Going camping doesn’t mean you have to limit yourself to protein bars and canned foods. After a long day of hiking, canoeing, and exploring the great outdoors, the last thing you want is to go to sleep hungry. Fuel up with freshly-cooked meals on the grill or over the campfire for the complete camping experience. You can prepare affordable meals that are delicious and nutritious, and that will keep your fellow campers coming for more.

From bringing the right supplies, to prepping and storing your food, here’s everything you need to know in order to cook delicious meals while camping.

1. Know where you’re going

The best thing you can do to avoid buying and bringing redundant items is to see what’s available at the campsite. If you’re staying at a campground, find out what facilities are available ahead of time, so you don’t spend money on supplies that might already be included, such as built-in barbecue grills.

2. Bring the right supplies

Make sure you have all the supplies you need to cook while on your trip. Here’s a list of items you should consider.

  • Cooler (RTIC and YETI are great brands)
  • Ice packs and ice
  • Cast iron skillet/frying pan
  • Cooking pot
  • Plates, utensils, and cups
  • Tinfoil
  • Can opener
  • Knife
  • Water for cooking and drinking
  • Camp stove and fuel (charcoal, propane tank)
  • BBQ grill (if not available at the site) and fuel
  • Grill rack to place over the campfire
  • Matches/lighter and firestarters
  • Trash bags

For a checklist of more items you’ll need while camping in general, check out our post: Our Camping Essentials Checklist for Your Next Getaway.

3. Cool and store your food safely

To avoid cross-contamination, we recommend bringing two coolers: one for your meats, and a separate one for your drinks, dairy, and condiments. For food safety, your cooler should maintain a temperature of 4 °C (40 °F) or lower. Keep small thermometers inside your coolers to make sure your food is being kept at a safe temperature. 

Pre-chill your cooler overnight before your camping trip to maximize the amount of time your food will stay cold. When you’re ready to pack, place a layer of ice, your food, and cover with more ice.

Instead of ice, you can also opt for ice packs, or even create your own packs (and save money while you’re at it) by freezing bottles of water.

*Flipp Tipp: Freeze your meats ahead of time to ensure they’ll last longer in your cooler.

To avoid opening your cooler for extended periods of time and prolong the freshness of your food, pack your food in the order that you plan to consume it. Place items you’ll use towards the end of your trip at the bottom of the cooler, and foods you’ll use sooner at the top.

It’s very important to store your food safely while camping. When leaving your campsite or when you’re not eating, store your food in your car or in a bear box if available.

4. Prep your food

Outdoor activities will make you HUNGRY, so instead of spending an hour chopping and prepping while on your trip, doing the heavy lifting ahead of time will keep your crew from getting hangry. 

First, plan out all the meals you want to make. Then, pre-chop all your veggies, and pre-marinate your meats. Place everything in portioned ziplock bags or containers, and store in your cooler. 

All you have to do after a long day of activities is fire up the grill (or campfire) and enjoy!

5. Try these creative meal ideas

Here are some recipes that we love.

Breakfast Hash

Great for breakfast or any time of day! Stir-fry cooked potatoes, veggies, meat of choice, and your favorite seasoning in a skillet or frying pan. Then, top with fried eggs.

Make-Ahead Chicken Fajitas

Pre-chop, marinate, freeze, and cook on the grill when you’re ready to eat.

One-Pot Chicken Alfredo Pasta 

Check out part 1  and part 2 for the full recipe from a camping expert.

Tin Foil Dinner

Wrap your chopped veggies and diced shrimp, sausage (or both!) in tin foil packets that will be cooked over the campfire or grill.

Camping Pizza

You can enjoy pizza even in the great outdoors! Bring pre-cooked pizza crust, sauce, and your favorite toppings.

Ready to take your camping meals to the next level? Check out the Flipp app to find all your ingredients and supplies on sale.

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