June 24, 2019

Camp Foods for a Picky Toddler

Raise your hand if you have a picky toddler or preschooler….all of you right? Well, my 3 year old is no different. He went through baby led weaning eating everything we ate, and then one day he just suddenly didn’t “like” anything. He eats enough, but most nights he will only nibble or eat around what he doesn’t want. This can be a problem when we go tent camping because we typically make one pan/pot meals such as quesadillas, chili, Alfredo, etc. and all of those meals are foods that he will mostly refuse.

So how do you please a picky eater on a camping trip? You buy him dinosaur chicken nuggets of course! Oh, and all his favorite snacks. I know what you’re thinking, you need an oven or a microwave for chicken nuggets, but I’m here to say that I experimented for all of us and all you need is a stove!

 Our last camping trip was 4 nights in a tent. We bring an Orca cooler that keeps our meat, eggs, cheese, and other cold foods frozen to extremely cold which makes meal planning easy, and our first night was the chili night so we knew our youngest wouldn’t be eating as he flat out won’t take a bite of chili. We were camping in the dessert this time (again) and we really wanted to make sure he was getting enough nutrition, so we picked up some chicken nuggets just for him.

I wasn’t sure how they’d turn out cooking over a gas camp stove, but they turned out pretty good. I put the flame on medium, covered them with a lid (the lid wasn’t fitted, just enough to keep the heat in…like an oven) and turned them often. Most chicken nuggets are fully cooked, so you are only heating them, I cut one in half to make sure it was thoroughly warmed before serving to my kid. I’d say it took maybe 15-20 minutes or so, I wasn’t really timing because I had never done this before!

I also made sure to research if we needed to toss the remaining nuggets in the bag if they started to thaw, and that answer was NO. They are already cooked so they might lose a bit of flavor, but they are OK to REFREEZE if thawed. This was great because by the end of the week our cooler is still VERY cold, but food starts defrosting, but I was able to refreeze the chicken nuggets once we got back home so it wasn’t a waste.

Another picky kid dinner that would be great for camping is grilled cheese, you can even fry up slices of ham for these. If your kid is a Spaghettios kid, camping is a great time to “splurge” on those. Mine doesn't like them, but cheese quesadillas are also great for some picky kids! Some of the kid friendly and picky preschooler approved snacks that we brought were trail mix (Chex cereal, cashews, m&ms), Kids Cliff Bars, Chewy Granola Bars, plain Cashews, Cheez Its, bananas, applesauce. He also ate peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for lunch which is great for filling him up, but dinner is always our biggest struggle. Frozen chicken nuggets will always be added to our camping grocery list!