Frozen Meatballs Are A Truly Slept-On Food For Camping Trips

skewered meatballs on a grill
skewered meatballs on a grill - Paul_brighton/Getty Images

Whether sitting by the water at California's Big Bear Lake, enjoying the national landmarks at Yellowstone, or spending the weekend in a local forest, camping is a great way to connect with nature and friends. Beyond the stargazing, beer sipping, and fire-light singing, there's one quintessential activity to enjoy around the campfire: eating. Cooking while camping can be tricky, but frozen meatballs make things easier and tastier.

Most frozen meatballs sold at the grocery store are pre-cooked and seasoned, which limits the work that goes into preparing a satiating, outdoorsy dish. Although you can slap some raw meat onto the grill, a well-made beef, pork, or chicken dish is best when well seasoned, marinated, and tenderized -- flavor infusion methods that aren't particularly convenient when camping. Plus, frozen meatballs come in many flavors, so you can enjoy Italian-style beef meatballs or aromatic cheese-infused chicken meatballs. Frozen meatballs are typically portioned into uniform sizes, making it easy to manage servings and reduce food waste. You can cook the amount you need without worrying about storing leftovers.

Because they're thoroughly cooked, preparing frozen meatballs at your campsite reduces the chances of cross-contamination, which can easily occur when raw meat is near other provisions in an uncontrolled outdoor environment. Because they're frozen, they'll take longer to reach an unsafe temperature (above 40 degrees Fahrenheit), which means you won't have to monitor the ice chest as closely as you would with raw meat.

Read more: The 13 Best Steaks For Grilling

Tips For Cooking Frozen Meatballs At A Campsite

grilled meatballs with sauce
grilled meatballs with sauce - Zoryanchik/Getty Images

Frozen meatballs are tasty and versatile and promote safe food practices around the campfire. However, there are some camp food hacks you should master before heating your frozen meatballs. For starters, you don't need to thaw frozen meatballs before cooking them. Although thawing can expedite the process, you can introduce them to a heat source in their frozen state and get cooking without second-guessing.

If there's one available at your campsite -- take your frozen meatballs to the next level by throwing them on the grill. They'll develop a smoky flavor that matches the spirit of the camping trip. To prevent them from falling into the grill, skewer the meatballs to keep them secure. Don't have a grill? You can always cook them in a cast-iron pan over a small campfire. Although plastic tableware is convenient at a campsite, make sure to cook with non-plastic utensils. Melted plastic in a dish is a major culinary faux pas.

Though you won't need to replenish your cooler's ice supply as often as you would with raw meat, tend to it occasionally. Keep your cooler below 40 degrees Fahrenheit and away from direct sunlight to further slow the thawing process. Finally, dispose of any leftovers in a bear canister, bear bag, or locked vehicle, depending on the behavior of the wildlife in the area. Burning leftover food is discouraged, as this can attract bears and other wildlife to your site.

Pairing Frozen Meatballs With Other Camp Classics

Meatball sub on checkered napkin
Meatball sub on checkered napkin - Hope Phillips/Shutterstock

If all you need is a quick hit of sustenance, cooked frozen meatballs are great on their own. However, there are plenty of ways to integrate them into larger, more robust meals using other practical campsite provisions. Pro tip: look to shelf-stable foods to reduce the stress of keeping perishable items fresh!

Frozen meatballs and a canned tomato sauce are like if peanut butter and jelly took a trip to Yosemite. Simmering the meatballs over a fire with an aromatic red sauce yields a flavorful dish that will make you forget you're not at a restaurant. Take things one step further and sandwich the meatballs and sauce between two baguette slices for an outdoorsy take on a classic meatball sub.

For something rich and comforting, bust out some instant potatoes. Just add water to the dehydrated potatoes, let them cook, and nestle your meatballs over the fluffy batch of smashed spuds. Pre-packaged, ready-to-heat gravy can give this dish an ultra-homey feel. Pack a can of chili, heat it, and introduce the meatballs to give it an extra hearty punch of protein. If it's lacking flavor, bring along some dehydrated spices such as garlic powder, cumin, paprika, and salt and pepper to make the spoonable dish more palatable.

Next time you're setting out for a camping trip, don't just pack your favorite beer cans. Grab a pack of frozen meatballs and enjoy a satiating meal while you sip, sing, swim, and stargaze.

Read the original article on The Daily Meal.