One Meal, Two Climates; Menus For Uncooperative Weather

camp cooking
You don’t need alchemy or elaborate tools to change a hot meal into a cold one, and vice versa.

What do you do if you have planned a menu for weather that just won’t cooperate? Because let’s face it–when you camp, the climate doesn’t care what you have in mind, menus included.

Fortunately, it’s simple to revamp your camp menu while you are there, without adding a lot of extras to the kitchen supplies. You can also adjust practically any meal so that it’s delicious and comforting even if the forecast lies. The following principles and tips will give you the confidence to plan a menu for any camping trip that works for summer, winter, and everything in between. We also have links to recipes you can use, too!

Making cold dishes hot.

Take the ingredients you had for a cold meal and make a soup out of them.

So the weather man said your trip was going to be a scorcher from beginning to end, and you created a menu of refreshing, light, cold dishes. On day one, you wake up to hail, and the temperature never gets above jacket weather.


Take oatmeal instead of cold cereal. If you have planned for hot weather, you can make overnight oatmeal, which is tasty and refreshing. But if it’s really, really chilly, adapt by cooking your oatmeal over the camping stove and adding delicious ingredients. You can find hot oatmeal recipes here.

Planned on having fruit salad and yogurt? You still can. Check out this Hot Fruit Salad recipe, topped with yogurt and drizzled with honey. It’s a keeper, let me tell you. And so good for you! But don’t tell the kids. Tell them you’re having dessert for breakfast. They’ll ask for seconds.


A cold meat and cheese plate is easily converted to a hot meal by placing the meat and some cheese between two sliced of bread, buttering both sides and making a grilled cheese-and-meat sandwich.  Take along some instant soup as a back-up and add that to your grilled sandwich meal. Oh-so-tasty!

If you were just going to have cold sandwiches, just add a cup of hot soup to the menu.

You can also plan on a cold soup like vichyssois, which can be served hot or cold, and toast some bread or buns over the fire as a side.


Dinner is generally a warm meal anyway, with hot dogs or hamburgers topping the list for a summer meal. But what if you have potato salad? If you’re pre-making it and bringing it to camp, don’t add the mayo. When you’re ready to serve and it’s still warm out, then add the mayo. But if it’s cold out, forget the condiment and jazz up your potato salad by throwing it into a big pot and adding just enough chicken broth or water to keep it from burning. Stir until hot and set aside. In a separate saucepan heat up a cup of frozen or canned peas or green beans for every 4 cups of potato salad, and stir into potato mixture. Then  mix in about 1/8 cup vinegar for every 4 cups of potato salad and about 1 cup cooked, sliced bacon. Serve your hot potato salad right along side those burgers and hot dogs and bask in your families approval.

Or hash it up! If you haven’t added mayo and/or mustard to your potato salad, you can toss it in a big frying pan with a whack of butter. Fry until those wonderful crispy bits are edging golden-brown potato pieces. If you don’t want to make hamburgers, fry up the hamburger meat and toss it in with the hashed potatoes. Instant hot dinner, and very, very satisfying.

Making Hot dishes Cold.


If you brought that oatmeal, make No-Cook Trail Mix Oatmeal. It’s done the night before and requires no cooking. Delish and satisfying.

Were you going to make steak and eggs, or bacon and eggs? Fry it up, let it cool, and make a breakfast sandwich using bagels or buns.

Pancakes? Make them, let them  cool, and then spread them with jam, Nutella or sugar and cinnamon, then roll them up and eat them by hand.


That tomato soup and grilled cheese sandwich can be a camping gazpacho or tomato juice, and cheese sandwich instead.

Did you have mac n’ cheese in mind? Make it and spread it out into a flat pan, to a depth of 1″,  and let cool. Cut into 1″ by 3″ strips. Get 3 bowls: in one place a cup of flour; in the other, an egg, well beaten; and in the last, 1 1/2 cups panko bread crumbs. Take a mac n’ cheese stick and dip it in flour, then egg, then roll it in bread crumbs. Fry in about 2″ of oil in a frying pan until coating is a golden brown. Let cool. Serve with ketchup to dip it in. If you want something a little more complex than ketchup, stir a little gazpacho blend into it. Or make sriracha mayo–1 heaping tablespoon sriracha mixed into 1 cup mayo.

bagel sandwich
Sometimes changing a hot meal to a cold one is just a matter of letting the meat cool and making an awesome sandwich.

Were you going to have steak, baked potatoes and a salad? Instead of baking the potatoes, boil them, cool them, and make a potato salad. Cook the steaks and let cool, then dice them and mix them into the potato salad. Serve greens on the side.

Roast chicken, mashed potatoes and corn on the cob? Cool the chicken and shred. For every cup of chicken add 1/8 cup barbecue sauce of choice. Pile on to a bun. If you’ve already made the mashed potatoes, save for making potato pancakes or hash the next day. If not, just don’t make them. Use the corn on the cob to make a fresh and tasty tomato and corn salad.



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