Healthy Travel 104: Camping and Eating Well

For more on the healthy travel series, check out packing for success and staying on track away from home, backpacking essentials, camping and eating well.

The days of camping trips filled with pop tarts for breakfast, bologna sandwiches for lunch, and canned veggie chili for dinner are long gone. This girl is a clean eating camping machine, and she’s here to stay.

Over the years I’ve been surprised to learn that it’s not that challenging to eat well while camping. With a little bit of preparation, you can leave for your camping trip confident that you have the tools necessary to make smart choices and come home feeling proud of how well you feel. There’s nothing worse than coming home from a camping trip bloated, sugar-high, and sleep deprived and that’s exactly how one feels when they live on toaster strudels and marshmallows for a week!

So, how do we ensure we’re eating well on our camping trips? The best place to start is to come up with a meal plan.

The basics

  • List the days you’ll be gone
  • Plan for activities like hiking, swimming, and biking
  • Make sure to bring along baggies and containers for portable lunches and snacks
  • List off a couple of recipe ideas you feel would be easy to assemble while camping (ideas below)
  • Brainstorm meals you could make ahead of time, freeze, and bring along like pasta sauce, turkey chili or casseroles

Next, pull everything together into a day by day, meal by meal plan that will help you figure out what to pack and prepare ahead of time.

Breakfast

  • Fruit. Apples and oranges are great because they don’t need to be refrigerated and bananas or pears are good – when they get bruised, cook them and you’re good to go!
  • Homemade granola. Prepare a batch before you go. Eat for snack, breakfast, whenever!
  • Millet, rice, and quinoa can be used in place of oats for a lighter variation of porridge. Cook on the camping stove or on the fire when you need them. Any leftover grains can be used for lunch, or added to yogurt the next morning.
  • Eggs and veggies. Are a great breakfast and can be whipped up quickly and easily. Go for onions, peppers, eggplant, parsnips, carrots, radishes, potatoes, mushrooms, sweet potatoes, and other veggies that do well in warmer temperatures so you don’t have to worry about them going bad like you would spinach or lettuce.
  • Pudding. I made a huge batch of this breakfast pudding the morning we left, slapped it in a mason jar and enjoyed it every day. Omegas, fiber, and calcium all in one!
  • Leftovers. If you made burgers the night before by the fire, serve them up with eggs and veggies the morning after. Use up your leftovers quickly and get creative!

Lunch

  • Quick proteins. We’re often out and about during the day and stop by the campsite for a quick bite in between activities. Quick proteins such as canned tuna, pre-cooked and frozen beans, uncooked tempeh, nuts/seeds, hard boiled eggs, or jerky won’t require a lot of prep work and will get you back to the days’ activities in a flash!
  • Veggie plate. Again, go for the veggies that are easy to travel with – greens, not so much. Carrots? YES!
  • Rice cakes instead of bread. Rice cakes travel well and make great make-shift sandwiches. Fill with a fried egg, hummus and veggies, or nut butter.
  • Baked potato chips. Easy carbs and a nice camping treat… alongside some protein and veggies, of course!
  • Big salads. Bring along lettuce for your first day but don’t plan for it to last much longer than that. It’ll do well in the cooler for the first 24 hours so use it up by making a large salad!
  • Gluten-free soups. Campbell has a great list of gluten-free soups that I like to rely on when I’m camping. Paired with some veggies, cooked beans, or rice cakes makes for the perfect, satisfying camping lunch.

Dinner

  • Meat. Freeze the ground or fillet meat you plan to bring with you so that it takes time to defrost in the cooler. Even if your cooler isn’t functioning that well, your meat will be safe to eat! Make patties out of ground meat and some spices and pair with a homemade gluten-free bun, bring along some gluten-free sausages, or cook some juicy steaks on the open flame!
  • Vegetable medley. Wrap up your veggies in tin foil with a bit of coconut oil and cook on the campfire for 45 minutes or so. Add nuts, seeds, or cooked beans for protein and leftover grains for extra carbohydrates.
  • Pasta sauce. Bring along your favorite jar of pasta sauce – I like looking for a primivera as they have a variety of veggies already in it and cook with cooked beans, ground meat, sweet potatoes, and extra veggies. Have as is, or pair with some gluten-free rice pasta.
  • Prepared meals. If you know you’re going to find it challenging to cook and prepare healthful meals when you’re away, try making a couple of casseroles. No fuss jambalaya and paleo picadillo are my favorites. Once cooked, portion out into small containers and freeze.

Snacks

  • Homemade protein bars. Like these ones.
  • Nuts and seeds. Snacks with shells like pistachios and sunflower seeds take longer to eat and will naturally result in you eating less of them.
  • Dried fruit. Add to nut and seed mix, sprinkle over cereal, or eat on it’s own!
  • Marshmallows. Like I said yesterday, a couple wont kill ya!
  • Hot cup of tea with a couple homemade cookies. We go through a lot of tea when we’re camping. It’s easy, sweet and warming! Paired with a couple of vegan maple flax cookies, and you have a healthy homemade camping treat!

Once you’ve figured out what you want to eat, pull together a quick shopping list, packing list, and you’ll be ready to go in no time!

For more details on what to pack on a camping trip, check out this post and my printable packing guide.

What are your favorite camping meals?

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