The Easiest Camp Meals You Will Ever Eat

camp easy clean foodI absolute­ly despise hav­ing to clean camp dish­es, espe­cial­ly on longer trips. I also enjoy hot, fla­vor-filled meals–and won’t be trad­ing my stove for a cold can of beans any­time soon. On a sim­ple overnight trip, dish­es are less of an issue. Cook your food, throw the dirty dish­es in a bag and take them home to clean later.

On mul­ti-day trips, dish­es are manda­to­ry. So I went ahead and mas­tered cook­ing decent meals with min­i­mal cleanup. No more scrub­bing stub­born pots caked with burnt rem­nants of your dai­ly break­fast and din­ner. Here’s a bit of what I learned on how to keep your camp­site dish clean­ing to a minimum.

camp easy clean foodPre Cook a Few Days of Meals
Do your­self a huge favor and pre-cook a few meals. I do break­fast bur­ri­tos and leave them a lit­tle sog­gy so they heat up nice­ly with­out dry­ing out. Wrap your bur­ri­tos in foil at home and freeze them for a day. As with all pre-cooked and frozen meals, it serves dou­ble duty by keep­ing your cool­er tem­per­a­ture down. For the bur­ri­tos, I mix cheese and eggs then pre­cook bacon or sausage and hash browns. Mix it all up and bring enough hot sauce for everyone.

Chili also makes a great freez­er meal. I like to freeze bags of pre-made slow cook­er chili and save them for the last din­ner. The fla­vor seems to improve when chili is heat­ed up the sec­ond time around. Wait­ing until the last day means you won’t be wash­ing the pot at camp. Take it home and soak in hot water for a night to ease the cleanup. If you must clean the pot at camp, add water and boil it for twen­ty min­utes to soft­en every­thing. It makes the scrub­bing process easy.

Instant Meals
Dehy­drat­ed meals are always an option but they are not cheap. I pre­fer sav­ing these for back­pack­ing trips where weight is crit­i­cal. You can eas­i­ly find oth­er instant meals that are sim­ple and sur­pris­ing­ly ful­fill­ing at camp. I would nev­er make a cup of noo­dles at home but it’s a treat on a cold night in the woods. Boil water, add to the noo­dles, let it sit a few min­utes and you are set. It doesn’t always soft­en them per­fect­ly like the microwave but they are edi­ble and still pret­ty good. You can always boil some ramen too.

My favorite instant meals are the pre-made cur­ry dish­es that come in a bag. These bags are made to heat in a microwave, but you can also drop the bag in boil­ing water for 5‑minutes to cre­ate a deli­cious Indi­an meal. I will boil the bag of food along­side a boil bag of rice for a quick and fill­ing meal that comes with zero dish­es. Dump the old water and you are fin­ished. Minute rice would also work well with Indi­an meals. Bom­bay Pota­toes and Chan­na Masala are two of my favorites. If you real­ly want to get fan­cy, add Naan bread to mix. I dump the rice right into the bag and eat with­out a plate to real­ly min­i­mize the cleanup.

camp easy clean foodFood that Cleans Your Pan
Cer­tain foods are made to clean up slop­py meals. Tor­tillas are unde­ni­ably the best. They are per­fect for cleanup duties and leave your pots and plates ready for a quick rinse and dry with­out much scrub­bing. Break­fast tacos are always a hit and the tor­tillas cleanup most of the mess. Eggs over-medi­um com­bined with cheese and sauteed onions, gar­lic, and bell pep­per makes for a fill­ing break­fast when topped over a tor­tilla or two. Rice also works as a sub­sti­tute for the tor­tilla. It absorbs a good bit of the mess and bal­ances the meal. I use rice when left­overs are avail­able from the pre­vi­ous dinner.

I will even wipe down the pan with a tor­tilla and eat it myself or share with my dog. She loves help­ing with the cleanup. A tor­tilla wipe-down fol­lowed by a paper tow­el wipe-down is often ade­quate for clean­ing a break­fast pan.

camp easy clean foodFire-Roast­ed
The absolute best camp­ing meals are made over a hot fire. Cook­ing over a fire is fun, and many fire-made meals are extreme­ly sim­ple. Foil packs are your best friend for cook­ing veg­eta­bles and pota­toes. I’ve also done meat and fish in the foil pack and it turns out great. Salmon is espe­cial­ly good when done this way. Add onions, lemon slices salt, pep­per, and but­ter to a salmon fil­let or a few trout and place it direct­ly on a hot bed of coals. Fish will cook in 5–10 min­utes while a foil pack of pota­toes and veg­eta­bles takes around 15–20 min­utes. Make sure you have plen­ty of sea­son­ing and but­ter or oil. A lit­tle water with pota­toes will also help to steam them if you want a faster cook­ing time.

Lay out a piece of foil, rough­ly 16–20 inch­es in length. Add anoth­er piece to dou­ble lay­er the bot­tom. Add your food, sea­son­ing, and ingre­di­ents to the foil, leav­ing a few inch­es of cush­ion around the edges. Cov­er the food with a third piece of foil. Roll up the edges to con­nect the top and bot­tom foil pieces while seal­ing the food inside. You can real­ly get cre­ative here and make just about any­thing with a dis­pos­able foil pack.

When I have steaks, pork chops, aspara­gus, and any­thing that picks up the fla­vor of an open flame, cook­ing on a fire grate is my pre­ferred method. Make a fire, set the grate over the flames and treat it just like a bar­be­cue. No pots or pans are required for cook­ing gourmet meals over a fire and you can whip up some incred­i­ble meals.

Tip: Cook a foil pack with squash, pota­toes and onions for din­ner. Make extra and fold up the foil for the morn­ing. Add eggs over easy and mix into the left­over veg­gies and pota­toes for a great break­fast with min­i­mal effort.