Camping with Real Food

Last week we drove away from our cushy home and all of its’ amenities to spend 5 days in the middle of nowhere with no cell service or internet for about 15 miles. We set up our tents facing a beautiful lake and I sat and stared for a while. Then my kids reminded me it was about time for dinner.

In years past, camping was one big excuse for junk food.

Hot dogs, marshmallows, packaged snacks, roasted Starbursts. Whatever sounded good. This time, there was no way I was giving up my newly-stable digestive system and functioning joints for a few morsels of junk. That meant planning. A LOT of planning. I came up with a few tricks that I think are worth sharing.

In planning the menu, I asked for suggestions from readers and got some great ideas.

Stew, burgers, steaks, fish.

I took some of those ideas and planned the menu so that I could have each meal ready to go and some of the cooking could be done while making the previous meal. Before we left, I filled a half gallon jar with potatoes, onions, carrots, celery and seasonings. I filled another with pinto beans, tomatoes, onions, peppers, tomato sauce and seasoning for the chili. They fit in the cooler nicely with room to spare.

How was I going to cook all this ‘real food’ while in the wilderness?¬†

I decided it would have to be on a camp stove. Fire pit cooking is unforgiving and I am already somewhat of a novice, so I planned my meals around the little camp stove we have. I also planned them around the little space we had in the van with 5 of us and all of our gear. The stove has 2 burners so I brought my Cuisinart Green Gourmet griddle. It worked well for everything but the soups. For that, I brought a stainless steel stock pot.

Dinner the first night was grass-fed beef steaks and fried potatoes. I reserved one steak for the stew planned for the next night’s dinner. campfood2web

campfood6web I added beef bone broth and water to the pot and dumped the rest in. It was ready in about an hour with no babysitting. If you had a fire going most of the evening, you could put this on the grate and let it stew longer.


Lunch the day after was burgers. I chopped up two patties for the chili planned for the next night’s dinner. Coconut oil, Real Salt and pepper were the main cooking staples I used, which made it really easy to season the food without bringing the whole kitchen along. There wasn’t anything we cooked that DIDN’T go well with coconut oil. Any seasoning I used besides salt and pepper went in the jars beforehand.


I did the same thing for the chili and let it simmer for a couple of hours. I did not get an after pic because we took it down to the family pot luck lunch.


I kept breakfast simple with bacon and eggs, granola and yogurt and oatmeal. The same griddle I used for the steaks and burgers worked very well to scramble eggs and cook a pound of bacon. campfood4web


My husband cooked up some left over salmon for breakfast on the last day. He likes the cast iron skillet he uses every day for his eggs, so he brought it along.


Cooking with real food while camping was a bit challenging. Washing all the pans afterward was harder than charring the hot dog roaster in the fire. We did use paper dishes because there was no way I was washing a full load of dishes after every meal when I was supposed to be having a nice relaxing time. I will admit that even with paper dishes, it was a lot more work than hot dogs and marshmallows, but it was worth it. I felt great the whole time and my stomach was happy! Which was nice, because the fewer trips to the outhouse toilets, the better! More time to do what we really came for…enjoying the great outdoors. (Yep…this is how we enjoy.)

Here is the menu I came up with. Hopefully it can give you some great ideas for good food in the wilderness. If you have some tips for ME, feel free to comment and share! And be sure to come back and see my next post where I will let you know how we fared at steering clear of toxins while camping. Sunscreen, bug spray, soap, water filtration and more. Some worked well…some didn’t. Check back soon!

