Healthy Fast & Delicious Real Food Camping Recipes

Camping Recipes

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.

For Lunch

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!

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photo credit to Colin Browne

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Comments

  1. These are great ideas! We usually do one dinner in aluminum foil. We prepare ahead of time, first place sliced onions, then a meat patty of your choice (beef, buffalo, turkey, etc) on top of onions, add any veggies you want on top of that. We usually put potatoes, carrots, celery, more onion. Season how you would like, roll up the foil around your meal, make sure the it’s tight so the food doesn’t fall out. When your camp fire in burning down and you have lots of coals, place your foil-meal on the camp fire and let it bake away. We usually bake it for 30-45 min depending on how many hot coals there are. When it’s done, open the foil up and presto, a full delicious meal.

  2. We called it Rainbow Stew; ground meat brown in skillet and add diced onion, diced tomatoes, salt and pepper and what ever veges you like….fresh pre-cut or canned for convenience. Kids loved it and it can be as healthy as you make it. Easy one pan meal

  3. Another great fun breakfast which is always a huge hit when I’m out camping is camp fire omelets. Put a big pot of water on to boil. Crack 2 eggs into a ziplock freezer bag and let each person smash their own eggs til well blended (kids love doing this!) Add whatever fill ins you desire ( I take everything needed for ham & cheese, western and Colorado omelets) Roll the bags to squeeze all the air out and seal them shut. Make sure each person writes their name on their bag in permanent magic marker and place the bags into the boiling water. This is why you need to use freezer bags, the storage bags will melt in the boiling water but the freezer bags won’t. After about 10 min remove the bags from the water, open them up and your omelet will roll right out of the bag onto your plate perfectly shaped and ready for toppings of your choice.

  4. Tin foil works for everything. Try baked onions, wrap then just like a potato and place them among the coals. Lay salmon or fish on onions and celery add butter and seasonings and wrap in tin foil.
    Kabobs – beef or chicken threaded on a stick was a favorite of my kids.
    Bring an old oven rack (make sure it is stainless steel) use rocks to elevate and grill hamburger or chicken.
    Open a can of baked beans and set at the edge of the fire. They will boil before burning the paper.
    Cut an orange in two and remove the insides, fill the peel with Jiffy muffin mix, wrap in tin foil and bake in the fire.

  5. Great recipes, but I’m disappointed by the inclusion of plastic bags in the instructions. I first found DIY when looking for homemade recipes to lessen purchases of products that come in single use disposables and DIY seemed to promote this idea. If you’re car camping there’s no reason that you can’t pack food in reusable containers. Even on short backpacking trips I pack tupperware or at least wash and reuse the baggies. Another thing to remember, if DIY is all about natural and healthy: plastics contain toxic chemicals that will leach and they should not be promoted for food storage. I’m just trying to give positive feedback for something to keep in mind for future articles.

    • I’m with you. I use real pans, and I stay away from too much aluminum foil. I have a set of Reverware stainless steel pots that I camped across country with, back in 1969. With a bit of cleaning up of soot from the campfires, I still have and still use those pots each day. They are excellent and not ruined by camp fire cooking.
      I just bring a big one and a small one, and the skillet and a few lids, and we can cook just about anything in them. We use a Coleman stove and/or the camp fire.
      Once, in the Smokies, we camped next to a family we got friendly with. The mother was into campsite cooking and had a tripod with a cast iron pot she cooked with. She made delicious things in there, and iron pots are good to cook in. And safe to eat out of.
      It is really not a problem to bring decent cookware for camping. And usually one does not need all the trick pariphernalia and disposible things, that all get thrown away. A few good, servicable items (we bring real, unbreakable plates and bowls and just wash them) and it is easy and unwasteful. I think people should consider converting back to real cooking, as in the long past (the settlers, etc.) that’s what they did.

  6. Great ideas. We do camp a lot. Our favorite? Breakfast Burritos. Like you, pre-cook all the meat (bacon, sausage, ham), shred cheese, and just cook eggs when we get there. Heat up the meats. Thanks for the freezing eggs tip.

  7. I camped a lot back in the 1970’s and never used prepared camping food. I don’t think it had even been invented then. We always used real food – some brought with and others purchased nearby. In fact, in California, sometimes my tent was my only address for several months at a time. You could do that back then.
    In the 1990’s – new incarnation of my life – we camped down in the Smokey Mountains. Always with, there again, real food. One of the favourite things was Indian Fry Bread, tho I made it with whole wheat flour or half unbleached white and half wheat. Sometimes I made it just like bread dough with yeast and let it rise in the sun. Othertimes I used baking soda for a quicker version. Now, as I am trying to cut down or eliminate gluten, I use other grains and mixtures of grains or flax, etc. One just uses a standard biscuit recipe for the amounts, mixes up the dry ingredients in a container, and adds liquid just before cooking in some olive oil in a pan It is really tasty and warming ( we used to camp sometimes in light snow and cool weather) and really good if you put butter on and/ or locally purchased jams or jellies. (Unless you are avoiding sugar and bring your own.)
    Even on my birthday, we cooked salmon as it was my request, and we could buy it there. It was really just about the best salmon dinner I have ever had. Campsite cooking is part of camping, not just stuffing anything down (fast food or freeze dried food) as a chore. Preparing and sharing food is a great human thing to do, whether at home or camping.

  8. About eggs – in this country people feel that eggs MUST be refrigerated. That is true if the weather is hot, but unbroken eggs being in a cooler with ice is probably enough.
    The reason I say this is because my husband is from Britain and there people tend to store eggs in the cupboard or pantry. They last very well there. Yes, it is a bit cooler in much of Britain, and it can get much hotter here. So one must use their judgement. But I am just saying that because I worry about eggs out of their shells and if they go off before you notice.