I loved summer camp. Just about everything about it. I loved the arts and crafts, the plays, the songs, the colour wars and the canoe trips. It was all awesome- except the food. The only thing worse than the food on camp, was the food we’d take on our canoe trips. Day after day after day of instant oatmeal for breakfast (which I ate dry- it was a texture thing) and instant hot chocolate, lunches of Wasa and Osem crackers with peanut butter, strawberry jam, dried apples and tinned tuna (and after a few days, often all of those would end up on a single fiber cracker together), and dinners of tinned tomato sauce stirred into an unevenly cooked pot of rice. We’d wash it all down with ‘bug juice’ – powered sweetener and food colouring that helped dilute the taste of the chlorine drops that were added to the lake water to make it potable. Looking back, I wonder how we even made it through these trips alive. It didn’t need to be so bad, and it still doesn’t!
Why is it that when we rock it out in the woods, we think it’s the best time to disconnect from where we are by eating a whole bunch of processed crappola. As adults, it seems to have only gotten worse. The hot dogs, tinned food, marshmallows, booze, and sugar powders in water are not what the bod needs (especially when you’re taking nature poops).
We head to the great outdoors when we’re feeling frazzled and over-stimulated from our teched-out world. We take to the forest to relax, refresh and recharge. The grossness of the standard camping fare is working completely against why we headed out of dodge (aka the smoggy construction zone that is summer in the city).
What Are The Top Foods Everyone Else Takes Camping?
These are the most popular camping foods.
- Top ramen noodles (remember this post?)
- Instant soup mix (big fat whollop of MSG)
- “Squeeze butter” (what on Earth is that? No. Really? Turns out, it is pretty much this- but in a tube. Eeew)
- Instant oatmeal (real oatmeal takes about 10 mins to cook so…)
- Potato chips
- Instant coffee (to help you get out of bed and face another day of lousy food)
- Boozey beverages
You can check out the full list here… although I highly recommend that you don’t.
Here’s the deal: Just because the rest of the world is choking down hot dogs and squeezing “squeeze butter” on – well, whatever you squeeze squeeze butter on – doesn’t mean you need to, too.
Camping doesn’t have to be a an indulgent, disgusting, digestive disaster.
Eating well while out in the woods isn’t hard. It’s totally doable and just needs a little planning, creativity (which we’ve hopefully helped with) and a simple good intention. The benefits are plentiful. Beyond just the health reasons, you’ll also leave your camping trip with a much smaller bag of garbage with you- and we all like that a whole lot!
I have put together my top of the charts camping friendly recipes.
These recipes are all healthy camping trip-friendly (although whether certain recipes will work for your particular trip will depend on just how many appliances you plan on bringing with you to the wilderness – those relying on a pot over a campfire may have to do a little more advance planning than those renting an RV and bringing the ol’ Vitamix along.)
Make-Ahead Camping Snacks
These goodies can be prepped at home, stored in air-tight containers and then munched on throughout your trip — no refrigeration needed.
- Apple Chips
- Healthy Fruit Roll-Ups
- Roasted Chickpeas
- Coconut Crisp Cookies
- Sour Cream- and Onion-Free Kale Chips
- Snapper Dacks Rice Cake Snacks
- Guacamole Crackers
- Sunflower Dulse Bread – If you’re doing highly active
Cool Camp Morning Breakfast
Depending on how long your stay is in the great outdoors (and whether you’re operating out of a decked-out RV or teensy tent), your breakfasts can involve simple snacks from home, porridge cooked over the campfire or french toast flipped over a hot plate.
- Raw Blueberry Pancakes: make these ahead of time
- Chia Pumpkin Muffins: another good one to bring from home
- Coconut Buckwheat Porridge: swap the almond milk for BPA-free canned coconut milk if you don’t have a cooler handy
- Long Weekend French Toast: grind your chia seeds ahead of time — none of these ingredients require refrigeration. Like the porridge, swap the almond milk for canned coconut milk if needed.)
- Summer Muesli: Soak this one in coconut milk and add the contents of a probiotic capsule for that yogurt vibe. Store in a sealed mason jar overnight and it will be ready come morning. Can also swap out the probiotic with a little squeeze of lemon juice.
- Quinoa Porridge: A super fuel for a day of paddling and portaging.
Sunshine Lunch & Sunset Dinner
When it comes to lunch and dinner, having a cooler available can be super handy so you can bring some fresh veggies along. But if your storage options are limited, feel free to simplify recipes as needed to meet your wilderness-cooking needs, and just be sure to store your food packs in the shade, or hang from a tree if animals are around. Also know that most fruits and veggies can easily last outside the fridge for 3-4 days in prepped and packed well.
- Adzuki Bean Patties: these can be cooked over a hot plate instead of baking in the oven, or can be made at home and then stored in a cooler.
- Power Protein Quinoa Explosion: a great option to make at home and store in a cooler, or you can make it fresh on site.
- Corn Salsa Salad: roast those non-gmo cobs over the fire and slice off to make this salad, or just love the corn on the cob
- Beaneriffic Chili: nothing like a pot of chili cooking over the open fire! Toss the goodness in the pot and let it simmer.
- Tempeh Kebabs: prep these before you leave and celebrate your first night by BBQ-ing them, or roasting them over the campfire!
- Stuffed Sweet Potatoes: wrap them in foil and toss them on the fire- fill with beans, greens. tahini and hot sauce.
- One Pot Veggie Stir Fry: Bring hardier veggies that last a few days without refrigeration like cauliflower, broccoli, cabbage, carrots, onions and garlic.
Keep it simple with the camping staples: Barbeque sauce and ketchup. What more do you need?
- BBQ Sauce + Ketchup
- Small bottle of olive oil
- Sea salt
- Ready made spice mix of choice
- A sweetener (honey or maple syrup)
- Apples: Chop into pieces and roast over the fire. Can also do this with pineapple and peaches too. So good!
- Banana Banana Cacao Boats: You’ll want to start bon fires in the city just to indulge in this special treat.
- Chocolate Chip Cookies: Make ahead and store in an airtight container
- Oatmeal Banana Bread: This one can also make a great trail snack too!
Other Things You Don’t Want To Forget
- Non-toxic sunscreen
- All natural pest repellent
- A few great books
- Instant Chaga for your morning warm sipper