What Do You Take Camping to Make Things Easier

Updated on July 13, 2015
❤.M. asks from Santa Monica, CA
19 answers

We tent camp a lot.
Since it's all a lot of work, what do you do to make it easier?
I make taco meat ahead of time so all I have to do is heat it up.
I like the battery operated lantern so I can take it into the tent (have done rv rentals but can't since we're saving money right now).
What food do you make ahead of time for dinner?
What do you make for lunch? We do sanwiches.
What are your favorite meals? Cheats? Comforts from home you bring? Side dishes? Agh....help. Thanks everyone!

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answers from St. Louis on

Beer! no, wait, one of those jump starter batteries. It can power things like my air mattress. Also low voltage devices like cell phones can charge off of it. It has a tire pump and a hose that blows up inflatables. Just kind of a useful thing I think.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

I always liked bringing a nice precooked stew to heat up over the fire. We also made those foil packet dinners that you cook directly in the coals. And wieners roasted over the fire!

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answers from Dallas on

We do a lot of tent camping. Things we do to make it easier...for one we have a plastic bin packed and ready to go. It has the cooking gear, laterns, bug spray, first aid stuff, emergency toilet paper, wipes,trash bags, a few ziplock bags, etc. It's all ready to go. We restock before putting it away. I used to have a packing list taped to the lid. It had each person's name and reminders like - clothes, swim suit, hat, sunglasses, flash light, etc. It helped me remember to pack appropriately for each person. And kept us from leaving without sunglasses. Now I think I have it down and I no longer use the list, but for a while, it was helpful! I have a HUGE bag that I store all the sleeping bags and pillows in. I bought pillows on sale. They became "camping pillows" and just stay with the gear. It makes our trips more "grab and go", than spending hours hunting down things and packing. We also carefully pack our tent when we leave. I hate this chore, but it makes set up so much easier. Our cheats are the air mattress (too old and fat to sleep on the ground any more. ;) ) , our powe inverter (you can plug things into it and it runs off the car outlet) and a battery powered fan...Texas gets HOT in the summer.

As for food. We often do fajitas. I can precook a lot of that before we leave and then just heat and eat. Hobo dinners are another fave. Sometimes I prep those ahead of time, sometimes we do it all on site. In fact, there are LOTS of foil packet meals out there. Do a google search and you may be surprised. Just depends on how we feel. And hot dogs are pretty easy. The kids like cooking those on sticks. We keep pretty busy when we camp. My kids and hubby kayak fish most of the day. So lunches are even more simple. We snack a lot. Jerky, nuts and fruit. Sometimes we do homemade lunchables. Bread always gets squished, so we don't really do a lot of sandwiches. We don't do side dishes really either. Lots of snack type foods. If it is cooler weather, we may go all out for breakfast and make some sort of breakfast burritos. Most of the time, Texas is too hot for starting a fire or lighting a grill first things. So we bring fruit, cereal bars, granola bars and the like for breakfast. I freeze pouch drinks and our waters to help keep the cooler ice from melting.

We always bring a book of fairy tales to read at night in the tent. Our kids are 6 and 9. It is kind of a tradition now. We don't read every night, but we do read it while we camp. We bring cards, uno, a ball and bubbles for entertainment during "down times". All electronics, except for the fish finder and walkie talkies on the kayaks and phones for emergencies are banned while camping. :)

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answers from Oklahoma City on

I have taken Spaghetti, pasta can cook on the campfire pretty easy if you have water and a pot. Myself? I cooked it at home and put butter in it to keep it from sticking. I had my sauce in a zip lock baggie and I put both in pots in the embers to heat up. Was the best spaghetti ever!

I have also cooked friend potatoes with onions at home and then put them in a zip lock bag in the ice chest. Then for breakfast scooped some out and fried them with some eggs. Sort of like a breakfast burrito thing but without the flour tortilla. Did some beans one time, ahead of time, then reheated them by sitting the cast iron pot in the embers to slowly heat them up. Heated the fried potatoes and onions up in a skillet on the hot part of the fire. Was very very good.

I worried about the little ones getting out of the tent during the night so I always slept across the doorway. I still had a hard time dropping off and getting good sleep though. I'm not an avid camper.

If I'm going to cook each meal as I go then I'm going to do easy things like hobo meals, orange muffins, things we can wrap up in foil and leave for a while.

Hobo meals are raw HB meat, then sliced onions, other veggies as desired, and spices are put inside a piece of heavy duty foil and put on the fire to cook. The orange muffins are when you take a whole orange, slice it in half sideways, scoop out the middle and eat it leaving only the rind, then pour lemon poppy-seed muffin mix in 1/2 and place the top half back on it and wrap it in foil and put it in the embers to cook. It comes out and the whole orange rind is full of muffin. It's yummy!!!!

