Top 10 camping staples

Convenience and portability are key when it comes to packing your camping larder. We count down 10 basics to get you started.


Know what to take camping

Making a meal out of a handful of ingredients you've carried along is one of the joys of camping. As long as the ingredients you've picked are light and versatile. We've chosen 10 staple 'foundation' ingredients around which to form some smart dishes for campsite dining.


1. Halloumi

Roasted peppers and halloumi wrapThis firm sheeps' milk cheese travels really well in a cool bag as it holds its form and has a very high melting point. The robust nature of halloumi means it can be cooked in slices or chunks to an almost meat-like texture. Fry or griddle it and have with some salad leaves and dressing, skewer it to cook on a campfire or serve it in wraps.

Glossary guide to halloumi
Griddled halloumi with beetroot and orange
Halloumi kebabs with thyme and lemon baste
Roasted pepper and halloumi wraps


2. Flatbreads

Flatbread pizzaUnlike an ample loaf, flatbreads pack down into a neat and bendy stack, ideal for slipping into a rucksack or hamper. They can be made into a pizza, served either cold smeared with hummus or baked with traditional cheese and tomato toppings. Go Mexican and fold up some melty quesadillas or use for a quick steak sandwich.

Hot salami and courgette flatbread
Flatbread pizzas
Cheese and chilli melts
10 minute steak and blue cheese wrap


3. Chorizo

Chorizo and fried egg wrapFind yourself a good quality cured Spanish sausage, nestle it into your knapsack and you're away. Chorizo is the perfect camping sausage as its ready-cured so can be sliced and eaten as a snack, or can be crisped up in an omelette, served with eggs for breakfast or combined with potatoes in a hash.

Glossary guide to chorizo
Chorizo, potato and cheese omelette
Chorizo and fried egg wraps
Sweet potato, chickpea and chorizo hash


4. Sardines

Sardines on toastAll tinned fish are great for camping, but as sardines usually come in chunky fillets they feel more like a whole meal. Serve Spanish style on toast for breakfast, with canned chickpeas and zesty lemon for lunch and with spaghetti, fennel and broccoli for supper (not necessarily on the same day).

Glossary guide to sardines
Spanish sardines on toast
Sardines with chickpeas, lemon and parsley
Pasta with pine nuts, broccoli, sardines and fennel


5. Rice pouches

Mixed bean and wild rice saladAs one of the most versatile grains, rice is the foundation for so many great meals. Ready cooked or boil-in-the-bag pouches are light and transportable and go from cooking stove to plastic plate in minutes. Keep your cooked rice fresh in a bean salad, make it into a spicy curried pilaf or whip it into Chinese-style egg fried rice.

Mixed bean and wild rice salad
One pan spicy rice
Oriental egg-fried rice


6. Eggs

Feta and semi-dried tomato omeletteThey may need to be perched atop your apparel and transported with relative care, but eggs are fine camping fodder. Omelettes can take all manner of fillings (it's a good way of using up your chorizo), but frittatas- bulked out with potatoes in the Spanish fashion- served in wedges stretch a lot further. Eggy bread also makes a classic campsite breakfast.

Feta and semi-dried tomato omelette
Chorizo, potato and cheese omelette
Potato frittata with pesto and goat's cheese
Ham and eggy bread with salsa


7. Pasta

Bacon, spinach and Gorgonzola penneWhatever shape or size, pasta is a much-loved convenience ingredient that rules in a league of its own. Slender spaghetti is best for saving space, but penne and fusilli are more palatable once they've gone cold. Create a simple carbonara with sausage instead of bacon, throw together a storecupboard puttanesca or melt creamy blue cheese into a mushroom sauce.

Sausage and broccoli carbonara
Storecupboard spaghetti puttanesca
Creamy mushroom spaghetti
Bacon, spinach and Gorgonzola pasta

8. Tinned fruit

Grapefruit, orange & apricot saladWhen it comes to camping desserts, it's often a case of assembling rather than cooking. Tinned fruit can be mixed into an instant salad, but if you want to add a special touch, melt some chocolate into a sauce and drizzle over tinned pears sprinkled with hazelnuts. Sweet shiny canned peaches with cream are a retro winner too.

Pears with speedy chocolate sauce
Grapefruit, orange and apricot salad
Tropical fruits in lemongrass syrup


9. Chickpeas

Chickpea, chili and feta saladReady-prepared canned chickpeas are far more convenient than the bagged dried variety that requires soaking. Pour the peas directly into a bowl and dress simply with oil, vinegar and herbs for a versatile side dish. Alternatively, stir them into a spicy one-pot or use as the base for a salad.

Pumpkin curry with chickpeas
Spiced chickpeas with halloumi
Warm chickpea, chilli and feta salad


10. Ready-made meals

Spaghetti and meatballsAnd we're not talking a microwave lasagne. One of the best ways to cater for your campers is to make a one-pot dish at home that can be finished off onsite. A pre-made ragu or meatballs in tomato sauce can be heated and poured over spaghetti, a chilli can be served with bonfire-baked potatoes and stew can be served with couscous. Just make sure it has been cooled correctly and store in a chilled environment.

Big batch bolognese
Spaghetti and meatballs
Super-speedy chilli
Bonfire Night baked potatoes
Spicy chicken and bean stew


Food safety alert

Camping often means a lack of refrigeration so make sure you go armed with a cool box and ice packs if you're taking perishables. Cooked food shouldn't be above fridge temperature for longer than 90 minutes and when you're reheating anything make sure it's piping hot the whole way through. Take a look at the NHS LiveWell website for 10 tips to avoid food poisoning and how to store food safely.

Get more inspiration from our camping and campfire recipe collections.

Comments, questions and tips

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9th Jun, 2015
Cooking for a family when camping can be a bit of a challenge, but I like to try and get local ingredients and produce. Then, even if its cooked simply it still tastes great and fresh. I really like the holiday food boxes made by They've chosen some great locally produced staples like fresh eggs, bacon and sausages that I can just throw on the bbq but still taste delicious. A holiday treat!
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