Essential Camping Food Ideas
for the Great Outdoors

Stuck for Camping Food Ideas?

Spending time in the great outdoors is a wonderful experience. It is so relaxing and healthy to get away from computers, mobile (cell) phones, and televisions long enough to appreciate the scenic surroundings the outdoors has to offer. One of the best things about camping is the campfire, whether it be playing campfire games or cooking with it. We all enjoy cooking over the fire, but sometimes you can get stuck for good camping food ideas.

Campfire cooking dates back to when there was no other cooking alternative. There is something so special about it that cannot be relayed in words. Everyone needs to experience campfire cooking at least once in life.

There is something extraordinary about being out in the open air and cooking over a campfire. The smell of the cooking food combined with the wood and charcoal smoke aroma increases the appetite and imparts an outdoor experience unlike any other.

Outdoor Activities are Appetite Builders

A day of hiking, swimming, cycling, fishing, and most other outdoor activities have one thing in common, and that is they give us a ravenous appetite. That is where campfire cooking comes into play back at the campsite, when everyone is fulfilled from the day's activities and seeking to become even more fulfilled with a delicious campfire meal.

Campsite Location and Food Availability

Much of what you can cook at the campsite is contingent upon several factors. Depending on how far you must hike to reach your camp destination, you may be limited on what you can transport to the campsite.

Some campsites are remote and isolated and can only be reached by hiking in on foot, and that is exactly what some campers want. However, this limits your food to what you can bring with you and what you can find near the campsite.

If you plan to camp near a lake or river, you might want to catch fish for dinner. Just remember, though, that fish are not always biting. In case you don't have much luck catching supper, you need to have a backup plan.

Here are a few camping food ideas that might prove useful on your next outing:

* always pack some canned goods as backups (Vienna sausages, tamales, spaghetti, ravioli, corn beef hash, beef stew, chili, or beans)* form hamburger patties from ground beef, season, separate with wax paper, and freeze in zip lock bags prior to the trip; this will keep them frozen longer en route to the campsite* marinate and season boneless chicken breasts and freeze in zip lock bags prior to the outing; place in the cooler just prior to departure* save cooler space by packing items that do not require refrigeration in a cardboard box or backpack such as seasonings, paper plates, utensils, crackers, chips, sauces, and canned goods

Camping food Ideas & Methods

There are several different ways to cook over a campfire. Each has its benefits and drawbacks, and the one you use depends largely on the type of food you plan to prepare. You can also combine campfire cooking methods for even more food versatility.

Cast Iron

The Dutch oven and fry pan method opens up a world of possibilities including stews, chili, meat loaf, fruit cobbler, cake, chicken, fried fish, potatoes, soups, beans, and much more. Cast iron is an excellent cooking solution for the campfire. The cookware is durable and it can tolerate heat; one downside is that it is heavy.

With cast iron cookware, you can:

* cook directly in the coals* create a frame for suspending pots in the air over the coals without touching them* cook on a cast iron cooking grate that is placed over the coals

Benefits: food versatility, easily cook for crowds, food tastes great

Drawbacks: cast iron is extremely heavy to carry long distances

Cooking in Foil

Many campers love to use foil packets for campfire cooking. Foil packets can be placed directly into the hot campfire coals. A great benefit to packets is you can easily place an entire meal in a single foil packet for simplicity. A piece of seasoned meat or fish can be placed in a foil packet along with carrots, cabbage, potatoes, and corn for example.

A seasoned hamburger patty with some barbecue sauce cooked in a foil packet in the coals is delicious; if you like onions, add a large onion slice in the packet with the beef. You can tightly wrap a potato in foil and bake directly in the coals. Cook some baked beans separately in a cast iron skillet over the campfire and you have a filling and delicious meal.

Benefits: extremely lightweight, simplicity, combine foods in single packet, cook directly in coals

Drawbacks: judging food doneness, requires care in removal from campfire, foil must be disposed of properly

Stick Method

Most anyone who has cooked over a campfire is familiar with the stick cooking method. The stick method makes for easy cleanup and kids enjoy it. The stick method works great for hot dogs, smoked sausages, and marshmallows.


I'd heard about S'mores but never knew exatly what they were until recently.S'mores are delicious creations, perhaps no so well known to us Aussies, but famous in America, and are one of the easiest and best camping food ideas.

They are made by taking two graham crackers (sort of like a salada biscuit) and laying them flat, side by side. Next, pieces of a chocolate bar are placed on the graham crackers. Marshmallows are then cooked over the campfire, and then placed on top of the chocolate on the graham crackers while still hot from the fire. The two graham crackers (or saladas) are then "squished" together so that the chocolate melts a little bit and the marshmallow oozes slightly out the side. These are delicious served warm.

Benefits: simple, fun, easy control of heat distribution, no special equipment needed

Drawbacks: limited on food you can cook, food waste from dropping in fire, hot sticks can be dangerous especially around kids

Grill Grate Method

A grill grate works great for campfire cooking. If you have one with legs, it works much better because it raises the grate up out of the coals for easier cooking. You can cook the same foods on a grill grate that you cook on a grill at home such as steaks, hamburgers, hot dogs, fish, kabobs, chicken, and so forth.

Benefits: food versatility, simplicity, easy to judge food doneness

Drawbacks: grate is very heavy and awkward for carrying long distances

Campfire Cooking Essentials

It is not difficult to plan for campfire cooking. You will need firewood or charcoal, or both, so be sure to pack a small hand ax for chopping wood for the fire and remember to bring charcoal if you plan to use it. You will also need matches or a lighter, and it is recommended that your lighting source be packed in a waterproof zip lock bag.

Some common items needed for campfire cooking include:

* lighter or matches* charcoal and/or firewood* paper plates, eating utensils, cooking utensils, napkins* seasonings and condiments (salt, pepper, ketchup, sauces, mustard, pickles, onions)* aluminum foil* trash bags for cleanup* clean potable water

Some Campfire Cooking Recipes & other camping food Ideas

The foods you can cook on a campfire are limited only by your culinary skills, your imagination, and the campfire cooking methods you use. In closing, here are a few camping food ideas you might consider for camping food ideas:

* s'mores and marshmallows (stick method)* hog dogs (stick, foil, grate, or cast iron)* hamburgers (foil, grate, cast iron)* stuck pigs (stick); mini sausages rolled in refrigerated bread sticks and cooked until bread browns and sausages are warmed through* fish, steaks, chicken (foil, grate, or cast iron)* shish kabobs (stick, foil, grate, or cast iron)* variety meal packets with meat and vegetables (foil)* fajitas and burritos (foil, grate, or cast iron)* stew or chili (cast iron)* cakes and cobblers (cast iron)* beans, potatoes, pizza, and meat loaf (cast iron)

Hopefully this article has inspired you with some great camping food ideas. Crank up the campfire and get started with some delicious meals cooked outdoors. You owe it to yourself and your family to take a few minutes out of life's hectic schedule to enjoy friendship, good food, and the great outdoors.

Get away from the mobile (cell) phones, the televisions, the video games, and the computers and experience everything the great outdoors offers, including delicious food cooked on the campfire.

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