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answers from Houston on

I take my Visa so I can get a hotel room. =)

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answers from Portland on

I make taboulleh and a roasted veggie salad to take. I'll add in the tomatoes to the taboulleh right before serving so it holds up better, and I'll dress the salad right before serving if I'm using any dairy in the dressing (mayo).

We usually take some old towels and a small stool for next to the tent, for removing dirty shoes. Also an old chunk of carpeting at the door of the tent. Cuts down on tracking stuff in.

I have a 'kitchen kit' which holds my knives, salt, pepper, olive oil, salt, any herbs for anything I'm making --I prep those ahead and put in tiny baby food jars. Small cutting boards, tea items, can openers, corkscrews and more, all go into this kit.

We love going, having a bottle of wine in the afternoon with cheese, crackers and olives, cherry tomatoes... a leisurely snack. I like savories. Playing cards, I always bring a book of crossword/word puzzles with me, one 'serious' book and one graphic novel,just for fun.

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answers from Washington DC on

just got back from a wonderful tent camping trip in the shenandoah mountains! i certainly could have made things easier on myself by prepping more food ahead of time. taco meat is great. i took hamburgers and hot dogs and chicken breasts (easy to do on the hibachi or camp stove or over the fire), sausages (which i should have cooked beforehand and just heated up), eggs (terrible idea, very hard to clean up- next time i'll hard-boil a big batch), big baking potatoes (stick in the fire in tin foil to cook the night before, then just heat up on the night you want to eat them), and lots of finger foods like carrot sticks and pepper strips with hummus. i took canned veggies but we never used 'em. lunches were much easier, just lunch meat and cheese in wraps or buns, with baggies of nuts, baby bel cheeses and protein bars.
it really is a LOT more work cooking over fires, isn't it? i hadn't camped in a few years and had forgotten how long it takes.
but so wonderful. it was a great trip. hope yours is too!
and don't forget the organic chocolate. you don't have to share it.
:) khairete

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answers from Grand Rapids on

Make a head of time-beef jerky and granola/ energy bars for lunches. If you have room, Dutch oven. It can cook meals (check Pinterest/Google), and even desserts like cobbler. Instant oatmeal is an easy breakfast. Canned tuna, chicken. Freeze jugs of water for the cooler. Other reminders-rope and clothes pins to hang wet suits/towels, deck of cards, wood matches, dryer lint for fire starter.

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answers from Denver on

A coffee percolator is a must. I get it ready the night before and heat it up on my Coleman stove, another must. I always cover the picnic table with my own table cloth. We have a huge screen tent over the picnic table which I love.
I have a large clear plastic bin for the kitchen ware stuff (plates, utensils, dish soap, sponge, bug spray, etc.) I have another one for food that doesn't need to be kept in the cooler.
Coleman lantern & battery powered lantern for the tent.
We each have one of those travel bags from llbean for bathroom toiletries. I keep the kids stuff in mine.
Breakfast is usually cereal, bagels &cc, fruit, store bought donuts. Lunch is usually deli sandwiches & chips. Snacks: tortilla chips & salsa, peanuts, triscuits/cheddar/pepperoni. Dinner we grill on a little cast iron hibachi...usually chicken, burgers, steak or sausage with a salad (in a bag) and maybe a pasta salad that I made ahead of time. I try to have to only do a lot of dishes at one meal.
I put a doormat outside the entrance way to the tent to help cut back on the amount of dirt that gets into the tent.
A clothes line is really good. I hang stuff off the screen tent sides to dry as well.

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answers from Baton Rouge on

I keep it simple. Sleeping bags, couple of changes of clothes (we wear the same jeans for several days), foods that don't require refrigeration and won't create leftovers.
Bread, peanut butter, apples, oranges, cereal bars, jerky, gatorade, dried fruit, nuts, cereal that can be eaten dry (we love mini-wheats straight out of the box), canned goods. If there is fishing available, oil and corn meal to cook our catch.
Coffee is a must, so I bring my French press. A couple of pots to heat water or canned vegetables in, cast iron skillet to cook any fish we catch.
Lantern and flashlights, toilet paper, garbage bags. I can cook over a campfire, so I don't bring a camp stove, just a grate to set pots on.
If I have to pack up the whole freaking house, I might as well stay home.

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answers from Salinas on

I pre-make veggie chili and freeze in a plastic bag. Helps keeps the ice chest cold while it thaws and we can eat it later in the trip. Add hot dogs and some watermelon or corn and you have an almost no cook dinner.

Slice red potatoes in thin rounds season with garlic eat for dinner and toss leftovers in a pan the next morning to reheat for breakfast potatoes. You can make a hash of some sort with them too.

