrong with Cast Iron Pans.

This camping hacks video has some awesome 5-Minute Simple Ways To Cook Outdoors!

Why You Need a Cast Iron Skillet

If you are new to cooking or just looking to upgrade your cooking skills, the equipment you use is crucial. This includes getting some top-quality pans and definitely having at least one cast-iron skillet in your culinary arsenal. Here are some things to know about cast iron skillets and why you should start using them.

It is a Lifelong Investment

Cast iron skillets are unique in that they can last a lifetime or longer. They might cost a little more, but you are getting a pan that you should never have to replace. If you find one at a garage sale or antique sale, buy it!

If your grandmother passed a set down to you, definitely accept them. These will work just as well as when the cast iron skillet was new. In fact, there is really no reason to buy one new since you can probably find one secondhand and it will be amazing quality.

Your Food Will Taste Better

There is no doubt about it; food cooked in a cast-iron skillet just tastes better. This is a very high-quality type of pan where the more you cook on it, the more it gets seasoned.

When you do that, everything else that gets cooked in it gets those unique flavors, and it brings out the natural flavor of foods so much better. Try cooking fish or meat in your cast iron next time and see if you notice a difference in how it tastes.

They Are Naturally Non-Stick

When you “season” a cast-iron skillet properly, it becomes non-stick naturally, and therefore you don’t need to grease it or use oil spray before cooking something in it. When you are using less oil, not only do you not change the flavor of your meal, but you also keep it a little lighter. Nothing wrong with that!

It is Much More Versatile

There is a lot you can do with a cast-iron skillet, not just in what food you can cook in it, but where it can be used. They actually work great with any type of heat, even bringing it camping with you and cooking food right over a fire.

You can start cooking your meal on the stove, then transfer the cast-iron to the oven. It works great for desserts in addition to main dishes, veggies, and so much more. We actually have 25 Camping Cast Iron Skillet Recipes put together for you!

Why is this in our list of Camping Food Hacks? It IS important to know how to care for that awesome pan – here is a great video for the right way to clean it:

With these cast iron maintenance tips and taking care of your cast iron properly, you’ll have it forever.

The Best Must-Have Camp Cooking Gear: Utensils and Kitchen Aids is a good article that goes a little more in depth on basic things you may want.

Bring a Backup

Probably the most important of all when looking at camping food hacks: When something can go wrong, it will. While a campsite might advertise that they have gas for gas grills, what if they’re out and there is no one to call? What if your camper fridge breaks? You don’t want to have to cancel your trip due to starvation. If you are wondering what is the best food to take camping?

Consider packing potatoes, bread, peanut butter, and canned items that are easy to cook and prepare regardless of the situation.

When looking at meals for camping, skewers can be your friend! The best part about Campfire Food on a Stick is that the food can be cut and bagged before the trip – even with the marinade, so all you would do at the campsite is pop them on skewers and toss them on your hot grill.

Keep It Light and Easy

No one wants to spend their vacation cooking and cleaning. If they did, they’d likely prefer to stay home to do that because it’s easier with all the conveniences.

It’s just a short time, so you don’t have to worry about perfect nutrition every day. An apple and a peanut butter sandwich taste delicious when you’re hungry from having fun. We keep it simple in this article as well as giving you an upgrade option: What Should Be In Every Camper’s Cooler.

Last, but not least, don’t forget the marshmallows, graham crackers, and chocolate. No camping trip is complete without s’mores. I love the s’more cones that Tasty has in this video:

Remember, it’s all about having fun and providing your family with an experience of togetherness that they will carry with them throughout their lives.

Like our Camping FOod Hacks? Try These Other articles:

Outdoor Gourmet Vegetarian Camping Food and Recipe Ideas

Vegetarian meals seem like the ideal choice on campsites since they won’t attract as many animals and won’t spoil as quickly as dishes prepared with raw meat. The key to making healthy, low-fat vegetarian camping food lies in the preparation.

Outdoor Gourmet Vegetarian Camping Food and Recipe Ideas

It’s best to plan simple, one-dish meals that require little prep work or clean-up. Try these healthy camping recipe ideas at home as well!

Ideas for Vegetarian Camping Food

Quick and Easy Vegetarian Camping Food: Veggie Medley With Garlic Bread

At home, cut a variety of vegetables into chunks of the same size. Vegetables that work well include potatoes, onions, zucchini, bell peppers, and green beans. Mix them with a bit of olive oil, salt, pepper, garlic, and dried thyme or oregano and transport them in a resalable container or plastic bag.

Wrap individual portions in aluminum foil and cook them on the campfire grill (most campgrounds provide one) for 20-30 minutes. Turn once.

Vegetarian Camping Food veggie skewer

A variation of this recipe is the veggie skewer. Cut and prepare vegetables as described above. At dinnertime, skewer the veggies and cook them on the grill, turning them often, or by rotating them over the campfire.

For the garlic bread: slice a fresh loaf without cutting all the way through and stuff with bits of garlic butter. Wrap the loaf in aluminum foil and warm the bread in the hot ashes of the campfire. This is an excellent accompaniment to almost any vegetarian dish.

Effortless One-pot Dinners for Camping and Hiking

With a little bit of preparation, you can serve unique, home-cooked meals on the campsite. Whether you use a camping stove or the campfire grill, bring a pot and a spoon and start cooking. For extra protein, which campers need when they work hard or hike all day, add canned beans or lentils. We love this lentil sloppy joe recipe from Operation $40K!

