Camping with a large group can be a challenge. This is especially true if you’re in charge of feeding them all.
This guide will give you the tips you need for successfully feeding a large group of campers.
5 Things To Do Before The Trip
Make A Meal Plan
Cooking for several people on a regular basis is enough of a hassle without having to go around the group asking everyone what they would prefer to eat.
Simplifying things with a meal plan not only gives you a good estimate of how much food you’ll need, but it also cuts down meal preparation time by a lot.
This is the one time you’ll need a decent meal plan. It should cover all meals (breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks, special diets, etc.) for as long as your group will be camping out.
It will make meal times a lot smoother, plus you’ll always have an answer to give to your hungry camper buddies when they ask the inevitable “what’s for dinner?”
Find Out If Anyone Has Food Allergies
The last thing you want is to ruin a nice camping trip by cutting it short for a trip to the emergency room. Ask everyone about their food allergies before finalizing the meal plan.
Adjust it accordingly so that everyone will have something to eat during all meal times.
To be safe, make sure your menu doesn’t contain peanuts, shellfish, soybeans, or other common allergens.
Of course, there’s always that one person that’s lactose intolerant. You’ll have to come prepared with substitutes for their dairy requirements.
Almond milk is a good place to start. Ask everyone about their sensitivities to avoid serving things like gluten to people that are allergic to it. Again, the best strategy here is to have a lot of substitutes so that everyone’s preferences are met.
Divide Up Responsibilities
One of the perks of going camping with a group is there’s plenty of people to help out. Take advantage of this by delegating meal responsibilities to different individuals or parties.
Members of the group can each be tasked with bringing a certain kind of food. This makes it much easier to carry plenty for the whole group and also evenly distributes the workload. There is a catch here, however.
To make sure everyone brings everything that they are required to, there must be excellent communication.
Plan For Simple Meals
You don’t necessarily have to cook gourmet meals for your camping group (depends on your crowd, really).
That’s why the best camping meals are those that need little to no preparation. There are a lot of foods you can prepare before the trip to make mealtimes much easier and more fun.
Whether it’s homemade trail mix, cold beverages, or pancake batter, prepping early enough cuts down your workload during the trip. This allows everyone plenty of time to enjoy themselves without focusing too much on taking care of others.
Silverware is probably the last thing you’ll be thinking of in the frenzy of coming up with a decent meal plan for a group camping trip.
This is a mistake you want to avoid, especially if you don’t want a scenario where you all have to eat from the same utensil, or worse, from hand to mouth.
Pack enough utensils. A general rule of thumb is to bring way more utensils than you think you’re going to need.
Disposable are always a welcome convenience in such scenarios, so pack a lot of paper plates and plastic utensils.
Daily Camp Meal Plan
Being the first meal of the day, breakfast is quite important for campers. They need the energy to power them through another day of exploration, hiking, fishing, frolicking in nature.
Not everyone is a morning person, however, so breakfasts should be easy to make but filling enough to satisfy everyone until midday. What are the best camping breakfasts you can make?
Nothing beats scrambled eggs, the oldest breakfast staple known to man. Scrambled eggs make great camp food because: They can be made quickly and easily; They can be cooked in a lot of different ways.
They make for a very satisfying breakfast meal. Another reason why scrambled eggs are a great breakfast choice is that they can be spiced up with condiments like salsa, ketchup, and cheese.
Packing enough eggs to feed a hungry group of campers every morning can be tricky since eggs have a tendency to break. One thing you can do is stuff them in plastic water bottles (here’s the hack: https://koa.com/blog/camping-hacks/) to keep them safe.
Who doesn’t love a warm stack of pancakes in the morning? Certainly not your hungry campers. Pancakes are the epitome of easy-to-make camping breakfast.
Like scrambled eggs, the fact that you can cook these over either a stove in your camping car or an open fire makes them a versatile breakfast option.
The hardest part about making pancakes is making the batter. You can either make a large batch of pancake batter and store it in Ziploc bags before the trip, or use a ready-made pancake mix.
Here are two simple pancake recipes to get you started:
- Milk – Can be replaced with Powdered Milk.
- Self-Rising Flour
- Vanilla Essence
Bacon And Hashbrowns
Nothing sets a good camping mood like the smell of fried bacon in the morning. Bacon is easy to pack, easier to prepare, packed with nutrition, and a very savory breakfast choice.
If you want everyone out of their tents bright and early, just toss a batch of these into a pan set upon an open flame or portable cooker.
Bacon goes extremely well with hashbrowns especially when you fry them in the residual bacon grease. Eggs and bacon are also a timeless breakfast combination that you can start your day with.
Oatmeal Making a big pot of delicious oatmeal can be the perfect way to kick off an exciting camping day.
Oatmeal is hands-down the easiest breakfast to make for big groups as it can be made in large batches. What’s more, dry oatmeal is very light, so shipping it around shouldn’t be too much of a hassle.
