Easy camping meals for large groups
May 28, 2023
Adventure is more fun with fun company.
If your next camping trip is all about getting together with friends and family then this guide is going to help you sort every meal out with easy camping meals for large groups, requiring minimal effort and ingredients. Because, sure the food has to be good, but it shouldn't take a toll on your time or energy level.
Not every minute of your camping trip will be spent with every single person staying together with the whole group. Some people get tired quicker, others may be planning activities, and some may be still responding back to their offices on their day off. But, the food or the dinner times really brings everyone together.
Also, the camping crew is usually split between tasks. Some people may be taking care of setting up the camps, the rest may be taking care of the fire and other equipment. And you may be in charge of tantalizing taste buds and making sure everyone gets a satisfying meal.
But, with great powers come great responsibilities. So, here's everything you need to know about camping food and everything that goes into cooking easy camping meals.
Camp Cooking Tips For Big Crowds
First things first, know their preferences. You should know if anyone is allergic to something specific, whether your friends are vegan or vegetarian, or if they avoid a certain food group. Knowing the limitations and needs is the first step to proper meal planning.
Second, have a rough menu or list of items that you will be cooking on the trip to actually account for the groceries, cooking equipment and items you will need in the great outdoors to make this happen.
Third, you will need a cooking system, even if it is a fire pit or a fancy fire grill, or something basic and essential such as the Jet Boil Stove System. It is a good investment if you like being in the outdoors and love to have company around.
A basic pan to cook most meals is also a smart investment. When you don't know what to make, you can just stir-fry the items you have on hand in this pan.
Fourth, if the trip is longer, or you are planning to serve the good stuff then you should have a portable cooler on board, the kind that keeps food and ice intact for 18+ hours. A cooler or a portable fridge will really make life easy and keep things fresh until you are ready to use them.
It also opens the opportunity to use pre-seasoned, already prepped items and other fancy things such as marinades, dips, cheese, etc.
A little pre-planning goes a long way. Especially if you are open to making ahead camping meals.
Breakfast Camping Meals For Big Groups
Breakfast should include high-energy foods, these should include some form of protein, some carbs and perhaps some quality fat to be burnt throughout the day.
Usually, eggs and sausages will do wonders unless you are serving vegan or vegetarian guests. Also, be mindful of common allergies to any of the ingredients, again.
Double-check these, especially because you will be remote for the trip and you do not want to get someone sick while on their holiday.
Scrambled Eggs and Breakfast Sausages
Start by unwrapping the sausages. It is up to you if you want to chop them into bite-sized chunks or keep them whole. Cook on a pan with some butter or olive oil. Prepare scrambled eggs in the same pan. Or grill to your liking. Once done set it aside. You can also use the BioLite portable grill to prep some baby carrots, potatoes, zucchini, or aubergines on the side.
Campfire French Toast
Some bread, butter, milk, eggs and sugar. That's all you need to make this classic go-to comfort food. Beat or whisk butter, eggs, milk and sugar together until foamy. Dip your bread in it. Heat a pan with butter. Slowly cook your soaked toasts to your desired level of dryness. You can drizzle maple syrup, Nutella, sprinkle cinnamon powder or add a dollop of whipped cream on top.
Hash browns and baked beans
One of the best camping meals is as simple as serving hash browns and baked beans on a plate.
Start with the beans. Grab a can of plain white beans or red kidney beans. Drain and rinse the content of the can. Now, pour the beans into a pan over low heat, and add barbecue sauce, vinegar, brown sugar and tomato puree. Let this cook as you move on to the hashbrowns.
Grab an egg, and whisk with salt and pepper. Add two medium-sized potatoes to it shredded. Heat your pan, and scoop out the potatoes and egg mixture on top. This is where you press them softly to get the desired smashed look on the hash browns. Cook until nice and crispy.
If you want to add more carbs to this breakfast spread then butter some dinner rolls, rub them with minced garlic, and sprinkle herbs, black pepper and salt - next sear the rolls ever so lightly over the same griddle or pan. Now that's a delicious sideline done and dusted in less than 2 minutes!
Coffee and Tea
If your gang is big on caffeine, then you have to have a proper coffee and tea setup with you. For coffee, you may need a grinder, a brewing system and mugs. You can make instant coffee, or try unique filter coffee systems.
