Well hello, hello! Have I got a fun post for you! We may be saying goodbye to summer, but I’m saying hello to camping season! I know everyone has their favorite time to go camping and some people even camp year-round. But my favorite time of year is fall. Of course since moving to California, I’m sure I’ll be able extend that time by quite a bit. You see, living in D.C., and then a few years in Atlanta – camping in the summer meant lots of bugs, enough mosquitos to put you in the danger zone of contracting some exotic mosquito-borne illness, and what I consider even worse… nights so hot and humid you would wake up in a sleeping bag soaked through with sweat – yet you still felt the need to stay under the covers to protect you from those pesky mosquitos still flying around in your tent. Personally, I much prefer relatively bug-less and cool nights when laying my head down to sleep. Hence, my preference for fall camping.
Since moving to California, my cousin (who lives in Washington) and I have been talking about a camping trip. We finally decided to meet about halfway in Sunset Bay State Park, Oregon. I was assigned to food detail. The easy part – we were car-camping; meaning you can load up your car with all sorts of gear, coolers, and all the bottles of wine you want. Unlike the name sounds, car-camping doesn’t mean that you pull up to the campsite and sleep in your car. Car-camping is simply setting up a tent and sleeping by your car. So instead of backpacking into the wilderness with only what you can carry, you can pack as much as your car will fit. As I said, ‘carrying’ the food was the easy part. The challenge was… the menu had to be vegetarian-friendly. The notion seemed a bit daunting at first. But then I thought… this won’t be too difficult. I’ve got plenty of veggie/camping-friendly recipes. Plus, it might not be such a bad thing considering our method of refrigeration would be entirely relegated to a cooler full of melting ice.
If you’re going on a camping trip, I highly recommend that you write out a menu and bring it with you. This will not only help you to remember what you need to pack, but it will also help you stay focused when mealtime comes and you have hungry campers to feed. This is the menu I put together; I’ve included hyperlinks to a few recipes as well:
- Thursday dinner: Mac n’ Cheese and Green Beans (I used a pre-packaged bag of washed and trimmed green beans and I did not ‘shock’ them per the instructions in the recipe)
- Friday breakfast: Hash browns (I used a bag of pre-made hash brown from the freezer aisle) and veggie sausage links
- Friday lunch: Halloumi Crostini
- Friday dinner: Veggie burgers (from the freezer aisle) and Spicy Ethiopian Lentils
- Saturday breakfast: Ethiopian Spiced Tofu Scramble with toast
- Saturday lunch: Black Bean and Corn Salad with pita chips
- Saturday dinner: Veggie Kielbasa with sautéed sliced onions and red bells peppers
- Sunday breakfast: Oatmeal (I used instant) with canned evaporated milk and berries
- Snacks: Spiced Trail Mix Popcorn (HUGE hit! I made it at home and sealed it in a zip top bag), fruit, and string cheese
A few helpful tips:
- Prep and portion all of your ingredients while you’re at home – chop all of the veggies that you can and combine all of the spices for each meal into one bag (be sure to label each bag).
- To minimize packing space and weight, I filled a travel-size bottle with olive oil for cooking. Use this method for any other cooking oils you may want to bring.
- Be sure to bring a pot, pan, small knife, cutting board, large wooden spoon, pot holder, salt and pepper shaker, bottle opener, can opener, trash bag, zip-top bags, napkins, kitchen towel, sponge, cups, plates, utensils.
- Extras you may want to bring: instant coffee, tea, sugar, evaporated milk, wine, and beer.
- 16 ounces sharp cheddar cheese, grated
- 8 ounce can diced green chilies, drained
- 10 ounce can evaporated milk (not condensed milk)
- ¼ cup finely chopped yellow onion
- 4 teaspoons ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 pound elbow macaroni, cooked according to package directions (I cooked mine prior to our trip and dressed with a little olive oil to prevent sticking)
- 2 tomatoes, diced
- ½ cup tortilla chips, crushed (optional)
- 2 tablespoons cilantro, roughy chopped (optional)
- Heat the cheese, green chilies, evaporated milk, onion, cumin, and salt, over low heat, stirring constantly, until the cheese is melted.
- Add the macaroni and stir to combine. Once the pasta is heated through, incorporate the tomatoes. Portion into bowls, sprinkle with crushed tortilla chips and cilantro, serve and enjoy!
Cook the pasta and store in tupperware
Chop the onions and tomatoes and place into separate zip-tops bags
Grate the cheese, or better yet... buy it already grated
Portion out the cumin and salt and place into one bag.
* 10 minute time is based on prepping these ingredients prior to your camping trip.
Joy Cherie Baxter says
We make the camping mac and cheese to take away and to eat at home often. It’s delicious and fool proof. Thank you!
Tim Riggins says
Can’t wait to try this while camping next week!
That’s great, Tim! Hope you have a great time! We’re hoping to make another trip in September.
Kristen @ The Endless Meal says
I love camping too, and fall is such a beautiful time to go. Last year we took a road trip from Vancouver, BC (home!) down to the Grand Canyon and camped along the way. It’s hard to pick a favourite spot from that trip, but the Oregon coast was definitely at the top of our list.
I’ll be packing along the ingredients for your mac and cheese on our next camping trip. 🙂
Oh, Kristen – I would love to see BC! I’ve heard it’s just stunning! And I bet there’s some really fantastic camping around there. I hope you enjoy this mac n’ cheese on your next outing. Have a lovely weekend my dear.
