There’s nothing quite like fresh-caught fish when you’re camping. But if you’ve had a long day of hiking or the fish just weren’t biting, you want easy camping meals that are low maintenance and fast. When you’ve gotten back to the campsite and rounded up some dry firewood for the night, slip out of your hiking boots and into some casual slip-on shoes, pour yourself a drink and get your fire going.
Creating the perfect fire to cook camping food
A cooking fire should be clean-burning and hot, which is why dry wood is so important. Once you have it going, let the flames die down until they are low, or just white hot coals.
If you’re drying out wet hiking boots or water sandals by the fire, don’t put them too close to the heat, and make sure you check on them every so often.
Lay your cooking rack across the rocks on the fire pit or use a tripod rack that is easily raised and lowered to adjust cooking temperature. You can take care of any prep work while waiting for your fire to reach the optimal state.
Five easy camping meals
If you’re in an area where you don’t have to worry about bears, you can afford to bring in supplies for some delicious, easy camping meals. If you’re backpacking and using a camp stove instead of a fire, check out these recipes for healthy dehydrated meals you can make yourself to save money and reduce your sodium intake.
Otherwise, these five campfire recipes are perfect for replenishing energy after a long day outside when you have the freedom to cook whatever you want:
Chicken or Steak Kabobs
This is a treat for the first night of a camping trip. A few days before you leave, cube up some steak or chicken – or both if you want! Marinate it in a gallon-zip bag for a day then freeze it. Bring some fresh peppers, tomatoes, onions and mushrooms.
While your fire is heating up, soak the kabob skewers in potable water until they are saturated, and cut up your peppers and onion into approximately two-inch slices. Then load up your kabobs with meat and veggies and place them on a low grill, but away from the flames, and turn them every-so-often to make sure they are cooking evenly.
If you have a small camp stove, you can also make rice while your kabobs are cooking. Cook time is approximately 15 to 20 minutes, or until the meat is fully cooked.
When you’re looking for a quick fix the kids will love, these toasted sandwich recipes are the perfect camping food. You’ll need several cast-iron pie makers, which you can find at your local camping store, a loaf of bread and the ingredients for the perfect pie of your choice.
For pizza in the woods, make a sandwich with marinara sauce, pepperoni and cheese (or any other toppings you want) and butter the outside of the sandwich. Place the mountain pie, butter-side out, into the pie iron, close it and stick it into the coals or base of the fire. Cook for about five minutes, remove from the heat and let it rest a bit to cool.
Be careful when removing the iron and pie as it will be very hot. Other great recipes to try are grilled cheese with tomato, tuna melts, Sloppy Joes and BLTs. For breakfast, try French toast or eggs! Dessert is also super fun in these.
Another easy camping meal, foil meals do require prep time and freezing at home. Take half a pound of ground beef, a cup of your favorite canned vegetables and any seasonings you like, and mix them together in a ball. Place the ball in the center of a heavy-duty foil sheet sprayed with cooking spray, flatten it slightly and wrap tightly.
Smaller meals will cook faster and have a better chance of cooking through. Freeze the foil meals until you’re ready to go. In the woods, wait until you have a fire of hot coals and place your foil meals on top for about 25 minutes. You’ll want to turn them every so often.
One foil meal serves one camper, so it’s not a bad idea to make a few extra in case anyone wants more.
Bacon and Eggs
The perfect, protein-filled way to start the day, cooking bacon and eggs over the fire can be easier than you think. You’ll need a non-stick pan or cooking sheet with raised edges, and a grill. If you have a good cooler, you can bring enough bacon and eggs for about two days. Cook the bacon first, using the leftover grease to cook up your eggs.
You can always add cheese, peppers and onions, too. Scramble it all together in the bacon grease then divvy it up into servings. Cook time is about 10 minutes.
VARIATION: Paper Bag Bacon and Eggs!
Want less dishes for your bacon and eggs? Cook it in a paper bag! Take paper bag, cover bottom with slices of bacon.
Crack an egg or two on top, close it and put on fire. The bacon grease will keep the paper from sticking.
Warning – it does take a while to cook!
Dessert isn’t always thought of as camping food, but baked apples are an easy way to make an evening treat. At home, core medium-sized apples and set them in the center of a sheet of foil.
Fill the core with raisins and a cinnamon-sugar mixture, then wrap up the foil around the apple. You may want to use two sheets of foil. In the woods, wait until your fire is down to hot coals, then, nestle your apples inside. Cook time is about 10 minutes, turning them over half-way through.
Be careful when you take them out and unwrap them as they are very hot!
See it as it is. Leave it as it was.
After dinner, clean up your campsite and wash any dishes with biodegradable soap. Even if you’re not in an area with a lot of bears, you should still hang your camping food and trash or lock it in the trunk of your car to be safe.
Be sure to extinguish your fire each night, and store your hiking boots and water sandals inside your tent or lean-to to keep any unwelcome critters from crawling inside.
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