Admit it: Your life revolves around food. Everybody’s does, technically, right? Meals give structure to our day and inject a whole lot of pleasure into it to boot.
Food’s all the more central to the camping experience. Appetites seem to enlarge in the woods, even if you’re not burning through the calories backpacking. Maybe it’s partly because, as everybody knows, stuff does just taste better outdoors.
If all you’ve got time for is a quick weekend camping getaway, you may be tempted to skimp on the meal-planning and just improvise your menu at the last minute. Ultimately, though, that’s not a particularly satisfying way to go about things. Coming up with a meal plan in advance organizes your preparation and makes the trip run much more smoothly. When you only have two or three days to play around with, you really don’t want to be delaying your departure scrambling for last-minute supplies—or sacrificing time at your camping destination trying to brainstorm dinner ideas. And it goes without saying that depending on where you're camping, you may have limited or nonexistent options for grabbing provisions.
Let’s talk about some basic tips for developing a camping food menu plan for a weekend escape.
To get started, you should define the parameters of your weekend camping trip so you know the sort of menu you’re dealing with. Here are some things to consider:
Keep in mind that besides ensuring you’ll have enough food for everyone on the trip, thoughtful meal-planning also reduces the likelihood you’ll have too much. For a car camper, that’s not a huge deal, but it’s definitely a negative for a backpacker who has to haul around the surplus weight and deal with preserving and storing excess cooked food.
You really can’t do better than Mountain House for camping meal plan recipes and ideas. Our freeze-dried entrees require nothing more than a pot of boiling water to prepare, which saves on the amount of time and cookware you need and also cuts down on cleanup. They’re supremely packable and lightweight, too, and they boast the industry’s leading shelf life.
So there’s the practical side. But of course, Mountain House meals are also delicious and varied, a boon for campers who don’t want the same bland and boring food for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. From Biscuits & Gravy to the Chicken Fajita Bowl, we make it blissfully easy to enjoy a downright gourmet camping menu with a minimum of ingredients and hassle.
If you really want to go old-school and cut back on the pots and pans and utensils, you can also try foil-wrapped meals cooked over the fire on a grate or directly on embers. From roasted garlic to baked potatoes to quesadillas to paella, there’s actually an incredible variety of appetizers and entrees you can whip up this way.
For snacks anytime as well as on-the-trail lunches or on-the-go picnics, here are some reliably useful kinds of grub to have on hand:
Now, don’t forget some condiments and spices. These can take a humdrum lunch and make it downright mouthwatering. In addition to whatever of the classics you enjoy (ketchup, relish, hot sauce, etc.), you might consider packing garlic powder, dried shallots, and herb mixes, all of which have wide application when it comes to cranking up the flavor of a dish.
Break down your weekend camping trip into the number of meals each day. Then list the necessary ingredients for each of those meals. Throw in the snacks you'll inevitably be craving in between, and in a flash, you've got your grocery list spelled out for you. Don't forget spices, condiments, and cooking accessories!
Here again, if you choose Mountain House for your dishes, you're cutting way down on the number of supplies you need to rustle up at the store (not to mention pack).
Here are some very basic ideas for each meal, add or subtract meals depending on the length of your trip.
Here are some tools and accessories you might need to take with you to cook your food! Condiments and spices
Accessories and cooking utensils
If you’re a frequent camper (and you are, aren’t you?), consider dedicating a bag, pack, or bin as a go-to portable kitchen for weekend getaways: stocked with cookware, utensils, a can opener, corkscrew, cleaning supplies, salt, pepper, condiments, spices, and other essentials.
Post-meal cleanup is another one of those issues that’s a bit more straightforward for a car camper, but remember whether you’re in a frontcountry campground or a backpacking campsite you should keep a clean camp and safely secure all food and dishware from critters.
Some backpackers go without soap in the interest ofLeave-No-Trace ethics, simply scrubbing out messy dishes with water, sponge, and fingers; if you do want soap, choose a biodegradable version and make sure to deposit your wastewater 200 feet or more from any stream or lake. Strain out all food particles before dumping your wash water.
Another advantage of the weekend camping trip? You can, if you so choose, skip washing dishes on your last night and simply do it back home the next day. Ah, the luxury!