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The Complete Camping Food List for the Best Camping Meals

Planning your next family camping trip just got that much easier thanks to our complete camping food checklist!

Today, we’re going to talk about the best camping foods and ingredients as well as basic meal planning for camping.

One of the most difficult parts of planning a camping trip is deciding which meals to eat that everyone in your family will enjoy.

Our well-organized camping food list is here to help.

Camping in an RV? Check out our RV meal planning tips here.

Camping Meal Planning Basics

Group of campers hanging out around the campsite.

Here are a few very basic factors to consider that will make planning the best camping meals much easier.

How Many Campers

Solo camping requires less food than camping with a big group.

It might seem obvious, but often it’s difficult to estimate how much food you’ll actually need before you head out.

Of course, meal planning is quite easy if you’re just camping with your partner or a friend. Just figure out how many days you’ll be gone and come up with a meal plan together.

Figuring out how much food to bring is slightly more difficult if you’re camping with your entire family, but you probably already know their eating preferences and how much food eat person typically eats.

Where it starts to get really tricky is camping with large groups – or even multiple families.

A great tip is to make each family responsible for two or three meals during the trip. Remember to double or triple the size of each recipe depending on the number of campers.

A good rule of thumb is to bring more food that you think you’ll need. It’s better to have leftovers to use at home than run out of food at the campsite!

Where You’re Camping

What type of camping trip are you taking?

A backpacking trip requires much different meal planning than tent camping at a campsite or camping in an RV.

Check out some of our favorite backpacking meals.

For backpacking, it’s important to consider that you won’t have a cooler, so camping meals that don’t require refrigeration are a must.

All the meals you take must also be small, portable, and easy to cook on a small single-burner backpacking stove, like the MSR WindBurner.

Luckily, it’s easy to bring a cooler along on most family car camping trips.

This means you can pack pretty much any of the ingredients you typically use to make meals at home.

Also worth considering is where your campsite is located.

If it’s quite remote, it’s important to make absolutely certain you have all the food you’ll need for the duration of your trip.

But, if you’re relatively close to civilization, there’s no reason you can’t make a grocery run from time to time.

That said, no one wants to spend their whole camping trip cooking. This is why our family loves make-ahead meals that require very little preparation.

Check out our easy camping recipes for very quick, low effort meal ideas.

Your Camp Kitchen Setup

Take an inventory of the camp cooking equipment you have on hand.

The type of stove and cooking utensils you bring play a large role in what foods are possible to cook.

In my opinion, a two-burner camp stove makes cooking camp meals so much easier. If you don’t have one already, it’s well worth the investment.

Of course, you can always go rustic and cook on the campfire. In fact, I strongly encourage you to cook at least a few meals on the campfire.

A few of our family’s favorites include the classic hamburger tin foil meal and pie iron pizza calzones.

Just as important as the cooking device is the utensils and cookware you have on hand. Luckily, as a beginner camper, you can usually just pack the normal utensils and cookware you use at home to make life easier.

Cooking camp meals is extremely easy if you’re RV camping since most modern RVs have at least a basic kitchenette with a refrigerator, stove, and sink.

Our family camping checklist provides a good starting point for building out your camp kitchen.

For an even more in-depth breakdown, our guide to building a camp kitchen will tell you everything you need to know.

Space and Weight Restrictions

These are two huge obstacles when it comes to planning what camping food to bring with you.

As mentioned above backpacking as well as canoe/kayak camping comes with a lot of space/weight restrictions, but we’re going to focus on car camping today.

Size of your vehicle and size of your cooler are two big concerns. You can get away with packing less food if you plan to stop in town to resupply every now and again (a great idea for family road trips).

Our Favorite Camping Food Ideas for Your Trip

Person carrying a camping meal.

Now that you have a better idea of camping food planning basics, here are a few food ideas plus recipes tailored to several different groups.

Camping Meal Ideas for Couples

Looking forward to a romantic night under the stars, curling up in front of the campfire, and sleeping in?

Sounds great! But don’t forget what you’re going to much on. Here are some delicious camp meals for two:






Camping Meal Ideas for Families

When camping with the whole family, you need plenty of yummy options that kids will love. Here are some great meals and snack ideas for families:






Camping Meal Ideas for Large Groups

Chili, hotdogs, hamburgers, and sandwiches are all super easy camping food options for large groups. Here are some additional meal-by-meal ideas for your next big group excursion:






Camping Meal Ideas for Grilling

I love the smell of a smoky grill. Whether you want to try all-American classics like hotdogs and chicken wings or something more gourmet, these finger-licking meal ideas are sure to please grill lovers:






In the market for a new camp grill? Check out our favorite portable grills for our top recommendations!

Camping Meal Ideas for Healthy Eaters

Just because you’re going camping, doesn’t mean you have to pig out on junk. You can stick to your diet and still enjoy these delicious camp food ideas:






Other Awesome Camping Recipes to Consider

Making a backpacking meal on the fire.

You already have a ton of great ideas to add to your camping food list, but here are a few more of our favorite camp recipes for you to consider:

What Do You Always Have on Your Camping Food List?

There you have it – our complete camping food list.

Now, we’d love to hear from you guys. Did we forget to include your favorite camping meal?

Let us know in the comments below!


Sunday 5th of August 2018

Wonderful article! Very helpful ideas for our upcoming trip.


Monday 2nd of July 2018

I'm the single mom and the crazy aunt who takes everyone camping. It's usually me and 9 to 12 teenagers and kids. Your site is amazing and you just made my life alot easier. Thanks for all the information. I will definitely be visiting often!

Steve Rook

Monday 19th of June 2017

Great article! You think you could fit a rice cooker in there? lol just kidding.

The Outdoor store

Thursday 6th of April 2017

Very well thought out and inclusive post. I will save this for our next trip. I am always the one that is in charge of cooking and also plan the menu and shop for it. Will definitely be referring to it in the future for some menu ideas.