Campsite cooking: the perfect 3 day camping meal ideas

Care to give your outdoor cooking a little extra excitement? Our meal plan gives you a set menu you can use when camping for 3 days, two nights. This is the perfect weekend meal plan.

Have you had enough of dehydrated meals while camping? These meals, while convenient, are expensive and just don’t taste that satisfying after a few days, often cost between $12-18 and are something that you wouldn’t eat at home.  

The problem is that these meals don’t rehydrate enough in 10-15 minutes, and always taste a bit dry when eating, making them less than satisfying. To properly rehydrate these meals, they need to sit a long time, and the longer the better if you can keep them from cooling off. If you can, instead of leaving these meals for the recommended time, try 30 or 40 minutes. Wrap the bag with some extra clothing or down jacket, and store them away from the wind. You’ll find they’ll be a lot tastier the longer they rehydrate in hot water.

These food ideas are for car, canoe and backcountry camping, though for backcountry camping they are a bit on the heavier side, and you may want to adjust the recipes to make them lighter.

There is no need to skimp on flavourful gourmet food with these meals. Here is what you’ll need.

backcountry camp cooking

Grocery list


  • Eggs for one breakfast. Break your eggs into a sturdy Tupperware container with a screw on lid, so they don’t leak out.
  • Pack of corn tortillas
  • Coffee or tea
  • Sugar, powdered milk (or Coffee Mate)
  • Polenta (1/3 cup per person) with cashews, almonds, coconut flakes and dried cranberries or raisins


  • 4 bagels
  • Wraps
  • Cheese, pre-sliced
  • Salami or any cured meat 
  • Sliced peppers
  • Small container of nutella
  • Peanut or almond butter
  • Energy bars or granola bars (bonus: make your own)
  • Trail mix: pre portioned or make your own with nuts, sunflower seeds, chocolate chips and raisins


  • 2 chicken breasts, pre-cook at home and cut into slices
  • Pre-soaked black beans
  • Quick cook rice
  • Egg noodles
  • 2 packets of dry pasta sauce
  • 3-4 sausages, pre-slice at home
  • Bag of salad, look for a packaged salad that includes dressing, or make your own
  • Boursin cheese, or any soft, spreadable cheese or cream cheese
  • Can of smoked oysters

Camp supplies list

Read more about different types of cookware for backpacking. 

Day 1

You’ll eat breakfast at home, then hit the road to get to camp or the trailhead. Make sure to eat something rich in protein, like eggs or whole grains to keep you full until lunch. For example, try toast with almond butter and jam, steel cut oats, hard-boiled or scrambled eggs.

If you’re hiking in somewhere, make sure to make your sandwiches in advance. It’s much easier to assemble them at home and when you’re ready to eat them, you’ll be hungry. Don’t forget to add a bit of sauce on your sandwiches, if you prefer, for example, try a bit of mustard or salad dressing.


On the trail, enjoy sandwiches with cheese, chopped peppers and salami (or any cured meat).


Appetizer: Crackers topped with Boursin cheese and smoked oysters. If you don’t like smoked oysters, skip them, crackers with the soft cheese are delicious on their own.

For the main meal, enjoy quick cook rice and beans with sliced chicken and salad. It’s a good idea to eat your fresh food (salad) on the first night, for maximum freshness. Obviously you don’t want to be carrying in raw meat and cooking it either, so cook your chicken at home (either bake or fry if you’re’ in a hurry) and slice it before you pack it. Let it cool, then wrap it in tin foil and put in a thick ziplock bag. Add pre-soaked black beans to rice and cook, add pasta sauce.

For sauce, buy a dry sauce mix which you generally only need to boil with a bit of water to make. Some call for milk, in which case bring a bit of powdered milk.

Pre-made packaged salads are available at your grocery store, and work well, particularly the coleslaw blends. The bags are usually for 4 people so split the portion in half for a meal for two. They also come with small packets of salad dressing, which is super convenient.

cooking and camping in the backcountry

Day 2


Eggs with corn tortillas, coffee or tea

Good morning! Time to start your day off right. You’ll probably have a good appetite after a night outside, and need to fuel up for an active day outdoors.

For the first breakfast, eat your freshest food. Eggs fried up with the rest of the cut peppers, on corn tortillas. Add oil to the pan, then the peppers. Heat the peppers first then add the eggs, and scramble with salt and pepper. Before they are fully cooked, put the corn tortillas on top to heat them. Add up to 2 at a time. The warm pot will soften the corn tortillas and give them a great texture.

Coffee lovers, there are many ways to enjoy coffee in the outdoors. Our favourite is the MSR filter with ground coffee. The best is to have one of these per person, as it takes a little bit for the coffee to filter and drain. Bring coarsely ground coffee for this, or for a quicker option, try instant coffee. The best, though the most expensive, is the Starbucks VIA packs. Note, the suggested prep guideline makes the coffee a little weak, so I suggest 2 packs per 300 ml of coffee.

For cream in your coffee, bring powdered milk, and you can also use this to make pasta sauce for dinner that night. Another great idea is a dry artificial creamer, like Coffee Mate, it packs well and has a bit of sweetness to it, and tastes more like the real thing than powdered milk does.


Wraps with cold cuts and cheese, and a chocolate bar for desert. Eat trail mix or energy bars for hungry moments between meals.


If there are any remaining crackers, eat them with cheese for appetizer.

Sausage with pasta in tomato sauce. Egg pasta is a great choice, it cooks very fast and is tastier, and richer in protein than regular wheat pasta.

Don’t forget the treats! Wine and chocolate.

Day 3


Polenta with nuts, coconut flakes and maple syrup. Portion about 1/3 cup of dry corn meal per person. Mix dry polenta with nuts like cashews and almonds, dried cranberries or raisins, and coconut flakes in a ziplock bag. Pack some maple syrup in a small bottle.


Wraps with peanut butter and nutella. Prepare these after breakfast and pack them for the hike out, along with energy bars and trail mix.

Now you’re done, so head out for dinner and order yourself a satisfying meal at your favourite pub or restaurant.  

Remember to practice leave no trace camping ethics.

Don’t forget the treats!

Treats always taste better while camping. Chocolate is a good one, and will help you replenish lost sugar and calories. Also try cheese, the pre-packaged small sizes work well. If you’re bringing in alcohol, put it in a wine bag for easy carrying.

Learn more

Read more about backcountry trail food and coffee in the backcountry, and about stoves, water filters and when drinking untreated water may be safe. 

Find out more backcountry breakfast ideas

Be sure to read our list of most of the best backpacking stoves available on the market. If you’re really into saving weight, you can also make your own backpacking stove. 

Are you vegetarian or vegan?  Try these delicious trail food recipes

Remember, you don’t have to eat dehydrated meals while you camp. While they are convenient, and you should definitely take one with you in case of emergency however, you don’t have to eat them every day while camping. Some are better than others, and some of the better tasting ones include Good To Go and Mountain House brands. 



Alicja is an economist, enjoys climbing, mountaineering, backcountry skiing, cycling and gets out into the backcountry as much as possible. See all of Alicja's Blog Posts

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