There are so many levels of camping food. You can go bare-bones adventurer with cans of beans, Alphaghetti (which I happen to love), hot dogs, marshmallows, and instant coffee. You also can go full-on glamping with a gas stove, steaks, salads, and lots of dishes to do. My favourite way to eat in the wild is to find a happy medium.
With some shrewd planning, two people, and 3 hours, you can prep everything you need to eat fantastically on a 3-day camping trip. Believe!! Read on to learn how. First I’ll describe each meal and then, further down, I’ll give you the info on how to make the meals written in bold, all of which were prepped at home and cooked (or eaten as-is) at the campsite.
Cast-iron griddle (useful but not 100% necessary)
Moka coffee pot
1 bowl or plate per person
Cooler plus ice and ice packs (note: make sure EVERYTHING in the cooler [except beer] is in a well-sealed ziploc bag to prevent from water ruining all your food)
Breakfast: Timmie’s (Tim Hortons is a Canadian Road Trip Tradition and I’m convinced that a car won’t work well without some Tim’s in everyone’s belly). Bacon breakfast sandwich, hash brown, and an Iced Capp.
Lunch: Tousain canned Portuguese-style calamari and Clover Leaf canned spicy Thai tuna with english muffins. This meal is SO GOOD and so filling, and each can of calamari or tuna should only run you back around $1-2. The Portuguese calamari is in a smooth, bright red sauce that’s made of tomato, oil, spices and peppers, and it’s the perfect topping for your first english muffin because the sauce makes little pools of excellence in the uneven surface of the bread. The tuna is sweet-salt-sour-spicy, and is the perfect topping for your second english muffin. This meal is basically a canned seafood smorgasbord, so it takes literally no time to put together and it’s the perfect lunch to eat as a reward for having set up your tent and campsite.
Dinner: Hot dogs in Pillsbury crescent roll wrappers. These were DELICIOUS, even though they took a while to cook. We used the griddle to cook them, turning them often, but after some research, it looks like skewering them and roasting straight over the fire yields results that are just as delicious with less effort. You live and you learn!
Breakfast: Scrambled salsa verde eggs, refried frijoles and cheese burritos. These reheated like a dream. I was skeptical and worried that they’d mush up, but we cooked them wrapped in foil over the fire and the tortilla got crispy, the fillings got warmed through, and the cheese melted perfectly. It was a WOW.
Lunch: Sardines and bread, plus Ms. Vickie’s salt and vinegar chips. As you can tell, I’m a huge fan of canned seafood. I smashed up the sardines in one of our bowls with a little hot sauce, lime, salt, and pepper, and we were good to go. We ate this while fishing on the dock and BOY was it delightful.
Dinner: Grilled Cheese Rollups. These are fun to prep while the fire warms up, and they can be cooked over a griddle or just skewered and toasted over the fire. The good ol’ bright orange plasticky cheese melts perfectly and it all just tastes like childhood. The rollups actually work better than standard grilled cheeses when working with an open fire, because the bread is flattened out so the heat gets to the cheese faster, meaning the food gets to your hungry face faster. To make these, flatten a piece of sliced bread with your hands. Really squish the air out of it. Then place one square of cheese on the bread. You can tear it into pieces to be able to cover the whole slice with only one piece of cheese. Then, roll it up, warm it up, and eat! So easy, so tasty.
Breakfast: Cereal and almond milk. We accidentally bought a cereal that was cloyingly sweet and apparently I’m not really an almond milk person, so I would not repeat this meal. We ended up eating leftover grilled cheese rollups instead. Health!
Lunch: Veggie Pasta Salad. This is the perfect last-day meal, because as long as it’s packaged well, it’ll keep perfectly in the cooler. We used fusilli, a garlicky red wine vinegar dressing, spicy green olives, onion, red and yellow peppers, and cucumbers.
Dinner: Stop at a casse-croute. Casse-croutes are basically Quebecois diners that tend to specialize in poutine. We stopped in a town called L’ancienne Lorette at a place called Resto Richard. The poutine was INCREDIBLE. Squeakiest curds I’ve ever had the pleasure to eat, and the gravy was savoury, flavourful and perfect.
Salted peanuts, dried pineapple, cheese strings, salt and vinegar chips, and oatmeal peanut butter chocolate energy balls. We also drank Micheladas, made on the campsite with a home-prepped Michelada mix. Without further ado, the how-to:
Crescent Roll Hot Dogs
Unroll crescent rolls into a sheet and divide. Wrap each hotdog with one or two rolls’ worth of dough, depending on how covered you want them. We did 2 rolls : 1 hot dog, so the tube of crescent roll dough yielded 4 dough-covered hot dogs. Wrap individually in aluminum foil and freeze until departure. They keep well in a cooler, but try to use them on the first night just in case. Total time: 15 minutes.
