Camping Dinner Ideas: Dinner Round The Campfire
If you’ve read every post in this blog series thus far, you’re probably tired of hearing me say “it’s all about the planning”. But really, it is! Whether at home or on the road, camping, or eating out, having a balanced dinner within my dietary constraints is dependent on two things: 1) Eating a balanced breakfast and lunch with adequate calories and enough variety that I don’t feel tempted to deviate during the evening hours, and 2) Having dinners planned out, which includes my meal and my family’s meal. I guess I should add a third essential ingredient for success: Making sure our day is planned to have dinner between 5:30-6pm before my munchkins get too hungry and all chaos breaks out.
This happens occasionally, including while camping, and, boy, it isn’t pretty. My 5-year old daughter, who is already ¾ of my height and eats more than me most days, takes “hangry” to another level! This is a good reminder of the effect low-blood sugar has not just on physical energy but our mood and behavior. Nutrition effects our bodies AND brains.
So now on to the meat of this post. What I (and what you too!) can eat while camping. I like to keep it simple and have a few more canned food items than I normally do but that’s definitely ok. Here are the dinners I ate:
- Tinfoil Packet Camping Dinner (Recipe Below) – I love these because they’re easily individualized for tastes, preferences, and dietary needs. We had a combo of venison meat (chicken or lean steak also works), peppers, onions, carrots, and potatoes. My packet had sweet potatoes while the rest of the family opted for red potatoes. Everything comes out tender and moist, almost with a buttery taste even though no butter is necessary. Oh, and the best part: there’s no dishes to wash except a cutting board and knife!
- Brats, Pinto Beans, and Zucchini – I found one brand of gluten-free, dairy-free, no sugar added chicken brats and stocked up. These are not easy to find! Canned beans (plain, no sauce) are a great option for a camping dinner or at home when in a hurry.
- Moose steaks, stir-fried vegetables, and Rice/Quinoa in a Pouch
- Grilled chicken and canned green beans While the rest of the crew ate pork chops and stuffing with gravy, I enjoyed my grilled chicken and green beans.
- Bunless Burgers with tomato, avocado and salad I had access to lean elk burger but you can also use lean hamburger (grass-fed is best if it’s in your budget) or ground chicken breast. Ground turkey is find too, I just prefer chicken for the flavor and it sticks together better than turkey.
This sounds too easy and a little too healthy, right? Enter: real life. There was one dinner, after driving an extra 3 hours because of road closures due to wildfires around Durango, CO that I strayed off track slightly. Yes, 9 hours in the car with a 2.5 year old and almost 5 year old, who did AMAZING with no use of the iPad or other technology beyond Raffi and The Trolls soundtrack (I had “Can’t Stop This Feeling” stuck in my head for days after but I’ll take that any day over tantrums or hearing “are we there yet?” for the umpteenth time!). Our re-route included 2 hours on a very rough 4-wheel drive only road over a 13,000 ft mountain pass through the alpine tundra of the Rocky Mountains. Needless to say, we opted to find a restaurant and hotel for the night. The chips and salsa (which could be another food group and I haven’t had in months) at the restaurant hit the spot. Luckily, it was easy to make a good dinner selection, a shredded chicken burrito bowl with black beans and no cheese. And extra pico de gallo, of course.
Even though tortilla chips are not part of my current diet regimen, this splurge didn’t derail me or cause a return of symptoms, and I got right back on track during my main meal and the next day. That’s the lesson here: Make the very next choice a healthy one and you’ll be fine. Allow yourself to enjoy (that’s crucial for eating healthy long-term, especially if you have to follow a very restrictive diet the majority of the time like I am right now) occasional small splurges. I had said “no” to s’mores, ice cream, and peanut butter M&M’s over the course of our trip. Not an easy feat, let me tell you! I know I enjoyed every salty crunchy bite of those warm tortilla chips, and with no guilt. You should too!
Tinfoil Packet Camping Dinner
Prep time: 20 minutes
Cook time: 20 minutes
Total time: 40 minutes
Serving size: 1 foil packet
Nutrition per serving:
Calories 315Fat 8 gCarbs 28 gFiber 6 gProtein 30 g
- 1 lb. diced chicken breast or lean steak
- 12-16 small red or gold potatoes or 2 medium sweet potatoes, diced
- 1 medium onion, diced
- 3 carrots, peeled and diced
- 1 bell pepper, chopped
- 2 tbsp. olive oil
- Spices of your choice: salt, pepper, garlic powder, herb blends
- Lay out 4 12x12 sheets of tinfoil. Spray with cooking spray.
- Place ¼ of each of the ingredients on the foil.
- Drizzle each packet with ½ tbs olive oil and spices.
- Fold foil over and scrunch the ends together to seal the packet.
- Place packets on grill and cook for 10-15 minutes; flip and cook another 5-7 minutes.
- Take off grill and let rest for 4-5 minutes before opening.
Tips: Use sliced brats or shrimp in place of chicken. To make this lower carb, replace potatoes with 1 tbsp. butter.