In our household, one pot meals are known as ‘boy dinners’. They occur as a last ditch effort to make something tasty out of whatever is left in the fridge, swelled with a tin or two from the back of the cupboard. But these ingenious concoctions of unlikely ingredients often turn out to be some of the best meals of the week. Guaranteed to be new to the palate and we know we’ll never, ever have the same meal twice! So putting together a list of our favourite one pot camping meals proved to be much more difficult than it should be, as a recipe rarely features in our at home boy dinners.
It’s been a good exercise in trying to pin down how we stumbled upon the unique and delicious flavours that result from end-of-the-week experimentation. And we also realised that boy dinners convert exceptionally well to one pot camping meals due to their simple, hearty and yummy nature.
Great one pot camping meals should be:
Cooked in one pot!
Great for camping with only a single gas burner, or even cooking on a campfire. And additional benefit is that they are easy to clean up afterwards.
Easy to prepare and cook
If there’s bad weather, you don’t want to be spending hours chopping and stirring under a dripping tarp. Remember, camping should be fun! To make things really quick, do all your chopping before you go and store the ingredients in a tupperware. We all too often don’t start cooking our camping meals until we’re already starving. So doing this will really speed things up.
Good for large groups
Camp cooking for large groups can be somewhat challenging, and after a couple of nights of meat from the grill, people will start to want some more nutritious camp meals. Dutch oven stews and casseroles cooked on the fire are a great option for this, but if you are only cooking on gas, then make sure you have a big old stainless steel pot and a huge wooden spoon!
A meal in themselves
The best one pot camping meals don’t need sides to make them complete. Most of them work well with a chunk of bread for the hungrier bellies, but for the most part, they are hearty enough to not need anything extra.
Just because one pot camping meals are quick and simple, doesn’t mean they need to be veggie-free fast food. They should be full of great nutrients to re-fuel after a tiring day out in the wild.
Four delicious one pot camping meals
As it turns out, all of these one pot camping recipes are vegetarian, and a couple are even vegan. We love eating meat, but we never miss it in a well put together vegetarian meal. In this selection, I have chosen vegetarian dishes mainly to avoid refrigeration issues. So where appropriate I’ve added a meaty option if keeping your meat cold is not an issue.
So here are our favourite tried and tested one pot camping recipes that are easy, nutritious, quick and super yummy, and actually even better than our weekly ‘boy’ dinners!
Curried Coconut Noodles
What I love about this dish is how healthy it feels, but it’s also a super hearty and filling meal. This is a vegetarian recipe, but to pack the protein in, fry up chicken strips or large shrimps at the beginning, remove from the pan and add again to reheat just before serving.
- 1 tbs sesame oil
- 1 cm of fresh ginger, finely diced
- 1 small chilli, deseeded and minced
- 3 cloves of garlic, minced
- 2 spring onions finely chopped
- 1 tbs medium curry powder
- 1 red or yellow pepper, sliced into strips
- 2 heads of pak choi
- 1 can coconut milk
- 1 chicken or vegetable stock cube
- 1 or 2 packs of soft egg noodles (for 4 people)
- Small bunch of coriander (optional)
- ¼ cup of chopped nuts (optional)
- 1 lime (optional)
- Heat the oil in your saucepan on a medium heat and add the ginger, garlic and spring onions and pepper. Cook until soft.
- Stir in the curry powder, adding a dash of water if needed.
- Add the pak choi and stir until wilting slightly.
- Stir in the can of coconut milk along with the stock cube and a little water.
- Once the milk is steaming, add the noodles and stir until they are soft and heated through.
- Add salt and pepper to taste.
- To serve, sprinkle with coriander, chopped nuts and a squeeze of lime juice.
Sweet Potato and Corn Chowder
We love to cook with sweet potatoes. Aside from their excellent nutritional value, they also cook much faster than normal potatoes and so are very well suited to one pot camping recipes. This is an excellent option when camp cooking for a large group. Just double the ingredients as needed. Again, a vegetarian recipe, but if refrigeration is not a problem, then fry up some bacon bits at the start and re-add them at the end. And for a super rich and creamy finish that is guaranteed to boost your calorie intake, stir in a cup of double cream at the end too.
