Back to basics–campstove burritos

Saturday night dinner

A good friend of mine described a recent kayak/backpacking excursion, which entailed a beautiful afternoon out on the water, and then a jovial afternoon and evening on the beach with friends, one a true gourmand. “He made pad thai for us on a campstove!” she erupted with excitement, eyes glittering.

Pad thai. I love backpacking, but her description of his campstove pad thai thoroughly intrigued me. “Did he use peanut butter?” I asked, wondering about what shortcuts he may have used. No, she said. He forgot the peanuts. “Was it good?” Oh, she said, it was very very very tasty.

“You should–” she started, “write posts on your food blog about campstove cooking!”

And thus, a new tradition begins…campstove cooking posts.

Taking food on the trail requires some forethought, but you don’t have to make a ton of compromises if you plan ahead. There are people who bring extensive cookware on the trail, though that is not me. I want to travel as light as possible, keeping the heaviest food for the first night of camp.

My husband and I are known to take frozen steaks with us on the trail, grilling them the very first night. Ground beef can also be frozen and used the first night to fortify any meal, whether it be a stew or our backpacking favorite, burritos.

But in general–we like to go very light. That means light camping pots and pans (more like: light camping pot and pan, singular)…and the lightest (weight-wise) ingredients possible.

I’ll go over my various recipes, but for now I’d like to share our perennial favorite in the backcountry: Burritos!

Burritos are a staple meal of ours for its simplicity, its protein content, and for its fun factor. It’s easy to make, and everyone can assemble their own burrito!

Apologies, but I have no photos–lots of pictures of mountains and rivers and creeks and streams and wildlife, but sadly I took no pictures of our meals!

Recipe follows after the jump…


At home:
Grate cheese (whatever you prefer) and put in a ziploc bag
Optional: Chop 1/4 cup onions finely and put in a ziploc bag
Optional: Freeze 1/4 pound ground beef in freezer

6-8 gordita sized flour tortillas (tortillas pack well, and are great on the trail)
1 cup dry instant refried beans mixture (from Fantastic foods or the bulk bin aisles at your local Whole Foods)
2 cups of Minute rice (If possible, use the “boil in a bag” kind)
Optional: hot sauce (I like to use the hot sauce packets from Taco Bell…but you can also put some salsa in a double bagged ziploc–general tip: all those little plastic packets of various condiments like mayonaise, butter, hot sauce, relish, etc., are PRECIOUS on a backpacking trip!  Collect them.)
Optional: 1/4 pound frozen ground beef
Optional: pre-prepped onions
Optional: butter or olive oil, about 1 tablespoon, in a bag…or in a plastic packet.

At camp, start boiling about 1.5 cups water (eyeball it). When water comes to a boil, put in the bag of Minute rice. (Follow directions for cooking rice–it could need boiling for as short as 5 minutes, or as long as 10 minutes). DO NOT POUR OUT THE WATER–Pick up the bag with a fork and open it in a separate bowl for serving.

You’re going to use the water used to boil the rice for the refried beans mixture. Add the instant refried beans to the hot water, mix, and cover, away from heat.

Meanwhile, if you so desire, sautee the onions in butter or olive oil until translucent, and then saute ground beef (which will have thawed by the time you get to camp). Saute until the meat is browned.

By now, you will have the basic staples for this dish: the tortillas, the beans, rice, and if you so desire, the beef.

Lay out in a row, along with the grated cheese.

And eat! You and your fellow backpackers now have a “burrito bar”–and you can assemble as you please.

3 responses to “Back to basics–campstove burritos

  1. That sounds AWESOME! Yum! 🙂

  2. You can either freeze meat for the first night or you can dehydrate in the oven and have a great meal on day 6! Last canoe trip, I cooked a batch of chili con carne back at home then laid a thin layer of chili on 2 cookie plates in the oven overnight at a 100 with the oven door open a quarter of an inch (to let the humidity out). Let it cool, double bag airtight in ziplock bags them just ad water when on trip. This can also work for ground beef, chicken and pork; but for the steaks….not so much!


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