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Customer Discussions > Camping forum

fast dinners with kids on Coleman stove or open fire.

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Showing 1-25 of 41 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Jun 23, 2011 2:41:16 PM PDT
campingmom says:
We will be tent camping in a few National Parks this summer. I am looking for ideas for easy dinners with few ingredients. 3 somewhat fussy kid eaters and just coolers so refrigeration is an issue.

Posted on Jun 24, 2011 8:39:26 AM PDT
Captain says:
Car camping or backpacking in to your campsite?

Posted on Jun 24, 2011 3:26:43 PM PDT
JW says:
We tend to do a lot of pasta, oatmeal (breakfast for dinner!), and hot dogs (usually on the first night so we don't worry about them staying cold). My girls are very picky, too.

Posted on Jun 24, 2011 7:20:21 PM PDT
We're going car/tent camping next month and here's some ideas I have so far.
Make ahead and freeze: burritos & quesadillas--wrapped and reheated in foil (try the addictive sweet potato burrito recipe from, bizarre, but amazingly delicious)

Breakfast is oatmeal (thankfully my kids love oatmeal, we put dried cranberries in the cooking water with it)
Chicken dumplings--can of soup, can of veggies, and some biscuit mix

I'm looking for some good ideas myself so I'll be following your thread...we are camping our way across the country so we'll eat perishable meals the first couple days and then lean on the shelf stable meals as we go. I'm especially looking for veggie-heavy meals, as those are hard to fit in on the road beyond cut up/raw--the kids will tire of those after awhile I'm sure. I plan to pack myself a couple salads in gallon size ziplocks but the kids aren't huge salad eaters.

Posted on Jun 29, 2011 3:06:31 PM PDT
Oh, one I forgot, if your kids like lentils this is a crazy easy and delicious recipe I'm going to try on the campfire as well (I didn't bother telling the kids what lentils were the first time we had it, I just served it with bread on soup night and they gobbled it up, didn't ask what it was until it was gone!)
It's just lentils, water, and chicken base, nothing perishable...amazing how something so simple can taste so good!

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 29, 2011 3:11:19 PM PDT
Tim Ma says:
I'm assuming car camping since you're talking about coolers.

Hobo dinners are a good option. Take heavy duty aluminum foil (double foil if you don't have heavy duty) and fill it will pre-chopped/cut vegetables (red peppers, onions, squash, etc.) and whatever meat you and your family will eat. I will do salmon, a ground beef patty, sausage like kielbasa, etc. Put the whole foil pack in zip lock bags so keep it from getting wet as ice melts. Get a fire going early and drop the foil packs in the hot embers. If you freeze these, they'll defrost by day 2-3 in a cooler.

Fajitas are a good option. Pre-cut vegetables, pre-shredded cheese, pre-cut frozen seasoned meat like steak. Tortillas are good multi-meal use since you can make wraps for sandwiches/quesadillas on future days.

Hot dogs, of course. Freeze a pack or two and they'll be thawed by day 2-3.

Cooler tips: bring 2 coolers if you can. One for drinks and one for food. The one for drinks is constantly being opened and closed so ice won't last too long -- if you're bringing bottled water, freeze half the bottles. The one for food stays closed and only open as you get the meals out. Use block ice in the food cooler; block ice stays as ice in my cooler for up to 3 days if you keep the cooler in the shade (and that's in southern Utah temps).

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 2, 2011 7:26:51 AM PDT
I will be camping up in Minnesota next week. I was wondering if anyone knows anything about those camping grills? Of course I would perfer a small propane gas grill that isn't too expensive, could anyone give me some ideals? Thanks.

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 2, 2011 8:01:19 AM PDT
Tim Ma says:
William, I'm assuming car camping and not backpacking (where you'd have to haul the grill/stove in your backpack). For car camping, one of those 2 burner Coleman (or other brand) grills that runs off the small green propane cylinders works great. Something like:

Coleman 2-Burner InstaStart PerfectFlow Propane Stove

I've had mine for almost 10 years and it just works. 2 burners is enough cooking power for 2 kids, 2 adults. The propane canisters are fairly cheap ($4-$5) and can be found in almost any store. Hard to say how long a fuel canister will last since it depends on how high you set the burner, etc. but one full fuel canister easily lasts a 3 day camping trip for me with fuel to spare (and that's usually cooking 2 hot meals a day for each person, plus hot water for coffee/hot chocolate/etc).

