Cooking at the campsite
Camping Food Outdoor Newbies


December 3, 2019

Cooking at the campsite can be many things.  It can be quick or drawn-out. It can be a fun bonding moment or it can be a chore.  It can even be all those things and more at once leading you to being intimidated and a bit too conservative in your meal planning which is why we’re helping you find some easy ways to elevate your camping breakfasts!

In many ways, cooking at your campsite is like cooking on the grill or stove at home and you can of course cook the exact same meals.  The key differences are there isn’t pantry nearby to grab random ingredients that you may need. If you forget something at home, you pretty much have to do without it unless you have a store nearby.  Also, you tend not to have as much space for cooking preparation at the campsite. You will need to accept the fact that something will end up in the dirt at some point! It’s fine, pick it up, dust it off and move forward!  Remember the five-second rule!

When camping with kids, like we do, you often don’t have the luxury of a nice, leisurely breakfast where you can casually get the coffee going before working on a 15-ingredient meal for yourself.  Our kids wake up like hungry monsters when camping and “MUST EAT NOW!” – especially when you’re still cozy in your sleeping bag, they just cannot seem to wait. No doubt it’s from all the activity and just their natural instincts of being outdoors and circadian rhythms, but when they wake up, they’ve got to eat!  It’s really easy to pour a bowl of cereal and move on, however, if you’re willing to put in a bit more time for meal preparation, you can really make breakfast an event that your whole crew looks forward to. (One little tip, if it’s a cool morning we may make a quick cup of hot cocoa for the kids to hold them off until we get breakfast ready).  

Cooking at the Campsite
You can cook just about anything on a camp stove. We like our trusty old Coleman.

Camp stove versus campfire

Bear in mind that cooking over a campfire will require more time just to get the fire going.  We don’t always start a campfire first thing in the morning, we tend to rely on our trusty old Coleman camp stove to prepare breakfast.  You can start cooking immediately without waiting for the time it takes a campfire to produce quality coals for cooking over. We’ll tend to use both the campfire and stove when making dinner though.

If there is someone in your group that is an early riser though, they can get the fire started early so that it’s ready to go by the time the rest of your crew wakes up.

Breakfast meal ideas

Each of these suggestions are meant to be easy and quick.  As we mentioned earlier, you can of course, cook anything you cook at home as long as you can bring all the ingredients and gear you need to execute it.  In order of increasing preparation and cooking time, we suggest trying one or more of the following easy meals on your next camping trip.

1. Pancakes 

A VERY easy way to start your morning off a little more special and the kids always look forward to them.  We use the Bisquick brand, Shake and Pour. Just add a little water, let the kids shake and get some of their crazies out and pour!  Depending on their age, get them involved with the cooking too (it helps to distract them from being hungry) and VOILA! Within minutes you have a WARM, SWEET, YUMMY breakfast!

Add toppings such as nuts and berries to make it a bit more wholesome and filling.

If you prefer your own homemade pancake mix, make that ahead of time and bring it to the campground.

Jazz it up by warming up some breakfast sausage or cooking some scrambled eggs (use liquid egg for easy packing)

Kids Cooking at the Campsite
Get the kids involved in cooking at the campsite, pancakes are an easy one to start with.

2. Old-Fashioned Oatmeal with Cinnamon and Brown Sugar

Oatmeal is an easy one, you just have to boil some water (not quite considered cooking!) and add oats and your favorite toppings.  It’s a quick, warm, filling meal that is healthy and satisfying.

You can easily follow the instructions for preparation on your oatmeal container but it typically involves 2 parts water to 1 part oats with a dash of salt, cooked for about 3-5 minutes.

Remember, in higher altitudes, water boils at a lower temperature which means it may take a little longer to cook even though it reaches its boiling point sooner.  We know this may sound counterintuitive but it’s scientifically proven!

Jazz it up with walnuts, hazelnuts, cranberries, raisins, nut butters, dark brown sugar and fresh fruit if available (canned fruit is a good alternative as it won’t bruise while traveling).

Instant Oatmeal Alternative

Ok, full disclosure….we would regularly do instant oatmeal when we first started camping and weren’t yet into making much more of breakfast. It’s REALLY fast and EASY!  Often these instant oatmeal bags are too sweet for our family. We suggest adding one bag of flavored with a bag of regular to balance the sugar. Then to jazz it up, adding canned fruit makes this really quick and easy breakfast a little heartier and more fun!  Canned peaches are a favorite to add to any flavor, but add what you like!

Tip: Boil water at dinner the night before and keep it in a good Thermos to have immediate hot water for instant oatmeal, coffee or hot chocolate!  This tip also helps if you have a baby and need to have hot water on-hand for the morning to warm a milk bottle.

3. Omelets

This recipe pretty much entails almost everything from the burrito recipe that follows, just without the wrap!  This becomes really easy if you can find mostly pre-cooked items, then you just have to warm them up, add the liquid eggs and you have another GREAT, warm breakfast!!  If you have the time and the ingredients, this is always better with fresh ingredients that you saute right there at the site. But sometimes it’s easier to either buy pre-cooked ingredients or pre-cook them yourself at home, everything comes together so quickly.

Basic ingredients include:
– Liquid eggs
– Pre-cooked sausage or ham (we like turkey sausage crumble)
– Pre-sauteed frozen veggies or fresh
(try bell peppers, onions, tomatoes and more)
– Shredded cheese

4. Breakfast Burrito

This one takes a little more time and a few more pans, but so worth it! High protein, warm goodness, lots of flavor and EASY.  The trick here is to be able to keep things warm while you’re working on multiple skillets. You can have the turkey crumble going along with the shredded hash browns in one pan and scramble the eggs in another.  Combine those ingredients and keep them warm while you heat up the wrap. It’s helpful if you have a griddle attachment for your grill like we do, it’s the perfect place to quickly warm the burrito wrap.

Once the wrap is nice and toasty, layer on the warm ingredients, sprinkle with shredded cheese and if somehow managed to pack an avocado, add that too!

Basic ingredients include:
– Turkey Crumbles
– Hash Browns, shredded
– Shredded cheese
– Liquid Egg (very easy – we like the yellow vs egg whites, just for color)
– Burrito wraps
– Avocado

Again, these ideas are simple ways to elevate your camping breakfast on your next trip if you’re stuck in a rut of cold cereal or granola bars.  Our personal favorite at the moment is the breakfast burrito. It’s filling and warm and you can make it as simple or as fancy as you like. The kids on the other hand prefer the pancakes.  We’ll often make one thing for them and then one for us. Be sure to feed them first so you can sit and enjoy your meal and your cup of coffee with fewer interruptions!

We’d love to hear what your quick and easy meal ideas are for breakfast at the campsite.  Please let us know in the comments!



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Los Angeles, CA

We're a typical family of four that enjoys being outdoors and exploring all the amazing natural places that surround us. When life allows, we road trip, we camp, we hike. We're helping other families get outdoors by sharing our experiences because if we can do it, so can you! As we develop our blog this year, we'll be moving more into advocacy and generating support for the parks we love. We hope you'll join us and lend a hand.

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