Un-Gourmet Camping Recipes: 3 Camp Meals for Real People

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Scroll through the internet, even briefly, and you might get the impression that everyone who goes camping is making three-star Michellin camp meals. Either that, or they’re eating only freeze dried food packets, and energy gel. These two extremes naturally get spotlighted on social media because, well, they’re extreme. And while they both have merit—who wouldn’t devour braised pork, white wine, and a root veggie stew with a blackberry crumble for dessert while backpacking?—we can’t help but feel that simple camp food staples are becoming somehow underrated. So we’re here with the help of ACLIM8 ambassador, Drew Baker, to provide a few simple, hearty, no frills, camping recipes. No crème fraîche or caviar required.

ACLIM8 ambassador Drew Baker enjoys a beer on his tailgate

You might know Drew Baker from his previous post explaining the fundamentals of UTV overlanding, or his YouTube video demonstrating uses for a COMBAR while training for bowhunting. Or maybe, like us, you first got to know Drew through his stellar photography on Instagram. Maybe this is your first introduction to Drew. If so, you’re in for a treat.

Drew is a hunting guide, fishing guide, and acclaimed outdoor photographer who lives in Montana. When he’s not guiding clients on outdoor trips, he’s usually getting outside on his own, or with his buddies. And all that exploration requires a hearty diet to fuel it. Over the years Drew has developed a handful of camp meal staples that can quickly be thrown in a pack or a cooler and easily prepared on a camp cooking setup.

We caught up with Drew to ask him about his culinary persuasions, and to get a few of his go-to camp recipes down on paper. Enjoy!


You seem to have a distinct palette when it comes to camp meals—lots of hot dogs, canned beans, cold beers, generally simple, old fashioned camp food. To be honest, it’s kind of refreshing given the amount of “gourmet” camp cooking we’re shown online. How would you describe your style of camp cooking and the kinds of meals you like to make? What makes a good camp meal, in your opinion?

Oh c’mon! Canned beans are gourmet! Haha.

I think “keeping it simple” is a good way to describe my style of cooking. I’ve tried the fancy gourmet stuff and for starters, it takes forever to cook and I'm usually starving. And secondly, food is getting expensive. I don't need an avocado to compliment my breakfast. I think what makes a good camp meal is simplicity, timeliness, and enough food to put you to sleep or start your day with a full belly. I like the ‘more bang for your buck’ type foods.


What are your 2-3 favorite camp meals?

I'd have to say elk burgers are number one, followed by carne asada tacos, and then cheddar dogs and baked beans. Simple, affordable, filling. 


How do you make these camp meals? What are the ingredients, steps, and tools needed?

The elk burgers usually start with a lot of mind numbing and leg aching walks in the woods until I hopefully fill a tag, (or I just substitute beef). I like to pre-season everything at home, and if I want the extras like onion or lettuce, I cut that up at home too. This goes the same for the carne asada. Prepping everything at home makes life easier and makes things go more efficiently when you're starving. Don't forget the frying pan. And then after you get a good bed of coals, just cook it as you would at home. Watch whatever you're cooking closely though because it's pretty easy to overcook meat, or burn sauteed onions or dogs or whatever you're dealing with.



Any tips, secret ingredients, or insider advice for someone who’s looking to make more meals like these?
  1. Prepare stuff at home to pack less and deal with less waste. 

  2. Build a cook kit so you don't forget anything each time. 

  3. Keep everything bagged up and out of the bottom of your cooler. (You don't want your beer smelling like a hot dog if a bag leaks open.) 

  4. Drink beers while you cook to aid in creativity.



Close up of Elk Burger with lettuce and cheese

This one might sound gourmet, but when you stock your freezer annually with a couple hundred pounds of elk meat like Drew does, it’s pretty much par for the course. Plus, what makes something gourmet is more so the amount of steps, utensils, and delicate ingredients than the base ingredients. 

For this recipe you can substitute any kind of burger for elk.

  • Pan or Grill Cover

  • Knife

  • COMBAR (if making a campfire)

  • Plate (or large leaf)

  • Paper towels

  • Elk burgers (or any kind of burger meat)

  • Veggies (optional) (lettuce, tomato, onion, pickle)

  • Buns

  • Side of chips (Tim’s Jalepeño never disappoint)

  • Beer (optional)

  1. Pre-season meat (optional): If you want your burger seasoned—salt, pepper, and the like—do that at home.

  2. Pre-chop veggies and extras (optional): If you want onions, lettuce, pickles, etc., chop those up at home and put ‘em in a zip lock bag for easy access when your burger’s ready to dress.

