Updated: Mar 10
By John Schneider - Food Afield Podcast
Way too many times in my life have I stopped at the grocery store en route to hunting camp and bought a package of Oreo cookies and some sausage and bacon and eggs. Frankly, not wanting to sound elitist, those foods are ok for hunting camp. But what about a level-up?
Recently my son, Garreth, approached me with the question of what we eat when we're out recording Food Afield Podcast episodes. On his own backcountry adventures, he has grown tired of store-bought canned soup and stew, the label burned and glue stinking from the flames of a campfire. Additionally, modern freeze-dried dishes, the ones available at camping stores, are really good, but terribly expensive. Those are not really an option for a young person who enjoys outdoor adventures partly because of the relatively low cost of entry. We can do better than that anyways as we'll discover here.
My friend, Kevin Kossowan has been the leader in this department and he is the one who has me started down the path of what I consider to be proper camp food. On our last trip, after a long day of hunting, we were cold, tired, and hungry. He asked if Butter Chicken (Ruffed Grouse) with Rice would be good for supper.
"Of course, are you kidding me?" I responded loudly.
Out from the cooler came a deli container of now-thawed, homemade Indian cuisine. It plopped into the skillet on the wood stove and we sat down to happy hour while it re-heated. He had made this dish as a family meal several days before, and a little extra for the freezer, exactly for this hunting camp situation. After an amazing meal, out came another container of homemade peanut butter cookies to go along with our tea. A perfect dessert.
Of course, Kevin had it figured out well ahead of me, but what a revelation! To be able to eat terrific food in a hurry is incredibly easy with a little pre-planning. Now, for the weeks in advance of a trip, whenever I am cooking something for dinner anyway, I just fill deli containers (yogurt and sour cream containers work equally well) with the leftovers, and into the freezer, they go. Instead of eating leftover chili for a few days after I make it, it is saved for these future eat-n-go type meals. This ingenious little process doesn't necessarily need to be for hunting trips either. When I am hunting from home and I come home after dark, these quick meals are a real blessing.
The cookies are a no-brainer of course. Hardly revelatory, but why on earth am I buying factory-produced cookies? Just kinda silly to me as I own a farm grain-milling business. Flour and rolled oats are pretty easy to find around here, along with eggs from the backyard flock.
So, for next week's Whitetail camp in the Boreal, I made a big batch of raisin oatmeal cookies. While we're on the topic of desserts, what about frozen pies? And instead of making one big pie that we need to eat on the days we are there, how about smaller individual pies made in the big muffin tins? I can bake the pie shells and make several different pie fillings. Apple, Saskatoon Berry, Pumpkin...all the fillings are made from scratch to go into the pie shells and then freeze. A different pie for dessert every single night! Of course, the fillings, after I've made too much for the available pie shells, can also be frozen for later use at home. Or simply make a whole wack of mini pies one afternoon, freeze them all, and use them as required.
Granola is a superb snack to make ahead and bring to camp. Just from a standpoint of fending off midday hunger on the whitetail stand it wins hard. There are exactly 1 billion different granola recipes out there. Here is my recipe though, the one billion and first, and it is the best one of them all.
It doesn't need to stop here though. We need some bread, pasta, and sides...those also can all be cooked ahead and put into containers. For this mid-November whitetail hunt coming up, Kevin is bringing his butter chicken grouse dish again, because it's awesome; and, I am making a container of coconut rice and some flatbread to go with it. Actually, I think I'll just prep the dough for the Turkish flatbread (Bazlama) and cook it up straight on the wood stove top as the other parts of the meal are reheating off to the side a bit. Flatbreads of all kinds are easy and can be cooked in a skillet or stove top, or made ahead and toasted or reheated with little effort.
Your imagination is the only thing holding you back from amazing camp food. If it can be made ahead, frozen, and reheated, it is a prime candidate for meals that are quick and easy while out in the nature.
In a rustic camp, far from home, it is beyond comforting to open a bottle of champagne and tuck into a meal of the Intrepid Eater's Ginger Scallion Bear Dumplings and flatbread, fresh and hot from the wood stove top.
I'd love to hear what ideas you come up with for great camping meals!
Be sure to follow the Food Afield Podcast on Instagram, Pinterest, and Twitter. Don't forget to share and leave reviews wherever you can too. All of your support is greatly appreciated.