Make the great outdoors your kitchen. 

Cooking outdoors can help bring you back down to the basics and focus on great ingredients (which is what great meals are all about), but even the most seasoned of camp cooks will tell you a little prep work at home before you head out into the wild will make mealtime fun instead of frazzling.

While determining what should go in the cooler and what each ration will need (if you’re not going to eat pork and beans like a cowboy the entire time) can be like a game of mental Tetris, we have a set of go-to camping meals that never let us down. Try these the next time you head out to see the scenic South.

1. Hobo Packets

Silly name aside, these foil-wrapped meal packets are revelatory once you discover them and have endless combinations. We love to fill them with a piece of catfish, quartered potatoes, carrots, and sliced onions. The make-ahead secret? Fix a compound herb butter so when you go to cook the packets over the fire, you just place a knob in the center to add an extra layer of flavor as it melts.

2. Tex Mex Chicken Chili with Lime

We have a saying around the Southern Living offices, “easy wow.” This all-time staff favorite is a breeze to put together at the campsite. Just shred a rotisserie chicken the day before, dice up the onion and peppers, mince the garlic, and measure out the spices you’ll need at home. All you’ll have to do is throw it in a Dutch oven over the fire.

3. Deep-Dish Chocolate Chip Skillet Cookie

Just because you’re camping doesn’t mean you have to make do with s’mores as your only dessert option. This deep-dish chocolate chip skillet cookie works on a camp grill too. Mix the dry ingredients ahead of time and mix them with the wet once you get to the campsite.

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