Who wants to spend their whole time camping trying to whip up gourmet meals on a folding table or picnic bench. At the same time, hot dogs on a stick and cans of beans get boring pretty quickly and won’t keep anyone fed for very long.
But what is the alternative?
Finding the right food to take camping can be tricky, leave the ramen at home and opt for make ahead camping meals. Meal prep isn’t just for busy families anymore. Now you can use your at-home kitchen skills to whip up some yummy and filling meals to take on your next camping trip and avoid the mess and campsite clean up that good food often demands.
Here are 25 make ahead camping meal ideas for breakfast, lunch, snacks, dinner and desserts that will keep your family fed on your next camping trip.
Mason Jar Parfait
Keep your camping breakfast healthy and enjoy this mix of granola, yogurt, oats and fruit for a sweet start to your day.
Makes 4 servings
1 container strawberry yogurt
1 cup muesli
3/4 cup granola
1 apple chopped
1 lb red grapes chopped
Mix all of the ingredients together and separate evenly into 4 pint sized mason jars. Keep refrigerated or in your cooler overnight to allow the oats to soften. You can choose to substitute your favorite flavor of yogurt and other fruits like raspberries, cantaloupe or strawberries. This mix will last 5 days if kept cool.
Need to get rid of those few overripe bananas that have been out on the counter too long but don’t want to throw them away? Make some banana bread for a no-fuss breakfast while camping. This banana bread is easy to store and doesn’t need to be refrigerated which really helps when cooler space is limited. Slice off a piece and throw it on some tinfoil on your campfire grate to get the bread toasted and the chocolate melty on a cool morning.
Freezer Breakfast Burritos
Freezer burritos are easy to make, help to keep the cooler cold and are easy to toss on the campfire in the morning. You can have all the comforts of a country style breakfast without the mess of mixing up eggs, frying bacon and washing pots and pans. Just peel back the foil and dig in.
1 large onion diced
1 large green pepper diced
1 roll of breakfast sausage
1 pound of bacon
1 pound of red potatoes cubed small
16 oz shredded cheddar cheese
12 large eggs
1/2 cup milk
1/4 cup olive oil
2 tsp paprika
salt and pepper
1 pack flour tortillas
Fry up the bacon until crisp. Let it cool and chop it into small pieces.
Fry up the breakfast sausage with the onion and green pepper. Strain the grease and let cool.
Preheat oven to 375℉. Toss the cubed potatoes in salt and pepper to taste and paprika. Spread potatoes on a baking sheet and bake for 15 min. Take potatoes out and flip them with a spatula. Bake in the oven for another 15 minutes or until soft and browned. Let potatoes cool.
Crack eggs into medium bowl and add milk. Whisk until light and fluffy. Heat a frying pan over medium heat and spray with cooking spray. Pour eggs into pan and scramble until cooked through. Remove eggs from pan and let cool.
Lay one tortilla down flat. Add cheese, eggs, potatoes and meat with peppers and onions. Fold the bottom of the tortilla up then fold the right side in. Fold the top down and the left side in. Lay the burrito seam-side down on a baking sheet. Once you have completed all of the burritos, place the baking sheet in the freezer for 1 hour. Wrap each burrito in tin foil and place in a large plastic bag and store in your cooler.
When you are ready to eat them you can place them into the outer coals of the campfire or on top of the fire grate.
If you’re in need of some sweet morning comfort food on your camping excursion check out this recipe for blueberry and peach french toast in a foil packet. The liquid eggs make this recipe super simple since you can avoid traveling with fragile eggs and don’t have to worry about whisking them up at a picnic table. Just cut up the bread and peaches and store them in plastic bags for the trip.
Anybody who is trying to corral children or organize a busy family is no stranger to overnight oats. They are an easy and quick way to pack in nutrients and vitamins for a fun-filled day on the trail, making them a perfect food to take camping. They store easily in mason jars or any container you can seal and there is no cooking required! There are an endless number of delicious recipes for overnight oats available on the internet. Check out this recipe for Chunky Monkey Overnight Oats that will have your kids going bananas. Not too keen on bringing glass jars camping? Try these plastic mason jars with screw on lids.
Cake for breakfast? How could anybody resist? This yummy crumble cake is a favorite for kids and adults alike. Make this in a foil pan and put it on your campfire grate for 5-10 minutes to get the juicy apples warmed up. It’s a perfect pairing with dark french press coffee too. Don’t expect it to last long though, this recipe usually gets gobbled up quickly.
