- Written by Merry Kuchle; photo: PhotoXpress.com
I love hot dogs, I really do, but after one too many camping trips where they seemed to appear at every meal, enough was enough. Our family is comprised of two adults with a foodie bent, one ravenous teenager, one precocious preteen and a preschooler who subsists on air. Meals that are family-friendly and healthy(ish) are a must. Through trial and error, I’ve figured out how to keep everyone well fed and happy while unchaining myself from the camp stove.
Camp kitchen essentials – Whether you’re tent camping or glamping in an RV, there are a few camp kitchen essentials. If you’re a tent camper, a large plastic bin is ideal for carrying your kitchen essentials to the campsite. Must-have items include: a camp stove and/or a BBQ, a large skillet, a large stockpot, a medium sauce pan, a griddle, a mixing bowl, cutting board, medium sharp knife, spatula and a big cooking spoon. You can make virtually any meal with these key tools.
Prep is key – I like to pre-chop vegetables (bell peppers, carrots, cucumbers) before we leave, storing them in a large freezer bag. When the kids are hungry, their first option is these vegetables, paired with ranch dip or hummus. Hello, self-serve! I chop them further to top salads, or stirfry them to add to pasta sauce. I also pre-shred cheese and chop lettuce for salads. My family loves pancakes, so I mix the dry ingredients in a large freezer bag and write the directions and wet ingredients required on the bag.
Multi-tasking food – Jot down a meal plan before you make the trek to the grocery store. One of the easiest ways to enjoy quick and easy camp cooking is to make food that can be repurposed into a second meal. When grilling steaks for dinner, throw an extra steak on the grill. The leftover steak can be incorporated into fajitas with bell peppers and onions the following night. Sausages grilled in the evening and served with perogies can be chopped to include in a breakfast taco the next morning.
As with most things in life, keeping things simple is key to enjoying cooking for a crowd in the bush. Instead of fancy side dishes, grilled vegetables and salads compliment camp cooking fare. Also, don’t overlook family favorites like spaghetti with meat sauce and pork souvlaki in a pita that are easily prepared at the campsite.
Last but not least, camping with friends can make food prep easier. Organize a potluck, or take turns preparing breakfast for the group. One family might contribute a large pot of meat sauce, another the pasta, yet another the salad and garlic bread. Meals like these have a party atmosphere, and is much more fun than each family eating at their own campsite.
Camping is all about enjoying your family, enjoying friends and enjoying life. With a little preparation, you can also enjoy many amazing meals and, maybe, the occasional hot dog.
Merry is a working mom, stepmom and blogger with a passion for living life to the fullest, exploring Calgary and searching for the ultimate chocolate chip cookie.