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Few things taste better than a hearty meal cooked over the campfire in the great outdoors. Something about the combination of smoke and fresh air seasons your meal better than an executive chef at the Four Seasons. However, it isn’t easy to pack a gourmet kitchen with you. That’s why you should check out these seven easy camping meals for your next trip.
1. Franks and Beans
It’s hard to get more traditional than hotdogs around the campfire. Best of all, this classic is lightweight and easy to carry, although your buns might get a bit squashed inside your back frame. Of course, you can bring a separate picnic basket — or toss tradition in the trash. A set of soft tortillas makes a comfortable handheld holder for your blackened dog, and you know they stand up to toppings like onions and salsa. Relish is no problem.
However, you shouldn’t dine on processed meat alone, at least according to the World Health Organization. Keep your consumption in moderation by balancing your meal with beans. They’re a traditional go-along with franks, and you can cook them up in a pot suspended over the fire if the thought of placing your meat on a sharpened stick seems too precarious for your taste.
Cans are heavy — but you have a solution. Are you taking a cooler? Of course, you are — where else would you stash your brewskis? Replace the steel with sustainable, compostable freezer bags. You can rest guilt-free, knowing that you aren’t adding to the planet’s plastic pollution problem. Double-up on your protection if you plan to carry everything in one pack.
2. Hot Chili Mama
Here’s a make-ahead camping meal that uses any remaining freezer bags — or trusty Tupperware if packing a cooler. Chili tastes divine when reheated in a pot over the campfire.
Are you brave? Depending on your bathroom options, getting spicy out in the woods can be tricky. However, if you know how to dig a cat hole, try the following recipe for size.
Turkey Habanero Chili
- 3 pounds lean ground chili
- 1 pound frozen cannellini beans
- 3 chopped tomatillos
- 3 finely chopped habaneros (or one or two, depending on your spice tolerance)
- 2 minced garlic cloves
- 1 large yellow onion
- 1 chopped orange bell pepper
- 1 finely chopped carrot
- 1 can beer
- 5 or 6 tablespoons chili powder
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme
Brown the turkey and drain. Add the rest of the ingredients and simmer for 2 ½ hours before cooling and packing.
Here’s another make-ahead meal to heat up over a fire. Stew is one of the best easy camping meals because it meets all the qualifications: It represents all your major food groups and is hearty and filling after a day in the forest.
Try this easy-to-make recipe to take with you on your next trek. Store it in freezer bags to save space in your cooler:
- 2 tablespoons avocado oil
- 1 pound stew meat
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 4 cups assorted vegetables (potatoes, carrots, onion, broccoli, cauliflower, corn — or any blend you like)
- 1 can low sodium beef broth
- 1 can tomato sauce
Heat the oil and brown the beef. Remove beef and stir in vegetables, cooking until soft. Return the meat and add the broth, sauce and salt. Leave simmer for 15 minutes or longer before cooling and packing.
Burgers and dogs are classic campsite fare. However, you don’t want to overdo it with the red meat. It’s simple enough to bring beef patties, but why not try a turkey blend instead? If that’s not to your liking, try a vegetarian mixture of black beans, hemp seeds and portabella mushroom. Once again, those compostable freezer bags come in handy during transit.
How can you cook your meal? Here’s where you must get a bit crafty if you’re short on cash. While you can find commercial camp grills, you can also DIY one for free with scrap materials.
5. Haul in a Catch
Are you going fishing? Congratulations — you have one of the healthiest dinners around for taming inflammation and supporting brain and heart health. Fish is a rich source of omega-3 fatty acids, and most Americans could use more of them in their diet. Your catch will grill up perfectly over your new griddle you DIY.
You can eat your catch plain, but fish tacos taste heavenly. Shred your trout and add it to tortillas with some salsa and cotija cheese for a south-of-the-border camping treat.
6. And Forage a Salad
Vegetables are an important part of any meal, but most campers don’t bring a bag of salad. That’s okay — the woods offer plenty of what you need. Why not forage a salad of these veggies you’ll find all over most temperate woodlands, even your backyard?
Each one is chock full of nutrition — much more than bagged iceberg. What should you use to dress it with? Why not sweeten that salsa you brought for your tacos with some foraged raspberries for a sweet and tangy treat?
7. How Sweet Smores Are
Of course, no camping trip is complete without roasting marshmallows over the fire. Better yet, bring some chocolate and graham crackers to make smores. All you have to do is add a square of the sweet stuff to the bottom cracker. Toast your marshmallow to taste and slide it between the chocolate and the topping half of the graham. You now have a sweet sandwich to end your meal.
Easy Camping Meals
You can work up quite an appetite out in the wild. What will you serve around the campfire tonight?
Why not rustle up one of these easy camping meals? You’ll go to sleep well-fed and have plenty of energy for the next day’s hike.
Jack Shaw is a senior writer at Modded. Jack is an avid enthusiast for keeping up with personal health and enjoying nature. He has over five years of experience writing in the men's lifestyle niche, and has written extensively on topics of fitness, exploring the outdoors and men's interests. His writings have been featured in SportsEd TV, Love Inc., and Offroad Xtreme among many more publications.