Plan the Perfect Camping Menu in 5 Simple Steps

Dinner at Campsite

Going camping is the perfect weekend outing for any family. Getting outside into fresh air, getting the family away from electronics and being able to step away from the stressors of daily life is a great way to reset yourself and your family. But taking your family camping also means making sure they’re well fed while you’re out and about. After all, running around and traipsing about in the woods can make you hungry and burn off more calories/carbs than your body is used to.

Keeping your family well fed when you’re not in your own home can be challenging; especially if you have small children. The easiest way to help yourself do this is by taking the time to plan a camping menu before you hit the road. This will give you peace of mind in knowing that your family will be fed and allow you to truly enjoy yourself while you’re camping.

Start Planning Early and Write It Down

As with any type of menu planning, you will want to start early. Doing so will give you time to consider recipes you want to make and to really lay it out. The last thing you want is to wait until the last minute. If you do that, you may find yourself scrambling and worried about how to feed your family in the middle of the woods.

I tend to begin meal planning after we have hammered out our final itinerary for the trip. Once we know what our driving schedule and campground stays look like, I can figure out what meals we will need. I will also know at that point which meals have to be prepped quickly and which ones can slow cook for hours.

I always write out my meal plan and then stick it on our camper refrigerator before we leave home.  The written plan makes an easy visual reference so the whole family knows what to expect on any given day. I list easy options for breakfasts and lunches so that the kids can grab their meals independently if they want.  Download our free printable camping menu and use it to plan your own menu!

Dinner at Campsite (1)

Who Are You Cooking For?

When you are planning a camping menu, you will also want to consider who you are cooking for. If your entire camping party consists of adults, you can base the meals off of the group’s preferences. Would the group enjoy a wine pairing that matches the perfect vintage to the dish you are serving? Perhaps it’s more of a potluck crowd? Grazing boards are also gaining popularity for feeding parties of all sizes and you can make them with almost any theme in mind.

If your travel party includes kids, you will want to adjust your menu plan accordingly based on their preferences and dietary needs. Your meals might include more “kid-friendly” options for meals and snacks.

Consider Your Cooking Methods

As you choose the meals you will cook for your camping menu, consider the different cooking methods that will be available to you and the skill levels you have with each method. For instance, if grilling is not your strong suit, do not fill the weekend with grilled recipes. Camping does, however, give you many different options for cooking including cooking over an open fire with a fire grate. Portable propane camping stoves are also great options.

Grilling Burgers at Campground

Will You Be Catching or Hunting Your Own Food?

If you plan to hunt wild game or to fish for a meal or three, you will need to plan for less meals. However, I highly recommend that you bring backup food just in case; especially if you will have children with you. Fish and game do not always cooperate exactly when you want them to and it’s nice to know what an unsuccessful fishing trip won’t signal a missed meal!

Will You Have a Way to Refrigerate Ingredients?

We all know that a lot of recipes require ingredients that must be refrigerated. Will you have a way to do that? Most RVs these days have a refrigerator, even many of the pop-up models. If you have a compact camper or an older model, you might not have a refrigerator. If not, make sure that you will have a way to keep perishable ingredients chilled (for example a good quality cooler filled with plenty of ice). If you won’t have access to ice for restocking the cooler, you will need to build your menu around shelf-stable ingredients.

Additional Meal Planning Resources

We have posted several resources and printable to help you plan your camping menu over the years! Feel free to grab whichever ones you think might help you out as you put your plans together! You can also take a look through our ever-growing collection of camping recipes to find some new ideas for your menu.

What are your best tips for meal planning for camping trips? Do you make a plan for your campsite dining? What kind of meals are your favorites? We’d love to hear about your campground cooking style! Please drop us a comment and tell us about it! 


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