If you are a foodie in the forest (or at the beach), the hardest thing about camping might be making the perfect meal. Since s’mores are likely to be a camping staple either way, there are other camping dinner ideas that can successfully marry the simple and elegant. To help shake up your camping cuisine, we’ve come up with a few nontraditional meals to enjoy before the s’mores make an appearance.
1. Charcuterie and Cheese Board
A delectable favorite of picnickers and car-campers alike, the cheese board is an easy way to dine with the best of them on your next trip, and is one of the best camping dinner ideas for families looking for a low-maintenance meal. To spice things up, we recommend pairing this with sparkling grape or apple juice or the wine of your choice.
- Slice or roll cheeses as needed (we recommend one of each: a mild, sharp, and middle-of-the road cheese: mozzarella or provolone, cheddar, brie); roll meats and toothpick (two meats are plenty—salami and prosciutto are favorites); dispense Greek olives into container (non-pitted and fresh); pack grapes, dried apricots and rehydrated or dried prunes.
- Purchase one jar of tapenade, two jars of artichoke hearts, and one jar of marinated red peppers. This camping dinner idea can benefit from either breadsticks or crackers—or, if desperate, bring pita chips.
Tools: One plate per guests; several small serving forks and spoons; six small bowls for olives, prunes, apricots, tapenade, artichoke hearts, and red peppers. One or two large wooden cutting boards for serving.
Cooking Method: No cooking required. Lay out offerings on a large cutting board. For a bonus addition to this already simple meal, lightly toast some bread on your Primus stove!
2. Polish Style Hot Dogs
Instead of hot dogs, pack the cooler with delicious, salty, and satisfying Polish sausages. Most brands come pre-cooked, perfect for a light charring over the campfire or on your Aeril Fire Rack grilltop. This camping dinner idea works well for Paleo and gluten-free eaters alike.
- Buy one package (6-8 sausages) of kielbasa, one large jar of sauerkraut and one large zucchini.
- Store sausages and sauerkraut in cooler but pre-slice zucchini in ¼” thick slices, drizzle with olive oil, add salt and pepper, then wrap in two separate tinfoil packages; add to cooler.
- Take sauerkraut out of cooler ahead of cooking so it can reach “room” temperature.
Tools: skewers for kielbasa; additional tinfoil in case of leaks or tears; small plastic bowls for sauerkraut and plates for sausage and zucchini.
Cooking Method: Add zucchini to hot coals and check for doneness after 15 minutes. Skewer kielbasa and cook over a campfire or grilltop until hot all the way through (about five minutes).
Optional: add Parmesan cheese to zucchini packets.
3. Dilled Salmon with New Potatoes and Garden Veggies
The best part about this recipe is that it’s healthy and easy to prepare; for those who are on a Keto or Paleo diet, the potatoes are optional.
- Purchase one pound of small new potatoes, wash and pre-slice in quarters; add to tinfoil baskets (2) with butter or olive oil, salt and pepper, and herb of choice (we like sage or rosemary).
- Pack 4-6 salmon filets in cooler. Chop ¼ cup of dill (a generous handful) finely into half baggie.
- Pre-cut one yellow squash in ½ inch slices, one large onion in “kebab” slices, and stem 12 button mushrooms; skewer veggies to include 12 cherry tomatoes and 12-15 pineapple chunks, kebab-style.
- Marinate veggie skewers in a rectangular pan that can hold 4-6 skewers in sauce of choice (we recommend a prepared sauce, as there are plenty of great ones on the market) for 2-3 hours.
Tools: Tinfoil to package salmon; skewers for veggies (prepare ahead of time) for veggies; pan for veggies (to marinade).
Cooking Method: Remove skewered veggies and wrap in tinfoil; they can be buried in coals for 20 minutes. Wrap salmon in tin foil (1 filet each), drizzle olive oil and add chopped dill; add salt and pepper to taste. Bundle tinfoil tight and bury salmon in hot coals and cooked for 10-12 minutes; turn halfway through.
Alternative Cooking Method: if you are at a campground with a grill, or you’ve brought along your openfire pan, use charcoal and grill fillets and potatoes in their tinfoil packs. Lay veggies across grill; they require roughly the same cooking time as in “hot coals” method (15-20 minutes) but remember to turn them, and keep them on their skewers.
Looking for more simple meals? Check out The Dyrt’s guide to easy one-pot camping meals to continually simplify your camping cuisine.