Pasta and Pesto

You need dry pasta, prepared pesto, salt, pepper, and herbs or chopped veggies such as tomatoes (dried or fresh) and bell peppers. Boil salted water and cook pasta until desired tenderness. Mix with pesto and other ingredients, stir until warmed, and enjoy.

Vegetarian Camping Food pesto pasta

Nutty Rice

Use one-half cup of rice per person and cook in one cup of water per person, with vegetable broth granules, salt and pepper, dried onion, Herbes de Provence, and chopped vegetables. Fluff and enjoy.

Clever Couscous

You need about one-half cup of dry couscous per person. Add the same amount of hot water and let soak for five minutes. Simply mix in a few items like chopped apricots, raisins, cranberries, nuts (almonds, cashews), vegetable broth, a dash of cinnamon, salt, and pepper. Your Middle Eastern-inspired couscous is ready!

Vegetarian Camping Food couscous breakfast

Tweak the recipe ideas to your liking and make sure you follow the safety guidelines regarding food storage and preparation.

–> Check out our Crazy Camping Girl Etsy store – new items are added weekly!

Other food ideas you may find interesting when camping:

Vegetarian camping meals

How do You Keep Your Food Cold When Camping Without a Fridge?

How do You Keep Your Food Cold When Camping Without a Fridge? So you want to go camping, and you are without a Fridge? How do you keep your food in a cooler from getting all wet when the ice melts?

keep your food cold while camping collage

That is the very issue we had to deal with last summer on a two-week-long trip through Indiana. It was hot enough that our fridge couldn’t keep up, and our food was starting to spoil.

How do You Keep Your Food Cold When Camping Without a Fridge?

We asked the experts and came up with a whole host of ideas for the next time we take a long trip. We will plan for the fridge to fail and end up being just fine.

Ice it

  • Dry ice – This seems like a great idea, but it is pretty costly and only available in certain places. The downside? It only lasts 18-24 hours or so. It will not “melt” and water down your food, but isn’t a long-term solution. To find dry ice in your area, do a google search for it. 
  • Layer it – If I’m going to be out for several days (which we do a lot), I buy a five or 10-pound block of dry ice, put it on the bottom of the cooler, and cover it with a layer of regular ice. Nothing will melt, and your cooler ice will last for 4 or 5 days. While dry ice can be a little pricey but you’ll make up the difference in saved ice and supplies by layering.
  • Sprinkle salt over your ice. The chemical reaction will slow down the melting process.
  • Use milk jugs – Fill them almost to capacity and pop them in your freezer before a trip. It will act as an ice block a little longer than the dry ice and will not water down your food as it thaws.
lady holding ice

Seal it

  • Vacuum seal it – You can vacuum seal meals that you know will be in the cooler longer, and that will keep the water out. You can also make foil-pack meals, and then vacuum seal them. We freeze those ahead of time. We do that on longer camping trips, put those items on the bottom, and stack them. 
  • Put everything in plastic Ziploc bags – but make sure they aren’t “slider” tops. Those will let the water in. You can also use a plastic container without the lid on top of ice for cold cuts, butter, etc.
  • Keep it sealed – put a bag of ice on the bottom of the cooler and one on top of the food, but do not open the bags of ice! 
  • Box it up – Food goes in a plastic tub with a lid that sits on top of the ice. Inside of this plastic tub goes one or two layers of corrugated cardboard to insulate the food from the condensation that will come through the bottom. Then you load the food into the tub. 
  • Use jars – try putting everything, meat cheese, condiments, etc. in wide-mouth, quart canning jars with lids. They are the only thing we have found that does not let water in. 

Stack it

  • Build a shelf – Use tops to large pieces of Tupperware and create a shelf over the ice. Keeps all the food you don’t want to get wet, above the ice. 
  • If you don’t have large lids like that, get the shelves from the local dollar store — kind of like the ones that go in a freezer. 
  • Use cookie cooling rack – same principle as the previous two ideas. 

containers for food

Get Fancy

  • Drain it – If you have a drain plug on your cooler, keep it open, so the water drains out and refill as you need to. 
  • Try these 3X Lg. Zero°F Cooler Freeze Packs.
  • Use two different coolers; take a “dinner” cooler and a “drink” cooler. Make sure they are both labeled, so no one opens the dinner cooler for anything because they can easily find their drinks. That helps keep the ice longer.
  • Reflection – Try covering your ice chest with a silver tarp. You won’t believe how long your ice will last because that trap reflects the sun. 
  •  If you want to avoid all of that hassle, check out SnomasterUSA. They’re the best! All stainless steel, full cooling plates instead of wrap-around coils so there’s no temperature varies depending on how you pack your cooler. It has a voltage cutoff, so you don’t accidentally kill your battery.

    It comes with a solar chargeable remote control and insulating cover. They’ve been around for over 20 years in South Africa. It’s one of those things that you either know about them, and you need one because you do long-haul off-road expedition-type trips, or you don’t even know that they exist. 

Can you think of any tips we might have missed? Please let us know if there is something different that works for you!

–> Check out our Crazy Camping Girl Etsy store – new items are added weekly!

Other posts you may like in you enjoyed How do You Keep Your Food Cold When Camping Without a Fridge?: