Skip to Content

5 Easy Camping Meal Hacks

5 Easy Camping Meal Hacks

Camping is an experience that’s full of wonder in so many ways. But one of the simple joys of camping as a travel experience is the ability to make food and meals fun rather than stressful, expensive, and time-consuming.

That’s why we’ve put together this list of camping meal hacks to keep mealtime fun, cheap, and easy when you’re camping, leaving you more time for hiking, fishing, swimming, and relaxing.

So without further ado, let’s get to it!

Keep Your Camping Trip Relaxing With Easy Camping Meals

Before you even hit the road, the preparation of your camping meals begins. You need to plan it all out in your mind over the number of days you’ll be camping, write down all the meal ingredients (don’t forget anything), do the shopping (don’t forget anything), and pack it all up (and don’t forget anything). That’s a lot of work and a lot of stress.

Alternatively, you can find restaurants that eat up so much of the travel budget that you end up eating more and camping less. That’s not what we’re shooting for when we go camping.

We’re striving for simplicity, ease, relaxation, recreation, and making meals fun and different from the routine.

camping cooking
Cooking over an open campfire.

Cheap Camping Meal Hacks to Make Your Trip Easier

So let’s check out some great, inexpensive camping meal hacks that will make your trip less stressful, easier, and more fun!

#1 – Make or Prep Meals Ahead of Time

This camping meal requires some work at home, but once you’re done with the prep, you’ll leave the work behind and bring nothing but the ready-made food and maybe some snacks with you. This makes camping life so much easier once you’ve hit the road. 

There are many foods you’d never think would be great to prepare ahead of time. However, they’re not only nutritious and easy to make and pack, but they’ll also make dinners faster. Just pull them out of your fridge or cooler, toss them onto the fire to warm, and dig in!

Here’s an idea. Breakfast burritos premade with cheese, precooked eggs and sausage, and potatoes.

Then, roll it all in tortilla wraps, cover them in tin foil, and pack them into a Ziploc bag. Bada bing, bada boom – breakfast! These can be eaten cold or heated on the grill or in a cast-iron pan over the fire.

Meal prep can make camping meals a lot easier.

Lunch anyone? How about preparing a nice pan full of homemade mac & cheese (add tomatoes or ham or whatever your family likes), put it in foil pans, and reheat it over the campfire! Serve it with a premade salad for a full camping meal.

Need a fun dinner idea? This one is so much fun you’ll find your kids begging for it even at home. 

Put all of the ingredients for tacos into containers. Pack some diced tomatoes, shredded cheese, beans, black olives, and sour cream. If your family eats meat in tacos, precook some, too. When you’re ready for dinner, dice up an avocado and spoon all ingredients into – wait for it – individual bags of Fritos corn chips!

You get the idea. Preparing meals ahead of time leaves you free and easy at the campsite.

#2 – Foil Packs for Every Meal

Foil packs for every meal is a great idea. Toss them on the grill or over the fire and you’ve got yourself a fantastic camping meal.

You can do this with anything from stuffed potatoes to steak and onions to premade chicken kabobs and corn-on-the-cob. Foil is your friend when you’re preparing camping meals.

Pro Tip: the heavy-duty foil is best for this purpose.

#3 – Three Words: One. Pot. Recipes.

One-pot camping recipes are the bomb, and then some. Here’s what happens.

You only have to bring one pot and some bowls for individual servings for diners. That’s it. You pack one pot, cook breakfast, lunch, and dinner in one pot, and you clean one pot. One pot! Need a few camping meal ideas? Let’s go!

How about one-pot campfire nachos? Layer chips, toppings, and cheese from the bottom of the pot to the top. Cover, then set the pot on the fire. Done! Want a nice hearty chicken dinner? Easy! 

Pack some chicken breasts (or thighs or whatever you prefer) safely. Put all of your favorite marinating ingredients and chopped veggies into a large freezer bag before leaving home and toss the bag into your fridge or cooler. The veggies will marinate until you cook the meal. And you’ll have an easy and delicious camping meal!

