Camping season is almost upon us, so it’s time to bust out our camping recipes! Every year I’ve had the same camping menu, wanting to make the food easy to carry and prepare. Then there’s also clean up to consider. I know there are other ways to prepare food over a campfire that I’d like to experiment with. It’s almost time, so I’d better get busy!
Camping Recipes for Breakfast
I’ve done the usual sausage and eggs, since you can get sausage fully cooked and powdered eggs. But have you tasted those eggs? Yuck! It’s better for you to crack open half a dozen eggs and place them in a pint canning jar. Label the jar. Leave the lid off and freeze them. When they’re frozen, put the lid on. You can leave them in the freezer for up to 6 months. When it’s time to pack for camping, place the jar of frozen eggs in the cooler. They will keep other things cold for the first day and be thawed out enough to use by the second morning.
In a small container or zip-top bag, mix sea salt, celery salt, fresh ground pepper, dried thyme, a few hot pepper flakes and dried parsley. The proportions are up to you, but for each egg you’ll need about ⅛ teaspoon of the spice mixture. Add other spices if you wish, but this blend does especially well with eggs.
In yet another container, grate some cheese, such as colby or cheddar, which also pair well with eggs. Pack all of this in your cooler along with some frozen pre-cooked ground sausage. On the morning of the second day, get your sausage out and fry it in a frying pan over the fire. Since the sausage is already cooked, it should have very little grease. In the jar with the eggs, mix about ⅛ teaspoon of the seasoning for each egg. Use a fork to blend it all together. Pour the egg mixture into the pan and cook it with the sausage. Add the cheese to the top when it’s just about done. Serve hot.
For clean up, put a bit of water in the jar and a drop of liquid soap. (Use a safe natural homemade soap if you can.) Seal the jar as tight as you can (and place it in a zip-top bag if you think it will leak). Place it upright in your pack or cooler. The motion from walking will wash the jar. Rinse when you get home.
Camp lunch usually consists of sandwiches, and maybe some carrot and celery sticks. But why settle for plain fare when you can go fancy? (Ok, maybe not fancy, but certainly not dull.)
In a glass jar layer rice and broken spaghetti noodles. Tuck in a spice mix and you’re set. I use some dry chicken bullion, parsley, fresh ground pepper, a bit of onion and garlic powder and a tiny bit of lemon peel. Be sure all your spices are dry, not fresh – they’ll last longer on the trip. Be sure to pack a nice sized frying pan that can be used on an open fire and a very small bottle full of olive oil. You’ll need some of your water, too.
When you’re ready for lunch, start your fire. Warm up your pan and add a tablespoon or so of olive oil or another oil of your choice. For each person, take ¼ of a pint jar of rice and spaghetti mix and fry it gently in the oil. The spaghetti will turn golden brown. Don’t let it get too dark. Add ¼ teaspoon of the spice mix and ½ cup of water per person. Be careful – the water will steam and spit a lot at first. Simmer until the rice is tender. You can add canned chicken or tuna for a heartier meal, or serve it with a salad.
Clean up using the same method used with the eggs.
And for Dinner
I really hate those dehydrated camping meals. They promise Chicken à la King, Beef Burgundy or all sorts of gourmet meals. The truth is most of them taste like paste. So why can’t you make your own mixes? You can! The trick to taking meals with you is to do as much of the prep work at home before you go.
I love potatoes, but who wants to peel them after you’ve hiked all day? Instead, clean and quarter potatoes before your trip. Toss them in a container with some salt and olive oil to keep them from turning gray. Put the container in your cooler and boil or fry the potatoes when it’s time for dinner. Either way, the prep is already done.
Hot dogs are an easy solution that many campers fall back on, but how about tacos? Tacos…on a camping trip? Sure! Prepare your cheese, tomatoes and lettuce ahead of time. For the meat, you can prepare hamburger with taco seasoning ahead of time and freeze it. Heat this pre-cooked and seasoned meat in a skillet over your fire and place it on soft tortilla shells with the cheese, lettuce and tomatoes. Super easy.
Want to get fancier? How about Chicken Parmesan? Prepare your chicken breasts ahead of time and freeze them. In your cooler, pack the chicken breasts, spaghetti sauce and parmesan cheese, and maybe even some mozzarella. At the campsite, fry up the chicken, cover with the sauce and allow it to simmer. Add the cheeses to the top just before serving. Add a side of green beans or other vegetable that was prepared ahead of time.
There is really no end to what you can make over an open fire. The key thing to remember is to get all the work done ahead of time so you can relax and not have to spend hours getting a meal ready. And it doesn’t have to be boring anymore, either!
What are your favorite camping recipes? Do share!
photo credit to Colin Browne