Camping list with tent, camping cooker and cool box

Camping Food List

Summer is here and for my family that means camping. Which means I’ll be cooking healthy camping meals for my family. I like to plan my food to take camping and usually make a camping food list – to be fair I make lists of everything we need to take camping, not just the food!

It has to be said that it’s not my favourite form of holiday. I don’t even think you can call it a holiday! But my husband and children seem to love it. Asked, after our last camping exertion, what their favourite part of the holiday was, one daughter replied, “sitting in the tent all day when it rained and reading my book”. I certainly don’t understand her! With a large family, despite my preference for a more luxurious time, camping is very affordable and, with a bit of though, you can cook some great camping meals for kids and for adults.

Choosing the meals

I like to plan, making lists for all sorts of things. It helps me organise my thoughts and, hopefully, make sure we don’t forget anything (though we still forgot a tin opener this year). Making a camping food list helps reduce the stress of camping for me. Before making the list of food, I start with making a list of the meals I want to cook.

With a half decent camping stove you can make some delicious and healthy meals for the whole family. We also took our fire-pit which doubled up as a barbecue for one meal. One pot meals whilst camping are a great way of making tasty food whilst also cutting down the amount of washing up afterwards.

Our list of meals was:

1. BBQ sausages with grilled corn on the cob

2. Chicken curry with rice and toasted bread-twists

3. Plant-mince bolognese with pasta

Camping BBQ food on a plate

Listing the Ingredients

Once you’ve chosen your meals, the list of food isn’t difficult to make. I wanted to avoid using bought sauces or meals as I love to serve home-cooked meals. Even when camping, this isn’t as hard as it might seem!

The first big issue, when cooking from scratch in a tent, is the lack of a fridge. Fresh meat won’t last long once it warms up and, although it was possible to exchange freezer packs at our campsite, it wasn’t exactly cheap and I wanted to avoid it if we could. So we decided to freeze as much as we could and put it in a cool-box. We froze the sausages and chicken and took them out to defrost on the day we used them. Plant mince doesn’t go bad as quick as meat, so we froze it but left it to defrost in the cool-box. We threw in a bag of frozen vegetables too, along with a frozen bottle of milk.

All these things kept each other cool long enough for our four night stay without the need for extra ice-blocks. If we had stayed a few more nights then we would have had to replace the ice-blocks, but luckily this time we were fine.

My camping food list now looked like this:

1. Frozen sausages, fresh rolls, fresh corn on the cob, mushrooms, broccoli

2. Frozen chicken, fresh carrots and broccoli, tinned sweetcorn, rice, plain flour

3. Frozen plant mince, tinned peas and sweetcorn, fresh carrots, pasta, tinned chopped tomatoes

4. Tinned tuna, bag of frozen vegetables, pasta

For seasoning I took a pot of herbs and spices I mixed at home

Camping ingredients, onion, garlic, tomato puree, oil, spices

Don’t be scared!

Don’t be scared to adapt recipes to make them easier – just remember to keep a good balance of carbs, proteins and veggies. For inspiration, check out some of these blogs and recipes and see what you feel confident in cooking in a tent!

Chicken and Butternut Squash curry – squash keep well, spices for the curry sauce can be prepacked at home into a little tub, and you can take frozen chicken and use when it’s defrosted

Easy Holidays Meals for families – some simple ideas that can (mostly) be done even in a tent

Camping meal ideas from BBC Good Food – plenty of ideas to get you going

Vegetable Spag Bol – vegetables are easier to keep in a tent than meat, so some veggie meals are a great idea

One pot meals for camping

If you wanted to make these into one pot meals for camping, then you could switch the pasta or rice for tinned potatoes and cook it all together. Our boy who has autism won’t eat tinned potatoes, so cooking rice or pasta separately allowed us to give him a serving without cooking something entirely different (although he did require baked beans in place of vegetables for each meal too).

There are plenty of recipes to make in one pot whilst camping, including casseroles, stews and curries. Some of the recipes from my Frugal Family Meals post are easily adaptable for camping. Just plan ahead with your camping food list! Seasoning can be mixed into one container, and swap some fresh veg for tinned or frozen. One pot meals are prefect when you have limited hob-space on a camping stove and can taste just as great as when you cook them at home!

Tuna pasta camping meal on a plate

Camping food list – breakfast ideas

I’ve talked about our main dinners, but I’ll also quickly mention the other meals. Breakfasts are usually quite easy, even when camping, and our stock meal is cereal. Long life milk, or soya milk, are simple to keep and are fine out of a fridge if unopened. Our children love their variety, so we took cornflakes, malted wheaties, wheat bisks and multigrain hoops. We also took oats which can be added to a bowl like the other cereals, or cooked into porridge. When making porridge, we chop up some apples and sprinkle cinnamon on top to give it a bit more flavour. This is a camping tradition for us.

I usually take a pot of greek yogurt for my breakfasts, along with a bag of frozen berries or chopped mango (left to defrost ready for the first morning). All these frozen items make great freeze blocks to keep milk, cheese and yogurt cool too!

Camping lunches

We rarely, if ever, eat lunch at the campsite. Most days we make a packed lunch and take it out, to the beach or a castle (or indoor place if the weather is bad). Our lunch camping food list consisted of ham, cheese, pickle, a bag of salad, cucumber, carrot, cherry tomatoes, butter spread, hummus, bread, gluten-free crackers and bread (for me), and marmite.

With two adults and six children, everyone has a different favourite combination for their sandwich! We always take a tub of chopped cucumber and carrot with cherry tomatoes as a salad box for people to help themselves to as well. We also packed all the fresh fruit that was left in the house when we left, which was a lot of apples, satsumas and bananas. These are great for snacks or for after sandwiches.

Camping food

Don’t get me wrong, I REALLY missed my lovely kitchen – lots of workspace, big wooden chopping boards, a wonderful large cooker – but camping food can be healthy and tasty. There’s no need to buy packet food for camping, or even that many tins, if you put a little thought into planning. It’s perfectly possible to make all sorts, from vegetarian to vegan meals for kids.

I would definitely recommend giving it a go. It’s quite easy, often cheaper than bought pre-cooked alternatives, and usually much healthier. The kids loved the meals and we even managed to get them to help wash up!

You can read here for a few more comments on planning frugal meals for the week. While not aimed at camping, taking planning into your normal week at home is a great idea too!

Camping meal with meat-free mince, vegetables and pasta