Let me share a camping paradox with you–all of the outdoor physical activity involved with camping will really amp up kids appetites and literally anything will taste delicious when they are hungry.
Here are a couple of pointers to help with the trip.
A Little Meal Planning and Prep Goes a Long Way
1: Write down how many meals you will need, for example, are you camping three nights? This means approximately two breakfasts, two-three lunches and three dinners.
2: Create a menu for each meal. For simplicity, I usually repeat the breakfast and lunch menus and dinner has more variety. Write down everything you will need, including portions, seasonings and condiments. Pancakes without syrup? Hot dogs without buns? Write it all down and use this list when packing.
3: The day before your trip pre-wash, chop and cook as much as you can; remove excess packaging and repack food items in smaller, leak proof containers if needed. I use these for packing and if they make it back home afterwards I wash and reuse next time. Note, consider freezing meats if you are camping in warm temperatures.
Plan on taking at least two coolers-one for food and one for drinks. Pack the food cooler in layers, start with a layer of ice at the bottom then pack the last days food at the bottom and work your way up. Note: any raw meat should be at the bottom. At the top, place all ready-to-eat foods and fragile or small items in a plastic box. Fill in all the open spaces with ice and lastly place a piece of insulation at the top (I recycled a used car sun reflector cut to size). At the campsite, store the food cooler in the shade and open only as necessary.
Basic Menu Ideas
- Chili-top with shredded cheese and serve with cornbread. Both chili and cornbread can be made at home and frozen in advance.
- Ground beef tacos-add cheese, salsa and serve with sliced avocados. Brown and season the beef taco meat at home and warm on the campfire.
- Sausage and pepper wraps-simply grill sausage, onions and peppers and wrap up in a warm tortilla, top with spicy mustard. Pre-chop peppers and onions and pack in a baggie.
- Beans, macaroni and cheese-my family loves this, when camping I use canned beans (add cumin or some other smoky flavor) and boxed mac and cheese (add extra cheese at the end)
- “Snack dinner” (basically a charcuterie board): line a sheet pan with an array of cured or smoked meats, nuts, cheese, baby carrots, cucumber slices, hummus, pretzels/crackers, fresh and dried fruit…..whatever you desire.
- Grilled sandwiches-wrap in foil and warm on camp fire
- Breakfast ‘biscuit’-see recipe below.
- Egg, bacon, cheese breakfast taco-crack the eggs into a jar with a lid and pack in the food cooler (season eggs, shake the jar to mix before cooking), warm pre-cooked bacon
- Fruit salad (strawberries and grapes hold well), whole apples, oranges and bananas can be cut on-site
- Premix equal parts oatmeal, Kodiak Cakes pancake mix and dry milk.
- Optional add-ins: salt (highly recommend), cinnamon, dried fruit/nuts
- To cook: mix with water until it looks like lumpy pancake mix and cook over low heat in a pan sprayed with oil. Flip over once, serve with butter if desired or top with syrup or a nut butter.
Last but not least, the kids specifically wanted me to remind you: do not forget the marshmallows, graham crackers and chocolate bars.