If you’re looking for something savory that doesn’t take 5 pans to make give this delicious breakfast casserole a try. Make it at home in a foil pan and throw it on the campfire grate to warm it up and get the cheese bubbling. You’ll even be sneaking the kid’s veggies in when they aren’t looking since this one pan meal is packed full of peppers, mushrooms, and greens. Do your kids turn their nose up at vegetables? Try this Tater Tot Breakfast Casserole that will have the kids taste buds singing.
Crockpot Chicken BBQ Sandwiches
This southern style bbq is served best with some coleslaw and potato chips. Make the chicken bbq at home in the comfort of your kitchen, pack it into deli food containers and store it in your cooler (like the Yeti!) till lunchtime. Serve the bbq on potato rolls or kaiser rolls. This recipe seems to grow so it will make plenty to feed all the hungry mouths at your campsite.
6 boneless skinless chicken breasts
1/2 cup Italian salad dressing
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 bottle of your favorite bbq sauce
Add the chicken to the crockpot and pour all other ingredients on top. Cook 5 hours on high. Using a fork and tongs, pull apart the chicken until it is fully shredded and mix thoroughly into the sauce. Let cool and divide into containers. Heat in pan over the campfire and serve on potato rolls.
Double Decker Hot Ham and Cheese Foil Sandwiches
Pub style comfort food meets camping in this simple to put together recipe. You can serve this stacked sandwich with chips and pickles in summer, a side of soup in autumn or enjoy it all on its own. This hearty sandwich will keep your families’ bellies full straight through until dinner.
1 loaf white or country bread
1 tomato, sliced thin
1 lb sliced mozzarella cheese
1 lb sliced deli ham
Spread a thick layer of mayonnaise on one slice of bread and sprinkle with oregano. Add a slice of tomato, two slices of ham and a slice of cheese and cap with another slice of bread. Repeat these steps adding the mayonnaise to the cap slice. Wrap the sandwich tightly in tin foil, pressing it down. Place sandwich in tinfoil near campfire coals or on grill grate for 5 minutes or until cheese is melted.
This recipe offers a compact way to enjoy one of America’s finest food truck delights while you’re in the great outdoors. You can either bake them ahead, wrap them in tinfoil and reheat them or leave them unbaked and let them cook for 30 minutes over the campfire.
Keep your camp lunch easy and traditional with this recipe for hot dogs on a stick. The classic campfire cookout gets a little makeover with the addition of crescent rolls that turn your everyday hot dog into an on the go pig in a blanket. Add some tin foil and a campfire skewer and get to cooking. Quick and easy, you can serve this with some potato salad, chips or just a side of mustard and ketchup.
These cheap and easy meatball sliders will hit the spot after a morning of wilderness activity. Make them up in a tinfoil casserole dish that you can throw on the campfire grate until the cheese is melty. Then pull apart the individual sandwiches for a tasty treat. This recipe makes for a great no-fuss lunch option when you’re trying to get back out on the trail or off to the swimming hole.
Sweet, savory, spicy or crunchy, no matter how you like it trail mix is the go-to snack for campers, hikers, and backpackers (If you are on the trail, make sure to read our post Lost In The Woods). It packs a nutritional punch, is easy to pack on the go and doesn’t require special storage. The best part is it fills you up in between meals even when you’re burning calories on a hike or playing tag at the campsite. The possibilities are endless when it comes to mixing up your favorite snack, from fruit and nuts to chocolate and wasabi peas, anything goes.
How to carry it with you to the campground? Try one of these easy-pour storage bins to keep your mix fresh through your whole time away. Or if you want to get fancy, try one of these dry food dispensers that you can leave on your picnic table during the day.
Tex Mex Dip
Cheesy doesn’t cover it. Make this layered dip in a 9 x 13-inch foil pan ahead of time and toss it on the campfire grill grate till it’s hot and bubbly. Serve with corn chips and don’t forget the beer and soda for this tailgate favorite. This is best served with a metal spoon to avoid the inevitable broken chip.
2 packs of cream cheese
2 cans of Hormel no bean chili
1 can black beans
1 jar pickled jalapeños (optional)
1 (8 oz) bag finely shredded Mexican blend cheese
Sliced 1 inch thick piece of 1 cream cheese bar and layer the bottom of the foil baking pan. Add one can of no-bean chili and half the can of black beans. Add the second bar of cream cheese in 1 inch thick pieces spread over the beans. Add the second can of no-bean chili and put a layer of jalapeños on top. Put a thick layer of shredded cheese on top and cover with foil. Place on the camping grill grate for 20 minutes or until hot and bubbly and serve with corn chips.
