Hey there campers and welcome to my post covering my 10 best camping meals for families to feast upon this year. Planning a camping trip with the family can be a rewarding experience, however as we all know when it comes to the little ones – if the food is no good, then the camping trip will be written off as a failure.
Now that might be a little extreme however planning and cooking meals whilst away for the convenience of a modern kitchen doesn’t have to be so difficult – or expensive. So with that in mind, let’s check out my 10 family favourites below…
What makes a good camping meal?
Ok, so this question is one that is asked a lot and since everyone generally has their favourites, they also have their own opinions here. However, there really is only one thing that all good camping meals have in common – They are easy to cook, versatile and healthy.
I mean it probably goes without saying but anything that is easy to cook means you won’t waste valuable time trying to pull everything together all the while missing out on all the fun that camping has to offer. We will obviously look at some recipes below that can help here however, in general they usually meet all ( or most) of the following criteria:
- They can be cooked with only one stove or over a fire.
- All the ingredients can mixed/cooked together.
- Some or all of the meal can be pre prepared at home and frozen.
- Can substitute other ingredients that are likely to be in the camp pantry.
This doesn’t mean you have to cook them quickly – after all have you ever tasted slow cooked camp stew? – however the trick is to not need 3 fry pans and 4 pots to make the meal.
Also, make sure your camp kitchen kit has some dried herbs, spices, salt and pepper.
10 Best camping meals for families
So, keeping the above three criteria in mind, let’s check out my best family camping meals below:
1. Camp Oven Lasagna
Lasagna is a family favourite and something that can be made at home and frozen or cooked at the site without the need for constant attention. For this one all you need is a fry pan and camp oven (or grill with a lid) and the following ingredients:
- An ounce of cooking oil
- Day-old bread (or crackers)
- Jarred spaghetti sauce (or tinned tomatoes if you would prefer)
- Grated cheese
- Ground beef
- Herbs and spices to taste
Then to cook:
- Cook the ground beef in a pan until it is fully browned then add whatever herbs and spices you have (garlic powder, oregano and basil etc.).
- Drop some butter into your camp oven (or lasagna pan if using grill) then lay down enough slices of bread (or crackers) to make the first layer of lasagna.
- Spoon on some sauce followed by some cheese.
- Repeat this process until you reach almost to the top of the oven/pan.
- Finally, top with another slice of bread or two and cover in grated cheese (I like paprika on top but that’s just me).
To cook drop the oven onto the coals to cook everything through; simply rotate every 15 minutes or so until your lasagna is done.
Variations include throwing in meatballs or even to use real pasta instead of the bread. We also like to chop some onion into the ground beef to start with as well however the more you choose to add the more you need to pack.
Also, if you plan to make this at home, freeze into an aluminum foil tray and then simply place into the covered grill to heat through.
2. Campfire Pizza
Pizza is another crowd-pleaser that’s definitely worth the effort when camping, but there are two schools of thought when it comes to preparing your dough beforehand. The first method involves taking a can of biscuit dough out on the trip with you so all you have to do is pop open the can then spoon out your dough onto a flat stone near the fire pit. Alternatively you could also use pre-made pizza crusts instead, just be sure to keep them covered or else they’ll dry out.
The beauty of pizza also is that you can add as many or few ingredients as you like. For example
- Pizza base
- Pizza sauce ( jar or home made)
For Marguerite, remove the pepperoni – alternately add whatever you want.
Once you’ve got the dough and toppings ready then:
- Simply lay the dough over some aluminum foil so you can hold it with sticks or tongs, then place your pizza on top of a grate right above the fire (or again, on the grill).
- After about 10 minutes flip your pizza over and add in some sauce, cheese and toppings before returning to the heat for another five minutes or until everything is cooked through.
Pizza is served! Oh, and you can also follow this process should you want to add Garlic Bread to your Camp Oven Lasagna above as well.