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 2, 2011 8:04:22 AM PDT
Thanks Tim, that is very helpful infor. Does this grill go good for cooking hamburgers and steaks?

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 2, 2011 8:14:17 AM PDT
Tim Ma says:
This type of grill is more of an open burner grill (similar to a gas range at home). To cook on it, you'll need to use some kind of a pot/pan. It can certainly good hamburgers and steaks -- best results would come from some kind of a ridged griddle like this:

Lodge LDP3 Double Play Reversible Grill/Griddle, 9.5" x 16.75"

When looking for a griddle, check dimensions to make sure it fits on the camp stove. Double sided is nice -- the ridged side for burgers/steaks and the smooth side for eggs and bacon in the morning.

Some developed campgrounds (at least the ones I've been to in Utah) will have a grill ring along with a fire pit or charcoal pit. I always check beforehand and if they do, I'll bring a bag of charcoal too -- steaks just seem to taste a little better that way.

Posted on Jul 2, 2011 11:10:55 AM PDT
campingmom says:
so far some great ideas that we use already. Does anyone have ideas of what to do with canned chicken (bag or can) after the first few days of camping. we will be driving from Fla to the Rockys to camp and will be picking up food supplies when we get close so freezing ahead isn't an option. we are tent camping with 5 people so space is an issue and would rather hike than cook

Posted on Jul 5, 2011 3:30:43 PM PDT
Having many years of experience I would suggest a different approach than what I've read so far. Prepackaged, freeze dried meals can be very good but they are VERY expensive. When backpacking they can be the best solution. They also require water which may, at times, not be as plentiful as you would think. Filters and purification are essential in these instances.

Instead of all those things requiring cold, water and lots of money, consider the hundreds of different meals you can find recipes for when using simple canned meats such as beef (like a roast), chicken (can even be eaten cold like tuna), tuna, other fish if you like fish. Then buy cans of soups, stews, vegetables, refried beans, etc; anything that includes its own moisture. Take vegetable oil that does not require refrigeration and find recipes that allow it to substitute for shortning and butter. Include noodles, macaroni, other pastas. Remember ready made pancake mix and syrup. The variations are virtually endless. All are as simple as opening a few cans, sometimes combing ingredients, making some bisquits or rolls and you've got delicious and complete meals that use ingredients everyone is already used to and enjoys. Alter recipes to your personal tastes. Some of these can even be cooked in foil for a "change of atmosphere" so to speak.

When purchasing these items, plan ahead and buy most of what you need at a normal sized supermarket in the larger towns nearest the park you are about to enter. This will save you money from the cost inside the park or in smaller towns. It also saves space in the car while traveling the longer distances. Since everything I've talked about is readily available almost everywhere, you are unlikely to be disapointed by not finding what you want. You should easily be able to go a month without ever repeating a single meal. The variety available is simply amazing.

Good luck on your trip and be safe.

Posted on Jul 5, 2011 5:07:56 PM PDT
J. Carini says:
Two camping staples -as much beef or venison jerky that you can carry, and baked beans. Buy some tinfoil throwaway loaf pans 4 the beans, and cook them on the fire pit until they get nice and thick. My kids love them, and they also help with the entertainment later on at the campfire-lol!

Posted on Jul 8, 2011 10:44:30 PM PDT
campin mom says:
My 3 kids and I eat the usual hamburgers and hot dogs, but they also like spaghetti, and ground beef added to baked beans. Breakfast is always easy. French toast or pancakes and sausage, or scrambled eggs with their own additions like cheese and black olives, unless you are good at omlets. Another easy lunch is to make their own "lunchables" with assorted crackers, lunch meat and cheeses. We have also tried the dehydrated/freeze dried meals; just add water. They like those too!

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 9, 2011 1:04:46 PM PDT
mp Mortensen says:
Think pancake mix, canned stew, just add meat "helper" packages, school lunch additions, simple stove top meal recipe's from home and plan on storing or keeping cool, only 2 days worth of perishables. Bring lots of extra or double the normal portions. People eat more, and snack more when camping. Make/plan a menu so that you know you have enough, what you are fixing when, and what cooking tools/pots need to be brought. Leave the soda

Posted on Jul 11, 2011 12:10:20 AM PDT
K. Chung says:
I have gone on 4-5 day camping trips off-road in SUVs in the *desert*, so we're day time temps that can get into the 80s and 90s, and often our vehicles will be baking in the sun while we're hiking around.

