Eat great in the great outdoors
There’s something uniquely satisfying about drifting off to sleep with the earthy smell of bonfire in your hair, and a tummy full of delicious food that was cooked over an open flame. Simple pleasures like this are what make life worth living. In fact, these kind of experiences are so important for the heart and mind that July has been designated National Parks and Recreation Month to encourage people to get outside and explore the beauty of parks with friends and loved ones.
Simply taking a walk and exploring the parks in your neighborhood is a wonderful way to celebrate this month, but consider going one step further and creating a magical evening that you and your family will never forget.
Have a look at the facilities in the parks closest to you – or ones that are easily accessible to you even if they’re further away. Many larger parks have designated bonfire or BBQ areas where you can safely build a cooking fire. That means you can create a delicious campfire meal for dinner – even if you go home and snuggle up in your own bed rather than sleep out under the stars.
Campfire meals don’t have to be complicated to be delicious, but they do take a bit of extra planning because you won’t have access to your kitchen while you’re grilling up your meal. Just remember that the smiling faces of your loved ones bathed in the glow of the fire will make it all worth it in the end.
What to bring
- As you plan your meal, don’t forget to write down every single utensil, plate, container, and prep item you know you’ll need to use. Remember to consider cutting boards, plastic wrap, aluminum foil, and storage bags. Prepping as much of the food as you can at home makes sense, but sometimes there are last minute things you need to do on site.
- You must keep your cold foods cold, so a cooler with plenty of ice packs is your best friend at a cookout. Plan to bring just what you’ll actually be eating, because storing leftovers isn’t always safe depending upon the heat, the length of time you’ll be away from proper refrigeration, and the temperature you’re able to achieve in your cooler. Better safe than sorry.
- Don’t forget about clean up! Bring some wet wipes, napkins and a garbage bag for refuse. An extra bottle of water for washing sticky hands and faces is also a good idea.
- It may be a little more effort, but consider going eco-friendly. Use reusable plastic dishes and cups, and forgo the disposable plastic cutlery. It means you’ll be transporting some dirty dishes back home, but knowing you’re doing something good for the earth will feel good and set a great example.
What to cook
- Grilled sausages and potatoes, lemon trout and gorgonzola-basil burgers might not sound like simple campfire meals, but they are! You can find these recipes and more at All Recipes.
- For more unique campfire fare options such as sausage and fennel pizza, Dutch oven caramel apple pie, and campfire chicken stew visit Pioneer Settler.
- For some inexpensive and easy classic meal ideas visit CampingExpert.
- Don’t forget about dessert! Babble has 17 sweet ways you can end your meal.
- If you and your friends want to enjoy alcoholic beverages around the campfire, check first to make sure you are allowed to bring them into the park. Always drink responsibly and arrange to have a designated driver.
Gathering your loved ones around a roaring fire and enjoying home cooking in the great outdoors is a wonderful way to celebrate the beauty of the parks in your community. Best of all, cookouts offer a change of pace and scenery, require you to slow down and get back to basics, and give you a chance to reconnect with the people you love in a beautiful and relaxing setting.
For additional tips on eating in the great outdoors, check out our 10 tips for planning the perfect picnic.
413930A CAN/US (07/16)