Campfire Cooking: Best Easy, Frugal Foods for Camping

Guest Post from Tina and Phil of 30 Bucks a Week

When planning what to cook on your camping trip, there are a few basic considerations. First, assuming you are setting up your tent fireside rather than setting up folding chairs outside your RV, you're going to want food that isn't too difficult to carry in with you or require too much equipment to cook.

Simple meals with a few ingredients are going to be your most convenient option and will, conveniently, be easiest on your wallet.

We generally try to bring all of our food in two containers - one bag for packaged and dry goods, and one insulated bag or cooler for anything that needs refrigeration. We'll often fill an old soda bottle with water and freeze it the night before we leave so that it will keep the food cold on the way to the site and can later be used as drinking water.

Second, since you're probably cooking over a campfire, you don't want any recipes that are going to require precise temperature control or that won't handle a little bit of char gracefully. Finally, you're going to want at least one thing you can roast on the end of a stick.

For our purposes, we're going to assume that you're at a rustic campsite that has a fire pit with a fold-down grill. With those things in mind, here are some of our favorite things to cook while roughing it.

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• Roasted corn on the cob is always a favorite because it's delicious and preparing it is about as simple as you can get. Just toss the ears on top of the grill complete with husks. You'll want them just to the side of the actual flames. Turn them every once in a while and don't worry if some of the outer layers blacken. Fold down a bit of the husk to test the kernels for tenderness. When it's ready, just fold the husk all the way down and slather with butter or olive oil, salt and pepper, or maybe some cayenne.

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Roasted potatoes are always a good bet. You can wrap them whole in foil and bury them in the coals of your fire, or cut them up with onions, add a little oil, and wrap them in a foil envelope to roast them on top of the grill. The same idea works really well with apples and pears and you could also do peaches and plums (they just don't take as long).

• Another good cooking method is boiling, which can be done in a small pot, or you can use a percolator to double as a coffee pot and a saucepan (just wash it out thoroughly in between). Oatmeal and couscous are great over a fire. Rice is ok too, but will often take a while to cook. And on the subject of coffee, a French press is probably the best method if you're particular about brewing faster and keeping grounds out of your cup. If you're looking for something a little bit grizzlier, campfire coffee in a percolator will provide a bit more of a wilderness experience.

• Speak of breakfast, biscuits are great over a campfire. Mix all your dry ingredients in a big, sealable plastic bag before you leave. When you're ready to cook them, add the wet ingredients and knead the dough in the bag. Use a flat piece of foil on top of the grill as a baking sheet. The bag method will also work for pancake batter, which can be squeezed out of the bag into a skillet. Either of these will go great with eggs, which you could either transport in their cardboard box, or crack into another bag before you leave.

• There are a number of foods that you can pre-cook and freeze at home for easier cooking at the campsite. Frozen chili in tupperware can help keep your cold food cold on the trip, and can then be easily heated up in a pot when it's time for dinner. Plus, the more full your cooler, the colder the food will keep on the trip.

• Finally, the stick foods. Never underestimate the power of the classics. Roasted marshmallows, especially as part of a s'more, are a must-have. Veggie dogs (or hot dogs, if you eat meat) are another good bet. If you want to get a little bit fancier, put together some veggie kabobs. Technically, it might be easier to use skewers rather than sticks for this, but close enough.

With all this good food, you'll develop a real taste for woodsmoke three meals a day. And if all else fails, there's always peanut butter and jelly.

Thank you for sharing, Tina and Phil! Your blog is always an inspiration to us!

Visit Tina and Phil's weblog:
30 Bucks a Week

Related: Good Question: Best Boxed Wine for a Camping Trip?

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(Images: Phil and Tina of 30 Bucks a Week)