Let’s face it, feeding kids while camping can be exhausting, especially when they want to eat ALL THE TIME. Think about it, kids burn an incredible amount of energy asking you the same question over and over and over until you finally give or run from the RV screaming.
But enough about my life.
Shopping, prepping, and cooking meals while camping can be fun if you keep it simple, so with that in mind, I’ve done the opposite of a Pinterest-worthy camping blog, and put together a list of meal ideas perfect for keeping it real, easy, and certain to leave you plenty of time to answer all the questions your kids manifest the minute they see you relaxing.
Many thanks to those who participated in a food chat on our Facebook page, you’re input was appreciated and incredibly useful.
Let’s get one of the most obvious meal ideas out of the way. Tacos. Second only to pizza at our house, tacos are a perfect meal for families with picky eaters. Pick a protein and sides and let everyone build their own meal. Variations on tacos could include a nacho bar with Doritos as your base instead of a traditional tortilla chip, quesadilla bar, bowls (cilantro and lime rice as your base) or a taco salad.
Consider cooking your meat ahead of time for even less campground prep, or use the Instant Pot as a crock-pot to slow cook the meat while you take in the views.
We love to pick up French bread loaves and make homemade sub sandwiches. This is another meal where you can have everyone pick their toppings and it doesn’t take a lot of time to prep the meal. Meat, cheese, condiments, salt, pepper, oil and vinegar, and veggie toppings are all you need to make one delicious sub. It’s one of my favorite quick lunches that can be switched up to suit your taste buds each time. Add some fruit and some chips and you’ve got lunch.
Variations for the picky eater could include French bread and cheese or french bread and PB&J. Both are pretty yummy and still very easy to put together.
We love pizza. Love it. And our kids like to enjoy pizza in lots of different ways. Right now they are really into pizza quesadillas and french bread pizzas. Both are incredibly easy to make and require few ingredients to prepare, plus they are individual, so again, you can tailor each to the person’s taste and use ingredients left over from previous meals.
A pizza quesadilla is prepared exactly as you’d prepare a traditional quesadilla, only add pizza sauce, topping choices and mozzarella cheese. For French bread pizza, replace the crust with French or Italian bread cut in half, and top with sauce and whatever else you’d like on it.
On Facebook Stephanie shared the idea of pizza sandwiches, she wrote “a pizza sandwich is essentially a grilled cheese with a little pizza sauce and any toppings that person likes and mozzarella as the cheese.” Easy peasy, and if you have a pie iron you could easily cook a pizza sandwich right over the campfire.
Instant Pot Everything
At this point, Instant Pots should come standard in all RVs because they are amazing and they make your life so much easier working as both a pressure cooker and a slow cooker. In fact, I couldn’t pick just one Instant Pot recipe, so here are a few favorites.
- Mac N’ Cheese. Homemade Mac N’ Cheese is something our whole family can get behind and again, you have a base that can have a variety of add-ons depending on your crew. I like to add grilled chicken and roasted broccoli to the top of my mac n’ cheese. Some of my kids like to do roasted broccoli and bacon, and if you have a leftover protein like chicken or steak from taco night, those will go great on top of your mac n’ cheese too. I use this recipe from The Salty Marshmallow as a base, and change up the pasta and cheeses based on what I have on hand, or what’s on sale that week.
- Beef Stew: Hearty, easy and so, so delicious, Beef Stew is the perfect meal for those fall camping days and Mindy shared the following recipe on Facebook, “1 package of stew meat (or a roast chopped in small pieces – whichever is cheaper), 4 cans French onion soup, 3-4 carrots sliced up, and frozen egg noodles. Cook meat, soup and carrots in a crock pot for 4 hours on high or 6 hours on low. When you are ready to eat, cook noodles and serve soup over them.” To make Mindy’s meal even easier, consider adding your egg noodles to the stew shortly before serving and let them cook in the stew. You could also eliminate the noodles and dice up potatoes which you’d toss in at the beginning with the other ingredients.
- Baked Ziti. Cheese and noodles. Done. Kayla shared this dinner suggestion on Facebook and wrote, Brown meat or veggies, add 1 24oz jar of sauce, 1 24oz jar of water, 1 16oz box of pasta, pressure cook manual for 10 minutes, natural release for 3 minutes, then quick release, add Ricotta and whatever cheese you want in top, put lid back on to melt. Done. 1 dish to wash.
Here’s the thing, don’t pre-make your pancake batter beforehand. No matter how many times you see a Pinterest article on pre-made batter in a condiment tube, resist the urge. It doesn’t work out and the baking powder inflates the batter leaving your pancakes wanting when you finally get around to cooking them. However, feel free to mix up the dry ingredients before you leave, or buy a box of pancake mix and have zero shame in doing so.
But, why pancakes? It seems even more obvious than tacos, but here’s the great thing about pancakes – it’s a base that can be customized for each individual and breakfast for dinner is fun. Fruit toppings, savory toppings, syrup, no syrup, whatever your family is into you can put on a pancake. If you make up a big batch of fruit beforehand, and we love strawberries and blueberries tossed together, then you’ve got a side that can be used for numerous meals, and as a great snack.
Have a bunch of veggies at the end of your trip that you want to use up? Toss them in a stir-fry and save them from going being wasted. We love one-pot stir-fries and our favorite protein is pork, but anything you have on hand will do. Pick up a bottle of your favorite Asian sauce and toss it all together, plus, if you’ve also got tacos on your menu, make a double batch of cilantro lime rice and you’ll have a base for two meals with very little extra effort. And don’t worry if you don’t have a wok, or space for one, a large cast iron skillet is perfect for searing up stir-fry, just make sure you give it time to get nice and hot.
Chili Campfire Bake
This is an awesomely easy play on chili that can be made in a large skillet or in your Instant Pot. Serve with some yummy cornbread that you can make at the campground or beforehand, and voilá, you have a one-pot meal that leaves you with very little clean-up.
Click here to check out this Six Sisters’ Stuff’s recipe, which is the foundation for any variation I do on this meal.
Do you have a meal that is your go-to at the campground? Leave a message and let us know. We are always looking for new staples!