Camping Haystacks | Easy First Night Camping Meal

Camping haystacks dinner recipe. Easy first night camping meal idea. Quick and easy haystack recipe that is perfect after an evening of setting up and settling in.

We look a little chaotic while loading up for a camping trip. Bikes, coolers, dog beds, clothes in laundry baskets and a bird on my back in a backpack. Yes, you read that right.

There are a lot of moving pieces that go into packing and setting up at the campsite. Since check-in is usually around the 5pm hour, we don’t have everything organized and a fire going till about 6:30 pm.

Maybe that’s the perfect time for you to make something slow on the grill, but for myself and the kids, we are hungry!

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The last thing I want to do is to prep a meal and get this and that out of the camper, making a lot a dirty dishing along the way. No. What I really want is a junk food version of healthy. Something that can be customized into light or hearty with little to no work involved.

Luckily for us, we have the perfect easy first night camping meal.


Let’s not argue

We’ve been eating haystacks for a long time. It’s the dish that you’ll find at most potlucks on the weekend back home, but I wouldn’t be surprised if a person or two tries to argue that this is a taco salad.

I promise, where I’m from, it’s called a haystack.

Also, it’s not the haystack candy/cookie with Chow mein noodles. But if you’d like that recipe feel free to try our Chow mein haystack cookies recipe.

We’re just from different parts of the world calling it different things and let’s just keep it at that.

I’ve gotten side tracked.

Oh yes. Now why are camping haystacks the most perfect first night camping dinner? Because it takes T-minus 8 minutes to come together and you’ll have almost no dishes!

That’s right. Instead of washing dishes or still cooking at 7:30, you’re eating a hearty meal and watching the kids ride their bikes with new camping friends by 6:45. That’ll give you time to walk the dogs around your favorite campground and scowl at the best campsites that people booked but might not even show up to that weekend.

Not to mention since this has lettuce and tomatoes you can feel better about all the s’more you’ll be eating later that evening.

Camping haystacks dinner while watching the sun set over the lake.

Hmm, these sound like more me problems than anything else. Ah, well, maybe at least one other camping family can relate. So let’s move forward with talking about ingredients.



  • Fritos- large 9.5 oz. bag is enough for a family of 6. Buy accordingly
  • 1- Canned beans- we’ve used bushes original, black beans, pinto beans
  • Shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1/2 head Iceburg lettuce- shredded- you can also use green leaf lettuce
  • 2 tomatoes diced
  • Salsa
  • Sour cream

Optional ingredients

  • ground beef in place of beans or combined
  • olives

I’ve labeled the ground beef optional because we usually skip it to save on time, but if you’re more of a meat family then you’ll love adding it to this recipe. Be sure to season your ground beef with salt and pepper.


This might sound easy but there are tricks involved.

  1. Place a handful of Fritos on the plate. If they are the Fritos scoops, crush with the heel of your palm.
  2. Add a few spoonfuls of canned beans. If you’re starving don’t worry about heating them. If you have time warm them up.
    • Optional ingredient- Fully cook and season your ground beef. Add on top of Fritos.
  3. Sprinkled a bit of shredded cheese. Now, it’s going next on the haystack because if you had warmed up your beans, then this cheese will start melting on the beans. Yum.
  4. Handful of shredded Iceburg lettuce. Why are we using Iceburg lettuce? Because once you shred it thinly using a knife it looks like hay. See what we did there.
  5. Add a few tablespoons of diced tomatoes.
  6. Top with salsa and sour cream.

And that’s it! Easy peasy lemon… nope, not going to say it.

Quickly assembling a camping haystack inside the camper overlooking the lake.


So for dirty dishes we have forks, whatever we heated the beans in, a cutting board and a knife. I’d say that’s pretty good.


Since this is camping we need to be able to use the rest of these ingredients in other meals throughout the weekend.

  • Three bean chilly with Fritos chips topped with sour cream and shredded cheddar cheese.
  • Sandwiches using the lettuce and tomatoes. Possibly BLT’s or sliced turkey sandwiches.
  • The salsa with Tortilla chips as a late night snack.
  • The salsa with fajitas for another weekend dinner.
  • Well, if we’re having fajitas with onions and peppers then we can do a veggie omelet for breakfast and use the salsa and shredded cheese.
  • If we’re making sandwiches that means we might have leftover bread and we can use the eggs and bread to make french toast.

Camping has turned into one of our favorite weekend activities. Letting the kids get dirty and explore nearby has turned them into not so little, big kids. The campfire is something that brings everyone back together. To roast marshmallows, to be little cheater cheater pumpkin eaters at board games, and to laugh as we all look silly while playing charades.

Not every meal needs to be rushed and cooking is a great way to get everyone involved, but on that first night it’s nice to settle in with a full belly and a family walk. We’ll cook the real meals tomorrow.

Happy Camping.

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Camping Haystacks

Camping haystacks dinner recipe. Easy first night camping meal idea.
Prep Time8 minutes
Total Time8 minutes
Course: dinner
Servings: 6
Calories: 294kcal


  • 1 bag Fritos chips
  • 1 16 oz canned beans
  • 2 diced tomatoes
  • 1/2 head shredded Iceburg lettuce
  • 8 TBS salsa
  • 4 TBS sour cream


  • Place a handful of Fritos on the plate. If they are the Fritos scoops, crush with the heel of your palm.
  • Add a few spoon fulls of canned beans.
  • Sprinkled a bit of shredded cheese.
  • Add a handful of shredded Iceburg lettuce.
  • Add two tablespoons of diced tomatoes.
  • Top with salsa and sour cream.


Optional ingredints
  • Ground beef
  • Olives
Fully cook and season your ground beef. Add on top of Fritos.
Nutritional information provided is an estimate and will very based off of brands of ingredients used and cooking methods. 


Serving: 6g | Calories: 294kcal | Carbohydrates: 39g | Protein: 9g | Fat: 14g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 6g | Monounsaturated Fat: 3g | Trans Fat: 0.2g | Cholesterol: 5mg | Sodium: 655mg | Potassium: 387mg | Fiber: 6g | Sugar: 9g | Vitamin A: 378IU | Vitamin C: 2mg | Calcium: 97mg | Iron: 2mg

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