Camping should really be the opposite of the holidays we usually like to take. To me, a holiday is usually a chance to relax, have someone else look after you, and not have to cook or provide 3 meals a day. I have to admit that when camping, sometimes we are lazy and will have takeaway pizza one night, sometimes we’ll go out and get fish and chips, and one year we even went out and brought back curry for the group.
Some campsites will have a takeaway café, so we’ve been known to cook basic food early for the children, while us adults will eat later from the café. When you’re a huge group, trying to cook all together for 20 people isn’t easy with a few camping stoves, so sometimes we split into smaller groups to share cooking, or will each do something to bring to the table and everyone just tucks in.
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Some people go all out on cooking equipment, but most meals are transferable to a camping stove. We just use a 1 ring gas stove. But we do have electric hook up when we camp, so although it’s not hardcore camping, we might take the George foreman grill next time. And I’m debating a multi-cooker (although many people take slow cookers with them). Just remember the space (or lack of) in the car for packing everything, and ease of washing in campsite sinks where you have to trek all the washing up to the washing areas.
As a family if you want to eat and cook on the campsite, here’s some ideas for easy camping food for children. Obviously the adults can eat it too, but they’re easy meals which are easy to eat and clean up afterwards. Many can be done on one ring stove but don’t forget some campsites have microwaves available for use, so you can heat up pre-made food rather than having to get the stove out on the first night.
Camping meal ideas for kids
Cheeseburgers – have with salad and plenty of toppings
Fry up – more easily done across 2 stoves with 2 pans if you want all eating together.
Pasta and sauce – try Philadelphia, tuna, sweetcorn and peppers, or just plain tomato with torn ham and diced peppers in.
Spaghetti bolognese – make the bolognese at home, freeze and it’ll be defrosted gradually to just heat up.
Hot dogs – use frankfurters the lazy way, or proper sausages – chop them lengthways to open them up to cook quicker
Risotto – I’m lazy and use boil in the bag rice if I’m cooking rice when camping, but risotto is an easy option. You just need a large pan, and cook the veg, onions and meat before putting the rice and stock in.
Chilli – with rice or pitta bread. I do the chilli in advance and freeze. If you let half defrost slower you can use the leftovers the second day with nachos.
Salmon pockets – salmon fillets in foil parcels with spring onion or butter and lemon, or even a bit of pesto. Cook in the parcels, serve with boiled potatoes and peas. You could put extra veg like peppers and courgette in the parcels.
Potato waffles with fried egg on top – if you have a toaster put the waffles in there to reduce the need for a second stove.
Sausage and bean casserole – packet mixes are great but it’s an easy meal to do from scratch. Cook your sausages and onions, and any other veg like peppers or carrots. Then beans and some passata, herbs and cook til the veg are cooked through.
Stir fries – you might struggle to get the pan hot enough, but add any veg, cooked meat, bean sprouts, a bit of soy sauce or other Chinese sauce for a nice quick relatively healthy meal.
Beef hash – just beef mince, chopped pancetta or bacon, diced pepper and carrots, brown and cook through, add Worcestershire sauce to glaze it. Serve with pitta or crusty bread, sour cream, or even jacket potatoes done in foil in a campfire.
Chicken or vegetable skewers – add whatever you want and cook on a bbq or on a griddle pan
Fajitas – use veg, chicken or beef in wraps.
Sausage dampers – put frankfurters on skewers, make a simple dough, wrap around the sausages, and cook over the campfire or bbq.
Omelette – add whatever toppings you like
Pancakes – bring your own pancake mix and just add milk before making.
Cooking and kitchen accessories
Most of my camping friends and I just cook with a basic cheap gas stove. One usually brings a small barbecue. But there’s a few camping cooking accessories I’ve been coveting which would help provide more diverse meals.
- Ridge monkey for cooking dough/garlic bread and sandwich toasties
- Cobb stove – multipurpose and easy to carry. I’d have bought one of these but the cobblestones which are faster to heat up than charcoal, never seem to be on sale.
- Camping kitchen unit – with a wind break to protect the gas flame and storage
- Fire pit – some campsites you can hire one for your stay to save room in your vehicle.
- BBQ – they don’t have to be fancy. We’ve used the disposable bbqs before while camping. Just make sure you prop them up on some bricks (and don’t leave them to cook on a plastic table top like one of our group did on our first camping trip
- Multi-cooker – I’m looking for a shallow electric multiicooker, which can grill, slow cook and roast and will increase the versatility of what we can cook.
What type of meals do you cook while camping? What equipment do you use to cook on?
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