Pre-cooked, frozen meals are the best. Stews or hearty meat dishes that have sauces are good and you can do like stove top stuffing, rice pilaf as a side dish. One of my favorites that goes over with the guys I camp with is Italian seasoning tomato sauce with ground beef, canned mushrooms, chopped onions, and garlic. I freeze the sauce rock hard in a water proof container and take a pre-measured container of elbow macaroni that I cook at the camp site and warm up the sauce in a separate pot and mix with the drained macaroni. Serve with heated canned veggie - I prefer green beans. I warm up/toast one of those pre-packaged butter-garlic loaves by making a shallow aluminum tray to sit the bread in and put it on low heat over one of the burners on my camp stove - be careful not to turn up to too high or you'll be burned bread! I suggest practicing once at home before trying it on the road.

Frozen foods can stay frozen or partially frozen depending on conditions and how you keep/pack your coolers.

Not all ice coolers are the same, even from the same maker. You want ones with thick insulation and securely sealing, hinged lid (ones where the lids lift off generally suck).

Using blue ice or ice packs - forget it. If you want things to stay cold, use ice cubes. One tip - you can use drinking water bottles as ice packs - just make sure to open and take a bit of water out before freezing as water expands when it freezes and you may end up with burst bottles. The double bonus is that you can have ice cold water to drink.

On longer trips, take two coolers - One that you want to stay cold a long time (frozen stuff) and you won't keep opening all the time. The second one would be the cooler that might get opened more frequently - this cooler might be the one that has the breakfast and lunch meal items, plus drinks.

Some other tips:
Pre-chill everything that is going to coolers, especially drinks, and frozen items should be rock hard. The colder they start out, the better.
Cover the cooler(s) with sleeping bags or other items as additional insulation - you'll be shocked (or not) how cool the side of sleeping bag touching the cooler is.
Move the frozen item(s) that you intend to be cooking that day to either the "soda" cooler or to the top of pile inside of the "frozen" items cooler on the morning you intend to use them.

It is possible to bring fresh eggs on camping trips - camping supply stores sell hard plastic egg carriers. We've used them a number of times - put them in the cooler and make sure they don't bounce around inside the cooler. Haven't had a cracked egg yet.

If you're going to be places where water won't be found, get hard sided water containers with built in spigots. I've bought a 5 gallon and 2 gallon one from a retail store and Amazon respectively (both the same brand, not the Coleman one though) and they're easy to use, sturdy, and BPA free. I filled the 2 gallon container over a couple days from my purified drinking water tap in the kitchen and used it for cooking.

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 12, 2011 8:05:38 AM PDT
Captain says:
I agree that this is the best solution when car camping for a week or less. When I camp I'm doing it secondarily to fly fishing and the time I would spend cooking is better used on the river. I prepare and freeze everything before I leave and eat great meals in a short period of time. A 1000w inverter powers my small microwave for warming the prepared foods.

Posted on Jul 29, 2011 12:50:33 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Jul 29, 2011 1:08:28 PM PDT
Instant rice or Rice-A-Roni is a good cheap camp food. They call for margarine but I always use olive oil. Uncle Ben's makes a heat and eat rice in a shelf stable microwaveable pouch that you could heat up on the camp stove - it is expensive though. Rice-A-Roni and a can of beans (black or pinto is my favorite). You could go crazy and add canned corn, too. That is great with a jar of salsa and some tortillas or tortilla chips. Doesn't even need cheese or if you choose a cheesy flavor of rice-a-roni that could satisfy the cheese aspect without having to keep cheese cold... A can of that green top shaker parmesan blend doesn't need to be kept too cold.

Veg-All (canned mixed veggies)
Canned condensed cream soup
canned meat (chicken or tuna)
starch (rice, bisquick, cornbread mix, or noodles)

There are many variations you can make with those ingredients. Could do a mock pot pie with the chicken, creamy chicken soup, veggies and top with biscuits... or you could thin out the mix with water, cook the biscuits in the liquid and have chicken and dumplings. You could do a tuna wiggle with cream of celery or mushroom soup, a box of mac and cheese and can of tuna (with or without the mixed veggies - add can of mushrooms or can of peas instead of the veg-all).

Don't forget peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. You could splurge and get those individual jelly packs like they have at restaurants so you don't have to keep it in the cooler. I like peanut butter and honey if you want to skip the jelly. Peanut butter and banana or apple slices are great.

In reply to an earlier post on Aug 3, 2011 7:21:23 AM PDT
Strollermut: says "Bring to a boil and simmer 45 minutes."

