It’s that time of year. Time to pack up the tent or trailer and head out into nature. Our family does a lot of camping in our small truck camper, which the kids have cleverly named “Troller the trailer.”
We love to spend our summer days outside and our evenings around the campfire. After many weekends away, we have learned that when you’re camping with kids, convenience is key. We collect recipes that are quick, easy, and capable of nourishing our family after a full day of fun, sun, and nonstop activity.
Here are seven of our favorite family camping dinner ideas, along with family-friendly dinner prep tips.
Family Camping Cooking Tips
Before we get into our favorite family camping dinner ideas, here are a few tips to consider before you pack up.
Prepare as much of your camping meal as you can before you leave
The more you can prepare before you leave, the better. Cut up your vegetables, prepare any marinades or sauces, and even skewer your meat for shish kabobs. You might as well take advantage of your spacious kitchen, helpful tools, and dishwasher while you can. While I love a good campfire meal, I don’t want to spend hours preparing it.
Keep it simple
Just because you’re camping doesn’t mean you have to eat burgers and hot dogs the entire time. But you also want to plan on having a camping recipe that’s simple and convenient to prepare. No one wants to be washing multiple pots and pans after a camping dinner. Look for meals that require a minimal number of ingredients — and a minimal amount of dishes.
Consider how you will cook your camping food
If you are camping in a trailer with a stove, then you’re probably set for cooking your meals. If you are tenting it, you may want to consider investing in a camping stove. There are all sorts of camping stoves available. Single and double burners, stoves designed to be lightweight and portable, and stoves that are wind-resistant. The camp stove that is right for you will depend on the type of camping you are doing (site camping versus backcountry) as well as the number of people you need to feed, and the complexity of your meals.
If you want to keep your camping food situation really simple, you can just cook over the fire. In this case, you will need to select meals that are easy to cook over an open flame, such as meals in foil packets.
Don’t forget your cooking tools
As you are choosing recipes and preparing your food, don’t forget to consider which tools you will need to execute your recipe. For instance, if you are planning to bring shish kabobs, make sure you have the proper skewers. If you will be cooking over the fire, then metal shish kabobs are a must. Similarly, if you are going to make burgers, be sure to bring a flipper. A cast iron skillet is one of our essential tools because you can use it on a stove or over the fire and you can use it to cook anything. A durable cooking pot is also a must for anything from a boiled egg to oatmeal to pasta.
7 Family Camping Dinner Ideas
Here are some of our tried and true family camping dinner ideas. You can use these recipes for inspiration when you are planning your next family adventure. We love these easy camping food ideas because they are delicious and kid-approved.
Classic Homemade Burger
Is there anything better than a juicy burger when you’re camping? We love this classic homemade burger recipe because it only requires a few ingredients. You can make these burgers ahead of time and just pop them on the grill or over the fire. Then, make them your own with your choice of burger toppings.
Hearty Pasta Salad
Make this pasta salad recipe ahead of time and store it in a sealable container. You can pop this pasta salad open for a quick dinner or a camping lunch. Load it up with veggies or add chicken or tuna to make it even heartier. It’s quick, cheap, delicious, and easy to customize.
There’s nothing I love more than a one-pot meal when we are camping. You can make this turkey chili recipe ahead of time and just heat it up when you’re ready to eat. This chili recipe uses turkey, which I like for a lighter summer option. You can bring some shredded cheese, sour cream, or avocado to sprinkle on top of a hot bowl.
Chicken and Veggie Shish Kabobs
Shish kabobs are an easy camping meal because you can prepare them completely ahead of time. And, there’s nothing better than food on a stick when you’re camping. It’s fun to eat and easy to clean up. These chicken and veggie shish kabobs will provide a healthy and delicious camping dinner for your family.
Quesadillas make a great dinner or lunch meal while you are camping. This simple chicken quesadilla recipe requires only five ingredients. Quesadillas can easily be cooked on a small camping stove with a frying pan or, you can wrap them in tinfoil to cook over the top of the fire.
Our kids love when we have breakfast for dinner. It’s a fun change of pace and it’s delicious. This is our favorite pancake recipe that can be made ahead of time. We add strawberries, blueberries, or bananas to the batter to kick up the taste. Maple syrup is also a must. If you want to make things even easier, cook up your pancakes at home and bring them with you. You can quickly reheat them in a frying pan over the fire.
If your family is more into French toast than pancakes, the same applies! Just make it at home and heat it up for an easy campfire meal.
Another breakfast-for-dinner hit with our family is the campfire frittata. You can keep this frittata recipe vegetarian or add in some breakfast sausage to make it more hearty and filling. You can prepare all of the vegetables ahead of time. All you have to do for dinner is mix all of the ingredients into a cast-iron pan over the campfire or cookstove. It doesn’t get much easier than this!
Pro tip: Use leftovers with some tortillas to create an easy, grab-and-go breakfast burrito bar with toppings that the whole family can personalize.
We’ve tested a ton of different camping recipes and these are a few of our favorites. These recipes meet all of our camping criteria: They are simple, can be prepared ahead of time, require minimal clean-up, and are customizable. Most importantly, they are all kid-tested and approved! Happy camp cooking, from our family to yours!
— By Jessica Martel