Camp cooking can be so much fun, and there are so many options. While the cabin camps provide the meals, tent campouts require the dads to feed themselves and the kids. Some dads prefer to make elaborate meals, while others stick to the basics. Some tribes prefer to coordinate the planning and preparation, while others keep things separate for each dad. Many good ideas can come from other tribe members. That said, here are a few suggestions for meals at a tent camp:
Camp Stove: Most anything you can cook stovetop at home can be prepared at camp on a propane camp stove. These can be purchased at any sporting goods store. Just bring the stove, propane and a skillet, and cook eggs, bacon, sausage, beans, or whatever else. Most “add meat and water” box meals at the grocery store are perfectly fine on a camp stove. Quesadillas are often a kid pleaser and are very easy to make on a camping stove with a skillet. Check with the other dads in your tribe. Chances are that someone is already bringing a stove and you can share.
Campfire: You’re camping. There should be a campfire. Why not take advantage of that to roast a hot dog on a skewer. Be sure the skewers are long enough and strong enough, as the old coat hanger trick usually leaves your hot dog lying in the hot coals, along with your children’s confidence in your roasting abilities. Get a decent campfire skewer. Don’t forget buns and ketchup as well.
Cereal: This one really isn’t complicated. Cereal and milk.
Dehydrated food: You can buy packages of dehydrated meals in most sporting goods and camping stores. It may sound weird if you haven’t tried it, but the food is not bad, and the whole idea can be pretty fun for the kids. Most of the meals come in a vacuum sealed foil pouch, with instructions on the outside saying something like “Open pouch, add 2 cups boiling water, wait 10 minutes, then eat it”. Even if you can’t cook, it is hard to mess that one up. Water can be boiled using a camp stove, or using special camping water heaters (JetBoil).
Sandwiches: Who says you actually have to cook? What’s wrong with a simple sandwich with chips on the side?
Snacks: Fruit, chips, granola bars and other packable food are great to take on hikes. Remember, you’re taking little kids camping. At some point they will be tired and hungry. You want to have a snack in your bag.
Dessert: S’mores are always a winner at camp, though some tribes have had some very creative dessert ideas. While a campfire cobbler is always impressive, you still can’t go wrong with a bag of Oreos.
If you’re bringing food, you’ll probably need to bring a cooler with ice to keep perishables and drinks cold. Most parks where we camp have raccoons and other critters that run around at night. It is a good practice to put your food and cooler back in the car overnight, else the raccoons will impress you with their dexterity and creativity in robbing you.
Make your ice last: The day before you go camping, be sure all your drinks and cooler food are pre-chilled in the fridge. Placing warm drinks in your cooler will melt your ice faster.
The places we camp have electricity and water at the campsite. This means you have an easy place to rinse dishes and cookware. You can reduce some dishwashing by using paper plates and plastic silverware, although that’s just more trash created. Use your best judgement. Coordinate with your tribe to be sure someone is bringing dish soap and a sponge or dishrag.