Planning meals is important when you camp with your family. In fact, it’s even MORE important. Here’s why:
1- Everything you are bringing with you needs to fit into your vehicle, so planning exactly what you’re going to consume during the duration of your trip is important to reduce waste, as well as to make sure you have enough food for each day.
2- Chances are, some food that you bring with you will be in an effort to clean out the fridge, so a plan is important for eating food that could spoil first, as opposed to the having the waste I mentioned in reason one.
Your first important step is to plan out how many days you will be camping. You should already have an idea if you read my post “Family Camping: Where The Heck Do I Start?” This post outlined how to book your campsite reservation, and your steps for ensuring you secure a good site. So, the number of days you will be camping will determine how many meals you need to plan. Each family is different, maybe you have a family of snackers, who prefer a series of smaller meals throughout the day, or maybe your family is more traditional, and you stick with your three meals a day, plus your snacks. Whatever suits you, plan for that.
A general rule of thumb for planning your camp meals is to consider what foods your family enjoys and finding ways to make those meals portable. Trust me when I say that ensuring your family will ENJOY to meals you bring/make will make everyone’s trip more enjoyable. The very LAST thing you want is a temper tantrum because your toddler doesn’t LIKE the meal in front of him or her, and is intent on making sure everyone in the entire campground knows it. If you want to experiment with new recipes and new meals, do it at home before you go camping. Pinterest is a chockful of meal ideas for camping. You can check out my personal Pinterest board by clicking here.
I’m not kidding at all when I say that having a menu planned makes the ENTIRE trip go smoother. It just saves you SO much time when it’s already planning out, and prepped. If you are lucky enough to secure an electrical campsite, UBER bonus because then you can bring a small crockpot with you. You can use it as much or as little as you want, but I recommend using it as much as you can. You can do several crockpot “dump meals” and have them frozen in large zipper-topped bags. If you do this, you can have a hot, crockpot meal every single night for dinner (just enter “dump meals” into the Pinterest search bar). I wrote an article outlining some meals we make when we camp, you can check it out here.
So… does that mean you won’t get to eat like a king if you weren’t able to book an electrical campsite? Nope, not a chance. It just means that more of your meals will be traditional camp meals, and there is nothing wrong with that. You can STILL plan ahead and whip up some fantastic, filling meals for yourself and your family. I also wrote an article that covers camp meals without a crockpot, you can check that out here.
Putting the entire crockpot/no crockpot topic aside, you will need to plan for snacks as well. Fruits and veggies washed and cut up ahead of time, are all great choices, especially at the beginning of your trip, because you want to use up all of the perishable foods first. Afterward, there’s always granola bars, dried fruit and trail mix. Planning and making these snacks at home is the best bet. That way you know for sure what goes into them. You can also bake cookies and freeze them ahead of time for your trip. Another terrific option for camp snacks is apple chips! These are easy to make and so delicious (no pun intended!)
If you have your camp meals planned out and prepped ahead of time, you’re already in the lead. Your entire trip will be happier. Bonding as a family is the entire purpose of camping together in the first place.
In conclusion, take some time to really think about your camp meals, and have a plan. It’s never too early to start, and you don’t want to be unprepared for your trip when the time comes. As the old Boy Scout saying goes, BE PREPARED. You really will have a trip that is more enjoyable for everyone, all because you have a plan.