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Camping Meals - HELP!

post #1 of 11
Thread Starter 
We are going camping for my son's 5th birthday. We haven't done any "back country" camping since we were way younger and without a little one in tow. I don't remember planning ahead at all back then.

We have a 4 mile beach hike in to our site... and DS won't be carrying anything more than his blankies and maybe some small things in his little pack. We plan on 2 nights (one full day, 2 partial days) and I need help meal planning.

Keeping in mind DH and I have to haul in our own water and everything... any ideas? I am not much of a cook/ meal planner in normal everyday life, let alone for this sort of thing.

So let's hear your yummiest, easiest, not to heavy, low maintenance camping meals?

x-posted in Finding Your Tribe camping mamas
post #2 of 11
One of our favorites for when we are backpacking is tortellini and tomatoes.

By that I mean, the dried tortellini that you find in the pasta aisle.
And a package or two of sundried tomatoes (dry package; not in oil).

You def. don't have to use as much water as they say on the package! I put the water in the pot, then put the tomatoes in. Throw it on the stove/fire, and put in the tortellini when it's boiling.

Not exactly the healthiest meal ever, but we don't worry about that too much while we're camping. :
post #3 of 11
Since this is the first trip with a little one, how about just bring in dehydrated Mountain House meals for your hot meals and then some sandwich fixings? Oatmeal for breakfast? I would stick with as much dehydrated stuff if weight is an issue. Will you be trying to fish for a meal?

When we take a day hike where we'll be eating, I prepare my own MREs (meals ready to eat) either in ziplock or in a food saver bag (if I'm making it a long time in advance). Having this meal already assembled means you don't have to think about it, just open it and eat.

For water, if you are planning to do this more in the future, I'd definitely get a travel Berkey water filter that will literally turn nasty water into nice tasting drinking water. I can't imagine carrying in that much water. What happens if for some reason you lose/spill/bust the containers?

TBH, I have never hiked into a camp site with dd in tow, so I really have to give you huge kudos for attempting this. When we camp with dd, we have the vehicle right there at the campsite, so we have a cheat. Good luck!
post #4 of 11
Thread Starter 
Thanks for all of the tips. I emailed a good friend who has experience with this and here's what he sent me. I thought I would post it in case it might be helpful for other mamas looking to do the same thing.

We're also considering using our kayak. I am still researching the logistics, but it seems we MIGHT be able to hike OR kayak out to the sights. So we're considering sending one adult in the kayak with either heavier gear or with DS and some other gear to ease the load.

Here is the food info:

"I read the rules that say you can cook over a fire so don't carry a stove. Just apply dish soap to the outside of your pots with a little toilet paper before cooking. The soot will bake onto the soap and clean up will be a breeze. If you don't do this getting the soot off will be difficult to impossible. Trust me on this one - personal experience.

Few cans or glass bottles. Both are heavy

- oatmeal with added raisins, dried apple chunks, nuts like almonds, sunflower seeds etc. whatever. Powdered milk + brown sugar. Crystal Light is the lightest beverage flavoring if Z. doesn't drink lots of plain water

- pancakes. Buy a mix that doesn't require milk or eggs to be added. Take a small amount of syrup in a small plastic bottle; don't take the whole bottle. Take cooking oil in a film cannister. That is enough for 1 - 2 meals that require frying like pancakes

- you can now buy precooked bacon that doesn't require refrigeration. Nice addition to the pancakes; just heat and serve

- bagels and jam. Toast bagels if you want.


- hard cheeses will survive quite happily if kept in the shade. waxed goudas, cheddar, etc. No Brie
- dry sausages and salamis also don't require refrigeration
- crackers to serve your sausage and cheese on. Rye crisps are sturdy as are Stone Wheat Thins. No Ritz crap that will be powder in 20 minutes
- small rye breads are also durable and keep well in the heat
- 1 can tuna / envelopes of mayo from convenience store like 7-11 / kaiser roll
- dried fruit / trail mix (with M&Ms instead of choc chips / hard candies for treats
- beef jerky

- 1 package Knorr dried soup mix in case of bad weather (contains MSG so caution if you are sensitive)

- pasta. Can cook with 1/3 seawater but it does use a lot of water. Use less water than you would at home. It will be a bit starchy but o.k.
- sauces for pasta: You can buy Knorr ones that are just add water. Not too much in them food wise but are simple. Or sometimes you can get tomato sauces in little tetra bricks. Or take a small can of tomato paste + water, chop up and fry a small onion, mushrooms etc., add dried basil/oregano, etc. You can take small amount of frozen ground beef for a first night meal.

