Knowing what you will be eating and preparing while at the campsite is just as important as planning what gear you will be bringing. Having a planned meal schedule will help you make sure you have accounted for every meal before you even leave the house. There is nothing worse than finding out on day 5 of a camping trip that you only brought and planned enough for 4 days.
Just like a camping checklist, a meal schedule will force you to look at how many days/meals you need to plan for. Once you have a schedule figured out (like the one below), you can then create a meal plan and a grocery list and check items off as you go.
Take into account any activities you might be doing while camping when making your schedule. For instance, if you are going on a trail hike, you might want to pack your lunch with you and stop for a relaxing picnic on the trail. In the example above, I have it planned for wednesday, but obviously if you wake up on tuesday and decide you need to hit the trail, then you can adjust the schedule. The point is to have it “planned” so that you prepare and bring along the appropriate type meal (in this case a packable lightweight meal).
Also, be sure you have at least one bad weather meal planned. Hopefully you won’t have to use it, but if you have done much camping you know that weather does not always cooperate. Make it something easy that doesn’t need to be cooked in case of rain. MRE’s (Meals Ready to Eat) are a great alternative. I always have a few in my camp pantry just in case.
Finally, plan quick easy meals for while you are packing up camp at the end of your trip and for when you are setting up camp once you get there. You don’t want to have a complicated meal right after you’ve spent an hour or two setting up camp.