A KIDS’ MENU can really come in handy when you’re camping. Let’s face it–there are kids out there, we love ’em to death, but they can be the pickiest of eaters. The others are sitting around the camp fire happily chowing down on stew made in your dutch oven. But one guy (in our case it’s Kenny, the ten-year-old) is asking if it’s too late to make a run into the nearest town for a cheese and pepperoni pizza. So camping menu ideas for kids to eat and make can be a real challenge sometimes.
Here are some suggestions to make the whole thing a little easier.
Menu planning always begins at home.
Just how picky is this kid? Will he eat a specific number of items, or is it the type of meal he won’t eat, i.e. stews, vegetables, raw stuff as opposed to cooked? If he’s super picky you may have to create a menu specifically for him based on the the foods he likes and dislikes. If he’s only mildly picky, however (won’t eat tomatoes, for example), it’s easy to simply incorporate his “eating rules” in with each meal. As at home, it’s best to stick with the familiar foods. Add something new just to try but don’t make a big deal if they won’t eat it.
Of course, this is simply for fussy eaters. Some kids need a special menu because they have particular dietary needs, such as no dairy or nuts. A little forethought will go a long way in creating something they like, too.
Get the kids involved.
The best thing to do when planning out the camping menu is simply to ask your kids what they would like to eat on the camping trip. You may be dreaming of steak, but if the kids want beans and wieners, make that their dinner. (You can still make steak for yourself!) Sit down with them, a pen and paper, and write out the menu. If they suggest something a little “out there” as a menu item, don’t reject it out of hand. Is it possible to make it? Is it something you might allow this once as a treat on the menu? Then allow it. Make camping as much a pleasure to look forward for them as for you. And then get them involved at the campsite. (More about that further down). Take them shopping when you get the camp food and make them responsible for their own list. Get them their own camping dishes!
Make their menu fun and kid-friendly.
You don’t have to put in everything they want. Make suggestions and keep their food simple. Use it as an opportunity to spend time with the kids at the camp site. Teach them how to cook while camping. A hot dog on a stick over fire is an adventure. A pre-cooked hot dog wrapped in store-bought biscuit dough and baked over those same flames is an experience they’ll be talking about at school. And they’ll eat it! Teach them how to wrap a potato in foil and where to put it among the coals.
Establish kids’ menu parameters.
Give them some ground rules about what their menu can and cannot consist of. Chips for breakfast, lunch and dinner might sound just fine to them, but they need to be smart about their food choices, just like they are expected to be at home. Give a little–a treat a day, or incorporate a favorite food or snack into the meals. Remember they want to have a great time too. Compromise a little, but don’t let them take over if they’re too young to make responsible choices.
Help them to do their own cooking.
It should go without saying that a responsible adult must be with the kids when they start to cook at camp. Teach them to be safe and keep an eye on them, especially around the fire and with tools they will need to use, perhaps doing any slicing for them, depending on their age and experience. Go by their skill level at home. Can they wield a frying pan? Or is the egg turner a handy fly swatter? Does more milk go down their front than in a bowl? Or are they mini master chefs? All of this helps you decide how much help to give them.
Safety first at all times, of course. Don’t let the kids near the fire or near hot items without protection, and never leave their side for a moment. Open flame can become harmful, even deadly, in seconds. We won’t allow even grownups new to camping alone around a fire. We’ve seen what a few moments of inattention can do. Your kids may be smart and even responsible, but they are also very precious. Burns and scalds are agonizing, even small ones. Prevent disaster by mentoring and monitoring always.
Want the recipe for any of the suggestions below? Go here.
Some menu ideas:
Breakfast Dinner Lunch
Have a comment?
I’d love to hear from you! If you have other kid-friendly recipes or ideas, drop us a line or two. We also love to answer any questions you may have.