When you get ready for a camp trip, the best part is usually getting out of the hustle and bustle to enjoy nature and relax. Whether your form of relaxing is sitting under the trees and enjoying the sounds, going for a beautiful hike or fishing in the local stream; you still get to escape the busyness of the city. While we look forward to the escape that camping gives us, sometimes, we dread the work involved in getting ready. Even when you get there, you still must cook and clean. How would you like to go on that camp trip and not have to worry about those meals that need to be prepared, the dishes you wash or food going bad because the ice melted? This article will provide you with a few camp food hacks that will help to make your get away more enjoyable and relaxing.
Prepare In Advance
Many people plan their meals for camping but don’t prepare the food in advance. When you’re camping, you can make it much easier on yourself if you plan and cook ahead of time. My camp food tip is to cut, chop, marinate and freeze ahead of time. Your first camp food hack is to plan meals that can go from the freezer to the BBQ and cut out the preparation time. This will leave you time to enjoy the campfire while your food cooks. Who wants to wash pots and pans? If you prepare your meals in advance, you’ll have that much less to do when you’re on your trip.
Since I recommend preparing meals that can be frozen, I sometime start making my camp food almost a month in advance. I like marinated Tri-top, chicken legs and thighs and salmon. I can prepare everything ahead except the vegetables, which I always chop in advance and bag. If you want to start marinating meats, just put the meat (tri-tip, roast, ribs, chicken) into a gallon sized freezer bag and pick your favorite marinades to pour over the top. Give it a good shake and you’re done with your first main course. I always plan foods that can be bagged so we just pull them out and throw them on the grill or into some aluminum with pre-chopped vegetables. Wrap it and let it cook in the marinade you premade. I also double bag each meal. This protects the food from getting water into the bag and from food leaking out into the ice chest. The outer bag can also be used for your leftovers from each meal. If you prepare your meals ahead of time and plan them so they can go directly on the BBQ, you’ll be able to spend a lot more time relaxing instead of prepping and doing dishes.
How You Pack Matters
How you pack your food is just as important as what you pack. Another camp food tip is to freeze each meal in the bag you prepared it in and use it to replace some of the ice in your ice chest. Pack each meal in order of the days you’ll cook it. By freezing your food and using the frozen meals to replace some of the ice, you’ll also find out you have a lot more room for other things. Another benefit of freezing the meals and packing them in order of how they will be eaten is ease of access to each day’s meal. You will just grab from the top instead of getting ice burn on your hands from digging around in the ice. For example, if you camp Thursday, Friday and Saturday night; Saturday nights dinner can be on the bottom. Friday night’s dinner can be next up and Thursday nights dinner on top for easiest access. I don’t always freeze the first night’s dinner, I just put it on top. Even if you’re camping for a week, you’ll find that one big ice chest will suffice with this type of meal preparation because you’re not using as much ice.
Bag on left-Hand made and frozen Taquitos’. Bag on right side is frozen Bruschetta Chicken which was the meal for the last day. Bag on top (right picture) is marinated ribs which were frozen until cooked, with leftovers in second bag. Note, hardly any ice is necessary because the frozen meals help to keep the other food cold, including drinks .
Recipe Idea: Bruschetta Chicken and Vegetables
- 1 packet of Chicken thighs and 1 packet of chicken legs (bone and skin optional)
- Vine ripened tomatoes (finely chopped)
- Fresh skinned garlic cloves (large chunks)
- Jumbo Sweet onion (finely chopped)
- Small sweet peppers (finely chopped)
Mix: Balsamic vinegar, olive oil, capers (optional), a dash of sugar and dry mustard
Toss everything together, put the thighs in one bag and the legs in another. Double bag and throw it in the freezer.
When you are ready to cook it, take pre-sliced large onions and cubed potatoes (both chopped ahead of time and put into another bag or Tupperware for storage) on the bottom of a large piece of aluminum and put the chicken and sauce on top. Wrap it tightly and put it on the grill over the open fire. You’ll smell the wonderful aroma when it’s done, about 35-40 minutes. Unwrap and eat it; no dishes, no additional preparation.
Time To Relax
The goal of camping is relaxing. By preparing your meals ahead and freezing them, you’ll be able to enjoy your time around the fire instead of chopping, mixing and doing dishes. You’ll also find it’s a lot easier to find your food when it’s organized by the day you plan to eat it. And, finally, you’ll have plenty of extra room in your coolers because your frozen food is partially replacing the amount of ice needed to keep it cold. This will give you more room when you catch that fresh trout.