Camping season is here. Is your cooler ready? Call me a romantic, but there’s something about cooking over a fire and eating in the dirt that makes food taste better, even if a troupe of ants are fighting to claim the watermelon. Still, a bit of strategizing is essential for creating a well-fed camping trip. My meal plan always includes a mix of campfire-ready classics and a few make ahead staples (read: cold brew, because I’m not getting up for a sunrise hike without caffeine).
There’s no need to pack a whole kitchens’ worth of tools in the trunk, but you’ll definitely want to bring along a few staples. In addition to plates and utensils, consider bringing along these tools for the below menu: A cast iron to cook directly over the fire, a cooler to keep perishables from going bad, a trusty chef’s knife, a few sturdy mixing bowls, a roll of tin foil to make packets (more on that below), and some containers to hold any leftovers.
Read on, and don’t forget the s’mores supplies.
1. Foil Packet Shrimp Boil from REI
I know what you’re thinking: shrimp, on a camping trip? But the pleasure of eating Cajun-spiced shrimp around a crackling fire is too good to pass up, and a bit of advance planning makes this the perfect first night dinner. Trust camping authority REI to drop a recipe uses foil packets instead of the classic bubbling pot of water so you’re not draining that water jug on dinner. The foil also helps seal in moisture by creating steam, ensuring everything will cook evenly (as long as the ingredients are roughly the same size). For bonus points, slice the corn, zucchini, and andouille sausage before you go (or appoint a camp-side sous chef).
2. Asha’s Double Date and Ginger Granola from Diaspora Co.
Granola is a make-ahead camping hero. It’s perfect for breakfast and mid-hike snacks, and can even be scattered atop s’mores for extra crunch. Asha Loupy’s recipe for equitable (and wildly delicious) spice company Diaspora Co features tahini for a dose of nutty richness, date syrup for sweetness, and two kinds of ginger (powdered and crystallized) for major gingerbread vibes. Use whatever nuts and dried fruits your group likes most, and be sure to make a double batch. This is guaranteed to go fast.
3. Everyday Pancakes from The New York Times
Pancakes are the ultimate camping breakfast. Mark Bittman’s recipe is especially suited for outdoor cooking due to its simplicity—the basic batter is just eggs, flour, milk and baking powder. For ultimate ease, combine and pack the flour and baking powder before heading out on your trip, then add the milk and eggs in the morning to make the whole campground jealous.
4. Skillet Shakshuka from Serious Eats
A bubbling skillet of juicy tomatoes and just-set poached eggs is perfect for any meal of the day, although this North African and Middle Eastern staple is especially popular for breakfast. J Kenji López-Alt’s one-skillet recipe cooks eggs in a tomato-red pepper sauce perfumed with cumin, paprika, and cayenne. A few traits make it especially ideal for camping: it’s easily assembled in a cast-iron skillet, simple to scale up for larger groups, and relies on pantry staples. Pack a few toppings like pre-picked parsley or cilantro, canned artichoke hearts, and hot sauce for extra credit.
5. Ember-Roasted Corn and Leeks from Bon Appetit
A foolproof side, no de-silking corn husks required. Chris Morocco’s recipe cooks leeks and corn directly on the hot embers leftover from a large campfire, so it can be the last thing you make after cooking those shrimp boil packets above. Once charred, the vegetables are coated with butter and a fiery spice blend: coriander seeds, pepper flakes, and sesame seeds. Mix up the spice blend before you head out and make double to season your morning eggs.