What To Bring For Breakfast When Camping
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After sleeping in our tents, we wake up in the morning and are ready to eat something. In particular if we have been camping in cold weather.
And just because you’re camping, doesn’t mean you’re limited to only cold food or hot dogs. While camping we can cook the same food we eat at home. This means you can eat everything from cereal to oatmeal to fruit to pancakes to bacon and eggs. You just have to make sure you bring everything necessary to prepare your meal. In addition to the ingredients, remember horizontal cooking space will be at a premium and you might even be cooking over an open fire though most campers cook their morning meals on gas camping stoves.
Which Cold Foods To Make For Breakfast While Camping
Your cold options are going to look familiar, for anyone eating breakfast at home.
Let’s start with the simplest option and that is fruit.
Many people like to eat fruit for breakfast. Whether this is a banana or grapes or apples, it doesn’t matter. There doesn’t need to be any fancy preparation just because you’re camping. However, I do remember in Boy Scouts taking an orange, cutting it in half, scooping the fruit out and then putting an egg in the orange.
We had a campfire going so we then put the orange into the coal-bed of the campfire so that they would cook. This would be an example of combining cold and hot foods together.
Remember, with fruit, while you don’t have to keep it cold in the cooler, as with all food, make sure to take precautions to keep it from being eaten by the critters. In particular, following bear protocols if you are in bear country.
Another popular option for cold breakfast while camping is hard-boiled eggs or cheese. These options have become more popular thanks to the growing popularity of low-carb and keto diets.
A third option would be a childhood staple - cereal. You can either bring a big box from home or those smaller travel packages. While you can bring dairy milk, you will need to make room for it in your cooler. If you want to learn more about keeping things cool while camping then read this article.
However, there are now many non-dairy milk options on the market and most of them don’t require refrigeration. Thus you can try one of those with your cereal instead of dairy milk.
Which Hot Foods To Make For Breakfast While Camping
If the weather is cool in the morning, you will want something hot to eat. And if you’re like me, you also want some coffee. We find coffee so important, we even wrote an entire guide on it.
And at home, that’s typically all I have for breakfast, just coffee. This is because I’m rarely hungry in the morning.
But while camping, I will eat something, in particular, if someone else is cooking. It’s always important to bring along a camp cook.
For hot food, the options are almost endless. Though it does depend upon that camp cook, which might be you, be willing to do the preparation.
The first option is the simplest because it only requires you to boil water (see our article on how to boil water for camping). And that is to make instant oatmeal. This is what I most often do.
I boil water in a backpacking teapot I carry with me on my Jetboil backpacking camping stove. My kettle contains enough water for me to make my oatmeal and a cup of instant coffee.
If you are boiling water, another popular option is dehydrated meals such as the ones from Mountain House. I’m partial to Biscuits and Gravy. My buddy, Kernel Lee (he runs a kettle-corn company) likes the Southwestern Scramble. They are surprisingly tasty meals. Though, I recommend adding less water than you think you need.
A third option is to make good old bacon and eggs. This is the preferred option of my buddy Scott. He likes to eat breakfast for dinner so he is an ace at making the eggs. Typically he cooks them over his Coleman gas stove on his portable kitchen.
The Top Camping Breakfast Cooking Challenges
I am fond of telling people that you can cook anything while camping as long as you remember to bring everything with you.
While this is true, there are many challenges to camping cooking. And it’s not just because you have to pack all of your spices with you.
For example, cooking over a campfire requires a specific set of skills. It’s much more similar to charcoal BBQ cooking, except you have to wait even longer, to start cooking because you have to make your own coals.
And your propane stove won’t have as much room as your stove at home. Speaking of room, even the smallest apartment kitchen has more space to prep, cook, and plate dishes than a campsite. This is why below, we’ll provide more options about how to increase your horizontal
Also don’t forget that at a campsite, you won’t have access to a dishwasher. And you have to clean up your cooking stove as well. Otherwise, you can attract unwanted critters to your campsite. I have heard of raccoons crawling on camping stoves and scooping out the leftover grease in the dump tray.
Prepare Before You Go Camping
The worst job in any restaurant is the beginning chef who has to come in at 4 am and do the prepping for the day. And it’s even less fun to spend time doing prep work for a meal while camping. Because the more time you spend preparing a meal, the less time you have for camping fun.
This is one of the reasons why I go with simple meals when left to my own devices. Because it doesn’t take more than a couple of minutes to make coffee and oatmeal. Then I can go hiking or even take a nap outside of the tent.
So plan your meals ahead of time. And consider if there are ways to prepare your meals beforehand. For example, if there are any meals that require chopping or dicing, you can do that at home. If you’re going to make pancakes, prepare the mix at home.
Why Use A Camping Stove For Breakfast
Cooking over a campfire is only possible after we burn down the wood into coals. This typically takes about an hour and when you have coals, you don’t have flames. Which for many people, loses the appeal of a campfire.
In the morning, when you’re cold and hungry, you don’t want to wait for a fire to burn down to coals just to boil water for oatmeal. Heck, unless it’s really cold, you probably don’t even want to mess with building a fire.
The only time I have consistently cooked over a campfire was when I was at Texas Survival School where we maintained the fire for 2 days. But that’s a lot of work and it was shared by a dozen people.
Plus if you’re in a burn ban or if it’s raining, you can’t light a fire. Thus if you want a hot meal or more importantly, hot coffee, you need to make sure you have an alternative way to cook your food and heat your water.
The most common way is to bring along a camping stove. We have a complete guide about how to choose one here.
If you’re going with a family or group of friends, you can bring along a multi-burner stove. My camping buddies are the ones who bring along a stove.
Otherwise, I’m solo camping and I bring along a Jetboil backpacking stove.
How To Create A Camping Kitchen For Breakfast
My friend Randall pointed out to me that the most precious space when camping is horizontal space.
This is why you need to make sure you have a table to cook on. Otherwise, your cooler becomes the table and this is problematic because you’re always needing stuff in the cooler.
There are four common options for tabletops at a campsite.
If you’re at a state park or commercial campground, it will most likely have a picnic table. This can be sufficient if people have their own camping chairs to sit in. If that’s the case, people will often eat in their own chairs.
However, I like to pack an extra portable table (we call them card tables) in my truck. This way if you need the extra space for cooking or eating, you have it. It’s also useful when camping in a primitive spot where there’s no picnic table.
Though, you can also bring along a full portable kitchen. These have a spot for your stove, a prep area and might even have a sink to wash your dishes.
If you want something smaller and lighter to pack, you can invest in a backpacking table. These will collapse to even a smaller size than a portable kitchen but can be handy around the campfire to hold your food and drinks.
Finally, you can even use the tailgate of your pickup truck. If you invest in a specialized tarp like the Slumberjack, it can become a covered cooking and dining area.