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Real Food Camping Menu

Day 1
Dinner: Grass-Fed Beef Steak and Fried Potatoes (w/coconut oil) Reserved 1 steak

Day 2
Breakfast: Eggs & Bacon
Lunch: Grass-Fed Beef Burgers on Sprouted Wheat Buns – Reserved 1/2 lb. cooked ground beef
Dinner: Grass-Fed Beef Stew

Day 3
Breakfast: Yogurt and Granola
Lunch: Extended Family Pot Luck – we brought chili
Dinner: Extended Family Hot Dog Roast (We used Applegate Organic uncured beef hot dogs on Ezekiel sprouted Wheat Buns)

Day 4
Breakfast: Oatmeal w/ fruit and bacon
Lunch: Leftovers (Stew, Chili, Hot Dogs) and canteloupe
Dinner: Salmon cooked in bacon grease,  tomato & avocado salad

Day 5
Breakfast: Eggs, leftover salmon, bacon and hash browns
Lunch: Snacks in the car – applesauce, granola bars, fruit leather


This post is also shared at: Our Heritage of HealthNourishing Simplicity– Small Footprint FamilyButter Believer

11 Thoughts on “Camping with Real Food

  1. Christy on June 23, 2013 at 10:07 am said:

    great ideas! love the idea of reserving the steak and using for the stew. why don’t I think of these things. we camp a ton! will be using this for a menu soon.

    • Colette on July 17, 2013 at 6:12 pm said:

      We have a VERY rustic cabin (call it a wooden tent) in the middle nowhere & I use the same techniques. I also always have homemade bottled chicken & tomato soup base in Mason jars on hand in the fridge here at the house. It can be used for chili, stew, pasta sauce, even gravy (maybe). So if we suddenly decide to go camping, a couple/a few of those bottles come along. Can also strain … the contents mashed for use as ketchup & the broth is a nice “before bed” snack/drink … especially in the winter.
      Or strain the contents, add to a cast frying pan, add a couple of eggs, scramble … instant frittata with bacon on the side ….. yum!!
      That’s my contribution … enjoy.

  2. Pingback: How to Avoid Bringing Toxins Camping | The Reluctant Healthwife

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  5. Thanks for sharing all these tasty ideas on Simple Meals Friday! This is one of our featured posts.


  6. I LOVE this post! I’m thinking about camping this summer and was worried about what we’d eat!

  7. Pingback: Simple Meals Friday #38 - Nourishing Simplicity

  8. Aisha on July 15, 2013 at 10:38 am said:

    If I ever go camping in a tent again this will be a wonderful trick to try! I happen to be blessed with a husband whose family owns a fully functional cabin in the woods. Last time I went really camping was about 4 years ago!
    It is good to know hot dogs and marshmallows aren’t our only options.
    If you can manage to get the hang of open-fire cooking, try roasting a whole chicken in a cast iron Dutch Oven! You can basically just let it go for hours if you put it in the coals, kind of like how you would wrap potatoes in foil and stick them in the coals to bake.
    I was able to do it in my friend’s crock pot when I roasted my chicken, but I don’t have a crock pot big enough to fit a whole chicken, and one of the other options the recipe gave was to roast it in a Dutch Oven in the oven for a few hours.
    Bringing a protable bbq is also a fantastic idea! You can’t quite scramble eggs, but I always have a cast iron fry whenever I go camping anyways! BBQ burgers and steaks and chicken and BACON are truly epic! Just make sure you spread foil over the rack before you do bacon, or you might set the forest on fire when the bacon grease drips into the flames! Lol!
    Now I have a question! What did you do about coffee? Or perhaps tea. Do you drink coffee? Perculator? French Press? What’s a good portable, non-electric coffee maker option?

  9. Candance Holmes on July 16, 2013 at 12:35 pm said:

    Thanks for sharing your real food camping journey! We always do real food when camping but we cook stuff a head of time. We usually go camping for three to four days at a time. I always make a pot of chilli and some type of stew or soup the day before we leave for camping and it’s a quick heat and serve when we want it. Hamburgers are always a great idea and breakfast is the easy one with eggs, bacon and veggies. It’s also great when you can fish where your camping so you can cook what you caught. We also eat a lot of pinto beans and homemade tortillas while camping too. I love to go camping and cannot wait for labor day weekend!

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