When it’s time for dinner, put a little oil in the bottom of your pan, brown the chicken nicely, then toss the entire bag full of marinated vegetables into the pot and simmer. Mmm.

Pro Tip: The Instant Pot is the must-have one pot meal maker!

One-Pot Vegetarian Sloppy Joes

Vegetarian? No problem! Check this out.

Mix these ingredients and put them in a Ziploc or small container: 1/2 tablespoon oil, 2 tablespoons tomato paste, 3 cloves minced garlic, 1 tablespoon mustard, 1 tablespoon maple syrup, 2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar, 1 teaspoon vegan Worcestershire sauce, 1 teaspoon chili powder, and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Bring along one small onion and 1 bell pepper, both diced, and 1/2 cup red lentils. You’ll also need 1 1/2 cups water or broth.

Yes. That’s a lot of stuff to bring camping. But remember. You’re prepping most of the seasonings ahead of time. So when it comes time to cook the meal, you toss the prepared seasoning mix into the pot! Now back to our recipe.

What we’ve got here are vegetarian sloppy joes. You cook all of the above in your one pot, spoon it between the two sides of a nice, hearty roll, and you’re golden!

There are so many one-pot camping meals out there. The only problem you’ll have is choosing which ones to make on your next camping trip!

#4 – A Cast-Iron Skillet Is All You Need

Don’t have a camping pot? This is not a problem, especially if you have a cast-iron skillet. 

A cast-iron skillet is a camper’s best friend at any mealtime. You can make anything in a cast-iron skillet. Truly, any breakfast, lunch, or dinner item you want to make, you can make in a cast-iron skillet.

Pizza? Absolutely. Snacks? Of course! What’s that you say? You’re feeling like baking bread? You can do it in a cast-iron skillet! You can even bake a birthday cake in a cast-iron skillet over a fire. No lie.

What about brownies? Sure thing. When you’re still at home, measure all of your favorite brownie recipe’s dry ingredients into a Ziploc freezer bag. Remember to pack oil, eggs, vanilla, and milk if your recipe calls for it.

When you’re at your campsite, mix the wet ingredients and add the dry ingredients. Then put some oil in your skillet, and pour the brownie mixture into it. Finally, put the cover on the skillet (or tin foil if you don’t have a cover), and set the skillet on the fire or stove. Warning: you’ll wish you had some vanilla ice cream to “a la mode” the whole thing when it’s done.

You can make literally anything in a cast-iron skillet. A well-seasoned skillet really is the only pan you need for camping.

Cast iron is the key to great camping cooking!

#5 – Bring Dehydrated Meals

And speaking of easy, nothing is easier than dehydrated meals. These are super fun for kids who get a real kick out of dehydrated ice cream and watching other “dry stuff” turn into real food. 

Walmart and all camping stores carry dehydrated meals, but they’re not inexpensive. However, you can buy dehydrated individual foods and meals in bulk from many sources.

Dehydrated foods have a very long shelf life. So whether you dehydrate meals yourself (yes, people do this) or you buy dehydrated foods to make your camping life easy-peasy-lemon-squeezy, you can buy them on sale and store them for your next camping trip.

Fast and Easy Camping Meals

And there you have it – multiple ways to make your camping trip easier and less stressful once you’re at the campground. Give these camping meal hacks a try and let us know how they turned out. Bon Appetit!

Discover the Best Free Camping Across the USA

To be honest with you, we hate paying for camping. There are so many free campsites in America (with complete privacy).

You should give it a try!

As a matter of fact, these free campsites are yours. Every time you pay federal taxes, you’re contributing to these lands.

Become a FREE CAMPING INSIDER and join the 100,000 campers who love to score the best site! 

We’ll send you the 50 Best Free Campsites in the USA (one per state). Access the list by submitting your email below:

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *