What do you eat when car camping?

I’m thinking about going car camping and would like to eat out as little as possible. What do you guys recommend to eat and bring, considering the small amount of storage and limited resources to actually cook the food. I do plan on bringing a very small generator and small microwave.

I have a two burner coleman camp stove and that’s all I use to cook.

I kind of just rotate between.

  1. fried rice
  2. burritos
  3. pasta

I’m a simple man haha. I don’t eat meat so that keeps things simple for me. If you’ve got a microwave you can pretty much cook anything you’d like :slight_smile:


If I had a camping microwave I would be eating mug scrambled eggs all the time. Crack two eggs in a porcelain mug, swish with a fork, microwave for 40 seconds, swish with a fork, microwave for 20 more seconds, at this point it is probably done (xl eggs may require 10 more seconds). Add cheese. Mmm. As long as you don’t overlook it (I never have, I eat this for lunch every day basically) the taste and texture is great.


@Clark With a microwave, you have so many options! One thing we do (on our camping stove but ideally made for microwaves) are meals in a pouch. Like Taylor, I am a vegetarian (but husband is not!) so the Tasty Bite Indian food is a good staple. Another one I have tried and liked are Vana plant-based meals (in a pouch). We used to do burritos but once you open the pack of tortillas, you have to store them in a fridge or cooler so we switched to nachos. We make them in 8" cast iron pans so we each customize them the way we want them. Another option is Barilla makes cooked pasta (for two or one hungry person). You heat in the microwave or on a stovetop - ready in less than five minutes. Hope some of these ideas work for you!


We eat basically what we eat at home.
Quinoa with veggies for dinner and protein of choice. Left over quinoa is used for breakfast burritos.
Rice with curry cubes, (just add water) and grilled veggies is easy and not much clean up. S&B is the brand we use.
Lunch is usually sandwiches/PBJ.
Boxed Mac/cheese is easy and quick. Add veggie hotdogs or regular hotdogs. Easy meal.
We don’t do pancakes or French toast. Too much to clean up. Syrup attracts bugs.
We have a 2 burner Coleman propane stove so, 2 pan meals are ideal.


We eat a lot of the same stuff we eat at home, and I either cook on the fire or over my backpacking stove and a pot support for large pots that a friend welded for us. I think the key to making it easy is prepping beforehand. I throw together “meal kits” of individually prepped &bagged ingredients in a gallon sized ziplock bag. I’ll put soy curls (a vegan chickn substitute), fajita seasoning, a lime, a small chunk of coconut oil, sliced peppers and onions, tortillas, each in a small bag added to a big one. It makes cooking super easy and we do reuse the bags for dry ingredients. Cold stuff gets stored in the cooler. I like to check out dirtygourmet.com for meal ideas. If you are going to cook over the fire, don’t forget pot holders!


I go for one pot/pan meals. Pan: my favorite is slice Fieldroast Italian sausage in half and fry with veggies to eat in a wrap (cook double and have for 2 meals). Pot: knorr side dishes with spinach and tofu jerky; chili beans (right out of the can or heat with extras); oatmeal. No pot/pan: salsa, chips, cheese and lunchmeat plate; spinach salad.
I usually bring some backpacking meals as a backup if I get stuck or run out (or find someone in need - which has happened a few times). Lunch is usually a variety of bars (currently on a Taos maple and pecan bar binge) and nuts. I bring Liquid IV or other electrolyte powder in easy to use packets.
Being in a car means you can stock up locally on longer trips. I go with the local goods and get adventurous in my combinations :slight_smile:


JetBoil hands down is the handiest little stove for car camping. Get a few freeze dried packets, tortillas and peanut butter, trail mix, coffee (jet boil comes with coffee sipper lid too :). I cannot see the draw for dragging around a microwave and generator :woman_shrugging: especially if space is limited. I live full time in an RV and have used my microwave twice the Jetboil still gets used daily though :grin:

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I bought a propane Blackstone griddle and that’s all I use. Found some recipes for foil cooking. I have a roof nest and also limited on space. Usually I Pre-bag, mix, chop and marinate for my weekend jaunts. Happy camping!

