I reckon that the key to great camping food is good planning!
I plan our camping meals in advance and write them down as a meal plan, so I know what to take and what to buy on site.
We generally take these staple foods and buy fresh ingredients as needed:
- Small bottle of olive oil
- Small jar of Marmite, jam or Nutella in a small pot
- Tins of beans/chopped tomatoes/sweetcorn
- Packet of microwave rice
- Packet of tortilla wraps
- Bread rolls
- Small bottle of tomato ketchup
- Small portions of dried herbs/spices in little bags
- Tea bags
- Litre carton of fruit juice, frozen to use as ice pack in the cool box
- Packet of dried burger/sausage mix or frozen burgers/sausages/veggie bacon
- Camping kettle
- 2 x 1 ring gas stoves
- Small frying pan
- Small saucepan
- Small sharp vegetable knife
- Vegetable peeler
- Can/bottle opener
- Plastic cutlery/picnic set
- Small chopping board
- Fried eggs/omelette/baked beans/veggie bacon/veggie sausages/hash browns/tinned spaghetti with fresh bread.
- Warmed croissants/crumpets/mini pancakes/waffles/pastries.
- Scones with jam.
- Cereal with or without milk/non-dairy milk.
- Cereal/flapjack bar.
- Fresh/tinned fruit.
- Filled sandwiches/baguettes/bagels.
- Tinned/packet soup and bread.
- Baked beans/tinned spaghetti and crusty bread.
- Instant noodles.
- Crudites, breads and dips - Buy tubs of dips (hummous, tzatziki, salsa etc), bread-sticks, pitta bread etc. Make cucumber, pepper and carrot crudites.
- Pittas stuffed with ready-made falafels and salad.
- Veggie burgers, hot dogs or sausages in bread rolls.
- Ready-made onion bhajis/vegetable pakoras/samosas with naan.
- heat a drop of oil/butter in a pan. Add sliced mushrooms, a chopped red pepper and a large clove of crushed garlic. Cook until most of the liquid has evaporated. Serve on warm ciabatta or garlic bread.
Quick veggie chilli/curry - Fry a chopped onion in a drop of oil. Add either 2-3 tsp mild chilli powder/fajita seasoning OR 1 tbsp curry powder/paste. Add a tin of ratatouille (or some chopped veg and a tin of chopped tomatoes) and a drained tin of beans/chickpeas/lentils. Bring to the boil and simmer for 5 minutes. Serve with wraps/nachos or naan bread.
Macaroni cheese - Buy a pot of 'fresh' cheese sauce and a bag of fresh pasta. Cook the pasta and drain. Pour the sauce over and heat through.
(Vegan option - use a tub of 'fresh' tomato and basil sauce and egg-free pasta.)
Quorn & vegetable pilaf - Make a simplified version using packet rice: Fry a chopped onion in a little oil, add some chopped veggie sausages or meat-free pieces and cook for 5 minutes. Add 1-2 packets of flavoured microwave rice and a drained tin of sweetcorn. Heat until piping hot, stirring regularly.
Vegetable fajitas - Make these with paneer/halloumi cheese, or Quorn pieces. Simplify spices by just using mild chilli powder or fajita seasoning.
(Vegan option - omit the cheese and add extra beans.)
Veggie couscous - a drop of oil in a pan. Fry 1 chopped onion until soft. Add a drained tin of chickpeas and heat through. Stir in 1 or 2 packets of instant Moroccan flavoured couscous. Add the required amount of boiling water, cover and leave to heat through as directed.
Sloppy Joes - Make using ready-made bbq sauce.
Middle Eastern pittas - Heat a wholemeal pitta in a pan, split open and spread the inside with some olive paste. Fill with a few ready-made falafels, a chopped tomato and some crumbled feta cheese. Pop back in the pan to heat through. (Vegan option - omit the feta.)
Pesto spaghetti - Don't panic, I realise that pesto generally contains Parmesan or Grana Padano cheese, which contain rennet, but I've found that the cheaper supermarket brands contain vegetarian 'hard cheese' instead (eg: ASDA smart price pesto.) Cook some fresh or dried spaghetti. Drain and add a good dollop of pesto. Stir through and serve.
(Vegan option - use vegan pesto or sun dried tomato paste.)
Cheese fondue - Add a glug of dry white wine and a handful of Gruyere cheese to a tub of fresh cheese sauce. Heat until bubbling gently. Alternatively, double wrap a whole Camembert cheese (plus box) in foil and cook on the bbq or stove for around 15 minutes, turning once or twice. Serve with chunks of ciabatta or breadsticks to dip in.
Frittata - Fry a chopped onion and a pepper in some oil. Add a drained tin of sweetcorn and break in 4 eggs. Mix well and cook for a few minutes until the eggs are cooked through. Serve with crusty bread.
Cheat's patatas bravas - Heat 2 tbsp oil in a large pan/frying pan. Shallow fry some (partially-defrosted) frozen potato chunks, turning every few minutes until golden-brown and crispy. Throw in 1 jar of tomato and chilli sauce and heat through.
Two Pan Camping Meals
Noodles and stir fried vegetables - Buy a pack of stir fry vegetables, a sachet/jar of black bean or sweet and sour sauce and 2 small packs of 'quick noodles'. Boil a pan of water. Add the noodles, bring back to the boil, cover and remove from the heat. Meanwhile, heat a drop of oil in a pan. Fry the veg for 2-3 minutes. Add the sauce and heat through. Drain the noodles and top with the veg and sauce.
Sausage and bean stew - Chop an onion and fry in a drop of oil. Add some chopped veggie sausages and brown for a few minutes. Add a tin of tomatoes, a tin of baked beans, a small tin of sweetcorn and some mixed herbs. Cook for 10-15 minutes. Meanwhile make up some instant mash, or cook some pasta, new potatoes or rice.
Mexican rice burritos - Fill wraps with a combination of Mexican rice, refried beans and grated cheese.
My barbecue food, kids' camping food, camping dessert recipes and family-friendly festival guide posts contains more ideas for campsite catering. If you have any other camping food suggestions, please do add them below.