Keep it SIMPLE!!!
I think that meal planning and packing is the single most difficult thing about camping especially with a family! Try to plan very simple, easy meals because taking along every single thing you need to make them is daunting!
Here is a sample menu I did for a 3 day trip to El Capitan with the grandkids:
Breakfast on the road
Lunch - lunchmeat sandwiches, chips, strawberries, bananas, lemonade and cookies
Dinner - hamburgers, hot dogs, baked beans, chips, fruit and s'mores
Breakfast - sausage, scrambled eggs, pan fried toast, orange juice and milk
Lunch - Ritz and peanut butter, chips, fruit snacks, Kool-Aid and cookies
Dinner - bar-b-q chicken, fried potatoes, salad, Kool-Aid and s'mores
Breakfast - French toast, bacon, cantaloupe and milk
Lunch - leftovers - lunchmeat sandwiches, Ritz and PB, fruit, chips and cookies
Dinner - home
I cooked the bar-b-q chicken and fried potatoes and froze them solid in large freezer zip locks and put them in the ice chests when we left home so they were perfect for cooking Day 2 for dinner and I had little time spent over the camp stove. I also made the hamburger patties at home and froze them the day before. Remember to take them out at lunch! Even this VERY simple menu has many ingredients that need to be trucked to the campground for a party of ten.
Bar-b-q chicken frozen in zip lock
Buns - hot dog and hamburger
Fruit - strawberries, cantaloupe, grapes, bananas
Peanut butter and jelly
Eggs - 2 dozen
Bread - 4 loafs
Cookies - several choices
Chips - several choices
Cereal - several of the individual small boxes
Guacamole (in bags from Costco - yummmm)
Kool-Aid (pre sweetened)
Lemonade (Crystal Light packs)
Cinnamon sugar for French toast in zip lock
Hershey's chocolate squares
Water (personal size) and big large 5 gallon ones for cooking etc
See what I mean….and you need kitchen tools and paper goods too!!!
Paper cups - hot and cold
Plastic forks, spoons and knives
Large cooking spoons
2 pans with lids
Rubbermaid jugs (one for water and one for lemonade or Kool-Aid)
Set of nesting plastic bowls with lids
Tongs for marshmallows
Newspaper for fire
Starter sticks for fire
Big tote for packing lunches down to the beach or lake
Zip locks of all sizes to prepare take along lunches
Whew…just about done! Pizza - anyone???
I pack the cold stuff into two large ice chests and add/change ice daily. I pack the food, kitchen tools and paper goods in clear plastic storage bins which I store under the table. I can see right into them and get to the things I need - easily. Then after meals are done we move them into the bear box if provided. El Capitan was too noisy for animals so we didn't have that issue!!!!
We have tried powdered milk and the kind that doesn't need refrigeration that are supposed to taste just like REAL milk and nope - not for us. Everyone can tell and no one drinks it. So I take real milk and get new milk each day when it is available and if not we go without! I do take one quart for cooking but that's it.
Choose things on your menu that you can use in several meals. Lettuce and tomatoes are for the hamburgers and the salad and lunch on the last day includes all the leftovers so you have less waste and less to pack. I usually take along too many snacks and then we find a great place for ice cream and don't eat the stuff….I do try to take less each time…but really try to remember the bread!
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