The Busy Camper’s Cookbook: Quick & Easy Outdoor Recipes

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There are so many ways to create easy camping meals for your next camping adventure. You could go full outdoorsy and use an open fire or you can utilize modern ways that involve propane or electricity. Whether it be over a campfire, instant pot (or crockpot), or propane camp stove, there are many creative ways to create delicious and easy camping meals. 

I will share it all below with our “go-tos” and my favorites (because they are so easy). These are all tried and true from our family to yours. I don’t typically cook complicated meals when we are at home, so I’m surely not going to stray from easy while we are camping.

I am the type of “chef” who only loosely follows recipes, adds whatever feels right, and revises to make meals easier. I’m not a chef by any means, I’m just a busy mom striving to feed my family fairly healthy meals. You will take away plenty of meal ideas, inspiration, and step-by-step recipes.

Easy Camping Meals – Campfire Needed

1. Burgers and Hot Dogs

I’m sure when you went scouring the internet for easy camping meal ideas you were looking for something a bit more inspiring but I had to say it. This can be as easy as buying frozen burgers and chilled hot dogs and throwing them over the grate of a campfire. 

You could also purchase some ground beef (or any meat) and make your burgers. Plain Chicken Blog has a delicious Ranch Burger Recipe that is still pretty simple! This can be as simple or as complicated as you want.

2. Campfire Nachos

All you need is aluminum foil, tortilla chips, shredded cheese, and salsa. Put it all into some aluminum foil and place it on the grate over the campfire. I love putting meat into my nachos too. Ground beef, ground turkey, shredded chicken, or pulled pork. 

All of these can be prepared ahead of time and then placed over the nachos to be reheated over the fire. You of course CAN make any of these meats over an open fire using a cast iron skillet on the grate. But we are looking for easy camping meals. 

Reheating is the easiest route. Add all the toppings that you want and make the nachos as filling as you need. I’m getting hungry just thinking about it.

3. Campfire Pizza

I know I sound like a broken record at this point, but you can make this as easy or as complicated as you want. For a really easy camping meal, buy an already-made pizza crust, a jar of pizza sauce, shredded cheese, and pepperoni. 

Place on aluminum foil over the campfire grate. Boom, campfire pizza. Of course, you can create all of those things from scratch too. I love buying the Betty Crocker pizza crust packets, semi homemade, right? 

I love bringing pre-made BBQ pulled pork and pre-cut veggies to feel like a put-together adult, but this is all optional. Pile on your favorite toppings and enjoy!

Easy Camping Meals – Propane Stove Needed

4. Pasta

That sounds uninspiring, but it can be ANY pasta you’d like! Boil some noodles in water with a saucepan, cook up any veggie and/or meat mixture in a skillet, then combine! You can add cheese, sauce, or any spice your heart desires. 

If this is a short camping trip, no need to cook the meat, just bring pre-cooked meat and reheat it. I love using leftover bacon from a morning breakfast and putting it in the pasta that evening. Delicious! For something super easy, just put a can of spaghetti sauce together with boiled noodles. Dinner done!

5. Chili

Chili is an easy camping meal that we eat every single time we go camping. It is my family’s favorite. Chili plus a bag of Fritos, there are never any complaints. One of my best camping hacks for kids.

I’ll let you in on a little secret about this “chili” too. All I do is bring pre-made ground beef (sautéed with chili powder), a can of kidney beans, and a jar of spaghetti sauce and dump them all into a saucepan. Don’t tell anybody, but it is that easy. It is my most requested camping meal. 

You can get as fancy as you want. One of my best friends swears by this baked bean chili recipe by One Sweet Appetite which is also super easy and delicious.

6. Ravioli

I’m not going to tell you that you can buy Chef Boyardee’s canned Ravioli, dump it into a saucepan, and heat it. (But you totally can). 

Instead, what I will tell you is to try frozen ravioli from your grocery store’s freezer section add your favorite sauce, and then heat. Serve with a fancy loaf of bread from the grocery store and you will feel like you are transported from your campsite to a lavish Italian Restaurant.

Easy Camping Meals – Instant Pot/Crockpot Needed

7. Lemon Chicken + Rice (or Orzo)

Lemon chicken and rice are a staple in our house even when we are not camping. You just dump everything together and wait for it to cook. And it comes out delicious every time! The original recipe, where I gleaned my inspiration from, was a one-pot meal and you can find it here from Spoonful of Flavor

I have made this so many times I feel like I could make this in my sleep. I use an instant pot but it could work with a crockpot as well, it would just take longer. Start by throwing in a couple of chicken thighs or breasts and drizzling some olive oil over it. Then I let it sit in there alone for half an hour. Then I add cut asparagus, kale (or spinach), a teaspoon of garlic and salt, the juice of one lemon, and 2-3 cups of chicken stock. I let that cook for a few hours. Then in the final hour, you add your cup of minute rice or cup of orzo. 

Then voila! It is delicious. You won’t be disappointed.

8. Enchiladas

Are you ready for a family recipe? Handed down to me from my mother?! These enchiladas were my favorite meal that she made when I was growing up, and she was quite embarrassed to tell me how to make them once I became an adult and asked. She was embarrassed because it is SO easy to make.

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Originally these are made in the oven, but you can make them in a crockpot/instant pot. You can make it lasagna style instead of rolling each enchilada. Dealers choice. It will still taste deliciously the same. You start with pre-cooked ground beef. So you could bring it with you or you can cook it on a skillet over the fire or propane stove. You mix 1/2 cup of shredded cheese, 1/4 cup of canned enchilada sauce, and a can of chopped chilis. 

Then you roll this mixture into a tortilla or layer it like a lasagna. Then cover the top with a cup of enchilada sauce and a cup of shredded cheese! Let it cook for a few hours, mostly to reheat the meat and let the cheese melt. So easy, so good. You could also cook these in a Dutch oven at the campfire, but it is not necessary.

9. Shredded BBQ Chicken/Pork

This is one of the best easy camping meals. It is a truly “dump all in and wait” type of meal. Put boneless chicken thigh/breast or boneless pork butt into a crockpot/instant pot. Cover with 1 part vinegar and 1 part water with about an inch of liquid above the meat. 

Then let it sit for 8 hours for the crockpot and 4 hours for the instant pot. Then when the time is up, place the meat in a bowl, shred it with a fork, and dump it in your favorite BBQ sauce. Eat as a sandwich with burger buns. Dinner is ready!

I am all in for easy camping meals. I want dinnertime to be quick and simple, especially while traveling the country in our Class C camper. There is certainly a time and a place for extravagant meals with 12 steps and lots of veggie cutting, but sometimes easy and simple is best. 

Quick and easy is the name of the game sometimes. Incorporate leftovers from previous meals into new meals, be creative. These easy camping meals will give you more time to have adventures and be with your loved ones. When you are camping, you don’t necessarily want to spend 2 hours preparing dinner. The meals listed here do not take a lot of time, effort, or ability! 

You are sure to find a camping staple that your family will love too.

Amanda from Life Has Its Perks shared with us her go-to meals to feed her family of 4 while she is camping. Originally from New England, she travels around the country escaping the winter months in her camper.