Camping is an extremely healthy activity and habit, so the food that you eat while camping should also be healthy. It’s not necessarily an easy feat, since most campers eat hot dogs and burgers. That is why I would like to help you out with a couple of tips and tricks to achieving healthy eating. I have also included three simple yet delicious camping recipes.
How to Eat Healthy While Camping
Planning out your meals is always a necessary thing to do before setting out on your camping trip, but it goes a long way if you make an extra effort to pack healthy campfire food. It also helps a lot to actually write everything down – whether you prefer to be traditional and make a list or create an Excel sheet; it doesn’t matter as long as you’re keeping track!
This doesn’t complicate things, there are plenty of healthy camping meals that don’t require much more work than any other.
Another thing to consider are portions as well, and it is important not to exaggerate them.
A lot of the cooking preparations can be done beforehand at home. Chop all vegetables (and there should be many), measure out seasonings, precook pasta or rice, etc.
While doing this, make sure that you have a healthy balance of carbs. Most campers and hikers tend to rely solely on pasta, granola bars, and energy bars, and forget about whole food and whole grain sources. Hummus with whole wheat pita or almond butter with whole grain bread are both great examples of healthy carbohydrates.
Snacking is a big part of any trip, but you’ve got to make sure that the camping snacks are healthy. Things like dehydrated fruit, crackers with dips, baked nuts, hard-boiled eggs, and trail mix are all perfectly good options.
I already mentioned hummus earlier, and that is a great dip with vegetables.
You can even bring along some fresh fruit if you’re not a fan of it dehydrated, just go for ones that don’t bruise easily or need to be refrigerated, such as apples and oranges. You could always add bananas, berries, and grapes inside your cooler as well – just make sure to eat these within the first day or two.
What to Avoid
First and foremost, I have already mentioned nuts but there’s a reason that I only referred to baked ones. It probably goes without saying that salted nuts are not exactly healthy, but what about roasted? Apparently, baked nuts are healthier than roasted ones. The reason for this is that baked nuts are actually baked at a lower temperature in order to maintain its healthy nutrients. They’re also softer and kinder for our teeth, which is just an added bonus, whereas roasted nuts are made with a higher temperature as well as butter or vanilla.
You should avoid sodium altogether, as it can cause high blood pressure. Americans in general consume too much sodium already. So, don’t pack bread, packaged meats such as salami, burgers, hot dogs, pretzels, chips, and popcorn for your camping trip.
Sugar is another thing you need to cut out if you’re trying to be healthy. Did you know that sugar is addictive? It causes ‘craving and withdrawal’ in our brain’s limbic region.
Women should only consume 25 grams of sugar a day, men 38 grams, and children roughly 12-25 grams. On average, Americans are consuming 83 grams of sugar on a daily basis according to the University of California San Fransico, 2017.
Therefore, steer clear from packaged fruits, cereal bars, muffins, and snack cakes or pies.
Although this article is mainly focused on food, I can’t help but mention that soft drinks and caffeine should also be avoided. At least go for decaffeinated coffee, tea, and soft drinks if you must.
Perhaps you are still feeling at a loss after reading this regarding what to eat while camping, so I thought to include some easy healthy camping recipes for you.
I know too many people who enjoy a massive fry-up for breakfast when camping, and it breaks my heart to inform you that this is not healthy campfire food. It is understandable, as I also used to find it difficult to come up with breakfast ideas in particular when camping on a diet.
Basic oatmeal is the way to go if you want to eat healthy while camping, but the trick is to make different flavor combinations in order not to get sick of it.
First, I’ll show you my go-to combo, and then I’ll also let you in on some other great combinations for variety. This recipe is to make quite a large batch.
- 4 cups of rolled oats
- ¼ cup coconut milk powder
- ¼ cup organic brown sugar
- A dash of sea salt
- Large handful dried cranberries or cherries
- ½ cup shredded dried coconut, unsweetened
- ¼ cup chia seeds
Mix all of the dry ingredients into a container or zip lock bag. When you want to serve, put it into a bowl and slowly add hot water until you reach your desired consistency.
Here are some other combination variations. They’re all the same as my basic recipe but with slightly different ingredients.
- Add dried pineapple (ideally without any added sugar) instead of cranberries or cherries.
- Instead of fruit, add a tablespoon of peanut butter and ½ cup cacao nibs.
- Substitute cranberries/cherries with green apple and some cinnamon (add the cinnamon after stirring in the water).
This is a classic North African and Middle Eastern dish that’s typically eaten for breakfast or any meal of the day really. It’s a great and simple choice for healthy camping food.
It is possible to not include bread in order to make this recipe gluten-free however, this camping recipe is not vegan since eggs play a big role here.
- 1 small onion
- 1 garlic clove
- 1 can diced tomatoes
- 4 eggs (2 per person)
- 1 potato, diced (optional)
- ½ baguette (also optional)
Add a tablespoon of oil to a skillet and sauté the onion and garlic until the onion becomes translucent. If you’re including potatoes, add them next with some sea salt and cook until the potatoes can be pierced with a fork. Don’t stir too much yet so that one side gets nice and crispy.
Push all of the onions and potatoes to the edges of the skillet and crack the eggs into the center. Add more oil if necessary.
Open the can of diced tomatoes and pour them around the eggs.
Next, season with salt, pepper, and add some cayenne if you want that extra spicy kick.
Cover the skillet with a lid (use a cutting board if you don’t have one) and leave for 5-7 minutes so that the trapped steam cooks the eggs on top. You’ll notice when it’s ready to be taken off the heat when a thin white layer has formed over the eggs and all of the whites are cooked.
If you’re having bread as well, dip the slices of baguette into the skillet after you’ve dished everything out. Add olive oil and minced garlic and sauté that for a few minutes until toasted. If you’d like to, serve with fresh cilantro, parsley, or basil, and enjoy!
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
What is the best food to take camping?
Any food that isn’t perishable. Canned and dried foods are ideal when camping. Avoid taking and cooking meat as it can be tricky. Jerky, nuts, dried fruit, and so on are great food to take camping.
How do I plan a meal for camping?
First, you need to decide whether you plan on cooking the meal at home before your camping trip, or if you want to cook when you’re there. This will help you decide what kind of meal you should go for.
What to eat while camping without cooking?
You could have oatmeal for breakfast, as this doesn’t really require cooking just some hot water, avocado on bread with some boiled eggs from home, sandwiches, wraps, or pre-cooked pasta meals.
How much food should I take camping?
For short trips in mild weather, you should take enough food for 1-1.5 pounds per person per day, giving each person roughly 2,000-3,000 calories.
When camping in colder weather, you should plan for each person to get 1.75-2.0 pounds per day instead.
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