There’s nothing quite as comforting as a good meal after a long day’s hike. It’s easy to just eat GORP for breakfast lunch and dinner. It’s easy, but it’s neither healthy nor satisfying. Bring along a couple of these recipes to cook on your next camping trip or break them out at your next backyard bonfire. Your stomach and your friends will thank you.
Stuffed peppers is one of my all time favorite camping foods. It’s as if the pepper was made specifically for this purpose alone. Just cut the top off like a jack-o-lantern, scoop out any seeds and interior white flesh, then fill ‘er up.
My favorite fillings are cheese, onions, garlic, and herbs. But you could throw in leftover cooked sausage from breakfast or refried beans. Heck, you can put just about anything inside your peppers.
Then just wrap them up in tin foil and nest them into the coals of your fire. Be sure to rotate once or twice. If your fire has a grate or grill, you can skip the foil and roast them right over the open flame for that extra charred taste. Don’t be afraid to let the skin get a little black. That’s how you know it’s working!
This is a classic. Shish kebabs are not only a time honored fire-cooking favorite, they are also incredibly versatile. Make them vegetarian by skewering onion, carrot, squash, zucchini, cauliflower, mushrooms, or potatoes or add some meat to the mix for that extra bit of protein. Just toss all your veggies in oil before you skewer them, this will help them cook perfectly. You can also salt and season them at this stage if you like. It will stick better while the oil is wet and help them become extra tender as they cook.
Pro tip: Different veggies cook at different rates, so cut the softer veggies thick and the harder veggies thin. With a little practice, you can figure out just the right size for each type of treat, so they all cook perfectly in the same amount of time.
Likewise, meat cooks differently than veggies and you want it to be tender and juicy, not cooked to a crisp. It is best to put your meat on a separate skewer so it can get the love it deserves. Even though it doesn’t look as tasty as when it’s all skewered together. Squeeze fresh lime juice and sprinkle salt over top of meat kebabs and you’ll be in heaven.
Soup or stew
This is one of the easiest, fastest and most nutritionally balanced ways to feed the whole camp. You can bring dehydrated soup mixes on the trail that weigh basically nothing. Just add water and you’re ready to go.
If you’re camping with a cooler, make soups ahead of time and freeze them in plastic containers. This way they double as ice packs and dinners. Just be sure to thaw them out in advance if possible, otherwise you’ll waste a lot of fuel melting a solid block of soup.
Here’s my favorite way to make soup on the trail. Start with fresh fried onions, garlic and corn and then add water or stock and a dehydrated soup mix to it. If I have them, I like to add diced fresh veggies after the liquid goes in. Carrots, potatoes and squash can really add that extra ‘it’ to a bagged soup.
Dropping a few eggs into a ramen or Asian soup tastes great and adds an excellent source of protein. Nothing like a soup poached egg to nourish your body after a long day of hiking.
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Any food you can cook on a stick is perfect for the campfire. Bratwurst are possibly the ultimate camping meat. They fit perfectly on a sharpened tree branch and cook fast. Furthermore, they can be frozen and won’t spoil easily.
Not to mention that they taste great both on their own or with any number of simple condiments. I have eaten bratwurst with some strange toppings while camping. Some of these combinations, I am not proud of. But I’ve got to say, I don’t think I’ve found a single food that doesn’t go well with bratwurst yet.
Personally, I like them with a little kraut, mustard, relish and a fire toasted bun. But if I’m camping, there’s no way I’m bringing all that. On the trail, putting my hot bratwurst inside of a stuffed pepper filled with cheese is just about top of the list.
Corn on the cob
Corn on the cob is another gift of nature. It’s a food that comes with its own aluminum foil already wrapped around it. Put fresh ears of corn right over top of the coals or nestle them in among smoldering logs over the remnants of a hot fire. Just rotate them once every couple of minutes. If the husk is especially dry, soak it in water for a few minutes before cooking. This way the corn will have enough time to cook before the husk burns away.
After about 8-15 minutes, the outer skin will char to a dark black and start to fall away. Open it up, and the inside will be a steaming treasure trove of golden glory. Be careful not to burn yourself as you peel away the husk to get at your dinner.
Just roll it in butter, sprinkle it with salt and maybe a dash of pepper and you’re good to go. One of the sweetest snacks nature provides. Cheap and easy. This is a great way to please a party at a backyard bonfire, but you can also take it to the trail if you have room in your pack.
And of course, this list wouldn’t be complete without a celebrity appearance by everyone’s favorite fireside desert. I really don’t need to say anything about this beloved classic. Just marshmallow, chocolate and graham cracker, toasted and melted into the perfect gooey mess. You make it however you like. I’m sure you already know that.
So whether you’re building a fire in your backyard this summer or you’re miles from civilization camping under the stars, don’t take any excuse to eat bad food. You deserve the best, your body has worked hard and a delicious, nutritious meal will remind you why you’re on this planet in the first place.
Enjoy every minute outdoors. And make great food.
If you need help starting a fire, check out this article we just posted about how to start a fire in any weather.
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