We all know how important it is for families to share meal times together. But in our hectic lifestyles and with juggling schedules it can be tricky to accomplish.
That is why my family loves camping. It offers ample opportunity to unplug, play outside and reconnect with each other and with nature. And one of our family’s favourite camping activities is cooking. Kids are eager to help prepare their food, and get to learn more about what they are eating. This truly is a precious bonding opportunity for our family.
While camping, you want your meals to be simple, healthy, and tasty.
However, kids are funny little creatures with very distinct tastes and preferences - a common hurdle for many parents. Perhaps they’re picky and have strong unyielding opinions which make it hard to create dishes that will satisfy the whole family.
I’ve got the answer.
These 5 kid-friendly camping recipes will help you to plan your clan’s next great outdoor adventure, and be simple enough for little hands to get involved.
1. Low Country Boil Packets
My kids like things to be individualized and having their own packet of goodies. What is so great about this meal is that is so simple and healthy. The preparation steps are basic enough that kids can easily participate, which will make them more likely to eat it. But best of all, they can eat it with their fingers! Who doesn’t like delicious finger food? This is the recipe we used on our last camping trip, but it can be adapted to your group’s taste.
Recipe (serves 4):
- 12 small red skinned potatoes (cut in half to about ½ inch)
- 2 links of Johnsonville Naturals Andouille Sausage (12 total slices about ¼ inch each)
- 2 ears of corn cut into 1-inch wheels
- 12 large shrimp deveined (EZ peel or shell off if you prefer. Kids might not be into peeling shells)
- 4 tablespoons of butter
- 1 lemon (cut into quarters)
- 4 teaspoons of Old Bay Seasoning
- 4 large pieces of heavy-duty aluminium foil
Form each large piece of foil into a little bowl-like shape. Split all ingredients equally among the foil bowls and fold foil over the contents to form packets. Place on a pre-heated grill on medium-high heat and cook for 20 minutes. Watch the timer because shrimp can be easily over-cooked and will become rubbery if cooked beyond 20 minutes. If your kids don’t like seafood, either remove the shrimp or replace with cubed chicken.
2. Sausage & Vegetable Skewer Medleys
Johnsonville has a delicious selection of pre-cooked sausages, including chicken apple, hot links, jalapeno cheese, beer brat, and cheddar cheese, among others. This makes the endless possibilities of unique combinations really exciting. What I love about this skewer medley is that you can customize an unexpected mix of flavours to suit everyone’s individual tastes.
Like the packets (previous recipe), kids can make their own skewer, picking the flavoured sausage and vegetables they prefer. If you’re short on time this recipe can be pre-prepped at home, making camp life even easier. And since the sausages are pre-cooked, they just need to be heated up to your liking (my family likes them cooked with burnt edges).
Recipe (makes 4 skewers):
- 1 large bell pepper, any colour (cut to 1 inch pieces)
- 1 large red onion (sliced vertically into eighths)
- 4 Johnsonville pre-cooked sausage links, variety your choice (each sliced into fourths)
- 4 sweet mini peppers
- 4 bamboo skewers (pre-soaked in water 10 minutes)
Carefully slide vegetable and sausage pieces onto each skewer, alternating ingredients randomly and split evenly among the four skewers. Try different sausage combinations on each skewer to mix things up. Place skewers on a pre-heated grill on medium-high heat and close lid for 5 minutes. Open lid and turn skewers to cook the other side with closed lid for another 5 minutes. Open lid and continue cooking to desired level of burnt crispiness, turning occasionally to cook all sides evenly.
3. Fresh Grilled Tacos
Being from California, tacos are a staple of our diet and must be included in every camping trip. Luckily, not only are they tasty, but they are simple to make. The only thing that needs to be grilled is the meat, but kids can help to assemble the fixings on their own tacos. My daughter loves taco bars, because she feels like she has control over her dish and when given the option to choose, you might be surprised at the healthy choices they might make.
