Camping meal ideas

Camping meal ideas with a twist

Part of the beauty of going camping is saying goodbye to your gadgets for a few days. But enjoying a digital detox means giving up many of your go-to kitchen appliances, too. Luckily, just because you’re at a campsite doesn’t mean you have to eat hot dogs all weekend. Sure, you might not have access to an oven or your complete spice cabinet, but as long as you have a camp stove and a can-do attitude, it’s easy to get creative with camping food and recipes.

Breakfast

When you plan out camping breakfast ideas, think about what you’ll be doing that day – if you’ve got a full day of hiking or canoeing ahead, you might want a quick breakfast without a lot of clean-up. But if you have time to linger, why not start the day with something different?

breakfast burritos (with hand-blended salsa)

Kick off breakfast with espresso in the woods, then stoke the campfire to start roasting veggies for a side of fresh salsa made in the GSI Vortex Hand Blender. Get the recipe for breakfast burritos from Chef Chuck Hughes and Danny Smiles.

Pancakes (with canned peaches)

Pancakes with peaches

Pancakes are about as easy as it gets when it comes to camp breakfasts, especially if you’re using a box mix. While we all love syrup – that’s a Canadian pre-req – swapping in a can of peaches leads to a delicious, less messy and (slightly) healthier version.

Oatmeal (dressed up)

Fancy camping oatmeal

Okay, we take back what we said about pancakes. Oatmeal is as easy as it gets with camp breakfasts. Boil water. Pour in oats. Done. But oatmeal can get old really quickly. Emilie Richard, a nutritionist working with MEC Outdoor Nation partner Chevres de Montagnes, suggests throwing in coconut flakes, pumpkin seeds, hemp seeds, sliced almonds, cranberries, figs, goji berries, maple sugar and a chai spice mix (made with cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamom and cloves).

Lunch

If you plan to leave your campsite during the day, then bring a small portable cooler as part of your camp kitchen kit (that way you don’t need to lug the giant main cooler down to the beach).

Tacos (in a bag)

A staple of summer camp, this is a great grab-and-go lunch. Take all your traditional taco fixings – lettuce, tomatoes, cheese, meat – and pour them into a mini bag of corn chips. This is one meal you’ll definitely look forward to when you’ve reached the halfway point of your day outside.

GORP (fancied up)

Fancy trail mix

Granola, oats, raisins and peanuts (or good ol’ raisins and peanuts, depending on your source) is a longstanding favourite with campers and hikers. Just throw a bunch of tasty, energy-boosting snacks into a bag and munch on it throughout the day. To mix it up a little, take some advice from our partners at Parks Canada and try it with Shreddies, chocolate pieces, banana chips, raisins, cashews and almonds. (We won’t bother with the acronym for that one.)

Dinner

Camping dinner ideas often revolve around the campfire, but if there’s a fire ban in place, you can usually still dish up meals with a camp stove (always check the regulations to see what’s allowed during a fire ban).

Burgers (made of black beans)

Black bean burger

You can’t go wrong with burgers. For an alternative to the classic beef patty that’s guaranteed to travel well, try whipping up some vegetarian black bean and sweet potato burgers instead. Emilie suggests making the patties at home before you go, then frying them up with your favourite burger ingredients to refuel at the end of a long day.

Corn (cooked on the campfire)

Nothing beats a fire-roasted corn on the cob. Once your fire has burned long enough to create embers, load on a few ears of corn. The husks will char nicely and be extremely easy to pull off, and the corn itself will have a delicious roasted taste that’s totally different from boiled or barbecued corn.

Chili (with roasted sweet potatoes)

No microwave? No problem. One of the easiest things to do on camping trips, especially if you know you’re going to be out during the day, is to pre-make meals and heat them up over the fire. Chili is a great example – filling, easy and delicious. If you want to dress it up, follow Emilie’s advice and toss in some roasted some sweet potatoes, cheese and tortilla chips – maybe even avocado slices if you’re going full campsite gourmet.

Snacks and desserts

Along with the quick stuff to munch on, like chips or fruit, you can get a little creative with your camping snacks and treats.

Spinach dip (warmed by the fire)

For a belly warming snack idea that you can cook on the fire, throw sour cream, cream cheese, parmesan cheese and spinach into some tin foil and cook it beside the embers. You can even prepare the spinach dip at home first, and can customize with whatever you have lying around (like bacon, green onion or artichokes).

S’mores (in fruit kebab form)

Amazing when peaches are in season, or you could sub out strawberries or your favourite fruits. Watch Chef Chuck Hughes and Danny Smiles to see how it’s done – they’re using the Primus Kamoto OpenFire Pit to toast things up.

S’mores (with PB cups)

S'mores peanut butter cup

S’mores are a classic camping treat – why not try subbing the simple milk chocolate for peanut butter cups? Or take a page out of Parks Canada’s book, and make full blown s’mores packets instead. Turn tin foil into a basket loaded up with chopped banana, crushed graham crackers, broken chocolate pieces and a couple of marshmallows, then place it in the embers until everything’s just the right level of gooey.

Sharing camping food with friends is half the fun of being outside. Use these new takes on camping classics to make your next weekend away easy and delicious.

Jenn Martin, blog writer
Jenn Martin

Writer searching the globe for the best stories, songs and summits.