  3. Make fire or heat a pan on your camp stove

  4. Add oil or butter to the pan (optional): Burger meat tends to be fatty enough to grease the pan as it cooks. Just move it around enough so that it doesn’t sear to the pan when you first put it on.

  5. Cook burger in the pan

  6. Toast bun

  7. Assemble bun, patties, and pre-packed veggies into a stack of deliciousness

  8. Enjoy with chips and a cold beer

  9. Repeat until full

    A man holding a plate with Camp Carne Asada on it

    Like with elk burgers, the key to maximizing the deliciousness and minimizing effort for camp carne asada is a little at-home prep. Cut and season your carne in a large ziplock bag at home (it’ll marinate while you drive, hike, and hunt!). Cut and season your peppers and onions at home, too. Put these in a separate bag and let ‘em soak.

    This is a one-pan dish, just like the burgers which is what makes it so convenient.

    • Pan

    • Stick (for stirring)

    • Spoon or ladle for serving (you’ll live if you forget this, don’t worry)

    • COMBAR (if making a campfire)

    • Paper towels

    • Carne asada, seasoned

    • Sliced onions and bell peppers, seasoned

    • Taco tortillas

    • Hot sauce (Cholula is always a winner)

    • Any other taco toppings you like and want to bring along

    • Beer (optional)

    Side note — Hot sauce is quite possibly the 11th essential. Never go camping without it. 

    1. Slice and season carne asada at home. Place in a large zip lock bag to marinate.

    2. Slide and season onions and peppers at home. Place in another large zip lock bag.

    3. Make a fire or heat a pan on your camp stove

    4. Add oil or butter to pan (optional): The marinated meat is often juicy enough to not need an oiled pan, just be sure to stir the pan frequently enough to avoid sticking and burning.

    5. Saute carne and veggies in the pan

    6. Warm tortillas by the fire

    7. Top warm tortillas with cooked carne and veggies (don’t overfill your tortillas or they might rip. I always do this :/)

    8. Add hot sauce and any taco toppings

    9. Enjoy with a cold beer

    10. Repeat until full

      Cheddar Hot Dogs with Baked Beans

      This one is a camp meal classic—hot dogs and beans. We highly recommend making this one over an open campfire.

      Drew likes cheddar dogs. Fair enough. But you can sub any kind of brat or dog for the cheddar dogs and this recipe will still work. 

      If you want to look extra cool, you can cook your beans straight in the can, pioneer style! Just be careful not to let the can get too hot in the coals. And make sure you still pack out all your trash. Don’t burn it. 

      This recipe is great for its versatility. Top your hot dog with the beans for a Baked Bean Chilli Dog, or chop up your dogs and cook them in the beans for a Cheddar Dog Goulash. There’s no rules. 

      • Pan for cooking dogs and or beans (optional)

      • Spoon for handling beans

      • Hot dog sticks (optional)

      • Knife (for whittling hot dog stick)

      • COMBAR (if making a campfire)

      • Paper plates or bowls (optional)

      • Paper towels

      • Cheddar dogs (or any kind of hot dog or bratwurst)

      • Baked beans

      • Hot dog buns

      • Hot sauce (optional)

      • Any other hot hot dog toppings you like (pre-chop veggies at home for convenience)

      • Beer (optional)

      1. Make a fire or heat a pan on your camp stove

      2. Bring beans to a steaming simmer on the fire

      3. Cook hot dogs over the fire (or in your pan)

      4. Toast hot dog buns

      5. Place hot dogs in buns and add any toppings you brought along

      6. Smother in baked beans if you’re doing Baked Bean Chilli Dogs

      7. Enjoy with a cold beer

      8. Repeat until full


      There you go. Three camp meals that will keep you full and fueled for UTV overnighters, hunting scouting trips, or local romps with your favorite camping buddies. No frills. No exotic salts. Just a couple cheap ingredients and a campfire. 

      And if you dress these up with fine garnishes and pureed dips. More power to you! 

      Just don’t forget the hot sauce. 

      If you have other un-gourmet camping recipes, we’d love to hear from you on social media. Send us a message at @aclim8gear on Instagram. 


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