Fact: everything tastes better when you're camping. From the first cup of piping hot coffee, to the highly-anticipated gathering around an open fire for dinner, camping food is a joy to prepare, and a delight to devour. Without the conveniences of home like a refrigerator or oven, longer camping trips may seem daunting when it comes to meal planning.
So start simple!
Check out this basic 7-day camping food meal plan so you can head into the wild for your next camping trip ready to explore, and with more time to savor the adventure!
Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, whether you’re in the city or the backwoods. There are two types of camp breakfasts: slow and hearty or quick and easy. You'll likely want to plan for a combination of both, as some days will be filled with activities from the moment the sun breaks over the horizon until it settles in to the crooks of the hillsides in the evening. And some days will be slow going, when you can kick up your feet on a comfy stump and enjoy the home away from home that your campsite offers.
The breakfast plan includes days 2-7, as you often arrive at camp around lunch or later on the first day. But if you’re an early riser and like to get to camp early, do something easy like eggs and toast. Or pick up some breakfast burritos on the drive there!
Day 2: Eggs and bacon over the fire, cut fruit on the side
Day 3: Egg scramble with sausage links over the fire
Day 4: Assortment of cereal and bagels
Day 5: Bacon, egg, and cheese bagel breakfast sandwiches
Day 6: Pancakes on the griddle
If you want to swap some things out with other easy camping meals, consider oatmeal, store-bought cinnamon rolls, french toast, pre-made hash browns, corn or flour tortillas to make burritos, granola, avocados, english muffins, black beans, and potatoes.
And don’t forget the coffee! Instant coffee is the easiest and lightest thing to pack to get your coffee fix but if that won’t cut it, consider a basic pour-over stand, french press (a sturdy camping-specific version is best), or an AeroPress. Disposable single-serving pour overs are a new popular way to bring coffee on a camping trip too. And coffee-in-a-bag is another popular option. It’s basically coffee in a teabag!
And if you’re one of the poor souls who brought the coffee but forgot the tools to make it, there’s always cowboy coffee (boiling grounds in a pot of water). You can filter the grounds through a bandana or clean cloth if you have one. Or if you don’t mind a few grounds, you can skim them off the top. It’s a little messy but it works!
Lunch can be the easiest, and also the hardest meal to plan. Unlike breakfast and dinner, lunch often has to be prepared hours before it happens. If you’ve planned a hike, horseback ride, or day on the lake, you’ll need to pack a lunch ahead of time to prevent any unhappy hunger-related meltdowns. One popular option is to have snacks like trail mix and snack bars ready to go and easy to grab for portable adventures, but if you'll be enjoying higher exertion activities like backpacking, you're going to want a calorie-dense lunch to keep you going!
For a quick Mountain House lunch with easy clean up, all you need is water. There are several ways to boil water while camping such as using a kettle or pot over the fire or with a camp stove system like a Jetboil. If you're car camping at a campsite with electricity or if you have a DC to AC inverter for your car, you could bring an electric kettle with you. With a thermos or vacuum insulated water bottle, you can boil water in the morning to bring with you!
Here’s our 7 day camping menu for lunch:
Day 1:Chicken Fajita Bowl
Day 2: PB&J, granola bar, watermelon
Day 3: Turkey sandwiches, potato chips, pickles and potato salad
Day 4:Chili Mac with Beef
Day 5: PB&J, carrots and hummus, pretzels
Day 6: Chicken and Rice (leftovers)
Day 7: Sandwiches for the road and leftover snacks from the week
For some alternative easy camping recipes, consider peanut butter and banana wraps, grilled cheese sandwiches, tuna sandwiches, deli wraps, and quesadillas. Or bring veggies like corn, peas, and peppers. Sausage and pepper foil packets make a great easy lunch too, just don’t forget the olive oil! And fruits like bananas and apples are good sides to accompany a lunch meal too. You can also bring soup in a can or pre-made soup in a thermos to heat up on the pot and eat with crackers. And if you cook up some extra bacon for breakfast, you can save some for BLTs later.
For a great dessert, campers love banana boats! There are lots of recipe ideas and roundups for banana boats but the process is simple. Slice a banana down the middle while still in the peel and fill with toppings like marshmallows, Nutella, strawberries, crumbled graham crackers, granola, and chocolate chips. Then wrap it loosely in aluminum foil and roast on the fire for a few minutes.
Dinner may be the best part of camping. Everyone jumps in to help, and there’s a symphony of cutting, chopping, boiling, and, of course, taste-testing. Camp cooking is the reward after a long day on the trails, water-skiing behind the boat, or playing cards with the family.
There are many different ways to cook dinner at the campground, with long held favorites being tin-foil dinners, or browning meat in cast-iron skillets on the fire grate.
For the first day, you’ll want to keep it simple. You’ll have just arrived to camp, and in the process of organizing plastic bins, laying out the welcome mat in front of the tent trailer, and shaking out the tarp, the last thing you want to worry about is making a complicated camp dinner.
Day 1:Beef Stroganoff (#10 can, 10 servings)
Day 2: BBQ hot dogs over the fire
Day 3: Tin foil dinner: baked potatoes, onions, zucchini, and fresh-caught trout
Day 4: Chili Mac with Beef (#10 can, 10 servings)
Day 5: Southwest Chicken and Rice
Day 6: Customizable Kebabs (check out these camping recipes fromFresh Off the Grid)
For some alternative meal ideas, you might enjoy tacos (bring shells, toss it in a bag of Fritos or throw on top of some chips for nachos), burritos (our Southwest Chicken and Rice goes great in a tortilla), chili dogs, hamburgers (pre-formed patties are the easiest), sloppy joes, or a one-pan skillet with sausage and sweet potatoes. And with a dutch oven, there are tons of amazing dutch oven camp food recipes you can make.
And of course, don’t forget the marshmallows, graham crackers, and skewers for s’mores to keep all of the campers happy!