6 Quick and Easy Camping Dinners You Will Actually Make
99% of these meal lists are totally useless. They all sound like they are written by foodies using a backyard firepit next to their full kitchen. Here you and I are, about to embark on our grand National Parks trips, spending maybe a week or more on the road, and every website thinks we have the time and means to make andouille sausage and fennel pizza. Who buys fennel to go camping? So we ran into a conundrum: When you tire or don't want to take the time to grill, what dinner options will both satisfy and not take forever?
For us there are three main criteria for meals we pack:
It stores easily/won’t spoil.
It tastes good.
It won’t break the bank.
This isn’t about being fancy or prepping a hundred meals before you leave. No, this is about ease and practicality. The fact of the matter is that you’ll cook some meals over a fire and others with a propane stove. Some you’ll eat at a campsite, others you’ll eat at a picnic area in the park. Some nights you’ll have all the time in the world, others you’ll want to catch a sunset somewhere. Sometimes you have to deal with bears.
This is the list for you. Quick and easy dinners that’ll keep your adventures moving forward. Meals that are easily converted to a vegetarian variety are marked with a (V).
1) Quesadillas (V) Ingredients: 3-4 Cooking Time: 4 minutes each Fire type: Propane Stove Our world changed when we discovered quesadillas on our trips. Tortillas, cheese, salsa, and an optional meat of your choice. Fill up the tortillas, brown each side to melt cheese and warm up meat, and you’re eating a hearty meal within minutes of sitting down. We ofen save some extra barbequed chicken from nights when we have more time, cut it up, and reheat it with the melting cheese. With standard 10” flour tortillas, 2-3 quesadillas per person was perfect.
2) Street Tacos (V) Ingredients: 4-5 Cooking Time: 10 Minutes Fire: Propane Stove Similar to the quesadilla, but for corn tortilla lovers! Brown or reheat some meat, warm up some canned beans up if you want, add cheese and salsa. You can get fancier if you're ambitious, but the basics are easy, filling, and delicious. Eat as many as you want, but we found about 5/person was needed after a full day of hiking.
3) Patty Melts Ingredients: 3-??? Cooking Times: 10-30 Minutes Fire: Open Flame or Propane Stove Cook the patties with a propane stove or an open flame, brown a couple slices of bread, and proceed to make them as fancy as you want. The main benefit of doing patty melts over traditional burgers is that you save room by not buying buns. The bread you’ll most likely have anyway for the PB&J sandwiches you’re eating for lunch.
4) Pasta with Meat Sauce (V) Ingredients: 3-4 Cooking Time: 20-30 Minutes Fire: Propane Stove Pasta and marinara sauce will stay good far longer than your trip lasts, so this is a great option for when you’re running low on all the perishable food you brought. Like for the quesadillas, we will often cook extra italian sausages when we do sit down to grill for a night, then we just slice and reheat for some protein. Whole grain pasta adds extra fiber and protein to keep you full and fuel your body properly.
5) Sausage & Red Peppers Ingredients: 2-5 Cooking Time: 20-40 Minutes Fire: Open Flame or Propane Stove Sausages, red peppers, onions, a little salt, and a little pepper. Throw em all on a skillet if you’re cooking with the propane stove, throw em all into a foil packet if you’re cooking over a campfire. Cook everything through and presto! Dinner! Peppers and onions keep longer than most other vegetables, while any leftovers you may have could be thrown into your pasta dish from above. It’s a win-win.
6) Tuna Melts/Sandwiches Ingredients: 2-??
Cooking Time: 0-20 Minutes Fire: None or Propane Stove
Snag some canned (w/ pull tab) or packs of tuna, pick some ingredients to go on your sandwich, and throw it between two slices of whole wheat bread. It doesn’t get much simpler than that. The beauty about this meal is that it can be cold or hot and the fact that tuna doesn’t need to be refrigerated makes it the perfect meal to throw in your pack without have to plan to go back to your car. Just make sure to pack out your trash.