Or you can buy a pack of cold brew and then use a milk frother to get you some cold or hot foam on top. It is all a matter of how picky you are about it and how others like it. Tea is again a good choice, you will just need some tea bags and a bunch of cups to make tea from hot water.
The night before the trip you can remind everyone to grab their coffee or tea essentials. That can take the load off of you and in case someone is really specific about the kind of beverage they want in the morning or during the day, they can bring it along.
A little something that can be done the night before and still be very delicious when it is time to eat - overnight oats. Just grab some oats, soak some chia seeds, coconut flakes, fruits, or your favorite toppings, nuts, chocolate sauce, or maple syrup and sprinkle some creativity, voila! You have a camping breakfast ready in no time.
Fruit salads or Granola
Camping breakfast can be simple enough. Some chopped fruit and granola can be a tasty meal too, remember it is about the company, the experience and the food really is a small part of the greater whole. If you don't feel like cooking a ton in the morning, granola works fine.
Camping Lunches For Large Gatherings
A lunch can be anything light and refreshing especially if your camp location is at a sunny spot. The sun can be dehydrating and that just does not mean that people will need more water, they will also need more minerals and electrolytes.
Sports drinks do partially solve that problem but not everyone will want to chuck sugars into their body if they are into the wellness aspect of the trip. So, the easy solution will be to have a salad prepared or be available for lunch, accompanied by a nice grilled meal.
Overstuffing your guests with a lot of calories during the middle of the day can exhaust them and make them feel sleepy. So it is best to keep it light and refreshing unless you guys have already had an exerting activity such as a long trek or a tough hike. If not, then fresh fruit will make a good side dish at this point.
Boil pasta for this one. That's the only hard thing to do in this one. Grill julienned zucchini, bell peppers, shallots, carrots, corn and broccoli with salt and pepper. Grill until each vegetable is slightly tender to bite. Mix the pasta with the veggies. Add a bunch of cilantro and lime, and enjoy hot or cold!
Quick and lazy dessert ideas include campfire s'mores, pancake mix cooked over a griddle, cookie dough and tiramisu that you can make beforehand and serve later.
But, if you really want to do something unique and memorable then call everybody to join you. Try campfire banana boats with s'mores, grilled peaches, grilled watermelon skewers, or simple build-your-own ice cream sandwiches. Keep it simple and share the joy of cooking food with everyone in your clan.
Camping Dinner Recipes For Large Parties
Now dinner is where usually the drinks will be plenty, people want two categories of food at this point, one is snacks and light nibbling items. The other is proper food with perhaps fresh veggies, a creamy sauce, or some kind of side dish perhaps if you are feeling fancy among other things. Alternatively, this can be a good time to make your campfire pizza, sandwiches and pies.
Campfire Pizza or Sandwiches
Roast is not the only thing that you could cook on a campfire. But, you already knew that. Campfire pizza is a delicacy. You just need refrigerated pizza dough, some marinara sauce and your favorite toppings. It is easy, fun and can be customized as per your liking.
Once you have decided what you'll top your pizza off with then it’s time for step 2. This is prepping your fire. Get a small ring of hot coals near your fire. Place a cast iron skillet or pizza pan on top, and fill it up with the base, sauce, toppings and cheese. Let the heat turn the crust to a light golden brown. The cheese should look melted and bubbly. You can add some herb seasoning on top for extra aroma and you're done!
For sandwiches, cook your meat or try a cold cut, layer it on toasted bread, cream cheese spread, mayo and everything nice. Easy, customizable and super filling!
Pro tip: Always marinate your chicken whole, with skin, a few hours before you plan to cook it. Marinating it beforehand saves time of course. But, it also helps break down the fat and inner structure of the chicken helping it cook faster.
Make sure the flame is not too high if you want to cook the chicken directly on the flame. Too much flame will burn it or make the roast chewy and dry. You don't want that. Instead, opt for a grill or do this in a pot or over a grill. Remember to add small splashes of water to prevent the meat from sticking to the base. Serve with condiments or roasted veggies on the side. Such a crowd pleaser!