45 minutes? That's a LONG time to wait for dinner, especially after a day in the woods, or hiking, or whatever.

Posted on Aug 3, 2011 7:31:25 AM PDT
Here are some other good campfire recipes, including a link to campfire desserts. These are geared towards backpackers, but no reason car-campers couldn't use them:

Posted on Sep 10, 2011 10:25:28 PM PDT
Rave On says:
Get these two books by Harriet Barker. Both from the 1970's, but still very practical and good advice and recipes. These are lovely books that were obviously written with a lot of fist-hand experience. They are available right here on Amazon.

SUPERMARKET BACKPACKER: How to plan meals on the cheap. Simple, delicious, easy, fast recipes. Includes "how to" for drying your own foods, making granola - all good hippie stuff.

ONE BURNER GOURMET: Recipies and tips designed specifically for the backpackers who use single burner stoves and have to feed a hungry crew of campers.

Posted on Sep 14, 2011 9:37:47 AM PDT
Breakfast burritos are great for camping. You'll want a Lodge Double Play Reversible Grill Griddle, some large tortillas, some bacon you've prepared at home, some refried beans and some shredded cheese and some eggs. Scramble the eggs, heat up the beans, heat up the griddle and heat the tortilla on the griddle. Put a little crescent-moon trail of shredded cheese, refried beans, a strip or two of bacon and some scrambled eggs in the lower third of the tortilla. Fold the bottom of the tortilla up and over the goods (DON'T OVERPACK THE BURRITO), then roll it up one time, then tuck in the ends... yes, of course you'll burn your fingertips... then put a little more cheese on the very top edge to act like glue when it melts. A couple of minutes on the griddle and the cheese will melt and the tortilla will brown slightly. Wrap this up in a paper towel. Warm, easy to make and delicious. You have a Coleman PerfectFlow InstaStart 2-Burner Stove, right? And a Coleman folding stand for the stove? Makes life MUCH easier!!! You can also cook scrambled eggs in a ziplock-type bag, put in a couple of eggs and squish them around, then drop the ziplock bag into a pot of simmering water. Voila! Cooked eggs in a few minutes! Great trick.

And when all else fails? Dried fruit, especially apricots. They taste great, they're easy to pack, they're good for you...

Posted on Sep 16, 2011 11:21:39 AM PDT
Amanda says:
One of my favorite camping meals as a kid was using pie irons. These are like little cast iron clamps, and you put bread in them and then fillings on the inside, put them on the fire, and you have hot little sandwiches (kind of like calzones or hand pies). They take about 10 minutes to cook, and maybe 10 minutes to prepare if your kids are slow, so dinner is ready in 20 minutes! You can make pizzas, cheese sandwiches, or pies. You can do pizzas on the first couple nights with cheese that's still cool, and use canned pie filling to make dessert.

They're a little on the expensive side ($15-$25 on amazon they last years and years. If the kids belong to scouts, they might be able to borrow them from the local club, which is what we did when my family went camping. There's a lot of recipes on the pie iron website (, just make sure to really really butter them/spray the iron with pam, so the bread doesn't stick!

Also, I'd like to say that you really should pack what you know the kids will eat. If you buy a bunch of expensive freeze-dried meals and they don't like how they taste, it will just be a waste. Make some tuna fish sandwiches, mac and cheese from a box, and smores, and you won't be as likely to have hungry/whiny kids. Also, if you pack a lot of trail mix, crackers, and peanut butter and jelly, and chex/cheerios, you'll always have a backup!

Posted on Sep 20, 2011 4:42:18 PM PDT
zatarains black beans and rice.Zatarain's New Orleans Style Black-Eyed Peas & Rice, 7-Ounce Boxes (Pack of 12) (NOT THE RED BEANS AND RICE, THAT IS DISGUSTING) spice it up and add some tuna. serve with tortillas and individual cheese servings. GLODEN!

In reply to an earlier post on Mar 14, 2012 9:56:34 AM PDT
That Guy says:
Take dehydrated backpacking food. It's actually gotten pretty tasty over the last decade or so. As far as the picky kids thing, my best suggestion is to man up and stop letting your kids decide what they do and don't want to eat. That's why you're the parents. Serve them what they need for nutrition and make them eat it. If they refuse, give it some time. They'll eventually eat it when they get hungry enough. Or just let them eat cookies and red bull all day and then you can complain about them being so badly behaved. Hoped this helped. :)
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