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Camping meal ideas

Beautiful family camping in forest, eating together.

Camping meal ideas for your next adventure

Camping is a great way to escape from your normal life and enjoy time with your family and friends. With a range of activities on offer, there’s always something to put a smile on your children’s faces. From swimming to cycling, it won’t take long to work up an appetite, so you’ll want to make sure you have a few good recipes up your sleeve come the end of the day.

So, which camping meals are best for families at the campsite? With so many fresh ingredients available in shops across France, you will be spoilt for choice. Staying flexible enough to be able to incorporate local or seasonal ingredients into your meals will make for some unique culinary experiences. However, there’s also a lot to say for having back-up ideas up your sleeve and that’s where we can help!

You may find you’re more restricted with cooking space than at home, so we’ve put together a list of camping meal ideas fit for any camping kitchenette. From famous French cheese to the southern specialty of cassoulet, we’ll help guide you through the basics of campsite cooking. Whether you’re looking for a fast family feast to keep your children happy or something for a special occasion, such as an anniversary or a birthday, we’ve got some great camping meal ideas to share with you ahead of your next camping holiday in France

What are the best camping meal ideas?

Whether you need a quick meal or something more substantial, here are our top camping meal ideas. 

Get the day started with a campfire breakfast or brunch

What better way to start the day than with a swim followed by a freshly cooked campfire brunch? One of our favourite camping meals is a smoky bean one-pot. Head down to your local supermarché where you can pick up chipolatas or merguez and chorizo. Cook these up with rosemary and onion. Then add passata (a jar of tomatoes), BBQ sauce and seasoning and cook for a few minutes before cracking in eggs and covering with tin foil. This will take 30-40 minutes in total, but it will give you all energy for a day of activities!

Whack the bangers on the barbecue

We couldn’t have a list of things to cook when camping and not include a barbecue. Grab some steaks hachés (burgers) and saucisses and throw them on the grill for that authentic camping feeling. Grill some sliced aubergine, courgette and red pepper to get the veggies in and serve with couscous – generally widely available in French supermarkets (near the rice) and ready after one minute in boiling water. Remember to check the barbecue policy at each campsite, as some will have specific zones in which you can cook.

Load up on veggies 

For those that follow a plant-based diet or just to keep the family diet balanced, there are loads of camping-friendly recipes out there. One such recipe is beetroot and feta burgers. Slice up or grate some beetroot and spring onion, frying for a couple of minutes. Crumb some bread, feta and walnuts. Chop some mint. Mix all this together, with some lemon juice, seasoning and an egg for binding, then form into patties for baking or barbecuing. Toast the buns and spread with hummus before adding your burgers! 

Keep it light with a summer salad

France can get pretty hot during the summer months, and in the heat of the day the last thing you might want is a heavy meal. So visit the local deli or deli section in the supermarket and buy some locally sourced, freshly prepared dishes for your family to enjoy. Being one of the largest producers of agricultural foods in Europe, you’re bound to find some delicious cold meat and vegetable dishes. 

Make sandwiches for if you’re on the go

Visit your local boulangerie, where you can buy a freshly baked baguette to make the perfect sandwich. Then add some camembert and your salad of choice and you’ll have the lunch of champions. (If you prefer to use meat as a filling, try to store the sandwiches next to something cold until they’re ready to eat. )

Create some campfire treats

Treat your children to a classic evening around the campfire that they won’t forget. Put marshmallows and strawberries on a skewer and hold over the campfire until the marshmallows begin to toast. Guaranteed happy family! 

Open up a can of cassoulet 

Tired after a long day and need something quick and filling? Cassoulet could be the answer. A French recipe which has been simplified into a can version, it is a real people-pleaser. Filled with meat, beans and sauce, it really just needs to be reheated under the grill or in the oven. You’ll want to pick up a few cans as there are sure to be requests for seconds. And don’t forget to check that you have a tin-opener before doing the shopping!

Make a one-pot meal

The classic camping meal tends to involve one pot only. There are so many recipes which we could list that involve one pot, but chicken pilaf is one of our favourites. Fry up an onion, some other veg of choice and some chicken pieces, before stirring in rice and some curry paste of your choice. Pour over chicken stock, then cover and cook until the stock is absorbed. 

What are the benefits of knowing how to cook a good camping meal?

Keep your family fed and happy on your next camping excursion and enjoy seeing smiles all round.

Keep the troops happy

Camping is super fun holiday for everyone, but it also consumes a lot energy, so having a few great recipes is a sure-fire way to keep your family smiling and motivated throughout. It also means you can save money on dining out which can be spent on exciting activities or an extra night or two’s holidays.

Spend time together whilst cooking

Not only is cooking a fun activity to do whilst camping, it can be a great opportunity for you to spend time with you family and chat around the campfire or barbecue. What can be a laborious task at home can be turned into a real bonding experience when camping. 

A great team-building experience

Cooking whilst camping takes skill, with there being less space to operate on. So getting help from your family to wash, chop and stir the food can be a great way to spend an evening and work towards a meal cooked by the entire family. 

Get the full camping experience

Cooking over a camping stove, creating your own meals and providing for your family is one of the most fulfilling experiences you can get when camping. Not only does it add something to the whole camping experience that you wouldn’t get if you dined out every night, but it also brings everyone together under the stars for a great feast.

Gives you the flexibility to camp anywhere

When you are able to cook a meal whilst camping, it gives you the freedom to camp wherever you want. You won’t have to keep an eye out for campsites that have a restaurant nearby, but rather you can camp in the most rural of areas, giving you unlimited freedom. 

Useful tips for camping meals

If you’ve got any reservations about cooking outside, let us put your mind at ease. Check out the answers to these questions that are commonly asked.

What cooking equipment will I need?

It depends on how you are travelling really. If you have a vehicle, then you have the luxury of space and you can bring pots, pans and a larger stove. For those hiking, or cycling, you might want to consider a foldable one-pot which you can also eat from. You’ll also need a spork, gas cannister, stovetop and a cup. If staying at a campsite with communal BBQ spaces, you will need you barbecuing equipment and some lunchboxes for the leftovers – think sausage sandwiches next day!

Should I cook over gas or fire?

Not all campsites will allow barbecues or campfires all year-round due to the fire risk, so having a gas canister and stovetop is always a great option. Then, should you be at a campsite that allows fires to be started safely, you can choose which cooking method you’d prefer. 

Do campsites in France provide cooking equipment?

Campsites don’t tend to provide cooking equipment unless you have booked a chalet or glamping tent. Even then, you should consider bringing the few small items you find indispensable, like a vegetable peeler, garlic press, sharp knife, masher or hand blender if travelling with little ones, etc. 

Where can I get all the ingredients from?

France is great for buying ingredients, with a large selection of locally and internationally sourced foods. People shop at their local small vendors on a daily basis, so you will usually find a local boulangerie for breads and pastries and a grocer for fresh vegetables, as well as a supermarché for bigger shopping trips. Campsite shops provide the basics at larger campsites. 

Will my food taste as good as when I cook at home?

Yes! Your food will taste as good as it does at home, maybe even better! There is something about making food outside under the stars that makes even a cheese sandwich seem tastier than just a cheese sandwich. If you haven’t tried campsite cooking yet, you’re in for a treat!

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