Another quick, easy and nutritious meal for a cold camp night: Pumpkin soup. You need the fewest materials to make this. The end results with this one are comforting and delicious. So, grab pumpkins or your favorite squash, and puree it with garlic, leeks and onion. Keep the ratio of squash to the rest of the vegetables 4:1, that's 4 butternut squashes for one leek, garlic clove, and onion and keep a few coriander leaves for garnishing.
Now, you could blend these and then cook them if you have a blender. Or, you simply chuck these into a pot, stir and slow cook them into a fine paste. Add salt and pepper, then top it with cream, coriander and olive oil. It is a one-pot recipe and that means easy clean-up after eating.
If you are feeling lazy then you could just grab frozen schnitzel steaks and cook them over olive oil or butter in a pan. However, if you want to go the extra mile, prep your steaks with a blend of herbs, panko crumbs, seasoning and some milk. Coat well, and store properly in an airtight container. When you are ready to use them, heat your pan, and prep some garlicky-herby-buttery veggies on the side. Optional: add marinara or parmesan-based white sauce on top.
Easy peasy and quick to make: grilled chicken. This is a versatile item and you can not go wrong with this one. Choose your favorite spice blend or seasonings, coat chicken fillets, or meat on bone, then cook until tender and golden brown. For best results use an open grill like this one.
Barbecue is an easy camping meal, making it can be a group activity and everyone can gather around the fire to cook together or chit chat. You can chuck some patties on the grill, grab a pack of buns and get delicious burgers as well. One of the best things about group camping really is the ability to enjoy a delicious meal together.
Cooking the easiest camping meals is a way to stay connected to all the fun going on while you and some friends are cooking without missing any of it.
Easy Camping Snacks for Large Groups
Throughout the day, be prepared to have snacks handy. This can be something simple such as instant mac and cheese, or potato grits, or even something fancier such as sandwiches, cookies, sliders, or tiramisu jars. You can make many of these in advance. And then simply eat them out of a container while you are on the camping trip.
You can also build a taco station or a cheese board so people can DIY according to what they are craving, rather than asking everyone on and off. It will prevent anyone from hesitating or keeping you too busy with the cooking.
Cut your veggies, season your meat or vegan meat, make marinades and store this stuff in airtight containers. Easy meals are tastier when they are prepared well. It will reduce the stress of getting it right and you will know that you already have already completed half the sprint. So now at the beautiful, scenic camping spot you just need to put it all together in a few minutes and then enjoy the food that you know tastes delicious.
Handy things to have onboard
You should have condiments ready before. If you are going to use ready-made sauces then it is alright. But, if you have a secret recipe, make sure to prep it before and store it in an airtight container. Things like sour cream, maple syrup, a pancake mix, olive oil, soy sauce, some fresh vegetables, brown sugar and trail mix recipes can come in handy when unexpected hunger hits your group.
Remember to have a pancake iron or a pie iron on board as well. A cast iron skillet can give you a lot of use as well, as it is easy to rinse and reuse as long as you are not burning it. Keep some spare reusable utensils at hand as well. Just in case you lose some or want to have a minimal impact on the environment on the trip.
Also, since you do plan to serve a large group, invest in a pot that holds massive volume of food. Nothing is worse than carrying 5 pans and then not having enough cooking space. This one is a trustee we think works best for bigger groups.
Having spare cheese, sausages and rolls can give you instant hot dogs at any point of need. A spare frying pan can be essential if some of your friends have any specific food allergies and then need to have their own meals prepped separately.
Remember.. don't be a lone wolf
Your camping holiday can be so much more fun if everyone is participating in the tasks at hand and bringing their own styles to the adventure.
Although you may not need the entire group to cook the meal it is so much fun when the company is actively engaging with each other. Some people may be telling stories as you cook, others may be prepping some parts of your quick meal, and the rest may be laying around or singing. It is a different vibe with a group that actually likes to mix together and hang out.
Also, easy does it camper!
Sure, you want to hone in on your outdoor skills, but when camping in the great outdoors sometimes it is best to take it easy.
Don't stress about it.
Enjoy all the steps of this process and don't fret about all the effort that will go into making the food. Every person on the trip will want to help you out and the food will turn out to be delicious each time. So, there's no room for worrying about it.
Enjoy the next trip!