Recipe (serves 4):
- 1-2 lbs meat (typically steak or boneless chicken breast)
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil (or your choice)
- 1 serving of your favourite taco seasoning or meat marinade
- 8-12 Corn Tortillas
- Fixings of your choice: pico de gallo salsa, onions, cilantro, lettuce, cotija cheese, sour cream (street taco style would be a simple salsa verde, chopped cilantro, onions, and lime)
Place empty cast iron skillet on the grill to pre-heat, while meat is being cooked on a BBQ grill. Season your choice of meat (there are various great recipes to find online) and cook meat thoroughly on a pre-heated grill for about 8-12 minutes (depending on cut and thickness). Remove from heat and let cool for 5 minutes while you prepare tortillas. Drop a small dollop of oil onto the hot skillet and place tortilla on top, heating for 15-30 seconds each side. Place aside while heating all tortillas. Slice meat into small, tasty chunks and split evenly among tortilla shells (2-3 per person). Top individually with fixings of choice.
4. Overnight Oats
This is a convenient option for a camping breakfast because it is simple, healthy, and sticks to your ribs. Prepared the night before, this recipe requires no cooking. Loaded with fresh fruit, nuts seeds and oats, your kids won’t care that it is healthy, they will just love their deliciously customizable individual jars. Feel free to experiment with exotic flavours or just keep it simple. Cute Mason Jars are our family favourite container, but for even more convenience skip the clean up and use disposal containers instead. This is a basic recipe we have used, but I encourage you to get funky and creative to your heart’s desire!
Recipe (serves 4):
- 1 ½ cups low fat milk
- 1 ½ cups of Greek yogurt (plain, honey, or vanilla)
- ½ cup of steel-cut oats
- 2 dashes of salt
- ½ teaspoon cinnamon
- 1 tablespoon of raw honey
- Mixture of fresh fruits, sliced small (strawberry, mango, banana, berries, pineapple, peach, kiwi, etc.)
- Nuts/seeds of your choice (slivered almonds, chia seeds, sunflower seeds, etc.)
- Favourite granola or crunchy cereal to top
Mix all ingredients thoroughly in a large bowl except the fruits and nuts/seeds. Pour mixture evenly into 4 individual jars with lids (mason jars or cleaned re-used jelly/preserves jars). Allow each person to choose combination of fruits and nuts/seeds to include in their personalized jar, leaving about ½ inch empty at top of the jar. Mix everything thoroughly and place the jar in the refrigerator overnight. Serve in the morning by topping creamy mixture with your choice of granola or crunchy cereal (we like Kashi GoLean Crunch).
5. Fairy Bread
An Australian kids party staple, this recipe couldn’t be simpler or more fun. Fairy Bread can be enjoyed for a morning snack or as an evening dessert so you don’t have to prepare sticky s’mores every night. Okay, it isn’t the healthiest choice, but it is colourful and exciting. Kids can even customize their bread with a variety of sprinkles and toppings.
Recipe (serves 4):
- 4 slices of white bread, crust trimmed
- Margarine to spread
- Multi-colour candy sprinkles (Aussies call them “hundreds and thousands”)
- Optional: variety of topping choices (coconut, chocolate chips, M&Ms, crushed graham cracker, etc)
Spread margarine in a thin layer atop the bread. For a traditional choice, let child shake coloured sprinkles thinly onto the bread. Or you can get funky by sprinkling other toppings of your choice. Let your imagination run wild!
The Bottom Line
Camping can be a lot of work - don’t make meal time a chore too. Seize the opportunity to have fun with your family and prepare food with your kids. Take the advantage to squeeze healthy choices in with every meal.
Related: Here's some tips for beach camping destinations in Australia for the summer.
Allowing your kids to help will encourage them to make healthier choices (well, maybe not the Fairy Bread!), and all of these recipes can be easily customized during preparation to their liking. Parents will be happy that their kids are eating well and that there is minimal prep and clean-up involved with these delicious kid-friendly camping recipes.
Go on… eat well and enjoy the great outdoors!