The sun is rising, the camp fire is roaring, and the bacon is sizzling away in the frying pan. Admit it, there’s nothing like the taste of food cooked over an open fire out in the wilderness! And there’s something special about that extra bit of Mother Nature thrown in as seasoning.
But is it realistic to try to cook every meal over an open fire? Not always. Only a few foods actually are resilient enough to withstand what is essentially the uncontrolled temperatures of an open fire.
Anything that needs to be simmered or cooked on low should be saved for your own kitchen. Even meals that require boiling water can be a little tricky; for instance, pasta can be very difficult to make over an open fire because once the water boils and you put the pasta in, the heat should be reduced to a medium boil, not a full boil or it will stick and boil over.
Ideally, a two burner propane stove should be standard camping gear if you are concerned about meals. You can control the heat and therefore, have a wider range of foods to cook.
Simple meals when you’re camping don’t always need to imply boring or run of the mill. “Simple” actually refers to how easy the ingredients are to assemble, pack, transport without too much space or food safety concerns, and of course it also takes prep and cooking time into consideration as well.
Here are some tried and true and deliciously quick and easy meals that make camping-out a real pleasure:
One of the fastest cooking foods, certainly nutritious, takes up little room to pack in the cooler. Or, if you’re feeling lucky, you can catch your own fish! One of the simplest meals is a simple shrimp scampi. Buy frozen shrimp at home, bring garlic (prepared and purchased in a jar) and butter, and cook for only a few minutes, until shrimp are opaque. A side of corn on the cob can be put right on top of the fire or you can boil it in about 10 minutes.
Really feeling lazy? Just bring prepared canned foods with you. Some new items on the market are gourmet quality nothing cheap and lazy about them! With choices ranging from chili to chicken stew to marinated mussels, you may never want to cook from scratch again!
Steaks just don’t taste any better than when you cook them over an open fire even in a frying pan. The sizzling that goes on adds a seal that actually traps the juices inside while still cooking to your specifications. Hashbrowns on the side are perfect and easy. To save time, cut up the onions and potatoes at home before you leave and put into a plastic lidded container. At dinner time, put some cooking oil in a big frying pan, heat it up, and throw in the contents.
Shish Kabobs are great on a camping trip. Take big chunks of any meat, add hardy vegetables such as onions and peppers or even potatoes, put onto metal skewers, and place over the fire. You can even buy special racks to be used on “pits” where the grates are large like camp fires and the racks will keep the skewers further away from the flame.
Chicken Fingers, Macaroni and Cheese, and Sloppy Joes
If fussy kids are a problem, you can still manage typical “kiddie” meals like chicken fingers, macaroni and cheese, and even Sloppy Joes. Buy pre-packaged items and just heat them up on the stove. And if all else fails, there’s nothing like hot dogs over an open fire. Put them on skewers (used for shish kabobs) and for older kids, this is as much fun as roasting marshmallows.