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Jul 19 2012

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Camp Cooking

healthy camp cooking

Everyone has been asking what we ate, and how I managed food on our camping trip. Food is always my favorite part of every vacation, so I’m glad to share with you!

My bloggy pal for the first week of the trip, Essie, posted about how she handles food on a camping trip. We share some similarities and differences. The main difference between the two of us is that she brought nearly all of their food with them, which can work for a smaller family on a shorter trip. We knew that we would be camping for at least two weeks and would be feeding at least 8 people and 11 people on the second week. That is A LOT of food. So, I packed some non perishable foods and we purchased all of our fresh foods in town. By the end of our trip the good folks at Glen’s IGA knew me! I consider it doing my part to support the local economy.

On this trip I decided to simplify what I brought to cook with. I’ve been guilty in the past of packing up my entire kitchen to take camping. While that may be convenient. . .it is a devil to clean up, and we had pretty limited space to pack. So I brought some essentials.

  • coffee percolator (of course)
  • large cutting board
  • 1 good knife
  • 1 large bowl for mixing and serving (I could have used one more, plus a serving platter)
  • 2 quart saucepan
  • colander
  • 2 wooden spoons, 1 whisk, spatula and grilling utensils
  • stockpot
  • 12-Inch Cast Iron Skillet
  • 4-Quart Cast-Iron Camp Dutch Oven
  • 8-Quart Cast-Iron Camp Dutch Oven
  • 10 melamine coffee mugs
  • and I cheated and used all paper plates and plastic utensils
  • Two-Burner Propane Stove (this time we brought a large propane tank instead of little individual ones, it saved us a lot of money, but was less wasteful and far more convenient.)

With all of this equipment we made some fabulous meals.

One of my dirty little secrets is that I don’t care for hot dogs and I only mildly enjoy bratwurst or sausage. My kids tend to share my feelings on this. So, we did grill some hot dogs and brats on our first and last days, just to be traditional!

The grill grate was clean enough to grill on, however, the grates were too widely spaced! Aluminum foil to the rescue!

I’m not a fan of doling out snacks all day long (though my kids are fans of snacking) so I made sure that they had three complete (usually cooked) meals a day, and then I kept a variety of fruits on hand for snacking. (Nectarines went on sale mid-trip so we ate a lot of those!)

Breakfasts were almost always cooked by my husband. and were usually eggs (fried or scrambled) or pancakes, or both. I brought a large Sam’s Club package of Krusteeze Pancake mix and we finished that and started a new three pound bag. We love pancakes. We usually added fresh fruit; blueberries were a favorite, and we also added chopped apple, chopped pear, and chopped nectarines on different days. All of the kids, including the twins loved helping make pancakes!

At lunch I still cooked, but I did rely on convenience foods for speed. Sandwiches generally don’t cut it for our crew, and let’s face it. . .cold cuts can get expensive for 8 or 11 people! We usually had macaroni and cheese, canned ravioli, Spam (once for the few Spam lovers in the family) or canned soups.

Dinners were delicious! We had the two hot dog meals, and one desperate, rainy day take-out of Sven and Ole’s Pizza. Other than that, I cooked (with help, of course!). We had chili, grilled pork chops, steaks, and even a beef stew . . .with a story.

July 4 started out sunny and warm. We went and hiked Devil’s Kettle, we got home and relaxed, and then it began to rain. . .I had planned grilled steaks for the evening, and was going to attempt to “bake” some potatoes in the Dutch oven. But the rain began coming down harder and more intently, so I began to chop the potatoes, then some carrots, then some onions, I crumbled in some ground beef, added a can of corn, a can of tomatoes, some water, some salt and pepper, and popped the lid on. I added some coals to the lid just as the storm finally began to let us know it was really here and I got everyone in their tents. We waited in tents for 3 hours!

When we got out, my “stew” was not very cooked. The coals extinguished early on. So, we transferred it to the stock pot and finished cooking it. Then, my husband decided it needed some thickening. . .so he added (a bit too much) flour. So we had July 4 porridge stew, but we were hungry, and it was good!

