Sunset on our last day at Branbury State Park
But in all honesty, camping is a lot of work! This was our 5th annual trip, and over the years, I've pretty much honed it down to a science. The more upfront preparation you do, and the more organized you are, the more fun the trip will be! Here are my top 3 tips for easier camping:
1. Foil Packet Meals - Cook at Home, Enjoy While Camping!
When we first started camping, my husband wanted to cook all of these elaborate meals at our campsite... steak, shrimp, asparagus, etc... There were a couple of problems with that. First, the mess. Second, the time and the work. Who wants to do all that work when you are tired from setting up your site, hiking, or whatever other fun and exhausting activities you do? After some online searching, I discovered the solution. Foil packet meals. There are a ton of recipes out there for meals you can make at home and heat up either over the fire or on a grill camping. But after experimenting, I've discovered that you don't need to make different recipes than you usually would to bring camping. Instead, cook your family's favorite meals at home, package them in foil, stick them in your cooler, and heat when you want to eat them! Here are some meals that I've brought camping, but you should make your own family favorites!
- Hot sandwiches for the first night - Thanksgiving subs and meatball subs work well.
- Taco meat
- Any pasta and meat dish. I brought the pink sausage pasta made in the Instant Pot from this post.
2. Staying Organized While Camping
True confession: I am a crazy person when it comes to organization. Keeping everything in its place makes it so much easier to find things. Otherwise, you are spending time wandering around the camp site searching for things instead of enjoying your time. I keep all of our camping gear in bins. We have four of them. Bins should be clearly labeled with what goes in them that way the whole family knows where to find things. Every time someone takes out the bug spray, use it, then put it directly back in the bin. This may be the most simple and obvious tip, but it really saves time and keeps things together!
See the bins next to the table? Note that Ollie took my chair so I had to sit on the bench. Spoiled puppy!
3. Get Organized When You Get Home
When we get home, the first thing I do besides unpack the tents to clean them before putting them away for the season is open up all the bins and make sure there are no stray items. Then I reorganize everything. And this is key... anything that we've used and need to buy for next year gets written on a list and put away with the camping things. This way, next year, all I have to do is open up the bin with the list, hit up the store, cook some foil packet meals, and pack up the car!
Staying organized and planning for easy meals is key to an easy, fun camping experience. I will leave you with the best picture of Ollie sleeping by the lake with Sean behind him floating, relaxing after a long hike: