Camp Cooking

On a recent thread I inquired about presoaking real oatmeal, not the instant stuff, to help it cook faster. The suggestion to put it through a blender is excellent, thanks, I’ll try it out tomorrow here at home. Better yet, if I grind it smaller, presoak it with boiling water in a good thermos overnight, it should be pretty fast cooking in the morning, eh?

Other foods that I can prepare ahead of time?

I dehydrate lots of soups and chili and stuff like that so I just have to add boiling water and I precook bacon so all I have to do is reheat it in camp. Are there other ways to make camp cooking more enjoyable, faster, use less fuel, be more tasty?


Regular ole roll oats . . .
. . . cook in five minutes. How fast do you want?

Muesli for breakfast

– Last Updated: Jan-04-09 10:55 AM EST –

Let rolled oats soak overnight in a liquid (without cooking) and they become a breakfast called Muesli. There are many ways to vary the basic mix. At home I use 1 cup of rolled oats, one cup of apple cider, hand full of raisins or other dried fruit and a few chopped nuts. You can add brown sugar, honey, Agave or whatever you like to make it sweeter. I find the sugar in cider is enough for me. Plain water in place of cider would be lower calorie version but would not taste as good to me.

The hardest part of making muesli is remembering the night before to take a couple of minutes to mix it. This mix makes enough for two smaller servings or one large. I place the mix in the refrigerator overnight and also store it there if saving half for the next day.

Google muesli and you will get many ways to vary this mix. Have not tried this variation, but in camp you could try tang or some other drink mix in place of the cider. Strong hot coffee will provide the "hot food" aspect to breakfast.


Quaker makes the slow cook oatsmeal and 1 minute oats. My kids and I eat it home all the time. All you do is boil water, add the oats, stir and let it sit for a couple minutes and its ready. IMO its way better than the indivual packs and just as fast. I hate those individual packs. The container looks the same as the original and comes in the huge can as well.

Make your own packets . . .
In a snack size ziploc bag:

1/4 cup rolled oats/quick cooking oats or oat bran

1/4 cup raisins

2 tbs sugar

1/4 tsp cinnamon

1/8 tsp nutmeg

Stir into boiling water and cook 5 minutes.

This concoction will last a very long time.

Fast camping meals
These days I pretty much prepare as much of the main course as I can in advance of our trips. Pot pie, noodle soup, beef stew, chili, it all tastes pretty good when heated up at the campsite and can be ready in a few minutes. For breakfast I’ve been buying egg beaters scrambled egg mix which makes an easy to prepare western style scrambled eggs/omelettes in the morning.

A few years ago a friend precooked lasaguana and froze it in freezer bags. Once at the campsite all he did was throw the bag in some boiling water for five minutes. He was eating his lasaguana and also serving it to us while we were still cooking our meals on the Coleman stove. And it was actually better than most things I’ve cooked from scratch at the campsite.

any fresh fruit ideas?
One problem I have with camp cooking is the lack of fresh fruits and veggies - any ideas here? The problems, of course, are that they generally aren’t efficient spacewise, and they’re prone to rapid spoilage anyway so that on weeklong camping trip, you only have one or 2 days of fresh fruit.

On a trip where space and efficiency are at a premium, it’s probably best to leave out fresh fruit all together. However, my purpose here is to get ideas for what you can do if you have a little wiggle room space-wise, and consider fresh fruit to be an important luxury item. I’m assuming that there is no cooler space available at the start of a trip, so we’re talking here about how the items perform at room temp.

Among straight raw items that I’d like to have, I’ve grouped them in 3 groups based a combination of space efficiency and longevity. The grouping is kind of subjective, but the basic idea is whether it’s worth it to even try to take them, beyond what you can eat on the first day.

do okay – carrots, onions, plums;

so-so – grapes, oranges, apples, pears;

can’t carry - peaches, strawberries, cherries, ripe bananas, lettuce, cucumbers, tomatoes.

You can pack green bananas outside the cooler to ripen by the 2nd or 3rd day, then as they ripen (and as other items get used up to make room) you can put them in the cooler. The skins turn black but the fruit is unaffected.

Prepared cole slaw is fairly space efficient and lasts, but has to stay cooled and so takes up cooler space.

P.S. I can’t stand canned fruit, at least what I’ve tried. Canned peaches and canned cherries, way too sweet, most stuff, too squishy, and all of it has that faint canned taste - again, at least among what I’ve tried. Is there anything out there that’s different, that I might not have tried?

Take a look in the grocery store for the “lunchbox” kind of foods. We bring the fruit cups and jello but they have trays with all kinds of different food that doesn’t need to be in a cooler. We also use the pasta sauce that comes in a pouch, some tastier than others so try at home first. They always have new stuff coming out so you never know what you will find.

As far as fresh veggies go, just look at how they have it in the store. If it isn’t kept cool it should last a bit longer in camp. My cold food tends to hold for about 3 days in the cooler. We try to pack only foods that we freeze prior to the trip in the cooler. It’s easiest to prepare the meal at home and freeze it in a food saver type bag. All you need do is heat the meal in the bag, in boiling water. Then you even have your hot water for dish cleanup when you are done.


Sounds like a lot of boiling water :slight_smile:

I enjoy eating and preparing good meals while camping. None of that meal in a bag for me, ugh.

