Do not let the meals on your camping menu turn the job of camp cook into an ordeal, when it should be an enjoyable part of your camping experience. Too many times, what started out as an exciting task turned into a chore to struggle through – because you were doing it backwards. You can not pick the best meals for your camping trip if you do not have these answers first.
How much cooking do you want to do?
Camp cooking is a big part of the outing for a lot of people – so much so that they may even plan the other camping activities to fit their cooking schedule, but for others it is a necessary task to fit in between other outdoor activities. Ten minutes to fix, and ten minutes to eat – that's how they want their camp meals.
If your idea of camping fits the former – then you have a free hand to pick almost any kind of camp meal you can think of, but if your idea of camp cooking fits the latter – you should look for simple quick meals with fewer ingredients, and fewer preparation steps.
Do you have the camping cookware and cooking equipment you need?
This one is pretty simple – no need to pick a great Dutch oven recipe if you do not have a Dutch oven. Or a meal that needs multiple pots and pans, plus a campfire cooking grate – when you only have a 2-burner camp stove to cook on.
Are your options for camp cooking limited by the campsite restrictions?
Do you know if open campfires are allowed where you will be camping? Are you required to only use the fire rings or BBQ pits provided onsite? Does the size and layout of your campsite limit the space you will have available for the camp kitchen, or food prep and cooking activities? Obviously it would be a mistake to plan campfire recipes if you can not have a campfire, or a camp meal that needs a lot of space for preparation and cooking if you only have room for one small table for the camp stove, and the food prep.
What type and age group of campers will you be cooking for?
Hearty, big eating adult campers? Weight or diet-conscious campers? Vegans? Kids? Or a combination of them all? Who you will be cooking for is one of the most important considerations when picking your camping menu meals. You may have visions of sizzling steaks and steaming baked potatoes, but how will that go over with the diet-conscious or vegan campers in your group? Or you might be considering Escargot 'and mushrooms, with a nice wine – to impress your fellow campers, but what about the six kids in your group? To them it's snails and fungus – which they probably will not touch, they would rather starve first.
It is important to pick meals and varieties that everyone will enjoy, or at least plan for back-up or supplementary meal choices. Nothing ruins the joy of a camp cook quicker than sour faces and a chorus of "Eewww's."
Planning the meals for your camp menu will be a lot easier, and more successful, if you know the answers to these basic questions before you start looking for camping recipes.
You can see a more details, and other factors that influence your camp meal choices; complete with menu examples, step-by-step menu planning instructions, and a menu planning kit at: How to Plan a Camping Menu .