We always have one really nice meal, salmon, veggies, green salad etc. Then it's easy stuff. I've found many variations of mexican are simple to prepare. If you cook a higher end meal the first night cook enough meat and/or veggies for a mexican meal the next. This works great for fajitas.

I have an vintage Coleman beverage thermos (think big jug with a re- closable spout on the side). I fill it with tap water and leave soap, a hand towel nearby, instant hand washing station. No need to go all the way to the bathroom. Who doesn't need to wash their hands a lot while camping?

We have a thick straw doormat for in front of the tent and of course the hand broom for inside.

I could go on forever. I love camping. Have fun!

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answers from Rochester on

I haven't camped in years, but we had a little 2 burner propane stove that used the small propane canisters. You can control the temp a little better than just a fire. We used it for bacon and eggs, bacon for BLTs, canned chili/soup, etc. We also did lots of cold sandwiches and hot dogs over the fire. And S'mores. Always s'mores! Check Pinterest for camp food ideas. There are tons of them.

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answers from Washington DC on

It really depends on the location.

If there's a laundromat, I plan to do laundry. If there's not...then I pack more clothes. If there's a bath house, I won't pack the propane shower. Food like quinoa is good and doesn't take much to make. We also like our coffee in the AM and will freeze water bottles to be blocks of ice til they melt, and then they are clean water to drink.

We have a nice Coleman stove that we upgraded to from our old cranky one. And cots for the family/kids to keep us off the ground. Fleece blankets allow you to be cozy without a lot of weight. Raincoats. Rain BOOTS.

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answers from Beaumont on

We haven't camped in awhile but I remember pre-cut veggies were very important. Added them to almost everything. Cooked in foil pouches a lot. We too, made sandwiches for lunch but always cooked on the fire at night, usually hamburger patties with grilled veggies in a foil pouch or precut and pre-grilled chicken that we could add potatoes to...(once again in those lovely foil packs) . I remember we always brought a seasoned salt, pepper and oil for cooking. We usually brought a hammock so we could have a comfy place to kick back. Paper plates, plastic forks etc. Don't forget grocery bags so you can store food or use them for trash disposal! Have fun!!

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answers from Sacramento on

I try to do as much prep ahead of time. I cook meatballs then freeze them in ziploc baggies with the spaghetti sauce then cook noodles at the campsite. I make hamburger patties and freeze them. For lunches, I get large deli sandwiches- like over a foot long without mayo or mustard. We cut those into sections, add our own condiments (get the little packets) and that's lunch. I make pancakes for breakfast (I find the mix that only needs water)

Cheats and creature comforts? Toilet paper and my pillow. And no one is allowed to wear shoes in the tent. Flashlights are fun and practical. Everyone has their own. Portable charger for the cell phone and/or a camera.

Have fun

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answers from Lakeland on

I suggest making a list of what you used on your last trip and only take that. I think most people tend to bring more then what they really need and that includes food.

I like the freeze dried foods for tent camping, they are light weight and easy to make (you only need water). Can goods or already cooked foods that don’t need to be cold. Check out some of the preppers websites you will get loads of ideas.

I always have several lanterns and a solar powered light. I recently purchased a solar power charger (for my phone, but it will charge a laptop too).

I would plan it based on where you are tent camping. If you are staying at a KOA (or somewhere similar) you will have access to many amenities, like electric, water (Coleman makes coolers that plug in so you don’t need ice), bathroom, and shower.
If you are hiking or somewhere remote your needs will change.

We purchased a small travel trailer so that helps a lot with our needs. I don’t really do hiking camping or primitive camping trips anymore (my family doesn’t like it).

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answers from Seattle on

Tortillas instead of bread because they don't tend to smush. We make refried bean burritos one night, and use the other tortillas for rollups (with pbj or whatever you like).

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answers from Los Angeles on

I broke down and bought the expensive self inflating mattresses. They take up much less space than air mattresses, inflate in seconds and are more comfortable to sleep on.

I like my camp fire grilled cheese sandwich makers.

We always have hot dogs and Jiffy Pop over the fire for at least one meal.

Canned potatoes and veggies are great for camping.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Las Vegas on

I usually have fun answering the questions from the subject line. The one thing I would take camping if someone gave me the option (I am not a camper - not even in the RV), is a TOILET!

As far as meals, we travel often and I like to freeze yogurt, cooked meat, sauce, and as far as prepared foods, I like beef jerkey, dried fruit, croisant meat & cheese sandwiches, nuts, pasta salad loaded with veggies. If you like the pasta salad with oil (non mayo), message me and I will share my recipe.

Also, if your family will eat egg salad sandwiches, tuna sandwiches, &/or chicken sandwiches, you can make some up, cut them in 1/4's and store them in a tupperware.

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