Real eggs, steaks, ham, etc. I do make enchiladas, gumbo, and sausage gravy for biscuits ahead and freeze them. As for vegies, you forgot cabbage (it has a half life) potatoes, onions, sweet potatoes, jicama.

boiling food

I agree with you because I really enjoy cooking at the campsite almost as much as I enjoy camping itself. For me it’s a time to get creative in the “outdoor” kitchen, because for some reason I don’t take the time to get creative at home. But boiling a prepared meal in a bag does have it’s advantages, like when you are more concerned about paddling then cooking and you got to make the best of your time.

We have a paddler who goes on one trip with us and goes all out every year with gourmet camping meals. He takes several hours at the stove to prepare his gourmet recipes which are some of the best camping meals I’ve ever had. But with that said, one of the best tasting steaks I ever had was a venison steak cooked outside after a long day of hunting, it was cooked on a hibatchi with only salt and pepper for seasoning. It was the best!

I guess in the end it all depends on how hungry you are and how much time you want to spend at the camping stove.

I eat . . .
. . . to live.

I like rice but it takes a good 20 minutes to cook, way to much fuel use while camping. So when camping I use instant rice. One of my favorite breakfast meals is to have about a 1/2 cup of inst. rice with dried fruit. I add things like brown sugar, cinnamon, nuts & pinch of salt. Instead of water I use dry milk w/ dry coffee creamer (the flavored one like hazelnut) and about 1/2 cup of water. I package all the dry ingrediants in a zip lock baggie and lable it breakfast - add 1/2 cup hot water -cozy about 10 min For the dried fruit I like pineapple or apricots or apple. These can be made in a dehydrator.

Another thing I like to use, and don’t laugh, is baby food!! Check out the baby food section and look for freeze dried corn !! That corn is fantastic added to your dinner meals. This corn comes in a bag and there are also freeze dried fruits that make tasty snacks.

"Are there other ways to make camp cooking more enjoyable, faster, use less fuel, be more tasty?"

We always bring steaks for the fire, fresh eggs, etc., but OP looking for specific suggestions. Bagged meals need not be a blah event. How about chicken/veggie stir fry over rice, fried chicken breast, tater tot caserole, beef patties w/gravy-potatoes-carrots, pot roast, etc, etc. All you need is an imagination! For “fragile” food just freeze it prior to packaging.

Some campsites make mealtimes a royal PITA. Last year we found a beautiful basecamp on a high island. All water needed to be lugged up a rocky beach, then up the hill to the campsite. My wife had a knee replaced a few years ago and I have had 5 knee surgeries so far. I wish we had taken more boil in a bag meals on that trip. If you eat the meal out of the bag you end up with little more than fork & spoon to clean.


Well, for lunches
I am stuck on the Uncrustables. Peanut butter and Jelly sandwiches, pre-made sealed in cellophane wrappers. You can find them in the frozen section. I pop a couple of those in my thwart bag and that’s lunch. No prep, no mess and they are very tasty.

I need time to digest: all this :slight_smile: :slight_smile:
when I googled musceli I came up with this web page

and there’s a LOT of information to glean, including a bunch of yummy recipes. I’ve never given much thought to food combining that would help me paddle better, I just always planned to eat as much like home as I could. Most people probably knew all this already, especially athlete’s who’ve ever trained hard. I just never thought of it before, so now I have a whole new topic to read up on this winter.

thanks everyone

Another reservoir of information
google “how to dehydrate food” and there is a ton of useful information, enjoyable reading, too.

spell the mix muesli not musceli

Try “muesli” as the spelling when you google and you will get many recipes.


Good Food
My wife and I feel that good food is as important as a good place to camp. As a hiker she lived on ppj, trail mix, and ramen noddle - that changed very quickly. Well stocked supermarkets have some really good stuff. You can now get tuna, tuna steak, salmon steak, shrimp, and chicken breast in a foil pouch. We always bring a frozen steak for the first or second night out.

There are also many great pasta dishes from Ani’s or Lipton that make excellent side dishes. For a main dish we just cook a little more and add meat. The real Spanish Chorizo sausage only needs to be kept out of the sun and so does alot of the dry sausages. There is now precooked bacon that does not require refridgeratiom and cooks up in about a minute. Fresh eggs (in their cardboard box) will keep for about a week; take small or medium.

Dehydrated fruits and vegetables taste great in dishes (not great by themselves). Fresh garlic, peper and sea salt will do wonders. We also take Mortons minced garlic and onion for cooking.

There are some pretty good rice dishes from Carolina, and Goya (as a Hispanic, I love my rice!). Last year we found Paella meal that was quite good (it has a small can of mystery sea food) after adding shrip and chorizo.

Believe it or not, orange Tang tastes great in the woods. Every year we find new stuff. We have not been back to the camping store for food in years.

don’t spell it muscelli, either
that googles some gangster guy:)

This is all weather related, too. Winter, spring or fall temperatures are easier, usually, on food than summer temps. Traveling in cold water, like the Ocean or deep Bay helps, too. Food near the hull will stay cooler. Thanks for the dry sausage tip, that will help with the craving for something chewy that has a good bit of fat in it.

Food - 2
I forgot to mention - we only camp during the summer and we never use a cooler (just a Duluth kitchen pack). Also, if you have a large Asian market near by you can get whole powdered milk. Nothing like it for cereal and coffee in the morning.