Best Food For Camping
If you click and purchase with one of our links, we earn a commission. Thanks.
One of the best things about camping is the food. Unless you are backpacking, the only limitation you have is how much food you are willing to carry with you.
Camp cooking can be a challenge, but it doesn’t have to be.
Camping food is typical of the “throw it in a pot and cook it” variety which makes cooking up a full meal of delicious campfire goodness quite easy. However, there are some things to consider when planning a camping menu.
You need water for just about everything you do while camping, including cooking. Plan for at least one liter of water per person per day. Drinking water is the number one requirement while cooking takes a backseat to this.
We even wrote a book about how to make water safe to drink.
However, when you are car camping, you shouldn’t have any problem with having access to water. First, you can carry plenty of water with you. And most campgrounds that you stay at will have potable water on site.
Another factor, especially if you are cooking on a wood stove like an open fire pit, is that even though there may be plenty of water in your pot, once it begins to boil some will evaporate. This means that some water will become steam which you won’t be able to see until it condenses back into liquid form. With this, you won’t know how much water you added to the pot originally. And if your pot is too dry when food is added, it will burn; while adding too much water will dilute the flavor of what you are cooking.
The most valuable space while camping is horizontal surfaces like tables. While most campgrounds will have picnic tables, you might be using that space for other items.
You can bring a card table, a camp kitchen cooking set, or even the tailgate of your pickup truck.
In the worst case, you can use the top of your cooler.
But you need to make sure that whatever surface you use is stable enough to handle the weight of the pot full of food. This means setting it up on level ground, not on dirt or grass, and making sure that if there are gaps between the legs (like when using a cooler top) that there is something like rocks at each corner to keep it from tipping.
Setting Up Camp
It’s best to set up camp and get all of the cooking gear, food, and utensils that you will need first before lighting a fire and starting to cook.
This will help ensure that your meal doesn’t get delayed because you had to spend time looking for something that you forgot to put into your camp box.
Using a traditional Dutch oven over an open flame is easy.
You can make bread, cobbler, fried breakfast potatoes, and even steak if you have the right fire temperature. Just make sure to use hot coals or embers to cook with.
You can even bake in your campfire too - just use the same procedure as in your fireplace at home.
While everything tastes better when cooked over a campfire, this isn’t always practical. And at some campgrounds, you might have a burn ban and thus can’t have a campfire.
Thus always bring a gas stove for cooking.
Best Food For Camping In Hot Weather
If you are going to go camping during hot weather then you want to bring the best foods for the season. During the summer, for lunch, I would serve no-cook meals such as tuna fish, chicken salad, or cold-cut sandwiches. If you are a fan of peanut butter sandwiches, those are great too.
For dinner, you can cook up hamburgers, hot dogs, chicken breasts, or kebabs.
Best Food For Camping In Cold Weather
One of the benefits of camping in cooler weather is that you are more likely to have a campfire going. A gas stove is perfectly fine for cooking but with a campfire, you can use a dutch oven.
Dutch ovens allow you to make everything from homemade bread to chili to pizza to cobblers.
Dutch ovens are the equivalent of a slow cooker. They cook at similar temperatures though you must make sure the coals are always available for use by the ovens.
Best Food For Camping In Bear Country
There is a myth that you shouldn’t carry tuna fish into bear country because you will attract bears.
Growing up, we had a dachshund named George. George ate everything. Bears are like my childhood dachshund. They will eat anything.
This is why you need to take precautions. For example, your campground might have bear storage lockers. Or you need to keep your food stored in a bear canister or bear bag.
Your cooler might also be designed explicitly to be bear-resistant. My cooler has handles that bears (and raccoons) won’t have the ability to grab. Plus it has holes in it where you can attach bolts or locks as well.
Also, don’t let your fear of bears keep you from camping. Deer are the deadliest animal and they kill 600 Americans per year. Most of these deaths are the result of car crashes.
Heck, cows kill more people than bears, they kill around 22 people per year.
Best Food For Camping Without Refrigeration
If you are tent camping then you won’t have access to a refrigerator though you can bring a cooler. If you don’t even want to bring a cooler for food there are still many options.
For example, I have a list of 101 recipes you can make with just canned tuna! However, there are many other options including peanut butter, beef jerky, freeze-dried meals such as Mountain House, and everyone’s favorite - ramen noodles.
Best Food For Camping Without Fire
If you can’t have a campfire, that doesn’t mean you can’t have a hot meal. Many companies make camping stoves. They work much like a backpacking stove or a Jetboil for your hiking trips.
Just be sure that you have enough propane or butane to last the whole trip. You can cook on a gas camping stove like a stove at home. We grill burgers, make scrambled eggs, and pasta.
Best Food For Camping With Pets
When it comes to pets, you do not want them to eat anything they find in the wilderness. Make sure to bring their dog food with you and make sure they have access to water for them to drink as well.
You will need to store their food in a bear-resistant container as well.
Camping is a great way to get away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life.
Whether you’re going on a short trip or spending weeks in the woods, there are some things that will make your experience better.
You can have all kinds of food when cooking outdoors. From hot dogs and s’mores to steak and potatoes, it doesn’t matter what kind of food you like because it tastes good when cooked over an open flame!
And if you can’t have a campfire because of a burn ban then you can use a camp gas stove.
Camping offers so many ways to connect with friends and family. One of the best ways to do this is when we eat together. Whether the meal is a gourmet dinner made over a campfire or eating cold cuts before going on a hike there is nothing more fun than stories told while we’re eating.
Just because you are camping, doesn’t mean you have to limit yourself to only eating canned tuna or hamburgers. You can cook whatever you want, as long as you are willing to bring what you need with you.
Please take precautions when camping, especially if you plan on having a campfire.
Make sure there is no burn ban where you are going and that you have enough water nearby in case of an emergency.
Do not keep food in the tent with you because bears are smart and might figure out that you have food. If there are storage lockers then use them for your food.
Even if there are no bears around, other wildlife such as raccoons or possums will be attracted to your tent. I’ve had a friend woken up in the middle of the night because a raccoon had chewed a hole in his tent to get access to his bottle of Gatorade.
Please take precautions when camping with pets if you won’t be able to feed them, bring their dog food with you, and make sure they have access to water.
Camping is a great way to spend time with friends and family while enjoying nature. There are many different food options depending on the type of camping you’ll be doing, what kind of weather you’re in, or how much space you have for cooking.
If your pets will be joining you then make sure they know their boundaries too! Whatever type of campground adventure awaits us this summer, we hope that these ideas will get us excited about getting out there!