Bam's Kitchen says
What a gorgeous view and girlfriend that is one gourmet menu for camping! I understand that making it vegetarian adds an additional complexity to the weekend. Your furry friends are so very cute and that view is stunning. That is such a great idea to use condensed milk when you are camping so you do not need to worry about refrigeration. Sorry I have not been around lately lots of technical issues with computer crashing, etc… trying to make my rounds… Happy Camping!
No worries, Bobbi. So glad your computer is back up and running. We had a great time camping, can’t wait to go again! I think the dogs were in 7th heaven 🙂
Helen @ Scrummy Lane says
Wow, what a beautiful coastline, Kathleen! And I sooo love how ambitious you were with your camping recipes. Your cousin was incredibly lucky to have you cooking for her on your trip!
Camping in England is an ‘interesting’ thing – you generally spend all night shivering in your tent – but it sounds like Australian camping is a bit more like Californian camping. I can’t wait for my husband to introduce me to it!
Thanks, Helen. My cousin went to culinary school so the pressure was on to impress.
I’d love to hear more about camping in England. ‘Interesting’ always makes for great stories 😉
Wow!!! I’m so impressed with your camping menu. You are amazing! I agree that fall should be the camping season. It is way too hot in summer. Bryan and I have been thinking to go camping. We both want to see the night sky and stars. 🙂
Thank you my dear 🙂 If you go, let me know where you go camping! Since moving out west, I’m on the look-out for great camping spots!
karrie @ Tasty Ever After says
Kathleen, my husband is your new BFF because his favorite food is mac & cheese. I showed him your recipe, told him I was going to make it on our camping trip next week, and he’s in 7th heaven. You are absolutely brilliant to make this camping!! I can see me now, sitting by the fire with a big ol’ bowl of this. YUM!! Thanks for all the camping tips and love your pics of the doggies (omg, Arlo and Otis I wanna kiss their cutie faces!!), that highway of the mountain, and the Oregon coastline. Lucky you to live in California! I totally agree with you that Fall is the best time to go camping too. Glad you all had such a great time 🙂
Ha! Anyone with a bowl of mac n’ cheese is my new BFF 😉 Where are you guys going camping? I can’t wait to go again! I think Arlo and Otis had the time of their lives (it was their first camping trip) 🙂
karrie @ Tasty Ever After says
We are going to Vermont! So sweet about Arlo and Otis and I’m sure they had the best time. Camping has got to be a dog’s dream 🙂
Ooo… I spent a summer in Stowe and the hiking was just gorgeous! Can’t wait to hear all about your trip – you’re going to have so much fun!
OMG OMG! We are TOTALLY in sync, I just got back from a camping weekend! And….erm….camping Mac N Cheese? I think I love you. I wait. I already do. I WISH I had seen this before I went, I totally would have made this. You just ROCK. You really do. I seriously have a major girl-crush on you and your food (and Arlo and Otis). N x
HA! Well you know the feeling is mutual 😉 I hope you had fun on your camping trip – can’t wait to hear all about it!
Mon Petit Four (@byMonPetitFour) says
Your mac ‘n’ cheese looks amazing! Yummmy!! Also your camping menu looks so great – you are so organized. I love all your tips too – I will have to refer back to this next time I go camping! Thank you! 🙂
Thank you my dear. Being organized is what keeps me sane most days 😉
Oh my word!! This looks amazing!! What a wonderful trip!! I just admire how organized you are! I really would like to get better at meal planning!! I really need to get on it! …your mac and cheese looks so lovely! What beautiful pix you have 🙂
Thanks, Cailee! We really did have a great trip! I stay organized out of necessity – otherwise I would seriously be all over the place! Hope you have a great weekend!
nicole (thespicetrain.com) says
Oooh, I love it! We got ourselves a little camper this year and have the logistics worked out just about perfectly by now, except for the food. Smoked salmon with capers and baguette is the only dinner I’ve come up with so far. These mac and cheese look like an easy and very delicious alternative!
Ooo… I LOVE smoked salmon with capers! No seriously, I adore it! Darn it, I should have brought that! The Swede in me can’t get enough smoked salmon and I was camping with my cousin on the Swedish side of my family too – ugh… that would have been perfect! I’m definitely bring that next time!
nicole (thespicetrain.com) says
I adore smoked salmon with capers too. So delicious and literally no work! (I find I’m really quite lazy). 🙂
Kathleen, I love this post!!! I was supposed to go camping this summer but time escaped us so we’re going sometime next year. anyway, our dear friends are in WA and she mentioned going somewhere in Oregon! looks like so much fun and love this menu. . esp the mac n cheese!!! delicious!
Thanks, Alice 🙂 I certainly hope you get a change to go next summer! I highly recommend camping in OR – the coastline was simply stunning! Hope you and your family have a great weekend!
It looks like you had a great time and ate very well. The mac and cheese looks very nice.
Yes, we did! Thanks, Janette. I hope you have a great weekend 🙂
I never thought of using evaporated milk for mac and cheese. Great idea!
Thanks, Sabrina. The evaporate milk is a lifesaver for all sort of dishes when camping 🙂
Love camping and you are right, fall is the best time to go! We are going next week, so this post is just in time! Great ideas, love your menu! Pinned 🙂
Oh how fun! Are you going camping in IL? Hope you have a great weekend and I hope I gave you some good ideas for camping dishes 🙂
We are going to Wisconsin 🙂 Thanks again for the inspiration! Have a great weekend !
Cool! Hope you have fun, Mira 🙂
Anu-My Ginger Garlic Kitchen says
Oh! Hello to camping season! How comfy and delicious this Mac n cheese looks, Kathleen. Sounds just perfect for any meal.
Thanks, Anu! I hope you have a great Labor Day weekend 🙂