Whether it's sleeping in a tent under the stars, cooking over open fire or disconnecting from daily life and reconnecting with nature, there are so many reasons to love camping. While it takes some planning and coordination to map out a camping trip, once you're at the site, it's all worth it. To help take some of the work off your plate, we created this easy-to-follow camping meal plan with camp-friendly recipes for Friday night to Sunday morning (like cheesy campfire breakfast burritos and s'mores, of course), a prep-ahead plan for what to make in advance (plus a shopping list!), and tips for packing your cooler and cooking over the fire. Whether you're a seasoned camper or are going for your first time, this plan will help you make the most of your weekend away.
What to Prep Ahead of Time
Getting these prep steps done ahead of time means you'll have less work to do at the campsite and more time to hike, bike, swim, read, chase your kids around or whatever it is you plan on doing. Trust us—the time you put in up front is worth it for the time you'll get back when on your trip. It will take just 1 1/2 hours total to get all the prep done, so you can plan on doing it all in one go or break it up and prep a few of the recipes further in advance (like the Freezer Bean & Cheese Burritos and Peanut-Butter Oat Energy Balls).
The week before:
Prep Time: 45 minutes
- Prep the Freezer Bean & Cheese Burritos. These can be made way ahead of time—they keep in the freezer for up to 3 months. The recipe makes 8 burritos, so save what you don't take camping for easy breakfasts or lunches down the road.
- Make the Peanut-Butter Oat Energy Balls and store them in an airtight container to have as snacks. These will hold up for a week, so they can be made earlier.
- Bake the Baked Banana-Nut Oatmeal Cups and store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 2 days or in the freezer for up to 3 months.
The day before:
Prep Time: 40 minutes
- Mix up the garlic butter for the Garlic Butter Campfire Corn and refrigerate in a small container to put in the cooler. We'll have you wait to shuck the corn and prep the foil packets until you're at the campsite, so the corn stays nice and fresh.
- Prep the Cheesy Potato Packets through Step 2 and refrigerate. Grate the cheese and store in a container to bring to the campsite (you'll add it to the packets just before serving).
- Prep the kebabs and marinade separately for the Grilled Beef & Vegetable Kebabs. Place the kebabs in a large lidded container or a zip-top bag and refrigerate overnight. Wait to add the marinade to the kebabs until the morning of the trip, so the meat and veggies can marinate in the cooler—but not over-marinate—and be ready to cook for dinner once you get to camp.
The other things to think about doing in advance include grinding coffee beans, washing fruits and veggies and portioning out food into smaller containers (e.g., if you have a Costco-size bag of trail mix, transfer just what you need into a smaller bag).
- Add a layer of ice or ice packs on the bottom of the cooler to start, and fill in with more ice as you add items.
- Add the foods you'll use toward the end of your trip to the cooler first (like the Freezer Bean & Cheese Burritos and corn) and the things you'll use at the beginning of the trip last (like the Cheesy Potato Packets, the Grilled Beef & Vegetable Kebabs and snacks), so you don't have to go digging for what you need. An added bonus—the Freezer Bean & Cheese Burritos go straight from the freezer to the cooler and act as ice packs, helping to keep things cool.
- Don't put things in the cooler that don't need to be there. As long as it's not too hot, keep foods like apples, pears, tomatoes and cucumbers in a separate bag in the car.
Camping Kitchen Essentials to Pack for the Weekend
Here's what you'll need to complete your camp kitchen. To keep the trunk of your car organized, use laundry baskets or reusable shopping bags to keep things in place, or try this nifty trunk organizer for ultimate organization.
- Heavy-duty aluminum foil
- Reusable plates, cups, utensils and napkins (see our favorite reusable products)
- Dish towels and/or paper towels
- Long metal tongs
- Metal spatula
- Oven mitts
- Cutting board
- Kitchen knife
- Tea kettle and/or coffee percolator
- Combo wine key and bottle opener
- Reusable water bottles (1 per person)
- 1 sponge and dish soap
- 2 plastic wash basins (fill both with water and use one for scrubbing dishes in and the other for rinsing)
- Reusable food bags for saving leftovers (we love Stasher bags!)
See more: The Camping Kitchen Products We Love
You've arrived! Pitch your tent, start a fire and pull out your camp chair. Snack on the Peanut-Butter Oat Energy Balls, trail mix, a piece of fresh fruit, or cheese and crackers if people are hungry before dinner.
With everything already prepped and ready to cook, this easy dinner is perfect for your first night at camp. Let your campfire burn down enough so that there are some nice hot coals to cook over. It's OK if there are still some small flames.
