Get ready for some adventure in the great outdoors with these simple and delicious camping meal ideas! We'll give you tips on how to become one with nature while still eating well.

Image of Dutch oven pot with chili con carne. -Shelf Cooking

Whether your idea of camping means a sleeping bag under the stars or a decked-out RV, getting away from it all for a few days is good for the soul! You don't have to be a seasoned outdoorsman to enjoy some time in nature.

*Note: When you click the links in this post, we may receive a commission at no extra cost to you.

If your idea of camping food is sitting next to a fire and eating a can of beans, we have good news for you! It is possible to eat tasty food while roughing it outside. In fact, something about that wilderness air just makes everything even tastier! We've got a few ideas to help you plan your next camping trip.

Camping Food Prep

Image of two families in the woods around a table. A tent and trees are in the background. - Shelf Cooking

When it comes to meals during a camping trip, ease is the name of the game. Granted, your camping set up will have a large effect on how you prep and cook your meals. If you have an RV with actual counter space, refrigerator, and a stove, that will be a lot closer to cooking at home. But if you're in a tent and camping over a fire, that certainly changes things!

Either way you go, being prepared beforehand is key since space is almost always at a premium. Here are some tips to make your food prep go smoothly:

  1. Consider foods that can be cooked in advance. Hauling a bunch of raw ingredients, especially meat, around in a cooler is not always ideal. Think about what you can cook before you leave home and then reheat once you've reached your destination. Items such as ground beef or turkey, sausage, bacon, pulled pork, etc., are all great to cook beforehand. Once they are cooled you can place them in zippered bags, label, and freeze. Then put the bags of frozen meat in your freezer when you leave!
  2. Preassemble whatever you can. Some meals can be easily preassembled and wrapped in tin foil, making for much less work on your part once you reach your campsite. (Keep reading for ideas!) Convenience for the win!
  3. Chop, slice, and dice in advance. At this point we're kind of repeating ourselves, but any produce you can prep in advance will make eating outside so much easier! Rather than hauling a whole watermelon and attempting to slice it in the great outdoors without creating a sticky, dirty mess, just slice or cube at home and place it in a container or bag. The same goes for veggies that will be used in other meals, rolls, etc.

Gear Needed For Camping Meal Prep

Cooking food outside can be lots of fun if you have the tools to get the job done. While you certainly don't need all of these items (consider your individual plans and needs!), here are some to consider:

  • Cast iron Dutch oven – practically indestructible (if you take care of it) and useful for so many things!
  • Cast iron skillet – similar to the Dutch oven, this baby can last you for a lifetime and is super versatile.
  • Camp stove – if you're planning to camp for multiple nights at a time, a camp stove will be your new best friend!
  • Roasting sticks – these are pretty much a must! Inexpensive and can also be used for backyard hot dog or s'more making.
  • Folding table – not all campsites have picnic tables (or maybe you need more surface area), so a portable table can sure come in handy!

Of course, you'll also want regular cooking supplies such as spatulas, whisks, spoons, pot holders, tongs, bowls, plates, etc., so take stock of your menu plan and pack accordingly.

Camping Meals For Breakfast

Image of camp stove on a table cooking sausage and bacon. In the background are trees and an RV. - Shelf Cooking

It's important to start your day with a hearty and balanced breakfast so you can have all the energy you need to have fun! No lame prepackaged granola bars here! Check out these breakfast ideas that work great for camping:

  • Overnight oats – Prep these ahead of time and store in a cooler for a quick and easy breakfast!
  • Breakfast burritos or sandwiches – We have recipes for both breakfast burritos and breakfast sandwiches that can be prepped at home and frozen. Wrap them in foil and heat them in the fire or over a camp stove.
  • Muffins – Make these before you leave and pop them in a zipper bag for a tasty breakfast or easy snack! Check out our recipes for peach, blueberry, and pumpkin chocolate chip muffins! Yum!
  • Breakfast hash – This sweet potato breakfast hash is the perfect mountain man (or woman) breakfast!

Lunch And Dinner Ideas For Camping Meals

Adventuring outside sure works up an appetite! These are some of our favorite camping meals for dinners or lunches when in the great outdoors:

  • Pulled pork sandwiches – Prep the meat in advance and freeze! Heat in a Dutch oven or skillet and put in buns.
  • Hot dogs – Obviously! Nothing better (or cheaper!) than a hot dog roasted over an open fire! Substitute with bratwurst or any preferred type of “dog”.
  • Salsa chicken tacos – Another easy prep-ahead meal.
  • Dutch oven nachos – Layer tortilla chips, taco meat (ground beef or chicken), canned beans (black or pinto), and cheese in a Dutch oven and place over heat just until cheese is melty. Top with salsa, sour cream, hot sauce, sliced olives, green chiles, jalapeños…whatever you'd like! Mmm!
  • Chili potatoes – Wrap clean, pierced potatoes in tin foil and place them in coals (or inside a Dutch oven over heat) until baked. Top with our favorite chili that you can prep ahead, plus cheese, sour cream, and any other topping you like.
  • Dutch oven chili mac – This recipe from Fresh Off The Grid looks delicious and utilizes easy pantry ingredients (yay for shelf cooking!).
  • Tin foil dinners – You can combine just about any type of seasoned meat and veggies in a tin foil packet that cooks in the fire or coals. We like this one from Chelsea's Messy Apron that is full of smoked sausage and tasty veggies!

Campfire Desserts

Image of female hands holding a s'more. There is a campfire in the background. - Shelf Cooking

We all know that the true highlight of campfire cooking is the treats! Here's some you won't want to miss:

  • S'mores – Of course! Graham crackers, marshmallows, and chocolate are all you need. Feel free to flex your shelf cooking muscles and mix things up! This post has some great ideas.
  • Campfire cones – A great alternative to s'mores! Grab some ice cream cones and fill them with mini-marshmallows, chocolate chips, or other types of candies. Wrap in foil and set in the fire for a few minutes, then remove with tongs and eat with a spoon. Delicious!
  • Dump cake fruit cobbler – This recipe can easily be adapted to using a Dutch oven. Light some charcoal briquettes until they are nice and hot and place the Dutch oven on top. Follow the recipe for combining the ingredients (we like to add cinnamon sprinkled on top!) and cover with the lid. Let cook for 30 minutes, then move some briquettes on top of the lid and let it bake for 15 more minutes. Voila! Delish!

We could go on and on about all the amazing ways to make camping delicious and fun, but we want to hear from you! What is your favorite meal to eat while camping?

Don't stop there, check out some of these other amazing recipes and ideas:

  • Want to make your life a whole lot easier? Try our Shelf Cooking Subscription Plan! We'll take care of all the meal planning (plus a grocery list!) so you can devote your time to much more enjoyable things!
  • Feeling cheesy? We can show you how to up your grilled cheese game to master status!
  • Try our homemade enchilada sauce and you'll be amazed at how easy it is to make this delicious Mexican staple!

Now, get out there and have an adventure!