15 Delicious make-ahead camp meals for families

A campfire meal being prepared

Save time and sanity on your next camping trip by planning ahead

One big lesson we have learnt from our recent camping trips has been the need to cut down how much stuff we are carrying ‘just in case’ and planning out our mealtimes with more thought.

Last month a sand storm saw us sheltering in the car when we should have been setting up our tent, which then led to us trying to prep our dinner in the dark – which you guessed it – meant tired hungry kids!

Instant camp meals are now our absolute go-to for camping trips near home. All the prep work is done in our clean (and sand-free!) kitchen, then we simply need to set up a fire, cook & serve.

Looking to expand my repertoire though beyond a reheated spag bol and roast potatoes, I’ve turned to the best food bloggers to help put together this amazing collection of campfire-ready recipes for your to try with your family.

This post is part of our camping & outdoor adventures series

Items you will need for campfire dinners

Before we dig into the recipes, there’s still a lot to be organized and packed to make sure your meal times run smoothly. Depending on how long you are away for and how many advance prep meals you are aiming to make, you’ll need to consider in your food box:

  • Washing up bowl, dish liquid and tea towel – alternatively, if you’ll be doing the dishes you need the right gear for clean up time, a fold-flat washing dish is a great space-saving investment.
  • Ziploc bags and clips – always handy for leftovers.
  • Cooler box to keep your meals in – bear in mind if people will be grabbing drinks etc throughout the day you may want a separate cooler just for meals to keep them cool. If you have a powered site an electric cooler is ideal.
  • While some of our recipes here need simply placing in the fire of some boiled water adding, you may also want to consider investing in a good camping skillet or dutch oven which are great for one-pot camping meals.
  • Fire starters – always handy when you need to get cooking in a hurry
  • Don’t forget a good pair of BBQ gloves for the fire – forget trying to fish out items with long sticks, always go safety first!

Unsure about setting up camping boxes and all the essentials you need to camp with kids? Head over to this post we talk you through what’s in each of our ready-prepared camp boxes and what we buy fresh (includes a downloadable checklist so you won’t forget anything next time you camp!)

Desert and beach camping packing list for families - a checklist next to a tent on the beach

Delicious make-ahead camping lunches & dinners

No more meal prep when you should be relaxing, here's a selection of make-ahead dishes to bring on your next camping trip, perfect for lunches, sides and main meals.

Delicious make-ahead camping breakfasts

And let's not forget breakfast too. Especially if you plan on hitting the trails, splashing in the lake and burning off that outdoor energy while you're camping, you'll want some hearty breakfast ideas to get your day underway. Why not try one of these ready-made brekkies to take on your next camping trip:

With thanks to all our amazing home chefs for sharing their camping recipe secrets!

More advice camping with kids

Camping with kids can certainly seem daunting at first but has been one of the ways we have been able to get the kids off their electronic and engaged with what’s around us, plus its a real budget-saver! You may also enjoy reading:

  • How to go desert & camp camping with kids – not nearly as daunting as it first sounds, just embrace the sand! Top camping families share their tips, plus a handy downloadable camping gear guide to pack your car.
  • Gifts for outdoor-loving kids if your kids are starting to show an appreciation for the great ideas, help them explore further with these nifty items they can use outside
  • Essentials camping gear with a baby – now camping with kids is one thing… camping with a baby is a whole other level! Here’s what you need to pack to make your journey easier.

You can find our complete collection of articles for camping, hiking, glamping & outdoor experiences with kids here.

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15 Time saving and delicious make ahead camp mal
Camping meals in advance - pot over a hot camp fire

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