There’s nothing quite like the bite of chill mountain air in the morning. It’s hard to describe if you haven’t experienced it for yourself. For some, that first time usually comes as a child on a family camping trip. However, if you’re getting into the camping scene a little later, you’ve got a refreshing first morning coming your way. The other thing that’s pretty normal in the cool morning air is an aching hunger. An easy breakfast gets your stomach full and your body energized for hiking, water activities, or whatever else you’ve planned while camping. Here a few ideas to make breakfast quick, (mostly) nutritious, and delicious.
1. Oatmeal (Pre-Packaged or Homemade)
Simple, nutrient-packed, and lightweight, oatmeal has been a camping favorite since recreational camping became a thing.1 You’ve even got pre-packaged options in a wide range of flavors. Read the package directions. However, most pre-packaged options only require the addition of hot water and ta-da, breakfast!
However, if you’re a health-conscious type of person, you might want to skip the added sugars in the pre-packaged variety for a healthier homemade version. Put quick oats and anything you want to add in an airtight bag or container. Be creative in your food combinations. Dried cranberries, cinnamon, raisins, or dried fruit are all delicious add-ins.
You’ll need one cup of hot water for every 1/2 cup of quick oats. Once the water is boiling, add it to the quick oats, and let it stand for two to three minutes. That’s it.
2. Fruit and Muffins
If campfires are out and you don’t want to mess with a camp grill first thing in the morning, fruit and muffins are fast and simple. However, it does take some strategy to do it right. For example, if you’re backpacking, bring fruit that can take a (gentle) beating. Think apples instead of bananas and oranges instead of grapes. You want fruit that will hold up to a little squishing.
Make (or buy) the muffins, and freeze them before you go. They’ll last longer. And if they end up at the bottom of your backpack by accident, they’ll survive longer. Of course, if you’re car camping, you can bring more delicate fruits like berries, grapes, and watermelon.
3. Eggs and Bacon
This hot meal will keep you fully powered for hours.2 Cook the bacon first to grease the pan. Then, set it aside while you cook the eggs, leaving the grease in the pan. Bacon grease prevents sticking and adds flavor (and salt) to the eggs. This is definitely a meal for a camping grill, but if you’ve got serious camp cooking skills, it will work over an open fire, too.
4. Breakfast Burrito
Put those scrambled eggs and bacon in a tortilla, and you’ve got a breakfast burrito. Make this meal easier by bringing along bacon bits to toss in the eggs instead of raw bacon. Swap out a few calories for the complex carbohydrates found in a whole wheat tortilla.
You can also spice up your burrito with onion, red or green peppers, mushrooms, and anything else that makes your burrito special. Save yourself some prep time by precutting and seasoning the vegetables before you leave, storing them in an airtight bag until it’s time to cook.
5. Cold Cereal
Pre-packaged, single-serving cold cereal makes a fast breakfast. There’ll be some garbage to pack out, but this breakfast is incredibly simple and lets everyone choose a cereal they like. You’ll need to bring along milk. You can eat cold cereal when backpacking, too. However, you’ll have to pack in powdered milk or eat the cereal dry.
6. Campfire Potatoes (and Bacon)
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Potatoes fill the belly and offer an intense carb load for the long haul.3 There are several ways to make campfire potatoes.
- Fill a piece of foil with quartered potatoes. Season them with butter, salt, pepper, and add any extras like onions or bacon before wrapping and sealing the potatoes inside the foil. Cook over a camping grill or fire until the potatoes are soft. If you’re using a fire, the potatoes will get done faster than on a camping grill.
- Layer the potato (and bacon) pieces on a skewer and lay them directly on the grill.
- Place the potatoes and bacon in a skillet and cook them over a camp grill or open fire.
7. French Toast
Here’s another breakfast you can prep before you leave home. Put together your egg-milk mix, which usually includes one egg for every 1/3 cup of milk. Fancify the mix by adding a teaspoon of vanilla or swap out cow’s milk for coconut milk for a sweeter flavor. Refrigerate and store the mix in a sealable bag or plastic container. Pull it out of your camp cooler when it’s breakfast time.
You can make French toast with regular bread, but it’s so much better with French bread. To prevent the bread from drying out, don’t cut it until you’re ready to start cooking.
8. Biscuits and Jelly (or Jam)
Biscuits feel like food that’s meant to be eaten outdoors. Use a pre-packaged biscuit dough or a favorite biscuit mix of your own. Arrange the biscuits in a cast-iron skillet (covered with foil) or dutch oven. Cook on a camp stove, use charcoal, or an open fire. Cook for 10-15 minutes at or around 350 degrees Fahrenheit. For a camp stove or grill, that’s around medium to medium-high. If you’re using an open fire, temperatures can vary widely. Put the biscuits at a safe distance from the fire, so they don’t burn.
9. Dessert for Breakfast
Camping desserts make the best breakfasts, and cobblers top our favorites. You can make cobbler from scratch or opt for a recipe that uses a cake mix as a base. You’ll need a dutch oven or cast-iron skillet for cooking. For a dutch oven, you’ll also need charcoal or coals from a fire. This breakfast takes a little more work, but if you pre-mix the batter, you’ll save yourself time and have a delicious (though less healthy) breakfast.
10. Yogurt and Granola
Image courtesy of Pixabay
Simple, protein-filled (if you use Greek yogurt), the yogurt-granola combo fills the need for something sweet with a little crunch. You have to keep the yogurt cool, but this quick breakfast doesn’t take up much cooler space and keeps you going for miles. Granola can contain all kinds of fruits and nuts. Find a nutritious brand that you love to give you extra energy.
Before you pack a single thing, ask yourself how much effort you want to put into breakfast. You’ll have to decide if a hot or cold meal serves you best, too. Breakfasts you can make ahead of time, making camping much more enjoyable. Think simplicity and nutrition to get the most out of the first meal of the day. Don’t count out the flavor, and make sure you bring foods you enjoy.
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- Fulgoni III VL, Brauchla M, Fleige L, Chu Y. Oatmeal-Containing Breakfast is Associated with Better Diet Quality and Higher Intake of Key Food Groups and Nutrients Compared to Other Breakfasts in Children. Nutrients. 2019; 11(5): 964. doi: 10.3390/nu11050964
- Rehault-Godbert S, Guyot N, Nys Y. The golden egg: Nutritional value, bioactivities, and emerging benefits for human health. Nutrients. 2019; 11(3): 684. doi: 10.3390/nu11030684
- Beals KA. Potatoes, nutrition and health. American Journal of Potato Research. 2018; 96: 102-110. Published December 19, 2018. Accessed May 5, 2021.