Family Camping Meal Plan
Without a doubt, the most stressful part of camping for me is the meal planning and grocery shopping. This is especially true if we are camping for more than just the weekend.
Whether you choose to follow our meal plans to a T, or pick and choose meals that work for you, we know that these plans will save you so much time and hassle.
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Car camping vs. backcountry camping
While one kind of camping is not necessarily better than the other, they do require very different planning and tools.
This post, and our meal plans included here, are geared towards car and camper camping.
About our Meal Plans
Both of our camping meal plans include:
- Mom tested, family approved, simple to make recipes
- Several meals that you can make at home, ahead of time
- Recipes feed a family of 4 (but you can easily adjust for a larger family)
- Recipes that require either a campfire with metal grate and/or a camping grill
Our meal plans include food that can be prepared at home ahead of time, on a camp stove, in the campfire, and over coals.
Prep Ahead at Home Meals
Some foods are just more difficult to prepare at the campsite. Plus, after a long day of adventuring, it’s nice to heat up some fried rice or pulled pork for a delicious meal that’s ready in minutes.
I recommend making as many meals as possible ahead of time and freezing them flat in resealable plastic freezer bags.
Some foods just don’t freeze well, but our meal plans include a variety of prep-ahead meals, and those that can be made quickly at camp.
Camp Stove Cooking
For car (and camper) camping, we always bring a 2-burner propane camp stove. Having the option to cook on both burners at once is key to getting those meals out quicker.
Although many campers have a stove, I generally prefer cooking over the camp stove so that I don’t stink up the camper. Cooking inside also generates a lot of steam, and my camper doesn’t vent very well.
Cooking Over a Campfire
Cooking over a campfire often involves food that can be cooked on a long stick so they’re easy to pull quickly out of the flames. Hot dogs are super fun to cook over the fire, and of course, s’mores.
If you bring a metal grate, you can also cook meats over the fire. This kind of cooking requires constant supervision though – of the kids and the food!
Cooking Over Coals
Coal cooking allows for even heat distribution, but it takes some time to get the coals heated to the right temperature.
Charcoal that you buy in bags at the grocery store works great for cooking, as do logs that have burned almost all the way down in the fire.
How to Use the Meal Plans
Both the 3-day and the 7-day (coming soon) meal plans are full of recipes that my whole family will eat (and enjoy), and that will feed a family of two adults and two young kids.
Print it out!
I suggest printing the meal plan and looking very closely at each meal to make sure that it’s something everyone will eat. Of course pay close attention if anyone has food sensitivities or allergies.
Keep a printed copy handy at the campsite so that you know what you’re eating each day. Pay close attention to the prep-ahead meals and don’t forget to thaw them if needed!
Look Closely at the Meals Before Shopping
The nice thing about having the printable meal plans is you can easily cross out meals that you wish to omit, or write in substitutions on the shopping list.
Don’t forget though: If you omit a meal, make sure to cross out the ingredients listed on the grocery shopping list (so you don’t end up with un-needed items).
At the Campsite: Plan Ahead One Day
This is a super important point. Make sure that you look ahead to tomorrow’s meals so that you can thaw items if needed.
Of course if you forget to take the frozen muffins out, or forget to thaw the pulled pork, you can always swap for a different meal. Us mamas know how to be flexible, and camp cooking is no different.
Last But Not Least…Dessert
You will notice that both the Free 3-Day Camping Meal Plan and the 7-Day Camping Meal Plan (coming soon) include dessert every day. And in case you’re thinking, “wow, that lady gives her kids all that sugar?“
At home? No way. My kids couldn’t handle it and I wouldn’t be able to handle them.
But when we’re camping, I know that they’re going to run around well after dessert’s over and burn off that sugar. They always get their crazies out before bedtime (which is way later when we’re camping).
But if you’re not into desserts, it’s all good – omit them!
Campfire popcorn is a super fun, after-dinner snack that has zero sugar but is sure to make everyone happy. Jiffy-Pop is easy, and all you need is a long stick. This YouTube video shows how it’s done.
The Bottom Line
After a long day adventuring around the campsite, food just tastes better than it does at home. But with limited space, camp cooking requires way more planning.
Just like everything we do here at Tales of a Mountain Mama, we aim to make getting outside with your family just a little bit easier and more fun.
That being said, our meal plans are intended to alleviate some of the planning and hassle. But we highly encourage you to look through and make modifications for your family (because we all have different tastes and preferences!).
Or if everything looks good, print out the shopping list and go for it, we know you won’t be disappointed!
- The Easy Camp Cookbook (available in paperback or for Kindle by clicking here)
- How to Set Up a Camp Kitchen
- Favorite Campfire Nachos
- Camping and Backpacking for Families
Family Camping Meal Plan
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