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Cooking is an Eagle-Required merit badge and a basic life skill! In the near future, you will probably be cooking 100% of your meals for yourself. Monthly trips are a great time for Troop 502 scouts to learn to shop on a budget, test out new recipes and improve sanitary food preparation and cooking skills.

You should get good at cooking in foil packs, in a Dutch oven, with skewers, on a grill, in a smoker, and on a camp stove. You should also know how to cook on a backpacking stove and what non-perishable food is good for a multi-day hike.

Cooking should follow standards.
Half your plate should be filled with fruit and vegetables:
Vegetables: (dark green; red & orange; beans, peas, and lentils; starchy; other vegetables).
Whole Fruits: (cut-up, pureed, or cooked fresh, canned, frozen, or dried fruit).
Vegetable or fruit juice should be 100% natural and less than half of the daily total fruit and veggies).

The other half of your plate should be filled with:
Proteins (seafood, meat, poultry, eggs, tofu, beans, peas, lentils, and soy or nuts and seeds) and,
Whole Grains (wheat, rice, oats, cornmeal, barley, popcorn, brown rice,) and processed grains (Bread, pasta, breakfast cereals, oatmeal, grits, and white rice).

Dairy for calcium (1 cup per meal or 1½oz natural cheese):
Milk and yogurt or Non-dairy calcium sources such as calcium-fortified plant milks like soy, rice, or almond, canned fish with bones (sardines, salmon), Tofu made with calcium sulfate, Tahini (sesame butter or paste), Calcium rich leafy greens (collard & turnip greens, spinach, kale, and Bok Choy). Unfortified plant milks and cream cheese, sour cream, cream, and butter do not count toward your dairy goal.

This link has the quantities of each of these five categories that most scouts need to each throughout the day; if you serve and eat 2 cups of fruit, 3 cups of veggies, 7 ounces of grains, 6 ounces of protein and 3 cups of Dairy or calcium-rich foods, and you challenge yourself to cook recipes that have at least 10 ingredients (all the spices count as one ingredient), you will be making meals that will be tasty and keep you and your patrol well-fed.

Bacon & pancakes is OK, but better if you add yogurt and OJ.  If this is breakfast, then lunch and dinner meals need a lot of veggies. Experienced Scouts prefer to avoid highly processed foods and meals that are not “cooking”, but are mainly “assembly” of ingredients like PBJs, walkin’ tacos, hot dogs, burgers, and wraps. Troop 502 tries to limit simple meals like cereal & milk or bagels & cream cheese to breakfasts and only on days when meal time is limited.

Camp Cooking Strategies & Recipes has some great tips such as:

  • Chop as much as you can at home. “The more you can prep at home, the more time you have to play (or rest) when you camp”.
  • Precook potatoes at home
  • Skillets are one of the easiest meals to make. Do meal prep at home, keep meat and vegetables stored separately in the cooler, when you’re ready to cook, you can dump everything in one pan and you’ve got a 10-minute meal.
  • Skewers are another easy choice and don’t require a camp stove to cook
  • Tin Foil is an easy meal with no cleanup

Award Winning and Gourmet Camping Recipes

Camping for Foodies lists camping recipes in several categories. Breakfast Ideas, Camping Lunches Dinner Recipes, Salads, Side Dishes, Snacks & Appetizers, Dessert Recipes, On the Road Travel Snacks, Dutch Oven, Campfire Recipes, and Smoker Recipes

Easy Camping Meals

Camping Cookbooks and Recipes
Macscouter Recipes
Taste Of Home Camping Recipes
Country Living Campfire Recipes
500 Camp Cooking Recipes

Vegetarian Camping Recipes

Skewer Recipes & Grilling

Foil Packet Cooking

Tin foil is a scout’s best friend. Think of one meat or protein, a few vegetables and a grain or starch like potato, and a sauce, marinate or dressing: Some examples: (chicken/onion/bell pepper; fish/asparagus/onions & rice; steak strips/green beans/rice; tofu/orange/asparagus/pineapple; Haloumi/zucchini/peach/basil; chicken/broccoli/bacon/cheese; hamburger/onion/tomatoes/mushrooms; sausage/apple/sweet potato; shrimp/mango/corn/sweet potato)

Here are some specific recipes:


  1. Start with a piece of heavy duty foil, about twice as long as the food you put inside (better to have too much than too little). Coat with cooking spray.
  2. Slice meat into thin strips and chop your veggies into small pieces (except for potatoes or carrots which should be thin-sliced).
  3. Lay your ingredients in the center of the packet, meat on the bottom, then veggies.
  4. Add a tablespoon or two of moisture to the packet: butter, oil, sauce or dressing. Add any seasonings.  An ice cube or two can also be helpful for added moisture.
  5. Fold the packet up, making sure the seams are tight so steam won’t escape. Don’t scrunch the foil, which can cause leaking, and be sure to leave an air pocket.
  6. Place the foil pack on a grill (low to medium) or in the campfire on about 2 inches of mature white coals (not the red ones). Never put them in the flames.
  7. Cook for about 15-25 minutes, turning once or twice with tongs. Check for doneness, leaving longer if necessary.
  8. Carefully open the steaming packets.
  9. Add cheese if desired after cooking to avoid sticking and burning.

If you’d like to add rice or pasta they need to be precooked before adding them to the foil packets.  Potatoes can be helped with a little precooking too – either alone in the foil packets for 15-25 minutes before adding the rest of the ingredients, or cooked just to soften at home beforehand.

Dutch Oven Recipes

Smoker Recipes

Backpacking Recipes (simple 4-ingredient meals)

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