This website provides links to a number of websites that have recipes, advice, videos and blathering about cooking on camping trips. Your favourite search engine will find many more for you; however, you will find that most usable recipes are repeated over and over with only small variation from one website to the next. Beware the ‘gourmet’ and ‘competition’ websites (International Dutch Oven Society, for example) – they contain many recipes that are best prepared by an experienced chef in a commercial kitchen with a Dutch oven on the patio. One of the supposed ‘camping’ Dutch oven bread recipes I found recently starts with “Place the water, flour, honey, salt and yeast in the bowl of a stand mixer...” For that matter, I recommend focusing on the simpler recipes; a complex recipe that works well in your kitchen may take unexpected turns when you’re prepping and cooking in the woods on a cold, rainy day with variable winds, while tired from a day of outdoor activities. You will find conflicting advice about many aspects of outdoor cooking. Practice is the only way to figure out what works for you.
Here are some key reminders for outdoor cooking:
Do as much prep work at home as possible. Pre-measure, mix, etc. ingredients at home and put them in labeled baggies. Slicing and dicing is easier to do in your kitchen, with your cooking knives, on a cutting board than in the woods with a Swiss army knife on a more or less clean, semi-flat rock. If the diced potatoes are a little brown from sitting in a sealed baggie in an ice chest for a day, the dish containing them will still taste wonderful.
Practice every recipe at home before trying it on a camping trip. Flops are much less painful when a quick phone call can summon carryout pizza or Chinese. Practice each recipe enough times that it feels easy.
Avoid complex, ‘delicate’ recipes for camping. Hunger is the best spice, so simple dishes will taste great after a day hiking, climbing, etc. without the need of fancy dishes. While warm, fresh yeast bread on a camping trip sounds wonderful, think of the difficulty of getting the dough to rise, sit overnight, be formed into loaves/rounds, etc. before you even get to put it in a DO to cook. After a day of camping, a simple dump cake made with a cake mix and pie filling will be as greatly appreciated as a bourbon-honey peach galette with buttermilk crust and pistachios.
When you plan your menu, look at each recipe and make lists of ingredients, including any 'assumed' ones like oil, salt and pepper, etc. and all pots, pans, parchment, knives and other implements needed to prepare, cook and serve the dish. Don't forget storage containers for ingredients which are partially prepared, then left to sit until a later step in the recipe before being added to the dish under construction. Also remember cleaning supplies for washing dishes!
Once you have your lists for each dish and meal, combine them into a single shopping list and single packing list. Be sure to note when multiple pots, utensils, etc. are needed if several dishes are being prepared at the same time. After shopping but before packing, measure/prep/mix ingredients for each recipe to as great a degree as possible beforehand, labeling each ingredient packet for dish and meal. Store the ingredients for each meal together in your pack or grub box. Double-check your kit against your packing and ingredient lists to make sure you have everything you need to prepare the meals you have planned. It is very disappointing to discover in the woods that you forgot, say, the baking powder used in your favorite dump cake recipe and will have to improvise and likely end up with an inferior dish.
Practice cooking over a campfire, not in your oven or with charcoal briquettes. I often try a recipe first using my kitchen at home, but I always try it at least once outdoors before relying on it to feed a crowd on a camping trip.
Practice often, in different temperature/wind/humidity conditions. This is the only way you will develop a good feel for temperature control of campfire/Dutch oven dishes. A dish that takes half an hour to cook on a 90º windless, sunny day may take an hour and a half on a 35º day with low clouds and gusting wind.
Put together and maintain separate ‘go bags’ of cooking equipment, spices, etc. for car camping and backpacking. This will simplify packing for trips.
Most recipes can be converted to campfire/Dutch oven cooking with some simplification and focus on the basics. One of my favorite ‘showy’ camping dishes, Root Vegetable Tarte Tatin, is based on a recipe I copied from Bon Appetít magazine.
Dutch ovens are great for car camping but on backpacking trips you must plan realistically based on the type of hike you’re doing. If it is a short trip with low mileage over easy terrain, you can carry more food and gear. A steak cooked over the fire with fresh veggie sides is a great first night treat. If you’re trekking for days or weeks with challenging mileage goals, eat to live rather than live to eat. On challenging hikes it’s all about the calories to keep you going and the pounds you have to lug up the side of a mountain on your back and then cook while exhausted. Instant oatmeal for breakfast, gorp for lunch and ramen noodle soup with freeze-dried meat/veggies and a square of hard chocolate for dessert day after day has sustained many an Appalachian Trail thru hiker (of course, when they get to a town they usually pig out on pizza, ice cream, etc.)
While some sites claim that it makes sense to haul along a Dutch oven on a backpacking trip if you have enough people to distribute goods so one person lugs the DO and little else, I’ve never seen this work in practice. Reserve the DO for canoe trips with few portages, car camping, or packing with a horse, donkey or llama.
Remember to store your ingredients safely so that neither bears, raccoons, squirrels nor bugs can get to them. Some places you may have to guard your ingredients during meal prep; Robber Jays and chipmunks (mini-bears) are notorious for dashing out and grabbing ingredients you have laid out for use as soon as the frying pan heats up or water boils.
Remember that cleanliness and sanitation are as important in camp as in your kitchen at home - actually, more so. The misery of food poisoning is compounded out in the woods with only a pit toilet and a five mile hike back to your car.
Most importantly, cooking should be fun. If cooking on some trip turns out to be not much fun, figure out what to do differently next time to make it fun.