Camping 101: Quick And Easy Rib-Stickin’ Pot Meals

The fact is, I love to eat!

My first merit badge in the Boy Scouts was for cooking! We enjoyed a variety of elaborate meals during summer camp including baked hams, chocolate cakes and hefty helpings of mashed potatoes. We also made a lot of meals using only a big cauldron-like pot. It’s no surprise then, that some of my most favorite meals camping today are one-pot wonders!

There are several advantages to such meals: they are first and foremost, quite delicious; they are easy to make; they can be frozen in their entirety (or at least the main sauce), and they are easy to prepare/warm over a campfire or camp stove.

Here are three of my top “pot meals,” in order of ease of preparation. I am not going into recipe details. You can “doctor these up” to suit your specific tastes. The general info will get you a basic meal that can stand on its own. Your own choice of herbs, spices and other flavor enhancers can rise them up to loftier heights based on your own creative culinary desires.

Tom Watson


Beef Or Chicken Stew
Whether you decide upon a tomato sauce-based beef stew or a cream/chicken stock base of chicken stew, the basic “stew” recipe is the easiest. There are few rules to stews or soups (to me a thin, small chunked stew already). You brown the meat, add chunks of chopped veggies that will hold their own in hot water, add some salt, pepper, garlic, and other choice herbs, and cook it all together in a big pot.

The resulting meal can be proportioned into sealable containers, frozen (used in lieu of ice in the camp cooler), then thawed out in camp and re-heated. Simple, savory and satisfying! Stews are the basic one-pot meals. Because you need to brown the meat before you put it into the pot, and the fact that some veggies need to cook for a while, means doing all this ahead of time at home saves time and mess in camp. The container thaws while you are out fishing or hiking and is warmed for only a few minutes on the campfire before it’s completely ready to eat.

Camp Spaghetti
There are two ways to make this quick and simple. The first is to cook the sauce and noodles at home, combine them and freeze the final product into individual or collective serving portions. Then, like the stew above, thaw it out at camp, re-heat and then dig in.

Personally, I find that method less tasty than method No. 2. For this one, I prepare the sauce at home, and in camp I get a big pot in which I cook the noodles. The sauce is heated separately (defeating the one pot technique, I know) and then serving the noodles with a healthy ladling of steaming sauce over them. Two pans, yes but well worth it!

‘Scout Chicken’
Actually called “Valley Forge Chicken” in an old issue of “Boy’s Life” magazine, it’s my favorite “one pot” meal at home as well as in camp. This is definitely a two-pot meal, but worth its inclusion here.

Scout chicken is a combination of browned chicken meat or small parts, that is bathed in a combination of cream of chicken and cream of celery soup (plus needed milk to make a thick, but flowing sauce) to which a drained can of cut green beans has been added. This mix is heated to the point that the flavors each embrace each other and the sauce coats the beans and chicken in a thick, rich, tantalizing blanket. This entire mix is poured over a heaping pile of mashed potatoes (or could be noodles or rice).

The fact that you douse a pile of carbs’ in the mixture means a second pot. You could use instant potatoes or field mash your own, either way it’s a second pot. Believe me it is worth it! Some prefer to use a slotted spoon to separate out the beans and chicken. Since it all goes down the same “hole,” I prefer having in all together in one, aromatic, tasty pile!

Each of these is satisfyingly complemented by a hot biscuit! Also, remember my camping tip about using a big flying plastic disc (Frisbees are best) as a catch-all, rimmed dinner plate? There’s nothing better for one-pot meals!

You can’t beat camping on a full stomach. Bon Appetite!


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