Our family climbs a lot. And when we climb, we usually camp. And also eat…a LOT. In fact, one of my favorite parts of a climbing weekend is sitting around a fire at the end of the day with my family and friends – bellies full of food and hearts full of laughter as we retell highlights from the day’s antics. But this post is not about hallmark-card sentiments, it’s about food! So let’s get to the meat and potatoes of the matter…(sorry I couldn’t resist )
First of all, let me preface by saying that by no means would I consider myself a good cook. That’s not to say I DON’T cook – during the week we almost always eat daily home-cooked meals as a family. But my “recipes” (if you can even call them that), are elementary at best. In other words, no frills – chicken, fish, pasta, rice, and steamed veggies make up the bulk of our ingredients. That being said, our family’s style of campsite cooking is no different.
I know a lot of families who load their car with all the latest and greatest camp kitchen supplies, and divide their entire refrigerator contents amongst their 12 coolers of varying sizes. Each weekend always features a different menu, and it’s always something extravagant that I would be hard-pressed to make in the comforts of my own kitchen, let alone in the Great Outdoors. Not us. Don’t get me wrong, I am certainly not opposed to a gourmet campfire meal. If someone wants to make me a hearty beef stew with loads of fresh veggies, I will for sure be part of the clean-plate-club. But left to our own devices, that’s just not gonna happen. For us, the main focus of our weekend (and therefore contents of our trunk) is climbing-related…after a long day up on the rocks, we want something fast, filling, and requiring minimal effort to fix.
The following are all tasty options that require very little prep time with very few ingredients. They also require minimal refrigeration (some none at all!)
CHICKEN PESTO PASTA
Supplies: campstove, pot
Ingredients: jar of pesto, box of pasta, pre-cooked chicken
Directions: Boil water and cook pasta. Drain water and mix in chicken and pesto until everything is warmed up. For a completely fridge free option, use canned chicken. You can also switch out marinara or alfredo sauce for pesto if you prefer.
Supplies: small cooler, campstove and pot if you want your beans/meat heated or cheese melted (we’re usually too hungry to care…)
Ingredients: tortillas, beans, cheese, sour cream, salsa, guacamole (Wholly Guacamole is pretty darn good for pre-made),
Directions: This is a great potluck option if you are camping with a group of people, as individual ingredients can easily be “assigned” for people to bring.
Supplies: aluminum foil, open fire, oven mitts, openfire grill top (optional), cooler (depending on ingredients)
Ingredients: Meat, potatoes, veggies, olive oil
Directions: This one is probably the most time-consuming, but is still a pretty simple option, and it’s probably the healthiest. Chop everything up, dab on a little oil, and wrap your goodies up in the foil. Set it in or on the fire. They will be HOT when they come out, so be careful! Cook time varies depending on what’s inside, but the sky’s the limit with the variations you could choose! Peppers, onions and other summer veggies are always a great addition. If you’re still hungry and in the mood for something sweet afterwards (after all you’ve still got that fire going, right?), cut up some apples and wrap them up in the same way, sprinkling liberally with brown sugar, cinnamon, honey, or even peanut butter! Campfire rings made from stones are PERFECT for this.
MAC N CHEESE (originally found on this site)
Supplies: open fire, disposable pie plates, aluminum foil, tongs, small cooler for dairy
Ingredients: pre-cooked pasta, cheese, milk
Directions: Divy out the pasta into individual pie plates. Add a splash of milk and cheese to taste, then cover it up with foil, doubling over the folds on top to make a sturdy “handle.” Cook until the cheese is melted, then stir and enjoy! You can always add your pre-cooked meat of choice if you’re the type of person that needs meat for dinner.
NO COOK DINNER DIP (originally found on this site)
Supplies: small cooler
Ingredients: Ready-to-eat steamed lentils (you can find them at Trader Joe’s), can of bruschetta topping, feta cheese, tortilla chips
Directions: This makes for a great appetizer for those of you who get impatient waiting for water to boil. Just mix everything together and find a chip to dip! Serve over boil-in-a-bag rice for a hearty meal (meat-lovers can also add accordingly)
These meals will probably not win any awards for presentation. In fact, some of them look downright ghetto (especially if you use canned chicken…). But I can guarantee that what they lack in the looks department will be made up for in taste and efficiency. And after all, a yummy meal shared with those you love IS the happy, hallmark-card ending you were looking for, right?
If you’re new to the camping scene and looking for basic supplies, lots of great deals can be found on www.theclymb.com, a free to register website that has daily “Flash Sales” on a wide variety outdoor equipment. We are big fans of Light My Fire Camping Gear in our household, and you can find a host of that brand and more on The Clymb. For all of you camping veterans out there, what are some of your favorite dinner basics? Remember, nothing fancy! :)