- 1 tbs oil
- 2 cloves of garlic, minced
- 1 leek, finely sliced
- 1 red chilli, minced
- 1 red pepper, cubed
- 500g sweet potatoes, peeled and diced
- 1 tsp smoked paprika
- 2 tsp dried thyme
- 1 chicken or vegetable stock cube
- 1litre of water
- 1 can of sweet corn
- 1 cup of double cream (optional)
- Small bunch of chives, sliced (optional)
- Heat the oil in a large saucepan and add the leek, garlic, chilli and red pepper. Cook for a few minutes until soft, adding a dash of water if the becomes too dry.
- Add the sweet potatoes, paprika and thyme and stir until coated in oil. Add a little extra oil if needed.
- Add the water and stock cube and bring to the boil.
- Turn down to a simmer and cook until the potatoes are soft but not mushy.
- With a potato masher, mash up half of the potatoes in the pan, leaving the rest untouched if possible. This is not essential but it adds a nice thickness to the chowder.
- Stir in the corn and heat through.
- (Add a cup of double cream for a high calorie luxury chowder and stir).
- Sprinkle with chives to serve and eat with a chunk of wholemeal seeded crusty bread.
Dangerously, this has become a bit of a feature on our weekly menu. A habit we need to nip in the bud at some point. But it’s such a speedy simple meal that never fails to get us excited about dinner time. So here’s our adaptation for a great one pot meal at the campsite.
Feeds two hungry adults or a family of 4 with normal appetites!
- 1 tbs cooking oil
- 1 red onion, diced
- 1tsp smoked paprika
- 1 tsp mixed herbs
- Half a red chilli, finely chopped
- 1 red pepper, diced
- 1 can of chopped tomatoes
- 1 can of kidney beans
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 1 large pack of plain or lightly salted tortilla chips
- 200g grated cheese
- Small bunch of coriander (optional)
- Soured cream (optional)
- Avocado (optional)
- In a saucepan, heat the oil on a medium heat and then add the onion and chilli. Cook for a couple of minutes until soft.
- Add the paprika and mixed herbs and stir into a paste with the onion and chilli. Add a dash of water if sticking to the bottom and stir again.
- Stir in the red pepper and leave to soften for 1-2 minutes.
- Add the kidney beans and tomatoes, season with salt and pepper and leave to simmer on a low heat for 5 minutes. If you’ve got any red wine kicking around then add a dash for a really deep flavour.
- Meanwhile, get your two dinner plates ready and lay a quarter of the pack of tortilla chips onto each plate.
- Spoon a quarter of the bean and tomato sauce onto each plate of chips and immediately cover with grated cheese (doing this quickly helps the cheese melt as much as possible).
- Repeat this process with the rest of the sauce, chips and cheese.
- Add a dollop of soured cream on top, line the plate with cubed avocado and sprinkle coriander over the whole dish of nachos.
Chickpea and Mushroom Tagine
Another great option for group camping meals that would also work well if you are campfire cooking for a crowd. Easy to do on a gas hob, or bung it all in a dutch oven for your campfire feast. No need to worry about keeping your ingredients ice cold, but the mushrooms would benefit from being kept in a cooler if you are cooking this at the end of your camping trip. Or just use tinned mushrooms. This recipe also works very well with chicken thighs. Brown them in the pan before you add the mushrooms, and then once all the ingredients are added, simmer until the chicken is cooked through.
- 1 tbs oil
- 1 red onion, chopped
- 1 cm of fresh ginger, minced
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 tsp ground turmeric
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- ¼ tsp cayenne pepper
- 1 large punnet of white mushrooms, quartered
- 1 can of chickpeas, drained
- 1 can of plum tomatoes
- 1 vegetable stock cube
- 10 dried apricots or dates, chopped
- 1 small bunch of fresh parsley or coriander (optional)
- A small pot of greek yogurt (optional)
- Heat the oil in a large saucepan and stir in the onion, garlic and ginger. Cook for a couple of minutes until soft.
- Stir in the spices and add a dash of water to form a paste.
- Add the mushrooms and stir them into the paste.
- Fill the empty tomato can with water and add the water to the pan together with the chickpeas, tomatoes, stock cube and apricots or dates.
- Leave to simmer for 10 minutes or until the mushrooms are cooked through.
- Add a dollop of greek yogurt and a sprinkling of fresh herbs and serve with pita bread or couscous.
We also love cooking peshwari porridge – it’s a super simple one pot camping breakfast that is more than just a bowl of carb heavy stodge. It contains lots of protein and good fats to sustain you for longer, and is a good lightweight option for one pot backpacking meals.
For more amazing camping, backpacking and one pot camping recipes, check out Dirty Gourmet, a website dedicated to helping you create all your outdoor meals from scratch with fresh and clean ingredients.