The Ultimate Guide to What Food You Should Take Camping
Camping doesn’t have to be an austere experience. Just because you’re roughing it camping doesn’t mean you have to skimp on the quality or variety of your meals. With a little planning and know-how, campers of any skill level can enjoy hearty and delicious meals out in the wild. In this guide, we’ll explain what food to take camping, why you should take it, and how to safely prepare it.
Calorie-dense Foods & Food Groups to Take Camping
It’s a general rule of thumb to take calorie-dense food with you on camping trips. That’s because it takes more calories to keep a body warm and active in the outdoors — so you need to eat more and higher-quality calories than usual. Pack foods like peanut butter, dried fruits, nuts and nut butter, meats, and cheeses. Leave out any food that’s packed with empty calories, such as chips, sodas, and sugary candies. Other smart calorie-dense options include:
- Whole-grain cereals
- Proteins such as fish, chicken, beef jerky, and salami
- High-calorie snacks such as nut and seed mixtures
- Rice, pasta, and quinoa
Also, don’t forget some healthy fats, like olive oil, avocado, and even mayonnaise — these will power you for a big day in the outdoors!
When I’m packing food for camping, I always think of those with me, too. Make sure to take enough for everyone and their appetites. Canned fruits and vegetables, pouch tuna, granola bars, and trail mix are easy to share and offer great flavor and nutrition.
Good Filling Comfort Foods for Campers
Camping is a great opportunity to practice fire-building, bonfire cooking, and other culinary arts. When it comes to classic camp comfort food, think potato chips or French fries cooked in a cast iron over a hot fire. Some other campfire cooking classics include:
- Fried eggs with toast for a savory breakfast
- Beef stew
- Grilled vegetables
- Campfire pizzas
Always be mindful of safety when campfire cooking, Make sure your fire is well-tended and controlled.
From my personal experience, I can also add that you should take some hot drinks like tea, coffee, or hot cocoa. I also usually take a thermos of hot water and chili powder to make hot chilis. You can eat this with bread or crackers for a cheap and filling meal.
One Pot Meals & easy Camping Dishes
For easy fulfillment, make sure you take simple one-pot meals that you can make with fewer ingredients — ideal for camping. Stroganoff, stew, chili, and soups all work great, and you can heat them up in a single dutch oven. Furthermore, one-pot meals like pasta, macaroni and cheese, or Shepherd’s Pie are popular camping fare. Take easy-to-make staples like noodles, instant oatmeal, and rice.
Try to prepare all your ingredients before you go, cutting vegetables and marinating meats. Here’s a tip: you can store all the ingredients in one big container and mix them into one big pot when it’s time to cook. This significantly reduces storage, clean-up, and hassle when doing camp-style cooking.
Tricks for Long & Ultra-Light Camping Trips
If you’re planning on a long trip, or planning to go very light, you may want to plan a few meals that require few ingredients and are light to carry. Freeze-dried meals, ramen noodles, and bagged rice are light and don’t require too much cooking. For snacks, trail mix, energy bars, jerky, and nuts do the trick.
Also, everyone involved should take regular snacks with them for short hikes and trail runs. Depending on the situation, and how remote you’re going, I’d also suggest that you take some canned food. It’s heavy, but if you get stuck somewhere with no access to stores, you’ll thank me.
Finally, don’t forget to have adequate amounts of water with you. Dehydration and hypothermia both lead to fatigue — not ideal camping companions. Hot drinks provide warmth and nutrition, so pack accordingly.
Checklist for Campers
- High calorie snacks & proteins
- Whole-grain cereals
- Fruits and vegetables
- Healthy fats
- One-pot meals
- Comfort food items
- Freeze-dried meals & ramen noodles
- Trail mix, energy bars, and jerky
- Canned food
- Adequate amounts of water
- Hot drinks
With this list in hand, you’ll have a great starting place for your next camping trip. Before you begin packing, watch this brief video on other camping tips and tricks.
Have fun, and be safe out there!