Top 10 foods to cook when camping

Camping recipe specialist, Cathy De Abaitua, gives us her top 10 meal ideas for eating on a campsite.

Baked eggs in pot

With my family, I seek out campsites that allow campfires. A fire is not just to keep us warm once the sun has gone down. We make good food on it too, which takes a little planning, but that's half the fun. Before I go, I might make pasta sauces, salad dressings, spice mixes and treats to take along and add to local produce - these days many campsites are near decent farm shops.

1. Prepare a 'just pitched dinner'

After the effort of travelling and pitching a tent, make your first meal something that just needs heating up. Italian meatballs and a tomato sauce made at home and then dangled over the campfire in a Billy can, then some pasta, is ideal.

2. Take campfire treats

One of the joys of camping is sitting around the campfire at night, chatting with a beer and some snacks. I make spiced nuts at home and bring them along, which are great to share with friends.

3. Children's bedtime treats

My children display boundless energy when they're in a field, so to slow them down for bedtime I make them some real hot chocolate.

4. Something veggie

Cooking outside can mean a relentless diet of meat. I balance our camping diet with vegetarian meals.

Pork pie with slice
5. The festival pie

 In the past I would never have dreamed of taking a pie to a festival and would have instead perused the stalls offering international cuisine. As I now have three    children and can't afford to purchase festival food for everyone, I take a large festival pie to feed the family. It should do two meals if kept in a cool box. Something  best eaten cold, like a lamb or pork pie.

6. Some beans

I pack some meals that won't suffer too much if I can't keep the cool box super cool. Like quesadillas. filled with beans, salsa and cheese. To whip up lunch quickly, I make the bean mixture at home and then only have to assemble the quesadillas and heat them up.

7. Barbecue

Spruce up burgers and sausages over the campfire with homemade relishes and chutneys that you have brought along to camp.

8. Sweet treats

When setting up camp, I keep the children quiet with a cake or two. Some cakes travel better than others; ginger cake, lemon drizzle and brownies are tried and tested.

9. Store cupboard dinner

Lay something on for a quick and easy lunch. For example, pasta served with pesto prepared at home.

10. One-pot meal

A one-pot meal is good if you don't have many pans, limited washing up facilities or only one burner to cook on. You can include the carbs in the pot such as pasta or potatoes or eat it with bread warmed over the campfire.

Visit for more of Cathy De Abaitua's camping tips and recipes or read stories of Cath's camping trips in her husband Matthew De Abaitua's book, The Art of Camping, published by Hamish Hamilton.

Comments, questions and tips

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pennyclark's picture
25th Jul, 2018
Our first night camping is always spaghetti bolognaise made at home, after a day of driving then setting up, the last thing I want to do is start cooking from scratch! Loving the idea of a pie, maybe for lunch or breakfast on route :)
11th Jun, 2015
Why do some people enjoy making facetious comments rather than having something useful to say? Doing bit of prep at home and finishing it off over a campfire leaves so much more quality time to spend with your nearest and dearest - but maybe some people would prefer to spend all their time away cooking?
4th Jul, 2014
Most of these contain food prepared at home - how this this 'foods to cook when camping'?
17th Apr, 2014
I love camping, but I find meal planning difficult so this is very helpful.
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