Baked beans, hot dogs, and the occasional handful of trail mix. Even if you’re just getting ready for your very first camping trip, you probably already know the food is notoriously boring and not all that tasty. But gathering around the fire for a meal is part of the fun. So why not give your camping food an upgrade? Here’s some culinary inspiration from 7 longtime camping enthusiasts and outdoor pros.
1. Sausage and Veggies Sauté
"I’ve been camping since I was 8 years old, and I’ve tried every trick of the trade in terms of eating while camping. Your best bet is sausage and pepper [or any veggie] packs. Before leaving, I chop up precooked sausage, raw bell peppers, and onions, and add a drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil and seasonings. Then I wrap the mixture in a double layer of foil and place it in the cooler. (It’ll stay fresh for two days, so it’s perfect for a weekend getaway trip.)
"When it’s time to eat, I slide the foil packs over the fire and let them cook until the peppers and onions are soft. No plates necessary—just use a fork to eat out of the foil."
-Emily Torres, lifestyle blogger
2. Burritos for Breakfast, Nachos for Dinner
"I’m a mad camper, and I love a good hearty breakfast. But when I’m trying to get out and about, making a big feast can end up taking half the morning. My quick breakfast burritos are a big favorite of mine to start the day. They’re made with fresh tomatoes, canned black beans, eggs, avocado, chorizo, and cheese, and they can be cooked on a campfire or single gas burner.
"For evening meals, I’m usually starving. Although cooking on the campfire is nice when you’ve got time, sometimes I just want something I can whip up quickly on the gas stove. That’s when I’ll make a one-pot meal. My one-pot nachos are made with tortilla chips, canned kidney beans, grated cheese, and diced onion and peppers, and they’re ready in less than 15 minutes."
-Joey Holmes, founder of Cool of the Wild
3. Easy French Toast
"I’ve cooked on canoeing trips, camping trips, backpacking trips, and sailing trips. But one of the things I love the most is my easy French toast. I premeasure powdered eggs in a quart-size baggie and bring some slices of sprouted cinnamon raisin bread. Then, I rehydrate the eggs with water and add some cinnamon-sugar that I also premeasure. (I write the amount of water I need on the baggie, so I don't forget.) I soak the bread right in the quart-size baggie, so there's less mess and less trash. I pan-fry the bread slices in coconut oil, which I get from Trader Joe’s in individual-sized packets. I bring little travel shampoo bottles filled with jelly and really good maple syrup, and voila: French toast.
"It's the best breakfast—especially when you have time to sit and enjoy it. It’s great for anytime during your camping trip. But if you’re backpacking, it’s a bit heavy, so I’d have it on the first morning or whenever you have a layover day."
-Amanda Pennington, outdoor enthusiast
4. Meatless Quesadillas
"Without a doubt, quesadillas are quick, tasty, and all-around perfect because you can eat them with your hands. You can cook them in a frying pan with a gas stove. I fill the quesadillas with meatless chicken strips (like MorningStar soy strips or Quorn mushroom-based strips) instead of real chicken to reduce the risk of salmonella poisoning if the weather is hot. I add guacamole that I make at home and pack up in a sealed container, along with some parboiled rice and shredded cheese.
"Making them is easy: I pan-fry the 'chicken' strips to warm them up and set them aside. Then I put the tortilla in the pan, cover half with cheese, and add the chicken, rice, and guacamole. When the cheese starts melting, I fold the tortilla in half and flip it so the other side gets crispy. That’s it!"
5. Veggie and Bean Stir-Fry
"For a recent camping trip in Ocala National Forest, my boyfriend and I brought a wok along with some precooked rice and an assortment of beans and veggies. We used it to make quick, simple stir-fries right over the fire and ate them with chopsticks.
"We opted to go meatless since we didn’t want to deal with the concern of trying to keep the meat at the right temperature. The rice stayed fresh in a cooler packed with ice, and the veggies and beans didn’t need to be kept cold. I can honestly say we were the envy of our entire camp."
-Tara Lynn, founder of Om the Go
6. Meat and Cheese Board
"I’ve been the head cook at Saltash Mountain Camp since 1991. Camping trips are what we do here! I try to have simpler meals for breakfast and lunch. For our afternoon meal, I love to do a meat and cheese board. I’ll bring along local Vermont cheeses and preserved meats, good bread or crackers, a tomato (if it’s in season) or some other vegetables, and a piece of fruit. I’ll also bring a cookie or two to keep me energized if I get struck with the urge to take an afternoon nap."
-Sam Arfer, head cook at Saltash Mountain Camp
7. Quick Pita Pizzas
"When I’m camping, I love making pita pizzas—they’re quick, delicious, and filling. All you need is pita bread (make sure it has pockets), tomato sauce or paste, mozzarella cheese, and whatever toppings you want—like pepperoni [or precooked chicken]. We keep the cheese cold and fresh by storing it in a small fabric cooler with ice.
"To make them, cut the pita bread in half, spread tomato sauce or paste on the inside of the pita, and stuff with cheese or toppings. Throw it on the campfire stove or on a pan over your campfire, and cook until the cheese is melty and the pita is crispy."
-Amanda Zingaro, outdoor enthusiast