Eating Like a King (or Queen) While Camping

Mountain or beach camping lets you breathe fresh air, sparking a hefty appetite. Who hasn’t battled hunger pangs after finishing a hike or surfing some wake water?

Whether you’re glamping in a posh tent on a queen-size bed outfitted with a fluffy down comforter, bunking down in your truck bed on an air mattress or roughing it in a sleeping bag with the starry sky as your canopy, you can wine and dine the gourmet way. All you’ll need is an ounce of innovation and a cooler’s worth of food you never imagined would taste so great cooked over an open flame.

Spade & Spoon offers curated, cooler-sized campout boxes such as strawberry and quinoa tabbouleh.

Cooking and storing provisions

The best chef is a prepared chef, so build a camping arsenal equipped with the right cooking tools. There are many options for camp stoves, like the Eureka Ignite Stove that folds into a 4-inch high, 18.5-inch long portable powerhouse with 10,000 BTU burners that go from simmer to torch with a turn of a dial ($124.95 at Jax Outdoor Gear).

Jetboil’s cooking systems, like the Genesis Basecamp System, have two propane burners that boil water in minutes and link to other Jetboil units for a larger cooking surface ($399.95 at Jax). The Flash Cooking System ($124.95) boils liquids or dehydrated meals in 100 seconds.

If you prefer to grill, BioLite’s FirePit+ ($299.95) makes a battery-operated, smoke-free wood campfire that weighs 19 pounds. And, if you’re backpacking, the Mountain Safety Research PocketRocket 2 Stove ($59.95) has an adjustable precision flame and folding pot supports. Stabilize it with aluminum foil-covered rocks to minimize the mess.

Stash your cache with a collapsible cooler, various sizes of Ziploc bags to separate foods and rugged cookware with folding handles, like the Mountain Summit Gear Hard-Anodized Cookset ($54.73 at REI). Keep it cool with an IceMule Pro Cooler ($144.95) that stores 24 cans, plus ice.

For those who pack the kitchen sink, the environmentally friendly 20-liter Sea to Summit Kitchen Sink ($29.95) offers a 6.6-ounce portable basin to collect and purify water or wash dishes. Most outfitters and hardware stores have a good stock of sturdy, reusable enamel plates and utensils.

Spade & Spoon offers curated, cooler-sized campout boxes such as shakshuka with feta.

Open-minded menus

Along with the necessities—coffee, tea, dry milk powder to thicken sauces or scramble eggs, pasta with jarred sauce, vacuum-sealed meals (Trader Joe’s has good ones) and pre-cooked rice from the grocery store—spice it up with Coghlan’s Multi Spice 6-ounce jar, available at REI ($9.50). It includes paprika, curry, cayenne, garlic salt, black pepper and salt.

For appetizers, peel open a tin of smoked oysters and serve them on crackers, or go big with minced hard-boiled eggs atop jarred caviar.

Sarah Mandell, chef and owner of Flourish, Food to Thrive On, provides personal and private chef services in Aspen and Snowmass. She makes watermelon gazpacho at home and stashes it in a cooler for a refreshing first course. She says charcuterie platters with salami, cheese, olives and other cured meats like prosciutto hold up well on a camping trip. If cold space is limited, she suggests bringing vacuum-packed sausages that don’t require refrigeration.

Mandell touts flaxseed sprouted crackers for platters or to stash in a backpack for snacking. She adds chopped veggies, nuts, seeds, fresh herbs and curry or paprika. The crackers can be dehydrated or baked following this basic recipe:

For easy breakfasts to make before leaving home, she recommends granola, egg popovers, breakfast burritos, muffins and quiche, which you can freeze and let defrost naturally in the morning sun. Hard-boiled eggs are the perfect protein booster, and sandwich ingredients can be stuffed in sturdy pita bread pockets for an on-the-go lunch.

