Recipes for a quick camping getaway

Need to reconnect with the outdoors, remember why someone invented bug spray, or just earn the rights to a few burnt s’mores? Then a camping getaway may be just what the naturopathic doctor ordered.  And car camping couldn’t be easier, if you have the patience to build a tent, foresight to plan out some tasty meals, and zest to sleep under the stars.

I’m going to make this simple: You pick the location—there are a few close options below—and I’ll lay out your meals, activity options, and what you can’t forget to pack.

WHERE TO GO:

  • Raccoon Creek State Park (35 mins from Mt. Lebanon)
    • Bonus: A quick getaway with amazing hiking, boat rentals and a “beach.”
  • Moraine State Park (55 mins. from Mt. Lebanon)
    • Bonus: Fishing, swimming, biking, they seem to have it all!
  • Ohiopyle (1 hour 20 mins. from Mt. Lebanon)
    • Bonus: The access to whitewater rafting and rails to trails biking is unbeatable. Also, there’s a nice amount of dining options, should you want to skip making your own meal(s).
  • Pioneer Park Campground—near Seven Springs (1 hour 25 mins from Mt. Lebanon)
    • Bonus: Zip lining, clay shooting, horseback riding, wineries, live music and scenic vistas are all in the area… what’s not to love? PLUS, the campground has its own pool, tennis courts and putt putt course.

Not on board with pitching a tent? Don’t worry, each of the above-listed places have cabin options in case of rain, fear of bears, or just generally not wanting to sleep on the unforgiving ground.

MEALS

Each meal here was designed to be as nonperishable as possible. I hate toting around icepacks, blenders and unnecessary items just as much as the next person.

A Simple Pancake Breakfast:

  • *Premake* your favorite pancake mix (I like to add frozen blueberries to mine)
  • Syrup
  • Bananas
  • Walnuts (or topping of your choice)

Pro Tip: Bring a percolator and premeasured amount of coffee (with creamer from a gas station)

Lunch/Snacks:

  • Chips & Salsa
  • *Premake* Trail mix
  • *Premake* Traditional PB&J or almond butter and jam

Fajitas for Dinner:

  • *Premake* One cup of rice
  • One can of black beans (pop top so you don’t need to bring a can opener)
  • Use s’more of that salsa you had for a snack
  • Pack of tortillas
  • Frozen bag of mixed peppers and onions
  • One avocado

Deserved Dessert:

  • Traditional s’mores:
    • Graham crackers
    • Hershey’s Chocolate
    • Marshmallows

Pro tip: Sub the Hershey’s with a Reese’s or the graham crackers with chocolate chip cookies. You will not regret it.

PACKING

Food gear: 

  • Gallon of spring water
  • Fork, knife, spoon.
    • If you’re an avid camper, I know you have a Spork or multiuse utensil.
  • Percolator
  • One nonstick frying pan
  • One small nonstick pot
  • One Mixing/serving spoon and one spatula
  • Paper towels (you can then use as fire fuel)
  • One large trash bag
  • Paper or reusable plates
  • Water bottle
  • Coffee cup
  • Aluminum foil to cook and save food

Camp gear:

  • Tent (or rent a cabin and save the trunk space)
  • Sleeping bag
  • Flashlight
  • Toiletries (toothbrush, toothpaste… you know the drill)
  • Bug spray or citronella candles
  • Portable grill & fuel (or cook over the fire)
  • Fire starter log
  • Firewood (buy it/search for it on site)
  • Lighter or matches
  • Rain gear, especially boots
  • Sandals for the shower
  • Pillow
  • Extra blanket
  • Inflatable mattress if you have one—a yoga mat is a good swap here.
  • Camera
  • Folding Chair(s)

Things to do:

  • Yard games or cards
  • Hike or bike
  • Fish
  • Swim
  • Canoe / kayak / SUP
  • Bird watch / hunt Sasquatch
  • Read & relax
  • Reconnect & meditate

People and Pets:

  • Most campsites will allow Fido. Just check online or give the site a call. Usually you will be set up in a dog-friendly location.
  • Make sure whomever you bring knows what they are getting into. Not everyone can “rough it,” even with it all planned out for them!

Hopefully these recipes make your quick getaway a little simpler. You’ll find the hard part is in the preparation, but once you get to wherever you’re going, you can kick your feet up, relax, enjoy the fresh air, and appreciate the fact that we’re pretty lucky to live so close to so many great outdoor adventures!

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