Great Meals for the Great Outdoors

The novelty of cooking over a fire and eating outdoors is even better when your food actually tastes good. That’s why we’ve rounded up favorite camp meals from seasoned campers all over L.L.Bean, from product developers and copywriters to customer service specialists and Outdoor Discovery Schools instructors. Here is their collaborative meal plan for four nights and three mornings in open air.

Make-Camp Dinner: meatball subs and grilled corn on the cob

Travel and setup can work up a healthy appetite, so get the first night’s meal done with minimal fuss. When you arrive at camp, place corncobs (husks and all) in water to soak while you set up. When you’re ready to start cooking, grab frozen meatballs from the cooler and place in a saucepan with your favorite marinara sauce. Simmer over heat until cooked through. Place on Italian rolls and add slices of provolone cheese.

Remove corn tassels and place cornhusks on a grill rack over the fire. Turn every couple of minutes for a total of 10 to 15 minutes. Let cool and carefully remove husks (use caution; they will be quite hot).

–Reene P., Dave B.

Tip: Get the fire going in a snap with this trick: Cover a cotton ball in Vaseline and light with fire steel or a lighter.

Day One

Quick Bagel Breakfast

Get on to the day’s adventures fast. Slather “everything” bagels with cream cheese and top with smoked salmon. Provides a good balance of protein and carbs, plus it’s lightweight and couldn’t be easier to prepare.

–Patrick B.

Easy Pasta Dinner

Refuel with this tasty dish that comes together with just a few ingredients. Boil water and add your favorite pasta. Meanwhile, sauté a tablespoon of minced garlic and one pint of halved grape tomatoes in two tbsp. of olive oil, just until warm and fragrant. Drain the pasta and toss with the tomato mixture, a half-cup of thinly sliced basil, one pound of cubed mozzarella cheese, and salt and pepper to taste. Serves 4.

–Michelle G.

Tip: Keep your cooler cooler. Before you leave home, fill gallon jugs with water and freeze ­­– blocks last longer than cubes. Or, pack the cooler with frozen 8-ounce water bottles. Use as they thaw. In the meantime, they keep everything else cold without taking up extra space.

Day Two

Hearty Guide Breakfast

We can’t say your cardiologist would approve, but it sure tastes great. Remember to pack a 10-inch cast-iron skillet and lid.

While stove is warming, dice a thin slice of red onion. Generously cover skillet with olive oil; add onion and cook until soft. Cut two medium-size potatoes into half-inch square chunks and add to skillet. Slice four links hot Italian sausage into even slightly smaller pieces, and add to skillet. Stir and cook until everything is browned.

Add half-cup diced cooked ham; stir for one minute. Add eight large eggs; scramble and stir until cooked. Sprinkle with Montreal Steak Seasoning and mix gently.

Turn off stove. Add six slices of white American cheese. Cover skillet for five minutes. Serves 4.

–David L.

Tip: Before you leave home, crack and empty eggs into a Nalgene bottle and stow in the cooler (18 eggs fit in a one-quart bottle).

Couscous Dinner

A lightweight JetBoil Zip Stove makes quick work of this couscous and veggie meal, which may offset any damage from the morning’s lumberjack-style feast. Add the following to a heavy-duty sealable plastic bag: curry powder, half-cup whole wheat couscous, half-cup of tofu, half-cup of precooked carrots, corn and/or peas, one bullion cube, a small handful dried cranberries. Add two cups boiling water, stir well, seal and let sit for 10 minutes. Optional: Add walnuts or pecans. Serves two.

Day Three

Pancake Breakfast

No camping trip is complete without it. Beaners fall into two camps on preparation, so choose your method accordingly. If you’re a fan of boxed mix, pour the contents of your favorite in a resealable plastic bag or Nalgene bottle before you leave home. If you insist on homemade, do the same with the ingredients to a basic pancake recipe. Either way, before you seal the bag or bottle, toss in your favorite mix-ins – chocolate chips, walnuts, coconut flakes (we all agree that just-picked wild blueberries, added at camp, are the ultimate). When your campers are hungry, just add water and mix (squish bag or shake bottle) and pour or cut the corner off the bag and squeeze onto a hot, oiled griddle.

–Dan Z.

Dinner: Sausage and Potato Packets

By this point, you may need a break from washing dishes with no sink. Behold, aluminum foil! Its first task is to treat you to campfire nachos while you prepare the rest of the meal.

Add your favorite nacho chips to a big sheet of heavy-duty foil. Top liberally with shredded mozzarella or jack cheese. Fold the foil tightly, and then place it on the fire for a couple of minutes. Check often so you don’t overbrown the chips.

Meanwhile, prepare one foil packet per camper by placing the following ingredients in the center of a square of foil: sliced red potatoes, sliced onion, cubed chicken sausage, salt, pepper and butter. Fold the packet carefully. Keeping sealed side up, cook packet over grill or fire until tender. Serve with sour cream. For a side of veggies, toss corn kernels, sliced tomato and sliced onion with olive oil and your favorite seasoning in a sealable plastic bag. Shake, wrap in foil and then place on fire grate and roast.

–Jake C., Melissa M., Liz B.


Empty film canisters are a space-efficient way to bring along spices, oil, sugar or anything else that you need in small quantities.

Do you have a favorite campfire recipe? Share it with us in the comment box below.

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