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Real Food Camping: Planning Ahead to Play More!

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Does your family like to camp?  We love to camp!  We purchased a tent trailer in 2010 and have been planning camping adventures year after year.  Part of the planning adventure revolves around meal planning.  You may be wondering, “How do I plan a Real Food cooking menu?”  Friends, I am here to tell you it is simple.  The secret is, it’s all in the prep.


Today I am going to tell you how I plan meals for camping trips.  Everything from the menu, to the prep, to the packing!  Last year we did a three-night camping trip at the Grand Canyon.  When meal planning, I like to start with breakfast.  I knew that I needed three breakfast meals and I also knew that I didn’t want to spend a lot of time prepping at camp.  I chose three meals that could be (mostly) made ahead – to save on prep time AND dishes.


Meal 1

Pancakes, bacon, bananas, milk/OJ

We love making pancakes when we are camping!  For prep, we simply combine all of the dry ingredients and all of the wet ingredients of our pancake recipe separately.  Then, the morning we want to cook them, we combine them in a bowl and throw them on the skillet.  We like to cook the bacon first so that the cast iron skillet has some good fat to cook with.  Also, since I have already prepared the wet ingredients, we like to make pancakes the first morning of our trip.

Meal 2

Oatmeal muffins, bananas, milk/OJ

These muffins are great!  The recipe makes a lot and they can be eaten cold or warm.  I can make them at home and pack them in a container or a Ziploc bag.  All of us like to eat them cold, but my husband could have easily warmed up the skillet!

Meal 3

Breakfast burritos, bananas, milk/OJ

Breakfast burritos are great for camping!  At home we can fill burritos with scrambled eggs, chorizo, cheese, bacon, onions, or whatever else suits our fancy!  We wrap them individually and stick them in the freezer until our trip.  By the time we end up eating them on the third morning, they are thaw and can be warmed up on the skillet.


Meal 1

Hot dogs, fruit, veggies and dip

We like our first meal to be low key and fast.  We typically just spent the afternoon setting up camp and want to spend most of our time and energy exploring the campground, not getting ready for dinner.  I can prepare the fruits and veggies at home as well as make a healthy ranch dip.  This is an easy meal that is a crowd pleaser!

Meal 2

Kabobs and potato bundles

At home, I prepped kabobs using chicken thighs, bell peppers, onions, mushrooms, shrimp and pineapple to make a variety of kabobs.  Once they were all skewered, I put them into Ziplocs and they were ready to go.  For the potato bundles, I prepped them and also put them in Ziploc bags.  When it was time for dinner all we had to do was throw the potato bundles on the fire and cook the kabobs on our grill!

Meal 3

Green Chili Pork, Chips, and Fermented Salsa

For this meal I prepare my green chili pork ahead of time and put it in the freezer.  I will bring along taco shells, tortillas, sour cream, and grated cheese to go with it.  Chips and fermented salsa are great to snack on, too!  When it is dinner-time, we heat the green chili up on the skillet and everyone can build their own tacos or burritos!


I plan lunches a bit differently than breakfasts and dinners.  Typically we are out and about.  Our lunches are packed and we eat them while we are out enjoying our day.


It is really easy for me to put together sandwiches right after breakfast.  These are easily packable and don’t require utensils if we are out and about.

Chicken Pasta Salad

If we plan on being at the campsite for lunch this salad is great.  It is cold and can be made ahead.


I like to bring a small variety of snacks that can be enjoyed anytime!  Some of our favorites have been peeled hard-boiled eggs, popped popcorn, pickles, veggies and dip, a nutty trail mix, and granola bars.  All of these can be prepared before you leave for your tip.


Ah, s’mores!  A favorite camping treat.  Now, you can make your own graham crackers and marshmallows.  I am going to be honest with you, I haven’t made my own s’mores yet.  I just make them the good old store bought way.  And I am okay with that for now.  Do know this, when I do make them you better believe I will post about it!

Packing Day

It may seem like there is A LOT of prep work that goes into meal planning for camping.  But that is part of the camping adventure fun!  I enjoy prepping ahead of time because I know that once we are there, the convenience of having all of our food ready is SO nice.  There are few dishes and we can spend most of our time enjoying the great outdoors instead of chopping and mixing.  Plus, by prepping ahead of time you have greater control of your ingredients.  A lot of big campgrounds have some kind of grocery store.  But I am willing to bet they don’t carry your grass-fed beef or organic produce.

I do have a few tips for packing your cooler.  If you have things in Ziploc bags or an otherwise NOT waterproof container, be sure to place it at the TOP of the cooler.  When the ice melts that water will get into every nook and cranny that it can.  When we were camping in Yellowstone we were sad to find out one morning that our awesome breakfast burritos were totally mush because water had made its way into the bag.  Sigh.  Lesson learned!  With that in mind, try to pack your cooler so that the things you will use first are easy to get to.

A Real Food camping trip is easy to do!  With a little planning and preparation, you will be able to nourish your family with healthy foods while making the most of your camping trip!


  1. Thanks for all of the great tips… I have tried the homemade marshmallows and while they taste great they do not do well in a campfire. They just melt and turn to goo. I’ve been trying to figure out a “real food” ingredient that would allow them to hold together and and toast in the fire. No luck yet.

    I’m pleasantly surprised that a side-effect of eating a couple of these delicious homemade marshmallows each day has been much less achy joints!! I’ve always had bad knees and since adding gelatin to my daily routine, I’m able to exercise and go up and down stairs with no trouble!!! I’ve been adding the gelatin to fruit smoothies and oatmeal too!!

  2. This gives great insight when packing food for a camping trip. The tip for freezing breakfast burritos sounds great, but I am just wondering how practical it is if one is camping during summer. That aside, I think this article is insightful as far as meal ideas are concerned.

  3. This is our kind of camping food! Hubby thought we had too much to do still once camping though – so trying to simplify and use more prep and left-overs for this years 4 night trip. Did you pre-cook potato bundles and kabobs? I cut up everything but the potatoes at home – so assembly and cooking was done at camp. Breakfast burritos are one of our favorites – we will be doing those again this year!

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