If you’ve got space, Spade & Spoon’s curated, cooler-sized campout boxes are available during the summer months. Founded by Joy Rubey in Washington State, the company opened to the public in Colorado last December. Rubey, a working mom whose husband branched out into farming, creates meal kits to help people eat more local food while helping farmers sell it. Spade & Spoon works with over 50 local Colorado producers.

“We help them move a lot of food and get it to people who value what they put in their bodies and who care about the environment,” Rubey says.

She’s built over 900 seasonal recipes, many of which are suitable for open-air cooking. Try the shakshuka skillet breakfast (a Tunisian dish made with a no-prep simmering sauce, poached pastured eggs, Swiss chard, feta cheese and tortillas), or the huevos rancheros with beans, cheese, a tomato simmering sauce and fresh eggs from What a Yolk Egg Farm in Ault. For dinner, try the grilled chicken satay with curried peanut sauce and cucumber salad, or the Tuscan panzanella with grilled Italian sausage.

Spade & Spoon also offers fresh, hearty salads—one features strawberry and quinoa in a classic Middle Eastern salad spiked with parsley, mint and scallions—as well as dessert kits and happy hour mixes for cocktail hour. These include ginger lime (for your Moscow Mule), lavender lemon, mango jalapeño and rhubarb paloma. Just add your preferred liquor.

Spade & Spoon offers curated, cooler-sized campout boxes such as grilled chicken satay with curried peanut sauce and cucumber salad.

Order online by Thursdays at midnight for delivery the following Wednesday. Weekly subscriptions are available, but no subscription is required to order.

“The concept keeps cooking simple and fast,” Rubey says. “We provide spice blends, sauces and dressing. You boil water for the pasta and grill the meat, and there are vegetarian options, pastries and bread, too.”

Easy drinking in the wild

Rocky Mountain Cider Co’s Wild Cider, Off Dry Pear (6% ABV) combines the refreshingly dry flavor of sweet white pears, a whisper of vanilla and floral notes that dance on your tongue. It’s just the thing to cool you off after a hot hike. Tales from “The Wild” on the side of the can get your creative juices flowing as you vie for best campfire stories.

Duckhorn Wine’s Decoy Seltzer Rosé with Black Cherry is 8.4 fluid ounces and 5.5% ABV of lightly fizzed rosé. Its friendly drinkability is inspired by the great Provençal rosé wines. Slim cans make packing easy.

Fruit & Flower wine cans offer quality Washington State sparkling chardonnay in artful packaging. Pair them with a chilled shrimp cocktail or caviar for a celebratory glass of lighthearted bubbles in the woods (the 250mL cans have one-and-a-half 5-ounce servings).

Bota Mini Dry Rosé is crisp, dry, packaged in paper and has a smaller carbon footprint than a 750mL bottle. It serves three 5.6-ounce glasses. Pair it with grilled chicken, burgers, salads and fruit and cheese plates.

The Tanqueray Rangpur Lime Gin & Soda cocktail swaps tonic for soda and adds ginger and spice to this ready-to-drink can. Refreshing and light, the top-shelf, lime-flavored gin has strong citrus notes to cool you off after an active day outdoors (5.9% ABV for a 12-ounce can).

You can’t go wrong with Jack Daniel’s & Coca-Cola, canned or otherwise, sitting by a campfire or at home in your deck chair (7% ABV).

88 East Beverage Co.’s Dia De La Paloma is crafted in Jalisco, Mexico, with tequila. It goes down easy with touches of grapefruit and lime flavoring (8% ABV).

Cutwater’s Spicy Bloody Mary takes brunch into the wild with its award-winning vodka. Serve this bold breakfast cocktail over ice (if you can spare some), and pair it with fresh-caught grilled trout or breakfast burritos (10% ABV for a 12-ounce can).

Cutwater’s Tiki Rum Mai Tai brings the tiki bar to your beachfront campout with cane sugar pot-and-column distilled rum and notes of pineapple, citrus and coconut. Light the campfire and dream of palm trees with this sturdy sipper (12.5% ABV).