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How to Make Adventurous and Yummy Food While Camping

I have a confession to make- I wasn't planning on writing this blog post, so I don't have any real pictures to share.  You'll have to use your imagination.  I'm also not sharing any recipes, because that's not the type of blogger that I am.  This will be a list of suggestions more than it will be a compilation of recipes.

People have been asking my parents for years- don't you get tired of eating hot dogs all the time?  Everything I've learned and will write about today has been learned from them.  In fact, we still camp exclusively with them.  Our group is usually larger- between 10 and 20 people, so several of my ideas will relate to larger family/group cooking.  Oh, and if it's not clear from this huge list- we car/popup camp, so most of this list won't be good advice if you're a backpacking family.

Hot Dog Roasting Stick

Probably the simplest way to cook over the campfire is with a Marshmallow Stick.  Of course, you can use them for making S'mores, but you can also cook meat with them.  If you're bored of hot dogs, try spicing up your meal with sausage- there are so many varieties on the market.

As a family, we also like to do a meal called "meat on a stick," which is as basic as it sounds.  We have raw, marinated meat available for people to cook themselves over the fire with lots of veggies to cook as well.  Sort of like a personalized shish kabobs that each person made their own way.  It's a good meal for a crowd because vegetarians can skip the meat, people with allergies can avoid things that might cause a reaction, and picky kids can chose exactly what they want.

If you buy the strong, two prong forks like the one in the picture, then you can use them to roast croissants over the fire.  You haven't lived until you've tasted "flaky, buttery goodness" lightly toasted with a bit of wood smoke for flavoring.

Cast Iron Pie Makers

I wrote about the Cast Iron Pie Maker last year, but it's worth bringing up again (original post here).  The makers are a two part cooking tool with two wooden handles that are held together to keep the pie iron closed and a cast iron cooking surface with a hinge.  You fill up the cast iron part with food and hold that over the fire, and then end up with a yummy hot pie when you're done.

My parents have added a few large cookie sheets to their camping supplies to set on the picnic table as a staging area for the pie irons.  It's really helpful to have a heat-safe place to lay out the irons for filling them and getting the food out when you're done cooking it.  Be super careful, especially if you have children, because the pie irons will be HOT.

In previous summers, we've eaten sweet pies made in our pie irons.  Canned pie filling and a simple, cheap white bread makes and easy recipe, but you can experiment with s'mores ingredients or any sorts of melty candies.  You could even serve them with ice cream if you're so lucky to obtain some.  Grab a a Pudgy Pie Recipe Book for more ideas of things you can make for every meal.

This summer, we ate pizza pockets and fed a group of about 15 of us that way.  We had a bunch of irons on the cookie sheets and lots of ingredients available for people to add to their pizzas.  For crust, we used white bread (the cheaper the better because it gives a good seal) and sprayed the iron down with some cooking spray or butter before assembling our pizza.  Once all the ingredients were in place, we closed the irons and carried them to the fire pit to cook them.  It made for a low-key, highly-customization lunch for a crowd.

Barbecue Grate

For cooking over the fire, an additional Barbecue Grate can be very helpful.  Although most camp sites have grates on the campfire, sometimes they're not the most ideal.  They're usually have too big of "holes" to be useful for cooking meat and are too small to cook for a crowd.  By having a grill that's not attached to anything, you can spin and shift the placement of different pieces over the fire without having to move the actual pieces of meat.  You can also cook corn on the cob or other veggies on the grate.

A roll of heavy duty aluminum foil can be a very helpful addition too.  You can place it over cooked food to keep it warm while you get other food or create a foil packet for cooking a while meal.  I love to wrap a croissant sandwich (remember the flaky goodness) in foil and popping it on the grate for a warm, melty meal- so good on a cold morning!

If you're cooking for a smaller group, a Portable Grilling Basket might be a good investment.  Advertised as being especially good for fish, the basket can also be used for veggies or smaller quantities of meat.  You could also use it to warm up your crackers and melt the chocolate when you're making Smores.

Coleman Camping Stove

If you're planning on making camping part of your normal life, I highly recommend buying a propane powered cook stove.  Probably nothing will change your "not another hot dog" camping experience like the addition of a burner.  Be sure to bring a lot of propane tanks so you have plenty for cooking.

You can boil water for coffee, tea, washing, cooking, more with a Hot Water Kettle like the one shown in the link.  You can also make coffee with a special coffee maker designed to go on the camping stove.  However, there are lots of other ways to make coffee while you're camping, which is why I wrote an entire post on it.

We often bring large quantities of pre-made food to reheat at the campground.  Some of our favorites include fajitas, chili, tacos, and soup.  If you're planning on being at camp for more than a few days, you can freeze your pre-made food into a solid cube, which will also help keep the rest of your food cold, and then thaw it when you're ready to serve it.  Or, if you'd rather bring hot food to camp so you can serve it without cooking, my mom recommends the Camping Crock thermos.

It would also be a great idea to pack a few cooking pots for cooking and warming up food.  Our family likes to cook tortellini (less messy than spaghetti), boil up some corn on the cob, and re-heat our pre-made meals.  A smaller pot would be helpful for making cooked grains like quinoa or rice.

If you're a family that enjoys bacon, eggs, and pancakes for breakfast, you should plan to pack a cast aluminum griddle.  There are lots of other camping cooking and specialty options, too, if you haven't decided what you need yet.  I know that I've hardly scratched the surface of all the possibilities.

Large Cookie Sheet

When it comes to food prep, few things are as helpful as the large cookie sheets. I know I mentioned it early in the section about pie irons, but my mom reminded me of how frequently she uses them the entire trip.  They're a great place for doing food prep, whether you're dealing with raw meat or just messy foods, like shredded cheese or bread crumbs.  The lip of the cookie sheet means that you're watermelon juices will be contained in a tray for easy cutting and distribution to your group.  It's also a sturdy place to set cooked meats or other foods just coming off the fire.  I know they're bulky, but you won't regret adding a cookie sheet or two to your camping supplies.

Let me know in the comments what you love to make while camping!

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