Camping meal ideas usually go like this:

Hotdogs, smores, potato pockets, PB&J, repeat.

Hotdogs, smores, potato pockets, PB&J, repeat.

C’mon man! Camping meal ideas don’t have to be bland and you don’t have to be a professional chef either. We’ve been testing different options for the past few years and have made your lives easy. Behold our 5 day complete car camping food menu:

Essentials:

Let’s start out with the essentials. You can check out our full camping checklist, but in terms of just kitchen ware, be sure to bring the following:

  • Biodegradable soap
  • Washcloth or sponge + Dish Towel
  • Dishwashing bin 
  • Food + Snacks (lots of snacks!)
  • Reusable Water Bottles
  • Cooler + Ice.. and we mean a big cooler. Be prepared to refill ice at least twice.
  • Cutting board + Knife 
  • Mugs
  • Plates and Bowls
  • Can Opener
  • Cooking Utensils (Tongs, Wood Spoon, Spatula)
  • Matches
  • Dutch Oven
  • Grill Pan
  • Eating utensils
  • Trash and recycling bags
  • Small food-storage containers/bags/foil

Additional Items: 

  • Camping stove + fuel (a great fire alternative that we used in the past and are looking forward to trying again this fall!)
  • Corkscrew/bottle opener
  • Portable coffee/tea maker
  • Marshmallow/hot dog roasting forks

Snacks:

Our car camping meal ideas for lunch are usually snacks. We don’t typically hang around the campsite during the day as we are usually off doing something active. You can pack whatever your favorite snacks are, but the trick is bring something that packs easily into a day pack. Don’t bring anything that melts and don’t rely on things that need to stay cold. We break that last rule occasionally if we are driving somewhere for an activity and then just make sandwiches or something in the car before or after we trek off. Examples for us include ingredients for PB&J, bananas, apples, trail mix, granola bars, etc. If we are eating in the car, we’ll bring vegetables and hummus. If this sounds gross or your kids aren’t weird like ours and don’t like veggies and hummus, just pack what you would pack them for school lunch.

Every Day:

There is one camp meal idea that should be a part of every dinner menu, and that is smores. Do not forget the smores.

Day 1:

Assume you ate breakfast at home and picked something up for lunch on the way in. If you’re here on the FivePax website looking for ideas, I’m going to assume you don’t have the routine nailed down either so you’re going to need a quick and easy recipe for dinner to whip up after you pound your stakes in the ground. Your day 1 car camping food menu is therefore just one meal.

Dinner – Pizza Pie Irons. If you’re stuck on camping meal ideas and you don’t have a pie iron, buy one, they’re pretty cheap. They make camp cooking oh so simple, and the kids have almost as much fun with them as roasting marshmallows. To make a pizza pie iron use the following steps:

  1. Spray iron with oil or butter on both sides
  2. Place bread on either side
  3. Put favorite pizza ingredients in the middle (sauce, pepperoni, cheese, etc)
  4. Close the iron and cut off any extra bread that is hanging off the sides
  5. Place iron in the fire, flip a few times, and then let it cool off before enjoying the tasty goodness

Just remember that pie irons are cast iron so don’t leave them out in the rain and don’t wash them with soap and water.

Day 2:

When we are thinking up camping meal ideas for our first full day on site, we like to cook the stuff that was easily prepared prior to arrival and also might be good as leftovers.

Breakfast: Burritos – There are a million different recipes for breakfast burritos, but the ingredients we like best are:

Inside: eggs, breakfast sausage, sharp cheddar cheese, jalapeno, black beans

Outside: soft tortilla, your favorite salsa, and sour cream

Simply wrap the inside ingredients in the tortilla, then wrap the tortilla in foil. Give it a nice seal and put the foil wrap close to the fire, but not directly in the heat. You want a slower cook so that the inside gets hot, but you don’t want to burn the tortilla. Give it a few minutes and then unwrap it Chipotle style and enjoy with your favorite toppings.

Lunch: PB&J + Chopped fresh fruit. As we mentioned, pretty much assume every day is either snacks or eating somewhere else. For some this means eating snacks on the trail, for others this might mean eating pizza at the local bowling ally. Camping can take many different forms.

Dinner: Hot Dogs + Campfire Grilled Veggies + Watermelon slices

Note: I like to spruce up my hot dogs by throwing some baked beans and shredded cheese on top. No need to get fancy with the beans either, just open a can from Trader Joe’s and put that whole can right near the fire. When it’s nice and bubbly, spoon some out and toss some on top with the cheese. If you want to be extra special, put some chopped onion on there. When I lived in Columbus, Ohio, I used to eat at this restaurant called Dirt Franks and this was my favorite dog they served.

Hot dogs are a camp meal idea, but it is really easy to take your dogs to the next level.
Hot dog are a camp meal idea, but it is really easy to take your dogs to the next level.

Day 3:

By day 3, which is our second day on site, we want camping meal ideas that will fill us up. We usually are a little worn out from a big hike or activity from the previous day, but are still eager to get out there and explore some more.

BreakfastSweet and Spicy Breakfast Skillet

Lunch – Snacks

Dinner: Cast Iron meatless chili cornbread skillet

This bean chili with cornbread camping meal idea pairs well with cheap beer.
This bean chili with cornbread camping meal idea pairs well with cheap beer.

Day 4:

OK on day 4, we’re thinking it’s time to wind down a bit. Time for one of our all time favorite camping meal ideas that pairs well with the breakfast we made the day before.

Breakfast – Camping Breakfast Sandwich – Note: this might be our favorite breakfast of all time, camping, glamping, eating out, or cooking at home… it’s that good. Good job Adventure Bite guy, you did it.

Lunch – Snacks

Dinner – Apple Bacon Grilled Cheese (except we cook these on the pie iron)

The pulled pork, egg, and cheese breakfast sandwich is the best camping meal idea ever.  I would honestly eat this every day.
The pulled pork, egg, and cheese breakfast sandwich is the best camping meal idea ever. I would honestly eat this every day.

Day 5

Breakfast – Leftovers… we usually have leftover sandwich ingredients and/or extra eggs.


This list is our go-to camping meal idea menu plan. We’ve gone through variations over the last three years, but have settled on this one as our favorite the last three camp outs. What’s your favorite camp meal?