Scrambled Salsa Verde Eggs, Refried Frijoles and Cheese burritos (makes 6 burritos that freeze well forever)
Step 1: Frijoles. Open a can of black beans (roughly 450g or 15oz) and rinse them very well in a sieve until the water runs clear. Set aside. Roughly chop one large white onion and 4 cloves of garlic and pour some olive oil into a pan, about 3 times around or 1/4 cup. Sauté onion and garlic on medium heat for about 5 minutes, stirring often. Add the beans to the pan with a 1/2 cup of water and 3 large pinches of salt, and let it all simmer for about 20 minutes, mixing occasionally. When the beans have started to split and get a little gray, it’s getting there. Add half a bunch of cilantro and let it wilt in the pan. Using whatever blending apparatus you have, blend the beans into smooth oblivion.
Step 2: Crack 12 eggs into a large, cold skillet. Turn the heat to low and add 4 tbsp butter. Whisk eggs in the skillet until they’re mostly combined, and then use a spatula to slowly move the eggs around, scraping the bottom often, until large solid pieces start to form. Sprinkle on 2 big pinches of salt, and when the eggs seem almost done, pour in a whole can of salsa verde. Mix gently, incorporating the salsa without breaking the solid eggs apart too much. Turn off the heat but let it sit on the warm burner for about 30 seconds to finish setting up. Take them off the burner.
Step 3: Slice some mozzarella cheese (about 150g or just under 1/3 of a big commercial block of cheese) into strips. Arrange 6 flour tortillas on a table. Scoop a heaping tablespoon of beans onto each tortilla and spread it out a bit- make a rectangle that is about 2 inches wide and almost as long as the tortilla- but leave at least 1 inch at the periphery beanless. Place as much cheese as your heart desires on top of the beans, and then scoop on some of the eggs, dividing equally among the tortillas. Now, it’s time to roll them up. Here’s a handy video that will show you how to do it. Wrap your freshly-rolled burritos in tin foil and throw in the freezer until you leave. They keep well in the cooler until you need them. Total time: 1 hour 15 minutes.
Veggie Pasta Salad
Cook your pasta. While the pasta boils, chop your onion, peppers, and cucumber, and throw them in a big tupperware with the olives. Cool the pasta completely (either drizzle liberally with olive oil and throw it in the fridge, or run it under cold water if you’re pressed for time). Mix the cold pasta in with the veggies. Make a dressing with 2 parts red wine vinegar to 1 part olive oil, several pinches of salt, 1 tsp (or more) or garlic powder, cracked pepper, 1 tsp honey, and some cayenne pepper. Mix it up, dress the pasta salad, and adjust seasoning to taste. Depending on how long in advance you make your pasta salad, it will absorb some of the dressing, so add some extra vinegar, oil, salt, and pepper right before you leave on your trip. Total time: 30 mins.
Oatmeal Peanut Butter Chocolate “Energy” Balls (based on this recipe)
Measure 1 cup rolled oats, 1/3 cup chocolate chips, 1/4 cup ground flax seeds, 1/2 cup peanut butter, and 1/4 cup honey into a bowl. TIP: grease your measuring cups with cooking spray before measuring peanut butter and honey, so they won’t stick. Mix mix mix until uniform. Pinch off pieces of the mix and roll it up into balls. Arrange on a cookie sheet and freeze. After 3 hours, throw them into a Ziploc and keep in the freezer until you need them. They keep well in a cooler, and even if they warm up fully and fall apart a little, they’re still amazing. They’re a perfect accompaniment to coffee, a hike, or a drive. Total active time: 30 mins.
Michelada Mix (makes enough for ~6 micheladas).
Pour 1 litre of Clamato into a large mason jar. Add 20 dashes of hot sauce, 15 dashes of Worcestershire sauce, the juice of 3 or 4 limes, a large pinch of salt, 1 tbsp freshly cracked black pepper, a tablespoon of grainy dijon mustard, a dash of fish sauce, and a teaspoon or so of soy sauce or Maggi. Adjust to your liking, and make it taste strong because it will be diluted by beer. Pick a Mexican beer that’s light in colour and flavour, like Corona, Dos Equis, or Tecate, but really, any light beer works. At the campsite, pour equal parts beer and Michelada mix into a glass. Drink and enjoy.
There you have it! Go forth and camp and eat well while you do it.