According to Outward Bound, “in the winter, it is best to eat a high calorie diet with a little extra fat. High energy foods such as cheese, butter, nuts, peanut butter, and quick burning sugary foods like chocolate, candy and granola help the body stay active and generate heat throughout the day.”

For the dinners featured in this article, we chose high-protein, high-fat meals. Try to prepare as much ahead of time as you can, such as chopping vegetables or mixing spices. Each recipe is cooked in an essential piece of camping cooking ware.

Dutch Oven Meatloaf – Camping for Foodies

The ultimate comfort food! Meatloaf, bacon, and hot coals in a shallow Dutch oven make for a delectable combination that will warm you up and keep you full for a long time. Prepare the meatloaf at home before you go camping for easy prep. You can choose to use leftovers for sandwiches the next day, too – if there is any left. Sides of crusty bread and green beans would finish off this meal perfectly.

Meatloaf Ingredients

  • 1 medium yellow onion chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1 pound ground pork mild Italian sausage
  • 1 cup Italian breadcrumbs
  • 3 large eggs, beaten
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 8 oz. can tomato sauce
  • 4 slices regular cut bacon strips, not thick cut

Glaze Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup ketchup
  • 2 tablespoons packed brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon prepared mustard


Special Equipment: Make your own Dutch oven parchment paper liner (or use a pre-cut liner)

  1. Pre-heat a standard-depth 12-inch Dutch oven to bake at to 350 degrees. (25 total coals = 17 on top of the Dutch oven lid / 8 under the bottom of oven.) For RV and conventional ovens, see Note 5 below.
  2. Combine glaze ingredients in a small bowl and set aside: ketchup, brown sugar and mustard.
  3. In a large bowl combine the meatloaf ingredients starting with the ground beef, ground pork mild Italian sausage, salt, black pepper, onion, garlic. Then mix in breadcrumbs. Followed by mixing in the eggs. Then mixing in the Worcestershire sauce and tomato sauce.
  4. Mix with your hands, until thoroughly blended. Do not over mix. Mold the meat mixture into a round, about 7 to 8 inches in diameter.
  5. Layer bacon slices over the top of the meatloaf in a tic-tac-toe or hashtag pattern. Sort of like making a lattice top on a pie.
  6. Place meatloaf mixture in the center of the parchment paper and use the exposed paper corners as “handles” to lower the loaf into the preheated oven.
  7. Place the loaf of meat into the center of the oven, then pour the glaze mixture over the top.
  8. Cover with lid and place coals for baking at 350 F degrees until the meat loaf is done. Use a meat thermometer to verify the internal temperature reaches 165 F degrees. Every 15 minutes or so, rotate the lid and oven 1/4 turns in opposite directions throughout the baking process for even heating.
  9. Remove the Dutch oven from the coals and let rest for 10 minutes then lift out using the parchment paper handles, slice and serve.

NOTE 1: You can use campfire coals or charcoal briquettes. If you use a propane camp stove, use a Dutch oven dome and heat diffuser plate. If you use an RV oven or conventional oven, just pre-heat the oven with a 12-inch oven-safe baking dish.

NOTE 2: You will need TWO sets of coals because of the length of the baking time. If you are using charcoal, start the second batch of coals about 20 minutes into the cooking process so they are ready as the first set is burning out.

NOTE 3: Deep Dutch ovens are designed to be used for cooking soups and stews, I don’t recommend one for this recipe because the coals sitting on top of the oven the lid are too far away from the food. The bottom of the meatloaf will burn before the top is fully cooked. And, it will be almost impossible to cook the bacon. If you decide to use a deep Dutch oven you will need more coals and you’ll have to monitor the meatloaf through the baking process and move more coals to the lid to build up the heat above the meatloaf.


Irish Stout Beef Stew – KOA

A slow cooker and a few hours will make this robust stew ready to eat with little hassle – plus it features all your favorite Irish flavors and textures. It’s the ideal meal to have ready when you return from the slopes or from a day of exploring Michigan’s winter wonderland. A pint of Guinness, anyone?


  • 2 cups thickly sliced carrots
  • 3 cups cubed potatoes
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. pepper
  • 3 Tbsp. olive oil, divided
  • 2 pounds beef stew meat or chuck, cubed
  • 1 large yellow onion
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 bottle stout beer, such as Guinness
  • 3 cups beef stock
  • 3 Tbsp. tomato paste
  • 1 Tbsp. Worchestershire sauce
  • 2 springs fresh thyme or 1/2 tsp dried thyme


  1. Place carrots, potatoes, and bay leaf in bottom of slow cooker. Pat beef cubes dry with a paper towel and toss in flour mixture. Heat olive oil in a large sauté pan. Brown cubed meat on all sides, cooking in batches so the pan is not crowded. Add browned beef to crock pot.
  2. Add remaining 1 Tbsp. oil to the sauté pan along with the onions and garlic. Cook until onions are soft, about 5 minutes. Add ½ bottle of stout and scrape bottom of pan to get all flavorful bits. Add onion mixture to crock pot with remaining beer, beef stock, tomato paste, Worchestershire sauce and thyme.
  3. Stir, cover and cook for 8 hours on low or 4-5 hours on high, until meat and vegetables are tender. Adjust salt and pepper and serve.

Cast Iron Brats with Peppers And Onions – Fresh off the Grid

A quick and easy lunch or dinner for a chilly day. The spiciness of the peppers and bratwurst warm you up, and the flavor from the cast iron skillet can’t be beat. Don’t forget the chips.


  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 yellow onion, sliced into half moons
  • 1 red bell pepper, deseeded and sliced lengthwise
  • 1 poblano pepper, deseeded and sliced lengthwise
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 pound bratwurst
  • Sandwich rolls or buns and mustard to serve


  1. Preheat a cast iron skillet over medium heat on your campfire grate (or camp stove). Add the oil, then the onions, peppers, and salt. Cook for a few minutes until they just begin to soften, then add the bratwurst, nestling them into the vegetables so they come in contact with the skillet.
  2. Turn the brats and stir the vegetables occasionally, until the brats are cooked through (internal temp of 160°F), 15–20 minutes.
  3. Remove from the heat and divide the brats and veggies among the sandwich rolls.
  4. Top with mustard and enjoy!