Lazy summer weekends call for taking advantage of the great outdoors! Gather your family and friends for a camping trip, so you can spend your days hiking and swimming and evenings winding down with a group dinner. Here are some menu ideas to kick off your planning; many campsites have grills, but you can also bring along a portable grill or try cooking some of these dishes over a fire (when permitted). Happy camping!
Something about eating and sleeping outside makes you crave all-American classics. Simple hot dogs and cheeseburgers are great for a crowd; just bring along your favorite toppings and condiments. You can also simmer a big pot of chili on a portable stove — it’s easy to make vegetarian versions with beans and vegetables.
On the side, serve salads that you’ve made ahead and stored in your cooler. The flavor of coleslaw and grain salads — like this farro salad — will improve as they sit. Pasta salads like this one with beans and herbs can be prepared ahead of time and dressed just before serving.
Desserts should be easily portable (they can double as snacks on a hike). Healthy oatmeal-raisin cookies and dark chocolate oatmeal bars will give you an energy boost. For something a little richer, these s’mores brownies are a creative blend of two favorite sweets.
Don’t forget about the next morning, either! Granola is easy to make ahead and bring along, but you can also make a warm breakfast on site. Use a portable stove to simmer a pot of oatmeal, or re-purpose leftover chili into a hearty breakfast with scrambled eggs and shredded cheese (see this recipe for inspiration). Or, pack English muffins and prepared sausage patties to make a satisfying breakfast sandwich.
If you’re cooking with meat and dairy on site, you’ll need a good cooler filled with ice for safe storage. Prepare sausage and hamburger patties a day ahead and wrap individually in aluminum foil. Finish the salads, seal tightly, and place them in there as well.
The chili can be made completely ahead of time, cooled, and chilled until ready to serve. Just heat it up at your campsite and serve!
In addition to your big meals, pack plenty of water and snacks — especially if you’re going to be active. Things like granola and trail mix, dried fruits and bars are ideal on the go, as are hardier fruits, such as bananas and apples.
What do you eat on your summer camping trips? Tell us in the comments!