What Food to Bring Camping & How to Go Beyond the Basics
Camping is one of the best ways to get away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life and into the tranquility of nature. To make the experience as relaxing as possible, put in the work to prepare beforehand. Food options should be at the top of your preparation list, and there are a few elements that go into planning your meals and what food to bring camping.
This guide will help you plan like a pro so you can have an incredible trip—without worrying about food in the middle of it.
How to Plan Ahead for Your Camping Trip
Even if you’re usually a spontaneous vacationer, you’ll want to put some thought into planning your camping trip. It’s not something you can figure out in the middle of camping, because you have to put effort into grocery shopping, planning meals, and pre-preparing what you can before, as you won’t have the same resources you do at home.
What food you bring on your camping trip will largely depend on your camping style. Some of the questions to ask yourself are:
- How long is your trip?
- How many people are you bringing?
- Are there dietary restrictions you should consider?
- What methods of cooking will be available?
How long is your trip?
Determine the length of your stay right off the bat. This will help you know how much food to pack, which meals to plan for, and what kind of snacks to bring.
If you know you’re going to be gone for several days, consider repeating some meals to make things easier. No matter what, make sure you bring lots and lots of water to stay hydrated.
Are people coming with you? If so, how many?
Knowing how many people will be joining you on your trip is very important. The people in your camping party will make a big difference in the kinds of meals you plan and how much food you pack.
Also, think about consulting the other members of your party on food preferences and dietary restrictions to save you a headache later.
What cooking equipment will you have?
The kind of cooking equipment you’ll have on your trip will likely be the most impactful consideration in your packing process. This will help you know whether you should focus on prepping meals that don’t require heat or if you can indulge a little more.
Here are some of the most common options for cooking equipment:
- Camping Stove. This is an easy way to prep simple meals. Single pot options make for the best food for a camping stove, like rice, pasta, or ramen. Just don’t forget to bring cleaning supplies so you can keep things fresh.
What kind of supplies will you need?
As you finish preparing, don’t forget to pack up some essential supplies:
- Pot(s) and pan(s)
- Plates and bowls
- Paper towels
- Roasting stick(s)
What Food to Bring Camping
Now that you have your plan and know what supplies to bring, you can start putting your grocery list together.
Don’t forget the essentials! You’ll want to bring your staple spices and seasonings from home, along with a few basic items that will help you prepare your meals.
- Salt and pepper
- Herbs and spices
- Coffee or tea
The potential for camping meals is pretty much endless, and you are sure to find something that works for everyone in your camping party. Get creative and enjoy the process of planning your camping meals. The experience of getting away from the chaos of your everyday life can extend to the planning process because these meal ideas are quick and easy.
- Pizzas (easier than you’d think!)
- Cheesy campfire potatoes
- Grilled corn on the cob
- Hot dogs
Heatless Meal and Snack Ideas
You might not have access to cooking equipment on your camping trip, but that doesn’t mean all hope is lost. You can still prepare sumptuous meals that are both satisfying and sustaining for all of your outdoor adventures. There are numerous food options that don’t require cooking or even refrigeration, making the whole process simple and easy.
- Canned fruits
- Trail mix
- Peanut butter
- Dried fruit
- Tuna and crackers
- Granola cereal
- Sandwiches (especially peanut butter and jelly, or peanut butter and banana)
- Beef jerky
- Freeze-dried or prepackaged food (pasta, chicken, soups, and more)
How to Store Food While Camping
If you’re wondering how to store food while camping, you’re not alone. This is often the biggest question people ask when getting started. Luckily, it’s easier than you might think.
Finding a great cooler for camping can change the game and expand your food options. With a cooler, you can pack items you’d usually have to refrigerate. Find one with a well-thought-out cooling system and design to simplify the process.
If you’re a backpacker, you’ll need a backpack that can store all of your food during your trip. Find one with an intuitive design and added features that help take a load off your shoulders.
One of the most important things to keep in mind when storing your food is to keep it safe from bears. The last thing you want to deal with on your trip is a bear invading your camp, so invest in a bear locker (or even a cooler that doubles as a bear locker).