Camping is one of the best frugal vacations. I love spending time outdoors with my family, but I was initially hesitant to start the tradition of camping with my family. I don’t like bugs or sleeping on the ground, and I was intimidated by the amount of gear we’d have to buy.
But last summer, we borrowed a tent and went camping as a family for the first time. All four of us loved it, and we were hooked. Spending a weekend living outdoors without an agenda or to-do list, my family was able to truly relax and just be together.
We went camping again this year at a state park on Cape Cod, and the highlight for me was realizing one afternoon that I had no idea what time it was. With my schedule, that’s something that never happens to me in the real world.
Real Food Camping Recipes
Traditional camping food is not very healthy, but if you prepare things ahead of time you can stick to your principles while eating in the great outdoors. We definitely treat ourselves to a few less-than-healthy foods along the way, but our bodies still want lots of nutritious food while we’re camping. Here are several camping recipes that work well at a campground. Some are cooked right there over the open flame, while others are completely prepared ahead of time. A great menu helps to make a camping trip even better.
Squash Chili: Make at home and then heat it up at the campsite.
Lentil Sweet Potato Packets: Cook over the fire in foil packets instead of in the oven.
Calzones: Make them ahead of time and heat over the fire.
Grilled Corn on the Cob: Pull back the husks most of the way but leave them attached at the bottom. Remove the silks and then re-cover the corn with the husks. Cook them over the fire for 20 to 30 minutes.
Honey Baked Beans: Make ahead of time and heat them over the fire.
Mediterranean Potato Salad: Prepare at home and eat as a cold side dish.
Rainbow Citrus Slaw: Prepare at home and eat as a cold side dish.
Peanut Butter Granola: Prepare at home and bring along for a quick breakfast.
Pumpkin Pie Overnight Oats: Soak the oats before you leave home and pack them in the cooler. They’ll last for several days.
Roasted Chickpeas: Roast the chickpeas at home or in a large cast-iron pan over the campfire.
Granola Bars: Make these at home for a quick snack before a hike.
Apple Pie Larabars: Make these at home and store them in the cooler.
Grown-Up Mascarpone S’mores: Prepare the ingredients before your trip so you can enjoy these delicious, clean-eating s’mores.
Banana Boats: Unpeel one side of a banana, but leave it attached at the bottom. Leaving the banana in its peel, slice the banana in half lengthways. Place pieces of dark chocolate between the two halves of the banana, an then re-cover the banana with the one peel that you had opened. Wrap the banana in foil and toss it in the fire for about 20 minutes. Carefully remove it from the fire and open the foil. Unpeel the one loose peel and eat the delicious insides with a spoon.
Here are a few other resources that I find helpful when planning a (mostly) real food menu for a camping trip:
The Family Camping Handbook: Real Food in the Big Woods by Katie Kimball
How to Safely Pack a Cooler from 100 Days of Real Food
Menu Planning Tips from Trail Cooking
Please share your tips for healthy camping recipes in the comments below!