Start cooking the potato packets first, as they'll take longer than the kebabs (20 to 25 minutes). Place the packets on a section of the cooking grate that's over mostly coals rather than flames, and turn them once or twice as they cook. At the 20-minute mark, check to see that the potatoes are tender, evenly add 1 cup shredded Gruyère cheese to the packets and then place them back on the heat until the cheese melts, about 5 minutes.
For the kebabs, grill the skewers over the other side of the cooking grate that has some flames, but don't let the flames touch the food. (You may need to add some kindling or smaller pieces of wood to get some flames going again.) Turn the skewers regularly, until the meat is cooked to your liking—about 15 minutes for medium.
Dessert: Strawberry Nutella S'mores
This upgraded version of a classic s'mores recipe uses sliced strawberries, chocolate-hazelnut spread and lemon cookies to shake things up. The toasted marshmallow holds everything together to create a gooey treat that'll help you end your first night at camp on a high note.
Mornings at a campground typically start early, but that just means more hours for daytime fun. Get the fire going first thing so you can make your coffee and breakfast before setting off on the day's adventure.
Breakfast: Freezer Bean & Cheese Burritos
These easy burritos cook quickly, even if they're still frozen when you take them out of the cooler. Place the foil-wrapped burritos on the cooking grate over a medium to medium-hot fire. Cook, turning once or twice, until steaming hot throughout—5 to 10 minutes if partially thawed, up to 15 minutes if frozen. Serve with a side of salsa, some fruit and a hot cup of coffee or tea and enjoy the morning at camp.
Snacks for the Day: Peanut-Butter Oat Energy Balls
Grab some of the Peanut-Butter Oat Energy Balls, trail mix, a piece of fresh fruit, or cheese and crackers for easy between-meals snacks.
This picnic lunch is perfect when camping—quick to put together and healthy. Simply set out some hummus, crackers, veggies and fruit, easy turkey and cheese roll-ups, nuts or trail mix, and a sweet treat to finish things off and there you have it.
Starting the day with cheesy breakfast burritos and ending it with these gooey caprese grilled cheese sandwiches means today was a good day. We didn't have you make the sandwiches ahead of time—the bread would have gotten too soggy—but it's easy enough to put together at the campsite. Paired with garlicky corn on the cob, this easy dinner is one you'll want to recreate as soon as you get home. First things first—get the fire going again and burn it down till you get some nice hot coals. As the fire burns down, finish prepping the corn and prep the sandwich.
For the corn: Shuck the corn and rub each ear with the garlic butter you made during meal prep. Wrap each piece with heavy-duty foil and place on the cooking grate; cook, turning occasionally, until tender, about 15 minutes. You probably won't have enough room to cook the corn and sandwiches at the same time, so start with the corn and as it cools, the sandwiches can cook.
For the sandwiches: Start by mixing 1 cup of shredded mozzarella cheese and 3 tablespoons pesto together in a small bowl. Evenly spread the mixture onto half the bread slices and top each with 2 slices of tomato. Top with the remaining bread. Coat both sides of each sandwich with oil and individually wrap in heavy-duty foil. Place on the cooking grate and cook, pressing down with a spatula and flipping a few times, until the cheese is melted and the bread is browned and crispy, 10 to 15 minutes.
Dessert: Campfire Banana S'mores
You'll never go camping again without this fun twist on classic s'mores made inside a split banana. Cut through the peel on the inside curve of the banana with a knife and peel the banana open from the cut, but leave the banana in the peel (as pictured above). Being careful not to cut through the bottom peel, cut the banana in half lengthwise, then cut crosswise to make space to squeeze in the marshmallows and chocolate. (Rather than buying both regular-size and mini marshmallows, just tear the regular ones into smaller pieces to fit inside the banana boat.) Wrap up each banana in a piece of foil and heat on the grate until everything is warm and melty (7 to 10 minutes).
Sadly, it's time to pack up. We kept this morning's breakfast super-easy with the baked oatmeal cups you made during meal prep, plus fruit.
Breakfast: Baked Banana Nut Oatmeal Cups
Munch on these muffins and any leftover fruit from the cooler in the morning before you start packing up. This easy breakfast requires zero cleanup, so there's one less thing to do before you head out. Take the extra time you have to stroll the campsite again, list out the things you loved about the weekend and what you'd want to do more of next time, and start planning for your next camping trip! Browse more of our healthy camping recipes for more ideas and inspiration.