If you’re going camping with young children, you might want to make some simple adjustments to your cooking plans.
You don’t want to be too preoccupied with intricate meals to spend time with your family. But, at the same time, you’ll need to make sure the kids have got something more nutritious in their bellies than candy and potato chips!
Here are five culinary suggestions for camping with kids. By following them, you may make the most of your time with the kids and create family memories that will last a lifetime.
- Get The Little Ones Involved
I know you want your kids to have a magical camping experience, but that doesn’t mean they have to play games 24/7.
Children love responsibility, and there’s a way for everyone to get involved.
You could ask the children to help collect firewood. The youngest ones can come with a bucket to look for small twigs. It doesn’t matter if you actually need a whole bucket of twigs; they will feel proud to be part of the fire building community!
You may also have your kids help prepare the table by having them pick pine cones or wildflowers to use as table decorations.If you’re cooking on a campfire, young children can wrap the potatoes in tin foil and pass them over to an older kid to get placed on the hot coals. (The potato, not the kid!).
- Cooking On Sticks
Cooking on sticks is a fun and easy way for children to get involved in cooking. However, if you’re worried about them burning their little hands, you can make sure they have a heat-proof glove and sit them beside an adult or older child.
Marshmallows are an obvious choice for cooking on sticks, but there are loads more things you can cook on a skewer.
Here are some examples:
- Sausages (meat or veggie alternative)
- Corn on the cob
- Popcorn (you wrap the kernels in foil, then pierce the foil envelope with the stick!)
- An apple (sprinkle with sugar and cinnamon once it’s nice and hot)
Just make sure the little ones leave time for their campfire food to cool down. I can’t count the times I’ve wrestled hot corn away from tender mouths!
You may alternatively assign your children the task of assembling kebabs using pre-chopped meat and veggies.These would probably be better on a grill than over the campfire.
- Make A Solar Oven
If you want to get your kids’ minds working, you can help them make a mini solar oven in an old pizza box.
The makeshift solar cooker isn’t going to get hot enough for any serious cooking, but young children will be thrilled to pull out sticky smores that they baked in their own inventions.
For homemade solar oven instructions, check out this video:
You might even convince your children that science is fun!
- Treasure Hunt
Treasure hunts don’t have to be kept for Easter.
Some of my favorite childhood memories include running around the forest with my sister, searching for the candy my parents had hidden amongst the trees.
A treasure hunt might take a little time to set up, but you’ll get to put your feet up and enjoy a cold beer as you watch your children hunt for their chocolate. Oh, and make sure you count how many treats you hid, so the kids know when they’re finished. (Or don’t, if you want to extend your downtime for as long as possible).
Either way, your kids aren’t going to forget this incredible dessert night any time soon.
- Prepare In Advance
Do as much food preparation as you can in advance, so you can take it easy on your actual camping trip.
Before heading out with family, I boil any eggs that we will want for our salads. I also peel and chop vegetables when possible and even make whole meals in advance.
So long as you store food in a fridge or decent camping cooler, there’s no reason you can’t get ahead on time. This also makes it easier for kids to help out because they can search for certain ingredients and pass them to you rather than bugging you to let them use the world’s sharpest knife before they can even tie their shoelaces.
Of course, knife skills are an essential thing for children to learn. But your two-year-old is not as ready for slicing and dicing as he thinks he is! So make sure if you bring your favorite hunting knife to do some food prep, you keep it in a safe place.
Bonus Tip: Washing Up!
I don’t know about your kids, but the ones I know will go to great measures to avoid doing the dishes.
Here’s a tip to keep everyone happy on your next camping trip.
I propose that you play a game in the morning, and the losing team has to do the washing up that night. Of course, make sure you split adults and kids equally amongst teams, so it’s fair. This can be a hilarious way to make your games more competitive and nail-biting.
You might even organize a family obstacle course or tug of war to ensure that you create lasting memories.
Disclaimer from a lady that has taken the teasing too far:
Try not to be so hard on the losers that they associate washing up with embarrassment forever! Instead, you could say: “that was so fun, and thanks so much for giving me the night off washing up in the process.” (Yes, I once made my baby cousin cry, and I still feel awful).
Cooking is an essential part of any camping trip, and there’s no reason why the kids can’t get involved.
The littlest ones can be in charge of table setting or twig collecting, while the older children can supervise treasure hunts or have extra responsibility around the campfire.
Do as much preparation as you can in advance, and don’t be afraid to make a game out of the chores. I’m sure you’re going to have a lot of fun together!