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.
For more camping recipes to keep the family full and happy, check out our main collection for outdoor inspiration.
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 bites
One of the joys of camping is sitting around the campfire at night, chatting with a beer and some snacks. I make sweet & spicy nuts at home and bring them along, which are great to share with friends. Check out even more picnic snack recipes for more portable treat ideas.
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 homemade hot chocolate. A mug of this indulgent drink is the perfect thing for chilly evenings.
For more warming mugs of cocoa, take a look through our best hot chocolate recipes.
4. Veggie options
Cooking outside can mean a relentless diet of meat. I balance our holiday diet with vegetarian camping recipes. Choose from a hearty halloumi hash, to classic barbecue skewers or stuffed breakfast croissants.
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-based picnic pie. Grab a slice of our favourite pork pie recipes or get stuck into our ultimate pie recipe collection.
6. Bountiful beans
I pack some meals that won’t suffer too much if I can’t keep the cool box super cool, like quesadillas. Fill them with beans, salsa and cheese for a quick-fix meal. To whip up lunch, I make the bean mixture at home and then only have to assemble the quesadillas and heat them up.
Get your fill of cheesy quesadilla recipes with our top collection, bursting with quick lunch ideas.
7. Barbecue favourites
Pick your favourite from our 10 burger sauces you can make in minutes.
8. Sweet treats
When setting up camp, I keep the children quiet with a cake or two. Some cakes travel better than others; gingerbread loaf cake, lemon drizzle cake and our best ever chocolate brownies are tried and tested.
Looking for tasty desserts the whole family will enjoy? Take a look at our top 10 picnic dessert ideas for portable treats.
9. Storecupboard dinners
Lay something on for a quick and easy lunch. For example, pasta served with a jar of classic pesto, prepared at home.
Get the most out of your favourite everyday ingredients with our best storecupboard recipes.
10. One-pot meals
A one-pot meal like our spring chicken in a pot 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.
Save yourself the hassle of washing up with our top one-pot recipes.
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Visit cathandmathcamping.com 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.