Here are a few tried and true camping tricks and tips to make your trip less work, less costly, and more enjoyable!I have been camping with my family of 5 for almost 10 years now. It’s our vacation and our little tent trailer is our home away from home.
- checking out new digs
- my tent trailer
- marveling at trees, bugs, and wildflowers
- the feel of dirt between my toes
- the smell of wood smoke
- the laughter of my kids
- poking things with sticks
- identifying creatures with my Audubon Society Field Guide (lovingly named “Lisa’s nerd book”)
I feel more centered in nature and more alive surrounded by life that is bigger than me.
I can take my family of 5 camping (with friends or family) for 5 days with 1 food cooler,1 drink cooler, and 2 dry food bins.
The goal is to have fun, reduce cooking & cleaning time while on vacation, and keep our food costs down, which keeps our ice and gas costs down as well. I hope you enjoy these quickie tips on camping for those on a budget!
Easy Camping Tip #1
Share dinners with your group! Each of us picks a night to cook dinner. Thereby reducing the nights you end up cooking and the total amount of food each of us needs to bring to cover our meals. (The last night is usually leftover smorgasborg night)
Easy Camping Tip #2
Buy more of the same items and morph your meals, thereby saving money and cooler space while still having variety in the wilderness.
My shopping and prep list is based upon the following serving sizes per meal.
*1 Dinner for 10 people
*Lunch & Breakfast 5 people.
It takes a little more work at the beginning of your trip to cut this all up on day 2 but is worth it in the days to come. If you are able to pre-chop or pre-cook any of this at home you have totally rocked your camping trip and score 10 points!
Shopping list for these 3 meals;
3 lb bag frozen chicken breast
4 Alfredo sauce in a jar (Classico has least amnt of chemicals)
3 White Onion
3 bell peppers (yellow red and orange)
1 Can Mushrooms
1 jar artichoke hearts in water
2lb block of cheese (to be used for sandwiches as well)
2 packages Tortillas (Canteca flour- all real food ingredients)
2 bags Garofalo Organic Pasta
1 lb thick cut bacon (Costco low sodium)
small can Herdez salsa
Sour Cream (Knudsen has no chemicals! yay)
Dinner night 2;
Fully cook entire bag of frozen chicken on griddle. Chop up all veggies at once, use part of them for the dinner, put the rest back into the cooler for later use. Sautee some of your chopped onion, zucchini, bell pepper, entire can of mushrooms, and entire jar of chopped artichoke hearts. Open jars and pour over softened veggies. Simmer on low while chicken cooks. Boil water, put in noodles. Once chicken is done chop up all chicken, bag some for future use. I serve each item separately because my family is picky.
Breakfast day 3– Finish off the veggies that are left over from day 1 and 2, throw in some of that precooked bacon (it doesn’t need to be heated prior to adding to eggs). Check out our tried and true low mess omelet recipe!
Lunch day 4 – Grilled chicken quesadillas- finish off leftover chicken and veggies, add some cheese, brown ‘em up on a griddle. Serve with sour cream and salsa…yum
Easy Camping Tip #3
After all that packing, driving, and setting up camp make it easy on yourself, EAT CANNED FOOD!
We love chili for our first night. Our favorites are Trader Joe’s Organic Vegetarian Chili or Amy’s Organic Black Bean Chili.
Chili night dinner is super easy- especially as a first night meal. Open cans, put into pot, shred cheese, plop on the sour cream, then scoop with chips. Nothing hits the spot better or cleans up faster. Yum!
Easy Camping Tip #4
How do you fit 5 days’ worth of food for 5 people into the minimal space available? Here are a few suggestions that work for us.
You will want a separate food cooler and drink cooler. The drink cooler gets opened more often so your ice melts faster.
Frozen food is KING to keep that ice icy. Hash browns are frozen as are the precooked sausage links. They don’t take a lot of time to defrost or cook up either. Freeze the items you are going to use toward the latter part of your trip if you can.
Precook things at home that generate a lot of grease (bacon, hamburger, raw sausage pugs, etc) You can cook them 3/4 of the way so they just really need to be heated up and fully cooked which takes no time when camping, thereby saving propane as well.
Use tortillas instead of bread. Bread gets squished and molds very quickly when camping due to moisture in bag when it heats up. So eat that bread up quickly or don’t bring it at all! We (being from Ca) love our tortillas! They are extremely versatile for burritos, sandwich wraps, and quesadillas. If I have to put the tortillas in my cooler I can because they are flat. They keep way longer, pack easier, and you don’t have to be as careful with them.
Use gallon sized Ziploc bags and put everything in them! Once your ice melts your food will be flooded without them.
I usually organize by product type;
butter, cheese go into one
sausage and meat products into another
then by size (jelly condiments etc)
Use those Canning Jars….put milk into quart canning jars. The water cannot get in and there is no cardboard container to melt in water.
Eggs too…. I crack my breakfast eggs into a quart canning jar as well then dispense as needed for breakfast. Keep deeply buried in that cooler so they stay fresh and cold.
Freeze a gallon of water for each cooler to help your ice last longer and to ensure you have water by the end of your trip.
Lay flattened paper bags on top of your ice once you fill the cooler then put your veggies and fruit on top of the bags so they don’t get ice burn. Put a little ice in with it just to keep cool.
The paper bags also help the ice to melt slower for some amazing reason.
I usually get stuff done over the course of a couple of days. I put things all in the same bin in the fridge so they are together for packing. I also have a pack list that I used to pack the food.
Remember your coffee fixins and hot chocolate for the kids!
Hope this is helpful.