3. Sausage & Egg Breakfast Tacos
If you’re looking for an easy way to make breakfast when camping without having to start up your camp stove this one is perfect. This one involves one pan and can definitely allow for plenty of substitutions. In general however you will need:
- Eggs (enough for your family)
- Sausage (generally enough for 1 per person)
- Salt/Pepper (or other herbs, spices if preferred – chilli and garlic are good here)
- Whatever sauce you like on your Taco (ketchup will also work)
- Grated cheese (optional)
From here, then you will need to:
- Crack a dozen eggs into a bowl then season them with salt, pepper and whatever else you like.
- Grab your sausages and cook then through (some prefer to butterfly or chop them).
- Add your egg mixture and scramble until cooked.
- Pour everything into a tortilla and add in some cheese and your preferred sauce.
This is great option also if you have leftover ingredients or even meals as you can pretty much add whatever you like to the eggs as you cook them. And should you not have tortillas, maybe try the ‘Aussie Taco’ where the egg mixture is placed on a slice of bread which is folded diagonally to look like a taco.
4. Grilled PB&J
There are few things more iconic than a peanut butter and jelly sandwich right? Well what could possibly make this better when camping – grilling it! This may sound a little funny, but hear me out. You will need:
- Bread or crackers
- Jelly (Jam)
- Peanut butter
- Butter (optional)
The process is even simpler:
- Grab two slices of bread and apply Jelly to one slice and Peanut butter to the other.
- Slap em together to make a traditional sandwich.
- Butter the outside of the sandwich (optional to taste).
- Place the sandwich on a fire grate, grill or pan.
For a ‘complete’ meal, repeat the above steps with ham and cheese (or salami, or leftovers or whatever) instead then do the PB + J option above for desert – you can even add some marshmallows here then too!
5. Bacon Wrapped Hot Dogs
Hot Dogs are another camp staple and to be honest, I could just say make hot dogs for lunch here and you are good to go. But again, let’s see if we can make them into a tastier camping treat (did someone say over complication?).
You will need:
- Hot dogs
- Buns or bread
- Cheese (optional)
- Cook your bacon using a fire plate, grill or pan.
- Use toothpicks to attach the bacon to uncooked hot dogs (how many you use will depend on how many dogs you want)
- Attach them to a fork or skewer and then cook over an open flame for about 20 minutes or until everything is crisp.
- Add to a bun, bread (Aussie taco style) or even just eat straight off the stick.
And if you’re feeling especially adventurous (and you bought it with you) then you can add relish, pickles, onion, mustard or whatever else you normally like as well.
6. Garlic Butter Steak Bites
Grilling steak is already a well-known staple when camping since it can be cooked on any hot plate and will taste amazing. However if you are looking for a simple way to give the adults a bit of a tasty treat then you can follow this next option. You will need:
- Potatoes, onions and carrots (whatever you have)
- Melted Butter
- Garlic (powders, jarred or even crushed fresh stuff)
- Herbs to taste (optional)
- Skewers (pre soaked in water if made of wood)
From here you will need a fire grate, grill or fry pan to complete the following:
- Slice up some potatoes, onions and carrots into large chunks (you can even add capsicum (peppers) or any other greens here too.
- Season your steak with salt and pepper.
- Pour a generous helping of melted butter into a bowl before stirring in garlic powder and herbs (parsley flakes and basil for example).
- Place your veggies onto aluminum foil or directly onto the plate and drizzle everything with some more butter
- Cut your steak into chunks, thread onto skewers and then add them to the grill as well.
- Let everything cook for 10 minutes or so, remove your steaks once they’re done to taste.
- Place steak skewers in a bed of the cooked veges and you are good to go.
Some also prefer to cook the veges and then place them on the skewers as the steak is cooking too. If doing this way you may want to break the rules and use a second pot for some rice as well.
