Summer is in full swing and the Wirecutter staff retire to their favorite campsites to celebrate, armed with coolers stocked with our favorite snacks and fireside meal ingredients. Here’s what we’ll be eating as we take in all Mother Nature has to offer.
Dates stuffed with peanut butter
I’ll admit TikTok made me try them, but I have no regrets about stuffing Medjool dates with creamy peanut butter for a high-protein hiking snack that’s both sweet and filling. These sweet-but-salty and chewy-but-creamy bites require only two ingredients and a few minutes to assemble. Open the dates, remove the pits, add a healthy dollop of nut butter of your choice and enjoy. Some people take it a step further by coating the filled dates in melted chocolate, which sounds delicious — they claim the flavor combination is similar to a Snickers bar — but requires way too much effort for me. If I’m going for a quick day hike, I make these peanut butter date bombs before I leave the house, wrap them in foil, and toss them in my backpack to eat on the go. But if you’re spending the weekend outdoors, you can easily put together these tasty treats at the campsite, as long as you have the essential ingredients stashed in your cooler.
—Elissa Sanci, trend writer
Fritos and Chili (a version of Frito Pie or Walking Tacos)
I never eat fritos outside of camp, but they make the perfect base for this easy recipe. It only requires three ingredients: Fritos corn chips, your choice of chili, and shredded cheese on top. Sounds boring, but after a day of hiking and outdoor adventures, it’s so good and so easy with lots of crunch and flavor. All you have to do is heat the chili and stack the ingredients however you like, and you’re ready to enjoy. Plus, canned chili and fritos are easy to pack and keep, so all you have to worry about is keeping your cheese chilled throughout your trip.
– Nena Farrell, update author
Make Ahead Mac
My favorite meal to start a camping trip with is this most prepped one pan mac and cheese. It’s a slightly more filling recipe with peppers and toasted breadcrumbs, but it always proves to be a delicious start to my camping trips. To achieve this, you’ll need to prepare the cheddar cheese sauce and breadcrumbs ahead of time, and if you can’t find the no-drain pasta the recipe calls for (I’ve personally never seen it in stores), maybe you have them to cook the pasta at home too. Once in camp, I warm the pasta and melt the cheese over the fire, then sprinkle the breadcrumbs on top. Best first night at camp ever.
– Nena Farrell, update author
Family Foil Dinner
Growing up in Maine, I went camping with my family a lot and always looked forward to eating foil dinners – nothing beats a day of hiking, biking and just being outdoors! The great thing about this dinner is that each person can create their own meal. Add onions to the potatoes, try a different type of sausage or veg – the possibilities are endless! Just remember to use lots of butter and your favorite spices. My favorite version of a foil dinner has a base of thinly sliced red potatoes, turkey kielbasa coins, and chopped carrots, topped with mustard after cooking. Use a 6 x 6 inch folded square of foil as the base (with a sheet of parchment paper if you fancy), then add all your ingredients and wrap another sheet of foil around it to keep the pack closed. Cook on the grill or directly on some coals for about 45 minutes to an hour, turning your meal occasionally. Good luck remembering which one is yours – that’s part of the fun!
– Tabitha Rodrigue, Head of Product Design
A three ingredient pita pizza
Pizza is the best food on the planet. So pita pizza is the best camping food in the world. Three simple ingredients (four if you’re extra fancy) combine for a crispy, smoky, complete meal of carbs, acidity, fat and joy. It’s simply a pocket pita, laid flat, brushed with tomato sauce and sprinkled with mozzarella cheese, wrapped in foil and placed on the edge of a campfire until the cheese is melted. You can add a topping like hot peppers or thinly sliced onions, but it’s really not necessary. The hardest part is waiting a few minutes so you don’t burn your palate biting into the still-melted cheese.
—Annemarie Conte, Deputy Editor-in-Chief
A protein bar that tastes like dessert
The humble Clif Bar might not be the most exciting campground snack, but it’s my favorite for a reason: it tastes like dessert. During a strenuous hike, I don’t want to snack on a handful of nuts or a protein bar that turns to dust the moment I take a bite. I want a reward for all the hard work I’ve put in, and depending on your tastes, a high protein Clif bar can certainly be the sweet reward that keeps me going. My favorite flavor is chocolate brownie (it’s chewy and dense, reminiscent of a fudge brownie), but mint chocolate and white chocolate macadamia nut come in second.
If traditional Clif bars aren’t your thing, senior contributor Lauren Dragan recommends trying the Clif Nut Butter Bars. Both the peanut butter and chocolate peanut butter are family favorites, as the peanut butter filling adds some welcome moisture and chewy texture. Lauren’s 6-year-old also swears by the Clif Kid Z chocolate brownie bars for both hikes and a snack at summer camp.
—Elissa Sanci, trend writer
Vegan friendly mallow
If you haven’t roasted marshmallows, have you actually gone camping? The smell of gently carbonated sugar immediately floods my heart with memories of annual family summer trips to Ricketts Glen State Park in the state of Pennsylvania. But if, like me, you abstain from harming animals through your diet, plain old marshmallows are out (gelatin is a key ingredient in traditional recipes). Luckily I found a vegan alternative! Dandies look, taste, melt and toast like your childhood marshmallows, but contain no animal ingredients. Pair (of course) with a dairy-free candy bar and graham crackers for a cruelty-free s’more that lives up to its name.
—Lauren Dragan, Senior Staff Writer
This article was edited by Annemarie Conte.