Cooking over a campfire or a campground charcoal grill is part of the fun of camping. With a little planning before the trip, you'll enjoy tasty meals without a lot of fuss or cleanup. Pack dry ingredients such as pasta, rice and cereals in plastic storage bags to save space. Take along convenience foods such as instant mashed potatoes and instant rice. Bring along seasoning mixes and dip mixes for rich flavor variety in a lightweight format. Include canned chicken breast, tuna and other high-protein foods that need no refrigeration. Don't forget sandwich ingredients for quick lunches when you're going on a hike or relaxing by the water.
Soups and Stews
One-pot soups or stews are simple to cook over the hot coals of a fire or over hot charcoal on a grill. Use an ordinary stockpot or a Dutch oven designed for camping. Put the meat into the pan first, let it brown and drain off any grease. Add water, seasoning mix and vegetables or tomato sauce. Add beans as well if you're making chili. When the soup or stew begins to boil, move it away from the hottest part of the coals or rearrange them. Let the mixture simmer until the meat and vegetables are tender. Bake cornbread or biscuits in a foil-covered skillet to go with the meal. Take along refrigerated biscuit dough for a quick and easy option.
Cook meals in one skillet for easy preparation and cleanup. For breakfast, melt a little butter in a hot skillet. Brown sliced white potatoes or frozen hash browns from your cooler, then add beaten eggs. Top the eggs with slices of Canadian bacon or brown and serve sausage and cook the mixture until the eggs are firm. Or start by cooking bacon in a skillet, then remove it and use a bit of the grease to make pancakes or fry eggs.
Cooking Without Pans
Experience the freedom of cooking without using pots and pans. Place a serving of meat, such as a halved chicken breast, hamburger or turkey burger on a square of heavy-duty aluminum foil. Add thinly sliced potatoes, carrots, onions, a shake of salt and a dab of butter. If you like, make a stew by adding a few tablespoons of water. Use a bit of seasoning mix or dip mix for extra taste appeal. Seal the foil and cook the package over hot coals, turning it every few minutes. Use fireproof oven mitts or tongs to turn the package, being careful not to pierce the foil. When you take the meal off the coals, let it sit for a few minutes before eating because the food will be very hot.
Cooking in Cans
Use clean 2-pound coffee cans instead of pans. Use one can for each person. Put a serving of meat on the bottom of the can. Add fresh or canned vegetables such as corn or green beans, and season with salt, pepper, onion or garlic powder or seasoning mix. Cover the cans with heavy-duty aluminum foil and set them on a grill or on a rack over hot coals to cook. Make biscuit dough using a prepared mix and milk, and drop a spoonful of dough into each can after the meat is cooked. Replace the foil and continue cooking until the biscuits are done. Discard the used cans.
Margaret Morris has a Bachelor of Arts in English with a concentration in creative writing from the University of Pittsburgh. She also holds a celebrant certificate from the Celebrant Foundation and Institute. Morris writes for various websites and private clients.
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