Best Dinners for Camping
by Lauren Mason
August 04, 2020
After a day of fun in the great outdoors, there’s nothing more enjoyable than a cozy dinner by the campfire. The great thing about car camping is that you can still eat like a king since you can bring along everything you need to cook almost like you would in your own kitchen. Here are our top tips and recipes for the best dinners while camping.
Setting Up Your Camping Kitchen
At Arrive Outdoors, we believe that cooking at the campsite should be easy, fast, fun, and delicious. Be sure to bring salt, pepper, herbs, spices, and condiments to jazz up your meals just like you would at home. A folding camping table, like the Helinox Table One, provides the perfect place to prep your food or serve a romantic meal for two. Campfires are great for roasting marshmallows, but you can also grill right over the open flames if you pack a Wolf and Grizzly Grill Kit.
If you’re planning on doing any real cooking on your trip, you’re going to want a Jetboil 2 Burner Camping Stove. It’s super compact and easy to light, so you know you can count on it even when you can’t get a campfire going. We also love the Flex 3 Cooking System because it’s much easier to pack than full-sized pots and pans, but it includes everything you could possibly need to cook your meals.
A Few of Our Favorite Camping Dinners
- If you’re looking for the easiest and quickest dinners for camping, you can’t go wrong with dehydrated camping meals. You can dehydrate your own food at home, or you can buy already prepared and dehydrated meals like beef stroganoff, chicken teriyaki, lasagna, stew, and much more from a variety of companies. You can’t be dehydrated meals for convenience and variety!
- For those who love Indian food, check out your local grocery store for heat and serve Indian dishes that can quickly be warmed up in a pan or you can pop the whole packet into a pot of boiling water. There are lots of options to choose from, and you can bring parboiled rice to bulk up the meal. Some of our favorites are the teriyaki noodle bowls, Madras Lentils, and Chana Dal with Zucchini.
Pasta and Sautéed Vegetables with Sauce is easy to prepare right on your camp stove. Simply boil your pasta noodles just like you would at home. In a frying pan, sauté some zucchini, mushrooms, or other favorite veggies. Pour a jar of sauce over the veggies and heat through. Feel free to add some seasonings from home to spice things up.
Fire-Roasted Vegetables (or Meat) is a dinner that can be prepped at home and then quickly cooked at your campsite. Vegetables like potatoes, peppers, mushrooms, celery, garlic, sweet potatoes, squash, and onions can be chopped into bite-sized chunks and stored in a zip-top bag until you’re ready to use them. Pieces of meat, fish, or tofu should be placed in a separate bag. At the campsite, put everything in a foil packet and season to taste. Place the packets on the grill and turn every five minutes or so until everything is cooked through.
- A stuffed pizza log is always a hit with the kiddos, and it can be made at home and heated up over the campfire. Roll some homemade or store-bought pizza dough into a rectangle. Top the dough with pizza sauce, cheese, and any other toppings your family likes. Wrap the dough around the toppings to form a log and pinch the ends shut. Sprinkle the outside of the log with herbs or parmesan cheese, wrap the log tightly in foil, and then freeze. When you’re ready to cook it at your campsite, simply place it on a grill rack and cook until nice and brown, turning frequently.
Soups, stews, and chili are another great make-ahead option. Prepare your family’s favorite soup, stew, or chili at home, put it in a zip top bag, and freeze. Simply heat in a pot on your camp stove at your campsite and add cheese or other toppings as desired. A box of cornbread mix cooked in a frying pan over the fire makes a great side with this meal.
Walking Tacos are easy to make and adjust to your taste. Pre-chop the veggies at home. Simply brown some ground beef or your favorite meat substitute in frying pan and season with your favorite taco seasoning. Put the filling over top of a single-serve bag of corn chips and top with cheese and veggies. Eat it right out of the bag with a fork!
Pie Iron Grilled Cheese Sandwiches make an easy to cook dinner at the campsite. Butter two pieces of bread and put your favorite cheese in the middle, just like you would at home. You can cook them in a skillet as you do at home, but if you bring along some campfire pie irons, the kiddos can cook their own. There are lots of ways to change this one up with different fillings, too! Try cream cheese and veggies, pizza sauce and pizza toppings, or even fruit pie filling to make a quick dessert.
Loaded Baked Potatoes can be a hearty meal all on their own. Season some large baking potatoes with olive oil, salt, and pepper. Wrap them in foil and bake them right in the coals of your campfire. Then load them up with the toppings of your choice: green onions, bacon, sour cream, cheese, chili… whatever your family loves! Serve some fresh fruit and baked beans on the side to round out the meal, if desired.
Black Bean and Sweet Potato Tacos can be prepared easily at the campsite, and it’s easy to change them up to suit your family’s tastes. Wrap some tortillas in foil and warm them over the fire. Slather the tortillas with refried black beans then fill with sautéed sweet potatoes. Top with freshly chopped parsley, lettuce, and cilantro and add cheese or sour cream. You can easily change up the fillings depending on what your family loves!
As you can see, there’s no need to make sacrifices when you’re camping, especially when it comes to dinner time. With a little planning, the food can be just a delicious as what you’re used to eating at home. And, the setting makes even the simplest of foods seem more special!