Feeding the Family When Camping

Feeding the whole family when you’re camping can prove to be a challenge. That’s especially true if the kids are picky eaters, either limiting your menu or forcing you to cook separate meals.

Although the ideal thing is to use as much fresh produce and meat as possible, all sourced locally to the campsite (as this gives a boost to the local economy and lowers your carbon footprint) that’s not always possible. The key is planning and preparation.

What To Take

If anyone in the family has special food needs, make sure you have ample supplies of foods they can eat before you leave home. This will prevent scrambling around later trying to find the items in shops.

Plan your menus.

This doesn’t mean you have to stick to them rigidly, but you’ll have a very good idea of what you need to carry along with you. For the kids, ensure there are plenty of foods they like and a supply of treats; used sparingly, these can go a long way towards mollifying them if they become fractious.

Wherever possible, make meals the entire family can eat. In the cramped cooking conditions of camping this just makes sense. If feasible, these should be single pot meals – you can always add a salad on the side to give better nutrition or have fresh fruit for a dessert.


What will you use for cooking? Are you taking a camping stove or do you plan on using a campfire? This will influence what you make. With a campfire, for instance, jacket potatoes are simple and all you need to worry about are the fillings. Wrap the potatoes in foil and put them in the embers at the bottom of the blaze. Kids can help put the foil on them, although you shouldn’t let them too near the fire.

With a camping stove you’ll probably be cooking in a frying pan or a saucepan. Again, the simpler the meals, the better, with everything in one pan (as a tip, you can cook rice in the frying pan with the rest of the meal in many cases).

When you’re camping isn’t the time to experiment with new dishes. Stick to the tried and tested. You can add in some fun, such as marshmallows skewered on sticks and roasted over the fire – something everyone always enjoys in the evening.

Involving The Kids

Although you don’t want to bring the kids into the cooking itself, they can help in other ways. They can pick from a few choices of what to eat, help prepare the food before you cook, and even give a hand washing the dishes afterwards. Being away from home is an ideal time to have them participate and feel part of the process (it can also lighten the burden on you).

Recipe Ideas

Kebabs – if you have a bbq (disposable ones are great), kebabs are perfect camping food. Slice up some chicken breasts and vegetables, put them on skewers that have been soaked in water and barbeque them until done. As it’s finger food there are hardly any dishes to wash later!

Pancakes – with 3 simple ingredients: flour, egg and milk/water you can quickly knock up some pancakes in a non stick frying pan. You can also buy pancake packet mixes which make it even easier. Pancakes are a great quick and simple breakfast with some fruit or syrup – or try with some fresh fruit as a dessert. If you don’t often make them at home it can take its place as a camping special.

Popcorn – cooking up some popcorn at night is a great treat and one everyone can share. All it takes is a pan with a lid, some corn kernels and a little oil. Cook until the corn stops popping and the whole family will be grateful.

Hob casseroles and dishes – pack a few jars of sauces (such as bolognese, curry sauce, red wine etc). These are simple to throw in a pan with some meat & veg. You can serve with pasta, rice or noodles (dried and easy to pack/store) – these are also quick to cook in a pan on the hob of your camping stove.

h4>Useful things to pack

Most of your fresh produce like meat, eggs, milk and butter can be purchased locally, but there are few grocery items that are useful to pack in a box before you go:

  • Breakfast cereals – single portion sizes are great for camping
  • Olive oil or sunflower oil
  • Salt, Pepper, Ketchup
  • Dried mixed herbs
  • Longlife milk and juice for when you can’t get fresh
  • Dried Pasta, noodles and rice
  • Jars of cook in sauces
  • Sugar
  • Coffee, tea bags and drinking chocolate

This is just a basic list. Once you’ve camped a few times, you’ll have a better knowledge of the kind of things that you find useful for your own family.

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