Travel and recreating this summer may take a little more planning than usual, but I’m happy to report that it can still be done safely and thoughtfully! Our family has enjoyed a few day trips and local camping trips this summer, despite the pandemic. Of note – things could change as there is currently an increase in COVID-19 cases in California (where we live), but for now – many campsites, parks and beaches are open for responsible recreation.
Out of caution for our own family’s health, and consideration for the communities we are visiting (some with smaller health care systems and resources), we try to bring everything that we might need on these trips, in order to minimize our interaction with those outside of our household. This means that we pack in and pack out all our food – whether we are going on a daytrip, or a 3 night camping trip.
We’re foodies at home, so we also take our food seriously when we’re on the road. I received so many questions about the meals we made during our recent camping trip to Big Bear Lake, California that I decided to write up this post in order to share meal plan ideas and inspiration!
We brought everything from home, and cooked either on our camp stove on on the campfire. This meal plan could easily be used for a cabin/ vacation rental getaway, or on a RV trip. I am not a food expert (I am a double board certified psychiatrist – LOL), but no one left this camping trip hungry, and everyone seemed to really enjoy these meals. I hope you find this guide helpful!
EverydayAdventureFam Meal Plan for 4 day, 3 night camping trip (no trips to grocery store were made, nor outside food was consumed!)
Note: I prepared this meal plan for 8 people (my brother’s and my family). If you are only own family, you can probably go with regular portions from the grocery store, rather than Costco quantities. We brought two coolers and a couple bins of non-perishable foods/snacks.
Camping Day 1: Arrive at the campsite during the late afternoon
Snacks and Appetizers:
After a couple of hours in the car, and then another hour or so for setting up camp – most people, and especially the kids, are hungry. I like to put a cheese and charceuterie board out when we arrive at the campsite so that people/ kids can start munching as we set up camp. By the time that’s done and we get the campfire going, it’s usually a late dinner on the first night.
My go to items for a cheese board are generally from Trader Joe’s. We love the following pairings: Manchego cheese with rosemary Marcona almonds, prosciutto, pita bite crackers and sliced apples (I like the envy type because they do not brown after being sliced). The the Unexpected cheddar pairs nicely with the hot and sweet pepper jelly, salami, and everything crackers. I slice the cheese ahead of time at home, so that everything is ready to go when we arrive at the campsite.
Tip: I like to set a nice table for the trip. I bring a nice tablecloth (either cloth with corner weights, or a leather one like this one by Gathre), a sturdy vase that won’t blow away if it’s windy, and some simple flowers. Depending on the season, I sometimes forage local florals.
Dinner: Shrimp Boil on the Campfire
- Caesar salad – premade bagged salad from Costco
- Potato Salad – premade from costco- I separated this into smaller containers for a couple meals rather than bring the big tub.
- Shrimp Boil (shrimp, sausage, potatoes, corn) in foil packets, cooked on the campfire – Link to recipe by Damn Delicious
- a few hotdogs for kids, cooked on the campfire
- Dessert: S’mores , cherries (in season in July!)
- Bacon – precooked, reheated on the frying pan
- Eggs – fried on frying pan
- Mini Muffins- premade
Lunch: No Cooking needed
- Croissant ham and cheese sandwiches – we used Costco croissants, with ham, cheese, mayo/mustard.
- Chocolate chip cookies
- Sliced Apples
Dinner: Steak and Vegetables on the Campfire
- Chips and guacamole (premade) / campfire nachos (spread a thin layer on some alumiinum foil with shredded mexican blend cheese)
- Caprese salad (mozzarella and tomato drizzled in olive oil, with freshly ground salt and pepper. We forgot the basil)
- Pan fried shishito peppers and grilled squash (because we had some in our CSA farm box that week)
- Tri Tip steak- preseasoned from costco, grilled on the campfire
- Dessert: mini watermelon – sliced
- Snack: Jiffy pop popcorn over the campfire with movie night
Camping Day 3:
Breakfast: Camp stove
- Leftover steak and eggs
- Breakfast Burritos (tortillas, eggs, cheese, salsa)
Lunch: We ended up skipping this since we had a big and late breakfast. We brought some snacks on our hike. We could have had more cold cut sandwiches or PB&J.
