Camping Food 101
By Zannat Reza @food4happiness
Camping is a fun way to connect with nature and spend quality time with your family. My kids love sleeping in tents and roasting marshmallows. I hardly sleep and hear every footstep and twig snapping. Thankfully, my husband is a camping pro and does the bulk of the work. We’ve tested out a few food strategies that have worked for us over the years.
Tried and true food strategies
- Map out your meals and snacks. We draft up a chart of what we’re eating for each meal and brainstorm a list of snacks. We’re not this super organized at home, but this process helps us decide what foods to pack. Remember any condiments or spreads.
- Cook ahead and freeze dinners. This is a huge time saver and it really feels like you’re on vacation. Just heat and eat (make sure the food is piping hot).
- Pack your coolers strategically. For meals, use a hard cooler which works better at keeping foods cold instead of a soft cooler bag. Have a separate cooler for drinks that will be opened more frequently.
- Freeze bottles of water as ice packs. The best part is you can drink the water when it melts. Replenish your stock with bagged ice available at most campgrounds.
Keep in mind that these tips are great for car camping. If back country camping is your thing, you may find this article by Mountain Equipment Co-op useful.
Camping friendly foods
- Eggs: Take hard-boiled eggs with their shells on. They will keep for several days in a cold cooler. Consider buying liquid eggs for easy portability (I’m not talking egg whites, which are mostly protein and don’t contain many of the other nutrients found in whole eggs).
- Fruits that will keep well: Apples, oranges, pears, grapes, melon, cherries, dried fruit without added sugar (apricots, mango, prunes, raisin, dates) and fruit packed in juice is also a good bet.
- Easy fresh veggies: Cabbage slaw, carrot sticks, cucumbers, grape tomatoes, radishes, peppers
- Firm or hard cheese: Because these cheeses contain little moisture, they will keep well (e.g. cheddar, Swiss, brick, gouda, parmesan).
- Canned foods: Foods such as lentils, tuna, baked beans come in handy for a quick lunch.
- Skim milk powder: If you’re tight for cooler space, skim milk powder is your answer. Just add water and follow the package directions. Use it in hot drinks or for oatmeal.
- Flat breads: These are the excellent space savers. Think whole grain versions of chapatti, pita and naan.
- Spreads: Hummus, peanut or other nut butter.
- Trail mix: Perfect for hikes. Make your own mix with whole grain cereal, nuts, roasted chickpeas and dried fruit. Add wasabi peas for a kick.
For our morning coffee fix, we love the convenience of VIA instant coffee from Starbucks. Tea bags are also a must in our supplies for an afternoon cuppa.
Delicious meal ideas
Add your fave vegetable and fruit sides to these ideas:
- Whole grain pancakes
- Scrambled eggs with chapatti
- Hard-boiled eggs, cheese
- Baked beans or other dal
- Peanut butter sandwich
- Tuna or cheese sandwich
- Flat bread with hummus and veggies
- Vegetable samosa with chickpeas
Make ahead dinners
- Vegged up dal and pita
- Butter chicken with chickpeas served with rice or quinoa
- Veggie and bean packed chili
- Kichuri (rice and lentils cooked together) with keema
- BBQ chicken pieces (marinate chicken in a mix of yogurt and curry paste)
Use these lists for inspiration. Brainstorm your favourite meal and food ideas with your family. With a little planning and prep, camping food can be a breeze. Happy summer!
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