There’s nothing quite like the feeling of fresh air on your skin after an exhausting hike, the smell of a campfire during the evening, and the sense of calm and relaxation that only a night spent in the woods can bring. For some of us, camping is one of those great joys, and if you do it the right way, you can connect not only with nature but also with yourself.
If you’re planning on getting active while camping, it’s even more important to make sure that you stay hydrated and nourished with healthy food – there’s nothing wrong with indulging in a s’more or two, but too many can leave you feeling tired and sluggish. A little planning and research could save you time and keep you feeling fueled for hiking, swimming, and canoeing on your camping trip.
We’ll show you how easy it can be to pack nutritious camping food that you will love, all the while keeping you feeling healthy and energized for your adventures.
A healthy camping list: What to pack
The key to healthy eating while on a camping trip is to bring the right kind of tools along. And, what you pack depends considerably on the way you camp. Are you going to hike, sleep in a tent, or stay in an RV? All of this matters when it comes to your camping list, especially as it determines how much you can carry.
When it comes to preparing your camp kitchen, we recommend packing the following items so that you can enjoy some seriously delicious camping food:
A camping stove with fuel, or a camping grate if you plan to cook over an open fire
A fire starter, matches, a lighter or all three
Stainless steel utensils including a sharp knife
A portable water filter
Pots and pans as needed
Small cutting board
Plan out your meals
It may be evident to some, but camping meal prep is essential for a great trip. One great way to get organized is to write out a camping menu. Think of every meal you’re going to have, as well as snacks, and if you have space, pack a little extra in case you work up a serious appetite.
Write down all of the different meals, snacks and portions for each person, and double check that you have all the foods you need before you venture off. Then, go ahead and plan out an entire extra day of food – you never know what can happen when you’re out in the woods, especially if you’re in an area with grazing wildlife.
Be cool: Camping foods for your cooler
If you happen to have a cooler and you plan to drive to your campsite, you’ll have a lot more wiggle room in terms of what kind of camping food you can bring. Some of our favorite camping foods for the cooler include:
Cherry tomatoes (let them come to room temperature for the best taste)
Strawberries, blueberries and raspberries
Cheese or sliced meat for sandwiches
Need some tips for traveling with a cooler? We’ve got you covered there, too:
Use big ice cubes rather than the small variety. They take a lot longer to melt!
Avoid opening the cooler until you need to grab food, and close it immediately after you’ve taken what you needed.
Pre-chill your food ahead of time in your at-home fridge so that you can prevent the warm food from melting the ice too quickly.
Be strategic about where you place your food in the cooler. Place the heavier items in the bottom of the cooler and keep the lighter, more fragile ones on top.
Make sure foods are securely locked into their Tupperware containers to avoid spills.
Our favorite non-refrigerated camping foods
No cooler? No problem. You can still get by without one relatively easily without one. Here are some of our favorite camping food ideas that are easy-to-transport but full of nutrition:
Nuts and dried fruits
There’s a reason they call this stuff trail mix! Full of nutrients and protein, this calorific combo is easy to snack on as you hit the trail full-force. Make your own at home so that you can control the raisin-to-nut ration (or go without raisins altogether).
Organic and low-sodium canned beans
The plain, additive-free beans may be a little more expensive, but they’ll go a long way in terms of keeping you full without making you feel poofy and bloated. Many canned bean varieties are chock-full of sodium, and that’s the last thing you’ll want to deal with when you’re trying to stay hydrated and energized on your trip.
We like to bring along salt, pepper, cayenne and garlic powder. A little flavor can go a long way when you’re eating the same foods over in over!
If your local grocery store sells corn on the cob that’s still in the husk, you’ve hit the jackpot. The corn’s protective husk makes it the perfect portable food that will taste incredible. Simply spread some coconut oil or other high-quality on an ear of corn (after taking off the husk), wrap the corn in foil and place on the grate over your fire or on a grill if you have access to one. Cook for about 15 minutes, then let it cool and season to your liking!
Homemade snacks, energy balls and protein bars
As always, it pays to plan ahead. Some of 8fit’s recipes – like our Coconut Energy Balls – will be a godsend for when you’ve decided that you need a tasty snack that not only gives you energy but also provides you with a much-needed burst of flavor. Find the recipe in your 8fit app!
Campfire sweet potatoes
Nutritious and full of vitamins and nutrients sweet potatoes are one of our favorite sources of carbohydrates. A tasty way to get a lot of nutrition, a medium sweet potato contains around a whopping 3.5 grams of dietary fiber. Not so bad, eh?
For this campfire variety, you’ll follow a similar system as with the corn. Rub some coconut onto the potatoes, then wrap the potatoes in foil. Next, carefully bury the potatoes in the coals of a dying campfire and retrieve them after about an hour. Season to taste and you’ve got yourself one seriously delicious treat!
Need more camping food ideas?
We’ve only scratched the surface when it comes to the wonderful world of camping, so why not sit down with a pen and paper and jot down some of your own camping food ideas? As long as you keep it simple and avoid over-processed foods, you can get creative with your camping meal prep. Have fun camping and enjoy some quality time on your trip with mother nature!