It’s all about prep: Tips for easy Camping + Cooking

Campfire cooking: a little prep goes a long way. Pictured: my recipe for paprika/onion potatoes. Don't you love my fire engine red Coleman enamel plates?
Campfire cooking: a little prep goes a long way. Pictured: my recipe for paprika/onion potatoes and essential mug of camp beer.

As these dog days of summer scorch on, I can’t stop planning daydreaming up more weekend sojourns.

So far, my little fam has escaped to the bush for two mini-camping-esque trips: a woodsy sleepover just outside of Edmonton and a quick glamping stay at the CUTEST cabins in Drumheller.  Now it’s time to graduate to a two night camping adventure: we’re headed to Lesser Slave Lake (one of Alberta’s biggest lakes) to camp with friends. We’re hoping to play on the beach, watch some meteor showers and eat delicious food with great friends making the trek from Northeast B.C. This weekend’s meals won’t be all hot dogs and s’mores. Instead, we’ll be cooking up some of our awesome backyard bounty and farmers market finds.

Earlier this summer, before all our fantasy camping trips were becoming reality, I contacted a chef and avid camper for some camp cooking pro tips. Canadian Tire camping Ambassador Chef Josh Wolfe** is a Vancouver-based camper and chef (of Good Wolfe Kitchen and Fresh Local Wild food truck fame), who loves to demonstrate his love of fishing, cooking and eating outdoors.  

Chef Josh Wolfe
Chef Josh Wolfe

Chef Wolfe often explores Skagit River Valley and grew up camping in Ontario’s Algonquin Provincial Park and the Temagami wilderness. These days, he likes sleep next to rivers or streams where he can wake up, step into the river with a fly rod in hand, fully fueled by a great camp breakfast. Here’s a few of Chef Wolfe’s thoughts on how to minimize your camp cooking efforts so you can spend more time playing, less time slaving over the grill/firepit.

What distinguishes camping food from other food? Why?

The real difference between the two is logistics.  When I camp, I tend to eat more straight from the frying pan and cook without as many garnishes. Sometimes though, you can’t beat a good pot of chilli, a steak charred on coals or a baked potato cooked in the fire pit.  Those are classic camping staples and they bring back memories.

Camping cuisine can be more than hot dogs & s'mores (although I'm not going to lie, I love a good hot dog every once in a while).
Camping cuisine can be more than hot dogs & s’mores (although I’m not going to lie, I love a good hot dog every once in a while).

What was the best meal you ever had camping? Why?

I was pretty young when I had this meal but it left a seriously strong impression.  I couldn’t have been older than 10 or 11 and I was on an overnight trip a 45 min hike from the summer camp I went to for a few years.  I had a few firsts that night.  I ate my first rib steak.  I ate my first fire pit potato and for the first time I watched a cook work a grill over a live fire with real coals.  It was a big grill with lots of smoke. There were at least 20 of us and my dad hand delivered the steaks from the city that very day.  It was a pretty special experience that was the first spark for me on my journey with food.

What can you do to eat really well on a camping trip – any tips?

After all the trips and experiences cooking outdoors I have learned two things: 1. Always be prepared.  Anything can happen and, given enough time, will happen. 2. Bring the right gear that you can rely on and you’ll always be prepared.

I have a nesting set of non-stick pots and pans by WOODS, sold exclusively at Canadian Tire that is tied to my two burner Coleman stove.  If I am getting to my campsite with a vehicle these two things are coming with no questions asked.  If I can cook food and boil water I’m in a good place…the rest I can figure out as I go.

rsz_berry_cobbler
Photo courtesy of: Various Brennemans/Flickr/CC

To help me with dessert duty, Chef Wolfe shared his super quick and easy cobbler. I can’t wait to cook this dish up.

Chef Josh Wolfe’s Camp Cobbler

Just like anything a little preparation goes a long way and taking a few minutes at home up to three days before you go can make this recipe a snap when you’re on the road.

Ingredients (for the crumble): 

  • 1/2 cup oats
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup cold butter, diced
  • Pinch of salt

Directions: 

1. Pre-heat the oven to 350F

2. Combine all ingredients in a large mixing bowl, and using your fingers, crumble the butter until it turns into large pea size pieces making sure it is evenly distributed.

3. Place on a cookie sheet and bake for 10-12 min being sure to turn the tray half way through. You’ll know it’s done when it begins to turn golden brown. A little under done is okay as you’re going to hear it again at your campsite.

4. Cool and pack in an airtight container and Ziplock bag. You can freeze this for 1 month if you really want to get ahead!

Ingredients (for the fruit) – to be prepared at the campsite: 

  • 2 cups frozen berries (fresh if they’re in season or you can pick them where you camp!)
  • Approximately 1/2 cup sugar, brown or white (you can adjust the sweetness towards the end of the berries are too tart.

Directions: 

1. Combine berries and sugar in a Coleman non-stick pan and cook over medium heat until the bubble begin to slow down and the sauce thickens.

2. Turn the mixture down to a low simmer and when it almost stops bubbling spread the crumble mixture liberally over top and cover with aluminum foil.

3. Continue to heat very slowly for 5 min then remove from the heat and allow to stand for 10 min.

You can now serve this individually or with wooden or plastic utensils dive right into the pan and save yourself some dishes!

What are your favourite camping meals? Share your recipes or stories in the comments below. 

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5 thoughts on “It’s all about prep: Tips for easy Camping + Cooking

    1. Jody – the cobbler sounds delicious, no? Especially the fact that Chef Wolfe encourages you to eat it directly from the pan. Love #campingetiquette!

  1. I will keep this article in mind next time I take the kids camping. Somehow, on our inaugural trip last year, we brought almost no food and I found myself picking up supplies from the Shopper’s Drug Mart way down the road from the campsite. 🙂

    1. That sounds like something I would do Tara. We’ve been prepping for days, so hopefully not last minute stops. 🙂

  2. Every time we camped, we would always bring marinated chicken and just cook it in the mountains. Make much better meals than canned goods that other climbers bring. I agree with being prepared and with bringing the right gear. There’s nothing like a well-cooked meal when you’re out camping in the wilderness!

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