- boil in bag meals for the culinary challenged. Indian ones & serve with rice. When the rice comes to a boil on the fire, take it off and leave it at the edge of the fire, turning the pot every few minutes. Don't keep it right on a big heat or it will burn

- stir fry veggies + rice. If it's the first night you can take frozen chunks of meat (pork shoulder, pre cut up and pre-marinated is my favorite). premade teriyaki sauce in film cannister. Takes little water except for rice.

- plastic 1 gal jugs are the best in terms of container weight / water carried. Water is very heavy so only take just enough. Consider carefully drinking water / cooking / rinse water. Catch rain off tent fly into a pot if it rains. Take a few baby wipes for cleaning bodies.

- we have a tradition that the trail fairy will leave candies for hard working hikers along the trail at irregular intervals. Sure motivates the smaller hiker (and big ones too sometimes)

- Breaks when the first person is tired. It's not a race; it's supposed to be fun, so take your time getting there. It's also a long drive so give Z some beach play time before setting out. I usually say 5 min break / 1 hr for hiking but with somebody small extend to 10 minutes.

Wash all dishes in salt water and rinse in salt water with final rinse in fresh just like on a boat.
post #5 of 11
thank you for the thread! i will be doing similar but no hiking so this thread is great! thanks!
post #6 of 11
we often take ramen noodles but dont use the seasoning packet, instead we use instant miso soup, found in most health food/asian stores (check lable for msg)

dried/instant refried beans, found in bulk at helth food store with tortillas (pack nicely cause thay are flat), cheese, salsa, avocado, etc.

dried humus, falafel, tabouli (sp?) also found in bulk at health food store.

jerkey, dh rehydrates it with beans for a bean and "steak" burrito with appropiate seasonings

dried fruit, nuts, clif bars

emergen-c to add to water, fyi crystal light has aspertane (sp?) or something similar you might not want to give your little one.

definatly buy a water filter so you dont have to carry all your water, water is 8lbs. per gallon i think. you can also get iodine and/or tablets to put into water to purify it, i have done the iodine and it gives water a taste, like iodine, so we only used it for cooking some things and cleaning.

have fun! we are planning our frist backcountry trip with our boys, 2.5 and 10 months, for this summer too. if you enjoy it consider getting a dehydrator we did and now we can make all our food at home just like normal and dehydrate it for the trail.
post #7 of 11
Great tips, thanks
post #8 of 11
If your taking a cooler you could precook some of your meals and freezer bag them. We recently did this and just reheated our foods. We used a seal saver to bag everything..including condiments, cheese, ect..so I didn't have extra packaging to pack or throw away.

I read somewhere that there are bag liners that go into a crockpot and they zip close. You can lay them flat in the freezer and then just put the bag in hot water at the campsite..no messy pan to wash.

Do you have a dehydrator?

post #9 of 11

Great thread. Thanks for posting it.
post #10 of 11
One of the best camping meals we ever made was bacon fried rice.

We mixed up the seasonings (minus the soy sauce... some garlic powder, ginger, white pepper, and a little sugar) and some freeze dried veggies (used the Just Veggies mixture... you can find it on the Just Tomatoes website or in some grocery stores) and some instant rice together in a ziploc baggie. We also took along eggs (could either use powdered eggs or the instant scrambled eggs that camping supply stores sell), some butter (oil would be fine for this), a few packets of soy sauce (saved from Chinese takeout), and a can of bacon Spam. Real bacon would have been tastier, but we always worry about dealing with raw bacon at a campsite.

At breakfast time we boiled water (we had 2 cups of dry ingredients, so we boiled 4 cups) and threw the ingredients from the baggie into the hot water, stirred it up, put the lid back on and let it sit off of the burner to absorb the water.

Then we chopped up the Spam, stir fried it a bit, then scrambled it with the egg (if you're using instant scrambled eggs, follow the package directions & then mix up the prepared egg with the Spam in the skillet). After the rice/veggie mixture was finished absorbing the water, we added the mixture to the Spam/egg mixture in the skillet and finished stir frying the whole batch. Sprinkled the packets of soy sauce over the rice before serving -- made a hearty and easy breakfast!

Water would be needed for the rice and veggies, and possibly for the eggs if you use dehydrated ones. None of the water is thrown away afterwards like it would be with pasta, so it feels less wasteful.
post #11 of 11
Our family's all time favorite camp meal is chili and rice. Take one can of chili (When I was growing up, it was regular ol' Dennison's that we used. Now I use a vegan bean chili), open it and dump it in the pot. Fill the can with water, add that to the pot. Bring them to a boil. Fill the can with dry instant rice, dump into the boiling chili-water, stir, cover, and let stand about 5 minutes. It's good with cheese on it. When I use a canned veggie chili, I usually add a little bit of oil to it to make it richer, since most of those are very low fat/fat free. We also like to put Tings or some other sort of crunchy crushed chip on top.
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