Don’t leave the campsite without them. These sweet little treats are filled with healthy ingredients that will give you the energy to keep the kiddos entertained all day. Always make a bunch of these because they are hard to just eat one. Easy to carry in a plastic bag these morsels don’t need to be refrigerated or cooked. Just mix, roll and they are ready to go. Try these energy bite recipes to have a variety of flavors to choose from on your next camping trip.
If you need a guilt free snack that you can chow on without cutting and storing vegetables look no further. This yummy snack will feed that salty or sweet craving and you don’t need to worry about enjoying another handful. Best of all, you can make them just the way you like them, sweet with a drizzle of honey, spicy with some cayenne or Old Bay seasoning or savory with just a hint of sea salt and garlic powder. Pack them into a plastic ziplock bag or snap top containers for the perfect portion.
Remember fruit snacks? Every kid loves the gummy, fruity sweetness that tastes like candy and is healthy too. Instead of reaching for the box at the store try making your own at home. It’s as easy as blending up your favorite ingredients and baking it. Try these fruit leather recipes to sweeten up your afternoon.
Grab your ingredients and assemble your skewers at home before your trip. You can lay them on a baking sheet and wrap them in tin foil, or place them in a 9 x 13-inch foil pan with a lid to travel. If you want to make sure that you don’t end up with underdone meat and overcooked veggies, or tomatoes that are melting off the skewers, try adding only one ingredient per skewer. When you’re done you can scrape off all the goodies into the pan you brought them in and everyone can grab a plateful. Try these delicious kebab recipes for tips on ingredients and marinades.
No fall camping trip would be complete without a crock of chili bubbling on the fire. Try this hearty slow cooker chili recipe at home and pack it in soup containers to take with you. Dump them all in a dutch oven and heat it up over the fire. When it’s nice and toasty, you can spoon it back into the containers you carried it in to serve. Don’t forget to make some cornbread to soak it up. Try this sweet cornbread recipe and pack it up to go.
The ultimate family comfort food casserole, shepherd’s pie is a delicious and filling option for a cool evening by a campfire. Not only is it easy to make at home, it is a no fuss option to fill and warm a lot of tummies without a lot of hassle. Layer it up in a foil pan and toss it on the campfire grate for 20 minutes or until it is hot and bubbly.
Low country boil is the quintessential southern cookout food so what better meal to enjoy while camping over an open fire. Filled with shrimp, corn, potatoes, sausage, and spices that will leave your taste buds tingling this recipe is sure to be a crowd-pleaser. And forget cleaning up the big boiler pots, this meal comes in individually wrapped foil packets for easy cooking and no cleanup.
Have a campground family fiesta with this south of the border recipe. Bake them in a tin foil pan over an open fire until the sauce and cheese are bubbly. Make sure to bring along some sour cream to add a dollop before you chow down.
What family camping trip would be complete without ‘smores? But if you aren’t keen on finding a semi-clean stick and then dealing with sticky hands, feet and hair for the rest of the evening give these yummy treats a taste. They are the perfect alternative to traditional ‘smores as they offer all the flavor without all the mess. And as a bonus, they don’t require any baking!
Another delicious alternative to the traditional camp ‘smores is bark, a perfect mix of graham, marshmallow, and chocolate in a bite-sized piece. Simple and quick to make and easy to store for a road trip, you can pull them out after dark for a sweet end to your evening. While they don’t need to be kept in your cooler, don’t let them sit in the sun or in a hot car or you might come back to a melted mess.
While bringing ice cream in your camping cooler may prove a little bit difficult, campfire cones are a unique substitute. Have you kids help you assemble them at home for a fun craft to get them in the camping spirit. Heat them up in tinfoil over the campfire for a yummy snack to go with your ghost stories.
This pull-apart dessert is the perfect centerpiece for the picnic table on game night, as long as you bring along some wet wipes. Instead of using a bundt pan, make this recipe ahead in a foil pan with a lid that you can put on the campfire grill grate. Keep the fire low and cook the monkey bread slowly. Remember to store this in your cooler until you’re ready to cook it.
A lot of these recipes call for foil pans to heat over the campfire. Not sure where to get them? Try these foil pans with lids from Amazon they even come with foil lids that will keep your food secure and will keep heat in when campfire cooking for faster cooking times.
Don’t stress over cooking on your family camping trip. Make ahead camping meals are the best way to save you time, money and mess and get you back to enjoying your family and friends in nature.
Want to learn even more about camp cooking? Check out our Complete Camp Cooking Guide Here.