Do you spend days and weeks planning, preparing, and packing meals for a two- or three-night camping trip?
What about backpacking? What and how much do you need to take?
Are you unsure about healthy, simple snacks for a day-long outing?
The topic of food makes many would-be campers and trekkers give up before they start, or worse, experience a major food disaster with no restaurants for miles! Food and outdoor adventures seem to be especially challenging for people with kids.
I’m a mom who cooks and who is an outdoor enthusiast. I have taken many outdoor trips and consider myself an expert at knowing what food to pack for weekend camping trips, backpacking treks that last for a week or two, and short day trips.
Planning your meals before heading out is the key that saves time, money, and your sanity. If you have children, make sure they have a pack of their own, and let them carry some snacks or lighter weight food, so they have an important role in the adventure.
If you’re not really experienced being in the outdoors, this special report can help you tame your fears and reservations about what food to take, how to prepare it, and how to make meals easy and flavorful. If you’re an experienced outdoors person, you’ll find some new ideas and my own tried-and-tested recipes!
Part 1: Food for Camping
I head outdoors to enjoy nature, remind myself that we are all part of a larger universe, and there’s life outside of the four walls of my home. The last thing I want to do is spend hours baking fresh bread, making Dutch oven recipes, or creating a multi-course meal. For me, part of the fun of camping is living simply, adapting to the environment, and making sure my kids and I enjoy the experience.
This means that you can’t toss any food in a cooler and hope it works. Camping meals don’t have to be challenging, and you don’t have to carry an entire fridge with you to make exciting, good meals. Keep your meals simple and focus on food that will keep you and your family going through each day’s activities.
Start by creating a menu for each meal and each day of the trip, taking into account food preference, such as vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free requirements.
Choose nutritious food that can be prepared ahead of time without spoiling and is easily reheated or cooked (see below for some suggestions).
Prepare most of the food before you leave. You don’t want to spend time at the campsite cooking beans, rice, and pasta instead of enjoying yourself.
Cook and freeze soups, stews, pasta, and most other food you normally eat at home. Your cooler will keep it cold. Reheat over a campfire or drop zip top bags into boiling water for a hot meal.
Wash, dry, and chop vegetables before leaving, so all you have to do is mix and serve.
Pure, natural water is your main source of drink and the only drink that has a purifying and detoxifying effect on your body. It should be drunk at ambient temperature and add a touch of lemon to bring out the fresh flavor. Find out what water sources may be available on your outdoor adventure and plan accordingly.
Here’s one of our menus for a two- or three-day camping trip:
Good Morning Breakfast:
instant or make-your-own oatmeal
bacon and eggs
sausage egg biscuits
drinks, such as hot cocoa for the kids, tea, and coffee for grown ups
Tips From Holly:
*I make pancake batter at home and freeze it in a zip top bag so it’s ready to cook at the campsite. I usually add flax seeds and chia seeds for extra energy and protein.
*Make-Your-Own Oatmeal prepared with oatmeal, flax seeds, chia seeds, dried cherries/blueberries, and walnuts.
*Another favorite is sausage egg biscuit. I make them ahead of time, wrap them in plastic wrap, store them in a zip top bag and freeze them. At the campsite, I replace the plastic wrap with foil and either place them on the campfire or warm them on a camping stove. It’s a super fast, yummy breakfast with lots of protein to keep us going on a long, hiking day.
Break for Lunch:
cut vegetables and hummus
water, or juice
Tips From Holly:
* Warm, dry weather can cause significant sweat losses which results in losses of electrolytes especially sodium and chloride. Eating salty food and snacks can replace sodium losses and maintain hydration (the body needs salt to retain water). Some of my favorite salty foods for lunch are hummus, cheese and crackers, pickles and olives.
* The first couple of days, I serve hearty salads such as tabbouleh, black bean, quinoa, or kale salad. I make these at home and add the dressing when I serve them. They’re high in protein, are healthy, hold up pretty well, and need no prep work at the campsite.
* If you’re hiking, camping or swimming, you’re likely to get hungry between meals. Plan snacks especially salty ones such as crackers, pretzels or even better healthy trail mix. I’m going to post my trail mix recipe soon.
Ring the Dinner Bell:
meatballs and spaghetti
pre-made turkey chili (served with cornbread)
water or juice for the kids, beer and wine for grown-ups.
Tips From Holly:
* Make meatballs, sauce and spaghetti in advance at home. Pack each item individually in zip top bags. Reheat at the campsite and serve a healthy warm dinner without having to spend too much of your time cooking!
* We like shish kebabs, so I put the chopped meat in a marinade in a zip top bag and the chopped vegetables in another bag. I just assemble with bamboo skewers when it’s time to eat.
You Earned Dessert:
Tips From Holly:
Late at night, we have herbal tea, and my kids sometimes get some sips. It helps us sleep better!
Happy camping, my friends!