I mentioned a couple of weeks ago that we were starting to budget for our family camping staycation. Part of that included menu planning with some make ahead meals. My goal is two-fold, I cut back on the amount of food we have to make, meaning less time in the kitchen, and less of a chance of having to run out for a forgotten ingredient while camping. Whether you are on a camping staycation, or camping in the rough, having some make ahead camping food ready to go is both a time, and money saver.
I went through some recipes, and tossed around some ideas with my friend, Val, the Owner of Once A Week Cooking Club. She started it in her comment on my earlier camping staycation post, and then she made these suggestions…
breakfast – I’m just doing pancakes, scrambled eggs and some kind of meat. It can just bring pancake mix we buy from the bulk section and everything can be cooked up in about 30 minutes. Lauren adds: I sort of want to do pancakes ahead of time for our camping staycation, we have electricity in the house for toaster pancakes, or to zap them as needed. Most mornings we all eat at different times, this just adds convenience to feeding the 12+ kids!
pulled pork or shredded chicken sandwiches – cook and shred the meat ahead of time, then just reheat. Can reheat in slowcooker too if you want. Lauren adds: If you are roughing it without electricity, this can also be heated up in a pan over the fire, or on the stove.
french dips – same as above, cook and shred the beef ahead of time, saving the drippings for au jus. I usually cook the roast in the slow cooker with two envelopes of au jus mix. Then you can let the juice sit in the fridge overnight to cool and scrap all the fat off the top before freezing the au jus
baked potato bar – This was part of Val’s original comment. Chili, cheese, sour cream, fritos, onions, lettuce, tomatoes, salsa. This one is nice because everyone can eat whenever. I made the chili ahead and then put it in the slow cooker for a few hours to warm it up. Potatoes can be baked (I always microwave) then wrapped in foil and put in an oven to keep warm. Everyone can load their favorite toppings right on top of their super-sized baked potatoes. Lauren adds: This might be a great “potluck” type of dinner idea with everyone bringing their favorite toppings. Leftovers can be used in eggs the next morning, or as part of a taco meal, or salad the next day.
marinated chicken, or beef – I generally use teriyaki and then all you need to do is grill it. Lauren adds: If you start with fresh, not frozen meat, you can freeze it in the marinade. Then all you need to do is let it thaw, and grill it. Marinade ideas include teriyaki, or cajun jerk sauce. I like to use our FoodSaver Vacuum Sealer when I marinate, it sucks the air our, and forces the flavor in.
The great thing about make ahead camping food is it is already there at your camp site with at least part of the work done. You pack less, and spend less time in the kitchen, and more time with your family. Plus, if you plan and make ahead, there is less of a chance of having to run out to the store for a forgotten ingredient (speaking from experience). The idea of a camping staycation is relaxation, so why not make it even easier by bringing some made ahead meals?
If you are interested in learning more about make ahead menu planning and meal ideas, you really should check out Val’s Once A Week Cooking Club. She is the Owner, and I am a subscriber. The Club provides a weekly menu, make ahead instructions, plus a grocery list to help you prepare for a once a week cooking experience you’ll want to duplicate again and again.