We made a camping version of my stir fry and served it over ramen noodles (with scrambled eggs, as we had had a clumsy egg mishap!)

I made this excellent pan fried zucchini and potato dish several times. I just began the baby reds, chopped up, frying in some butter, then added sliced zucchini near the end. Hearty and delicious!

But my favorite meal, by far, was the roasted chickens! I was determined to master my Dutch ovens. I kept picturing us eating yummy roast chicken for dinner! Then, I was I was in the store and the whole chickens were on sale for $3.99 each. So I picked up two. I was so confident that it would work out that I also picked up some egg noodles to add to chicken noodle soup the next day!

I tossed my chickens in the 8 quart pot, added some quartered red potatoes, wedges of onion and baby carrots. I liberally seasoned with salt and pepper and I added a half cup of water to the pot. I arranged 12 hot charcoal briquettes underneath and another dozen on the lid and I let it sit. I added more hot coals halfway through. After about 2 hours we smelled some great smells! I also made some refrigerated biscuits in the 4 quart dutch oven. . .I stacked it on top of the larger oven to save space and to share heat! I should have taken pictures during cooking  . . . but this bad blogger forgot!

We moved the chicken into the stock pot for serving because it was fall-off-the-bone good! Then we stuck the whole pot in the cooler and I made a huge pot of delicious chicken noodle soup the next day!

I even baked a few cakes! The 4 quart dutch oven is the perfect size for a boxed cake mix! I mixed up the cake according to the package directions and then baked it in the coals. My first cake, which I was making for Essie’s family was a fail! I over-baked it (but the middle was good!) . The next one was perfect!

I think we ate pretty well!

Chime in! What is your favorite camping food?

About the author

Dakotapam

I'm a Lutheran pastor's wife and mom to six kids, including toddler twin girls. My life is sometimes normal, and sometimes crazy; but through it all, I know that I am blessed! Some people say that I have my hands full, I prefer to call it living life with both hands full, and I love it!

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10 comments

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  1. Marie Johnson

    Awesome!! You made cake on a camping trip! I never thought of trying that!
    With your adventures I am reminded that we should do things like that with our family!
    Maybe sometime we can camp with the Thompson clan to learn first hand how it is done!

    1. Dakotapam

      That would be fun! I know that not everyone wants to spend a lot of time cooking when they camp…but I love cooking and food. My cake was not decorated though:) Not even frosting. That was OK!

  2. Essie

    I second the serving bowls and serving platters! If it weren’t for you and your paper plates, we would have had a problem. :-)

    I’m definitely going to make some changes for our next camping trip. Too many brats! (But not if you ask Burnsie.) I would have happily had some chili and beef stew. (Yours was delicious, by the way.) Next time I’d like to bring some packaged soups, too, like the Bear Creek brand. Variety is good when you’re camping, that’s for sure.

    1. Dakotapam

      Your husband is the bratwurst king! The kids kept talking about that for the next week! I would have added Bear Creek potato soup, but, honestly, I am the only one who really likes it (it was on sale for cheap in town too!)

      I’m going to toss another bowl and a platter in my camp cooking tote tomorrow, we’ll be ready for next time!

  3. Belinda

    You made me crave at the sight of those yummy looking food! They all really look so good!

    1. Dakotapam

      It was all very tasty! Plus, I really think that food tastes better outdoors!

  4. Anna

    You guys are great campers!!! I’ve never been a big camper so we don’t really camp but looks fun:). Enjoyed reading this post!! Stopping by via SITS

    1. Dakotapam

      Camping is a good fit for larger families. It helps that all of the boys (and my husband) are Boy Scouts, so they can do all of the set up, etc.

      Thanks for stopping by! Come again soon!

  5. Born27

    This is very helpful post! Me and my family are planning for a camping next week and i will surely follow all the tips that you’ve shared with us here . Thanks and keep up the good work.

  6. lisacng

    You eat better than us and we’re at home ;). You guys are rockstars! PS. Your comment form isn’t remembering my info :(. Sorry I haven’t been by for a while.

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