Family Camping Guide

Family Camping Trip Essentials

We love camping here at Catapult –our quickest route to having an adventure as a family.  Where to begin with the daunting task of packing however?   With young children, we are grateful that the car can carry all the extra paraphernalia you might need to keep everyone warm and well fed. We have put together a printable list to help you pack for your family camping trip. Do edit this for a wilder camping experience. For now, we are assuming that you don’t have to carry all this in rucksacks.

Camping Checklist 


Being outdoors for the whole day and night is hungry work and as such we prioritise food very highly for a family camping weekend! There is something elemental about cooking as the cavemen once did. However, there is a great difference between eating the usual barbecue fare and ramping it up just a notch and still having a delicious family feast. It isn’t especially difficult, it’s just that it’s really worth preparing and shopping for before you go. We have put together some ideas for hungry campers after you have ruled out your obvious pork options such as burgers, sausages and bacon butties.


Campfire Recipes for the Family

Anything that needs to be marinated works a treat, not least because you can freeze it and it will last an extra 24 hours whilst defrosting and act like a cool pack for your other refrigerated items like milk.

Examples include: Jamie’s Empire Roast Chicken, or his epic steak marinadethe saffron marinated chicken recipe from Sabrina Ghayour’s ‘Persiana’.

Pre-cooked one pot dishes which only require reheating such as a good stew, or chilli con carne or a big curry. We particularly love Jamie’s Chilli which is lovingly and ‘slowly’ cooked with maximum flavour. The time you put in before in the cooking is rewarded 10 times over when you settle down to this around the campfire. The boys love getting involved cooking around the campfire and we discovered these flatbreads before our last trip. You can actually premix the flour and baking powder and bring ready and then tuck in the pot of yoghurt et voila. These go really well with any of the above recipes so it’s a good one for the camping armoury.

Spices/Rubs can be pre mixed and stored ready to apply nearer cooking time which could work well if you plan to catch fish on one of your days.

Regarding potatoes; baked potatoes are a bit of a mission on the timing front but wrapped in foil and left on the edge of the fire for an hour + will work. If you have new potatoes, these can be cooked in the same way with foil and will take less time. We have discovered that sweet potatoes caramelise like this and are absolutely delicious.

Rice/Couscous/bulgur are all good staples to have to feed hungry mouths, don’t take up much room and don’t require refrigerating.

We often pick up those ‘Merchant Gourmet’ ready cooked Lentils as you can then stir through some chargrilled roasted peppers and feta for a delicious side dish.

Chargrilled aubergines, courgettes, peppers and corn on the cob work really well over the fire.

Cheese- halloumi being the King of grilled cheeses, makes for an excellent quick lunch in a pitta bread with salad or on a skewer with other veg. On one birthday camping trip, our friends brought a camembert and baguette to dip which was devoured within minutes but this would have to be eaten on your first night because its smell is something you do NOT want to sleep in the tent with!

Campfire Puddings

The American craze for Smores has hit Blighty. Chocolate, biscuit and marshmallow…what’s not to love? Here is the authentic recipe for Smores but we can assure you all other versions including a Mcvities Digestive for example, or cookies, marshmallows and Nutella is pretty insane.


We are also big fans of chocolate banana boats and there is a link here for all its variations.  Put a cross in the top of an apple, sprinkle half a teaspoon of cinnamon and a teaspoon of brown sugar and bake for a tasty pudding. We tend to pre-bake flapjacks, brownies etc because children are ALWAYS hungry and always wanting snacks.

Campfire Breakfast

Jamie Oliver’s 1 Cup Pancake Method is ideal for breakfast and if you have any bananas these can be chopped into the mixture to vary the breakfast for another morning.  French Toast is a campfire breakfast winner too; simply dip the bread in lightly whisked eggs and sprinkle with cinnamon/sugar/maple syrup as it cooks. You can top with any fresh berries you may have bought with you.

Eggs are the campers best friend as they require no refrigeration and can be used at any mealtime. Apart from the obvious Great British Fry Up, we like scrambled eggs in croissants, omelettes or at lunchtime frittata which is the ultimate in flexible campfire cooking as you can put any fresh or foraged vegetables or herbs in.

eggs bacon

The other recipe we have discovered is well worth the effort and poaching from our American cousins across the pond is Cowboy Baked Beans.

Cooking well over the campfire is not too challenging if you have thought about it a little bit before you get there and remember on the day to leave the fire long enough to get to the right temperature before starting to cook.


A couple of other helpful tips we have learnt over the last few years. The website www.coolcamping is absolutely brilliant, it has a fantastic guide to the best campsites in Britain and abroad they are brilliantly honest about the highs AND lows of each place. You can also search with clever filters like ‘campfires allowed’ or ‘dogs allowed’ which saves a lot of time.

There was a recent article by psychologist Oliver James  who suggests that if we stop buying our children needless plastic toys and spent the same money on an annual holiday, we would be giving them more in valuable family time and happy memories than anything money can buy. We believe camping does this without even the cost of a plane ticket and it is certainly full of funny family stories that are recounted for years afterwards.