Meal Ideas for Car Camping

Ah, car camping. Cold nights huddled around the fire, drinking beers over board games, and packing the car way too full. Babes, don’t threaten me with a good time.

While I absolutely love backpacking, there are so many things about car camping that you just can’t beat… INCLUDING being able to throw everything AND the kitchen sink in the car. I love being able to cook (what feels like!) gourmet meals at the campsite. So, without further adieu, below find a list of my favorite breakfast, lunch, and dinner recipes for camping:


BREAKFAST

Egg and Sausage Scramble/Breakfast Burritos

Scrambles are so easy to make while camping because if your pan is big enough, you can literally throw everything into your pan, cook it all together, and then you have a perfectly made scramble or stuffing to put into a breakfast burrito.

Tip #1: Avoid bringing a carton of eggs by either buying a milk-carton of eggs/egg whites or cracking and mixing your eggs before you leave and keeping them in a waterbottle. An egg carton disintegrates very quickly in a wet cooler, and before long, you are battling eggs floating in the cooler and disintegrated cardboard everywhere.

Tip #2: Do not let your potatoes get waterlogged. They will go up in flames as soon as the waterlogged potatoes hit the hot pan. That is all I have to say about that – you have been warned.

Ingredients needed:

  • Eggs
  • Sausage (breakfast or chicken-apple)
  • Frozen potatoes (but don’t get them get waterlogged!!)
  • Oil for cooking
  • Cheese
  • Ketchup/Hot Sauce/Salsa/Other Condiments
  • Tortillas (if you want to make it a breakfast burrito!)

Breakfast Sandwiches

Breakfast sandwiches are also great to make while camping – they are the perfect hearty breakfast for a long day of outdoor adventure.

Ingredients needed:

  • Eggs
  • Bacon or Sausage
  • Sliced Cheese
  • Avocado
  • Ketchup/Hot Sauce/Salsa/Cream Cheese/Other Condiments
  • Bagels/Croissant/Whatever bread you want to have your sandwich on!

Pancakes

Pancakes are SO EASY to make camping if you make the pancake mix at home and then bring it in a waterbottle! Add some fresh fruit and you’ve got yourself a gourmet breakfast.

Ingredients needed:

  • Pancake mix (pre-made at home and kept in the cooler)
  • Syrup
  • Fresh fruit (bananas, blueberries, raspberries, strawberries… the list goes on and on!)

Muffins

Looking for something quick and easy? Make or buy a batch of muffins before the trip! No cooking, no clean-up, no hassle.


LUNCH

My favorite kind of lunches for car camping are lunches that can be made in advance. Most of the time, I won’t actually be at the campsite for lunch, so whether I’m boating, hiking, or having a beach day on the lake, I need something that doesn’t need to be cooked.

Pasta Salad

Two words: PASTA. SALAD. I love me some pasta salad, yet for some reason, I never think to make it unless I go camping. I’ll usually make a big ass tub of it to eat for lunch, as a side with dinner, or just as a snack. You can never have too much pasta salad!

Ingredients needed:

  • Pasta (my favorite is tri-color rotini!)
  • Italian dressing (if you don’t use Olive Garden italian dressing, you are doing it wrong. Sorry not sorry.)
  • Cheese
  • Carrots
  • Salami
  • Red Onion
  • Grape Tomatoes

Chicken Salad

Chicken salad is another great pre-made option. Below are the ingredients that I use in my chicken salad. I like to put mine on top of bagels and eat it as a sandwich, but it also holds up on its own if you don’t want to deal with bread. Also, I wait until I’m about to eat to put in the avocado so that it doesn’t turn brown and mushy in the cooler.

Ingredients needed:

  • Canned chicken
  • Mayo
  • Grapes
  • Avocado
  • Everything but the Bagel Seasoning
  • Bagels (if you want to put it into a sandwich)

DINNER

Pasta with Meat Sauce

Ain’t no car camping dinner easier than pasta with meat sauce. This is honestly my go-to dinner for camping. You can legit whip up a big-ass portion of pasta within 15 minutes if you have a two-burner Coleman Camp Stove. Get the pasta boiling on one burner and the meat cooking on the other – voila! Dinner is served in no time.

Ingredients needed:

  • Pasta (I’ve found that rotini works best while camping)
  • Pasta sauce
  • Meat
  • Oil, if necessary (for cooking the meat)
  • Parmesan cheese (oh, you fancy now!)

Burritos

Who doesn’t love loading up a flour tortilla with 10 of their favorite ingredients, smashing it all together, and having a no-utensil, no-mess dinner? Burritos are perfect for car camping, as you can bring as many or as little ingredients to add as you want – many of which you can also use for breakfast or burgers.

Ingredients needed:

  • Tortillas (I prefer flour – doesn’t fall apart as easy and can stuff way more food into it!)
  • Ground meat (beef, turkey, or chicken all work out well on a Coleman stove)
  • Cheese
  • Avocado
  • Sour Cream
  • Salsa
  • Taco Sauce
  • Optional veggies: lettuce, tomato, onion, etc. (I usually skip these veggies while I’m camping – less prep and clean-up – but, by all means, load up on the veggies!)

Chicken-Apple Sausage Saute

So this is actually one of my favorite meals to make at home, but it is so easy that you can easily take it on your next camping trip. All you have to do is slice the chicken-apple sausage and zucchini, dice the onion, and saute all three in a pan with some olive oil. So easy, so much flavor, and so good!!

Ingredients needed:

  • Chicken-Apple Sausage
  • Zucchini
  • Onion
  • Oil for cooking

I always like to plan my camping meals well in advance so that I can pick meals that have similar ingredients. For example, you can use onions for a scramble, the Chicken-Apple saute, or on your burgers if you are grilling one night. An avocado can be added to basically anything and be delicious. And salsa is a common condiment for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. This cuts back on space and prep time.

Have a great car camping recipe to share? Leave it in the comments below!!

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