Dinner: Cheeseburgers (it was Fourth of July)
- Veggies (cut up carrots and cucumbers) and dip (we love the garlic dip from Trader Joe’s)
- Grilled corn on the cob, on the campfire
- Chips and Trader Joe’s roasted onion dip
- Cheeseburgers – prepared on a griddle, over the campfire.
- Potato salad (from costco)
- Dessert: fourth of july cupcakes (premade) and watermelon
Camping Day 4: Breaking down the camp
I planned breakfast and lunch, but we realized it was more practical to pack up our camp, and then have brunch.
Brunch: Pulled Pork Sandwiches
- Pulled pork sandwiches : Pre-made smoked pulled pork (costco) heated on the camp stove, mixed up a packaged cole slaw mix, and served with BBQ sauce on hawaiian rolls.
- Trader Joe’s bag of frozen grilled veggies (reheated on camp stove)
- Trader Joe’s bag of frozen peppers (reheated on camp stove)
Below, I’ll include some items and additional considerations for on the road meals. For general tent camping gear recommendations, please refer back to my older post on this topic here.
Camp stove: Coleman triton with ignitor
- Cooking Table/storage: GCI Outdoor slim-fold Camp Kitchen Portable folding cook station
- Coffee supplies: We have used a Stainless Steel french press. This time , we brought instant drip coffee by Multee Project
Cast iron skillet: I think ours is by Lodge. We used this over the campfire to cook our burgers.
- Frying pans – we likethese
Oven mitts and tongs: Dont’ forget to protect your hands when handling hot kettles or roasting sticks around the campfire.
- Camp cooking utensil set. This set has everything you really need.
Camp collapsible dish bin
- Egg Storage: It really works and keeps our eggs from crushing!
- Cooler: We have a couple of Yeti Coolers. They really are amazing and keep our food cold all day in the summer heat with proper ice packs in place. We were skeptical about whether they were worth the price, but they have outperformed all our other coolers. Our large one stayed cold for 3 nights with freezer shock block ice packs!
- NOTE: On some camping trips (i.e. when water is limited), we have found it easier to use biodegradable disposable plates, rather bring all our enamelware and do dishes. These not only look great, but they are really effective kindling as well! For sandwiches, burgers and hot dogs, we like to use these paper food boats. We do still bring some reusable camping plates, and use water wipes to wipe them down, then rinse with a little bit of water.
- pop up trash can
Other Miscellany (don’t forget to pack) :
- Cooking oil
- nonstick cooking spray
- salt/ pepper
- hot chocolate/ coffee
- s’mores sticks
- alumninum foil
Favorite on the road / car camping snacks:
- chips and dip
- chocolate covered pretzels
- peanut butter pretzels
- granola bars
- cup of noodles / instant noodles (just add boiling water)
Some other favorite camp foods:
- precooked breakfast sausage
- premade PB & J “uncrustables” – saves time and individually wrapped so no plates needed.
- I love the following Trader Joe’s premade items- packaged egg salad (has long shelf life), packaged antipasto (artichoke hearts, roast cherry tomatoes), brioche rolls (perfect for the smaller sized hot dogs or egg/chicken salad sandwiches!)
Best camping fruits and vegetables: Keep at room temperature and don’t get easily “smooshed” (ie peaches and tomatoes are delicious but can be messy, so pack these with caution if you want to bring them!)
- mini watermelon
- bananas (can smush when overripe)
This is not a sponsored post and the links provided are not affiliate links. I’m sharing tried and true items that we have purchased and used on our own camping trips, and that we like enough to recommend to our friends and family.