When the weather gets warm and staying indoors becomes a near impossible task, many people turn their thoughts from the daily grind to the great outdoors. Camping is a favorite activity during the spring, summer and early fall months because it offers people respite from the stresses of their urban reality. But for some people, camping presents added stress and difficulty, induced by the tasks involved with camp meals. You have to bring cooking implements, coolers for cold food, airtight containers for dry food, a dishwashing station…with all these considerations for mealtimes alone, the idea of camping becomes daunting rather than relaxing.
Camping meal preparation has progressed far beyond canned beans and cold sandwiches. Today’s campers can — and do — create restaurant quality meals with the right equipment and a little bit of skill. However, if you’re looking to get the most return for a relatively small amount of effort and know-how, consider the one-pot camp meal. These meals simply take a variety ingredients mixed together in one skillet, pot, or dutch oven, and turn them into savory, filling dishes that are sure to please virtually everyone.
One-pot dinners are simple to create with a few core ingredients. Before heading out to camp, stock up on a few staples to help with meals. Take along the traditional cans of beans for protein and fiber, along with some packs of bacon, hot dogs, beef steaks or stew meat, and versatile vegetables like cabbage, carrots, onions, and potatoes. Be sure your meats and dairy products are kept cold at all times, and separated from vegetables. Dry pasta and rice serve as excellent fillers for soups and stews, and are easily contained in zip-lock bags or plastic containers. Don’t forget basic seasonings like salt and pepper, keeping in mind that dried or fresh herbs can add a whole new dimension to a one-pot meal.
If you are familiar with basic cooking techniques like sauteing, frying, and boiling, you have all the skills you need to create one-pot meals. Although the idea is to use the one pot continuously throughout preparation of your meal, it’s a good idea to have another bowl or container nearby in case ingredients need to be transferred to complete another step. These recipes are perfect for the budding camp cook, or a seasoned chef who wants to call the night a bit early on account of a stunning sunset.
This one-pot meal couldn’t be any easier. Pick up a few boxes of your favorite macaroni and cheese and prepare according to directions. Add one or two cans of tuna (depending on the size of your group), and if you want an extra flavor-texture combination, sprinkle on some grated cheddar or pour in some frozen peas (don’t worry if they’re not frozen by the time you make this!).
Beanies and Weenies
Did we say the previous one-pot meal couldn’t be any easier? We spoke too soon. Whether you want to use cocktail weenies, chopped hot dogs, traditional pork-n-beans, or your own home-style baked beans, all you really have to do is heat all the ingredients together and enjoy. Now that’s easy camp cooking!
Spaghetti with Marinara
Spaghetti with marinara sauce might be our favorite one-pot camp meal of all time, because it’s literally a no-miss choice for a variety of palates. Kids, adults, vegetarians, and carnivores can all be appeased with a spaghetti dinner, with virtually no stress to the camp chef. After boiling and draining your noodles, prepare your sauce in any way you like and then simply add in the noodles. A little water swished around the pot while it’s still warm will keep the tomato sauce from caking on before it’s time to clean up.
Image via grggrssmr