Oatmeal can also be spruced up to suit everyone’s taste. For every batch of oatmeal you make, there should be some honey, peanut butter, fruits, and berries, or brown sugar on hand. This will allow everyone to customize their breakfast as they please.
Whether you serve them as a campfire treat or as an addition to your breakfast menu, sausages are some of the best camping foods you can opt for. They can be roasted, fried, boiled, or even turned into casseroles and chili.
Snacks are important for keeping energy levels up before the next meal.
Snacks are important for keeping energy levels up before the next meal.
The best snacks to pack for a camping group should be filling, available in bulk, and easy to carry.
Granola bars make an excellent snack for camping trips. Everything from the way they’re packaged to the way they’re consumed is convenient, which is exactly what you want in a snack.
You can get granola bars in bulk from stores. Alternatively, you can make your very own homemade granola bars. Here is the recipe (https://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/ina-garten/homemade-granola-bars-recipe-1948524).
No camping trip is complete without two things: a campfire, and trail mix. Trail mix the go-to snack for campers for a reason. It is tasty, packed with energy, and very customizable.
Although you can always go for store-bought trail mix, making your own trail mix can be more fun than you think. You can mix in different types of nuts, M&Ms, raisings, crackers, bits of fruits and berries, and even chocolate to create your own tasty version of the treat.
When lunchtime comes around, you need a meal that’s easy to put together. It should be nutritious and filling without settling too heavy and lulling everyone into an afternoon siesta.
Here, you’ll find that salads and sandwiches are your best options.
Since not every meal can be balanced, you can make up for big, greasy breakfasts and dinners with a spread of fresh leafy vegetables every so often.
Crispy veggies such as spinach, cabbage, and lettuce go well with a touch of honey mustard dressing.
They can be a healthy treat for the group and an appropriate midday meal. Green salads are easy enough to prepare and pack in advance so that everyone can have lunch at their own leisure.
Be it plain old pasta or a tasty pasta salad, pasta is a quick and easy-to-make meal that can come in handy when feeding large groups of people. The best part is that you can prepare the pasta at home then later toss in some vegetables or cheese. Add dressing to create a savory lunch for your camping group.
To make sure that everyone’s happy with what they’re having, create a sandwich station where people get to choose their own fillings. You can use fruit and vegetables like tomatoes, lettuce, and bananas or go for classics like peanut butter and jelly and deli meats.
Remember to put out plenty of sides (potato chips, etc.) to make it a hearty meal.
Skillet stir-fried vegetables can be easily whipped up as a main meal or a side to go with burgers, sandwiches, and subs.
If you find that it is too light to be a proper midday meal, add some pre-cooked starches (noodles or rice) to make it more filling.
Nothing works up an appetite like an exciting camping trip. At the end of the day, it is highly likely that the camping group will be famished, so a hearty meal is in order.
A warm pot of chili is a great way to wind down the day, and a savory yet filling dinner that is quite easy to put together.
Even though you can prepare chili ahead of time, it is just as easily made on site since most of its ingredients are comprised of canned foods.
A few ways you could make chili even more filling is by adding homemade hamburger or sausage patty.
Of course, you can always add one or two extra ingredients to make it special.
Burgers and Hotdogs
Wrapping up a long day of camping with an outdoor barbeque is one of the most perfect ways to finish the day.
If your campsite doesn’t have a grill, bring plenty of foil to make hobo burgers. They are delicious and easy to make (https://koa.com/camping-recipes/hobo-burgers/).
Hotdogs can be grilled over an open flame as you swap stories around the campfire.
Don’t forget, a hotdog is not a hotdog without at least some ketchup. Bring enough condiments to make it a barbeque party.
To make an easy spaghetti dinner, all you need are noodles, some cheese, spaghetti sauce, a pot of water, and a fire.
Simple spaghetti only requires you to bring the water to a boil, cook the noodles, and add the sauce. You can always experiment with extra ingredients like ground beef, garlic, and oregano.
One-pot meals are the best kind of camping meals for large groups.
Meat and Veggie Skewers
For a fun DIY dinner, lay out different types of meat, vegetables, fruit, and marshmallows for a night of skewering and roasting.
You can keep it simple by roasting plain ingredients over an open fire or add spices like garlic and barbeque sauce for some extra flavor.
Even vegetables and fruit make for great skewering food items. Do you know what else goes great with meats and veggies roasted in an open flame?
Potatoes with a touch of parmesan cheese and seasoning. These are a hit with kids.
Hobo packs, like the hobo burgers, can be made easily using nothing more than foil and some glowing embers. To make this exciting and tasty camping meal, first lay out an ample sheet of aluminum foil.
Pack it with meat, spices, carrots, peppers, and squash, wrap the food up tightly and add a second layer of foil. Since hobo packs take a while to cook, you can have everyone prepare theirs shortly after lunch and let them cook in the glowing coals at the fire pit.
They make for a hearty, properly balanced camping meal.