Over the years, I’ve picked up a few tips that I’m happy to pass along here:

  1. I always scout out the camping location for the nearest grocery store and rather than freezing everything I plan to cook, I typically stop by the grocery and pick up supplies that will be good for 1-2 days in a chilled cooler. This spreads the love locally, provides fresher food options and frees up space in my big ice chest.

  2. I have learned the art of foil cooking - whether it’s cubed chicken breasts, Italian sausages or depending upon the grill set up, marinated pork) - simply skewer over the fire for a bit and then wrap in aluminum foil placed over or near fire, and you’re good to go. Let the heat and steam do the work).

  3. Discovered that it’s far easier to reheat things that have been pre-cooked and frozen at home than it is to make from scratch campside, such as waffles and pancakes, macaroni & cheese (who has time to boil pasta on a mini gas stove?!), fried rice, etc.

  4. Turnkey campfire cooking solutions like ‘taco in a bag’ (medium-sized Doritos bag, mixed with cheese, lettuce, tomatoes, guacamole, sour cream and, of course, the ground beef (or turkey) with taco seasoning that you’ll cook up over the fire or stovetop

Hope this helps. Happy Camping!

Uh, Microwave? Seems like glamping to me!

Seriously, IF you can afford it, and since they can be had at garage sales, estate sales, and thrift sotres for next to free I assume you can afford to buy a small propane stove. Do it. While there source up a beater stainless pot with a lid, a stainless skillet, and some dollar store utensils, Metal is FAR better for camping than plastic!

Basically put together a bottom dollar cook kit.

An example I saw at my local Goodwill last time we were browsing.

Bottle top single burner stove. Coleman, looked to be new-ish. No dried out seals or anything like that. $2.50.
5 quart stainless cook pot with lid. $1.50
10" stainless skillet with lid. $2.00
Stainless steel, I think, BBQ tongs, spatula, and fork set.
Dollar store Silicone spatula, whisk and ladle set. $1.00

There are other, what I consider absolute must haves for car camping.

#1. Cooler. You CAN get a Coleman 55qt roller cooler for about $30.00, and I own one. I do NOT recommend these bottom tier coolers. They are great for keeping beer cold on game day, but terrible at keeping food cold for a 5 day summer camping trip. IF a good cooler is out of your budget, look to canned meals. More on that below. Or if you can, borrow one. Oh, and the Coleman Extreme seem to be okay, just not their basic models…

#2. Egg protective carriers. My wife and I eat a lot of eggs for the protein as it is cheap and reasonably healthy. But eggs break easily. SOME people crack eggs into ziplock bags in whatever quantites they use. You do you…

#3. Plates, bowls and cutlery. Disposable, or borrowed from home, just nothing that can break in the park out forest please!

Quick and easy camp meals.

#1. Dinty Moore beef stew. It’s cheap, it’s filling, and it’s what they fed us, along with Ritz crackers, on camping ttrips when I was in the scouts so it brings back a fond nostalgia…

#2. Instant oatmeal and jerky. Nothing says lazy camp morning quite like a cup of hot coffee, a bowl of instant oats, and a hunk of beef jerky.

#3. You insist on that Microwave? Okay, then why not any of a number of microwave meals, take your pick, but haul out your trash!

#4. You seriously are going to go camping without doing S’mores?

I could go on and on, and on and on, and… you get the idea. This is just so wide open.

Eat what you like that you find easy to cook. For me, I like to do Chorizo y Juevos on a hot tortilla (Mexican loose sausage and eggs), Grilled Fajitas with refried beans and pico de gallo, small batch spaghetting with made ahead meat sauce… etc…

Keep food in a good cooler and cook on a campstove have made just as good dinners on the road as I do at home… here’s a chicken stir fry…

As I get older I find that I cook less and less; this last weekend I brought sub sandwiches from the wally mart deli along with potato sand macaroni salad and tater chips.

I usually bring pick nick type foods;
cold fried chicken, baked beans, assorted potato variations etc.
Hot dogs over the campfire are a perennial backup.
Many a can of stew or chili has been heated on by the fire or on a camp stove.

When I was doing more cooking any thing that I could fix at home was fair game;
Pizza in a dutch oven, casseroles, breads, roles, cakes, etc.

Popcorn over the campfire is usually entertaining and after you figure out that you have to shake the oiled pan to keep it from burning good too!

One of my next projects is going to be microwave cooking in the tent…