7. Campfire Breakfast Burrito
I know we have discussed breakfast tacos above however this recipe is perfect if you want to mix it up a bit or you have some extra ingredients or leftovers that you want to use up. This means that for this recipe you can pretty much throw in whatever you like but as a baseline, you may want to include:
- Tortillas (large)
- Potatoes (sliced into wedges)
- Bell peppers (cored, seeded and sliced thinly)
- Corn kernels
- Zucchini (cut into thick rounds)
- Red onion (sliced)
- Cheddar cheese (grated sliced into thin strips)
- Ground beef (optional).
- Salsa or hot sauce
Then all you need to do is:
- If not already, season and cook through your ground beef on a grill or in a pan.
- Once cooked remove beef to a bowl and then scramble enough eggs as required in the same pan.
- Grill some tortillas on a grill or fire plate.
- Once the tortillas is grilled, leave it on the grill and add your potatoes, bell peppers, corn kernels, zucchini, red onion and cheddar cheese.
- Once they have warmed through add ground beef, scrambled eggs and salsa or hot sauce to taste.
- Fold your tortilla over several times until everything is tightly wrapped before placing back onto the grill for another few minutes to warm everything through.
If your tortilla is started to brown off too much, then wrap it all in alfoil prior to returning to the grill. And of course you can substitute the meat for just about anything you like including vegetarian options as well.
8. Mac and Cheese
No we come to an old favourite for everybody – Mac and Cheese. The beauty of this recipe is that it again can be as simple or gourmet as you like and can be made at home and frozen or made at the campsite. For the simple option, you will need the following:
- 2% milk (1 cup per cup of pasta)
- Water (1/2 cup per cup of pasta)
- Macaroni pasta or shells
- Evaporated milk (1 cup per cup of pasta)
- Cheddar cheese
- Salt and pepper
You can also add paprika, Dijon mustard (some say this is a must add) and even chilli to spice things up.
- Throw everything into a camp oven or large pot and stir well to mix.
- Place pot on fire or camp stove until the pasta is cooked and the sauce thickens – you will need to stir it occasionally.
Make sure the heat is not too strong or you will manage to burn the bottom.
Serve with some crusty bread (toasted with garlic butter on a hot plate is recommended of course) and whatever else you like.
9. Grilled Stuffed Potatoes
This next recipe is good for a quick meal or snack as it only takes a few minutes to make since there’s minimal cutting or slicing required. You’ll need:
- Potatoes (halved)
- Salt and pepper
- Olive oil
And if you have it:
- Sour cream
- Spring onions (fine, these will need to be cut)
- Bacon bits
- Drizzle your potatoes with olive oil then sprinkle on plenty of salt, pepper and paprika.
- Place the potatoes directly onto the grill and cook until browned on both sides.
- Remove and then add the optional extra to suit.
Alternatively, if you have a fire going and not the grill, then:
- Cut the potatoes in half and repeat step one above.
- Put the halves back together, wrap in alfoil and then throw them into the coals of the fire.
- Once you can push a stick/skewer through without any resistance then remove from the fire and unwrap from alfoil.
- Add optional extras above and dig in.
10. Camp Hot Pot
This recipe takes a bit more time to prepare and need some more ingredients but it’s definitely worth the effort – especially if you are camping in winter . You will need:
- Beef, lamb, chicken (or anything else you prefer) diced (or extra veges if you prefer without meat)
- Potatoes, carrots, pumpkin, sweet potato as preferred
- Garlic, salt and pepper
- Tinned tomatoes
- Beef/chicken/vege stock
- Herbs as preferred
- Half cup of flour or gravy mix if you like your stews thicker
Cooking then requires:
- Throw it all in a pot/camp oven.
- Put it on the coals of the fire for around 4 – 5 hours.
And done! – And as with the mac and Cheese above, you can add anything else you like. Then if you can be bothered, serving it on a bed of mashed potatoes will go down a treat as well!
And there they are, my 10 best camping meals for families. I hope it has been helpful and keeps the kids happy and hunger free whilst they tear around the campsite.
I would love to hear what else you like to whip up whilst camping so please comment below and I will add it to the list.