One of the best parts of camping is returning to your campsite and refueling with a delicious meal that you made yourself. Although cooking while camping can be a challenge, it can also become a fun adventure to see what can be made with just a few items. That being said, there is a huge variety of food you can make other than the typical granola bars and jerky.
When planning foods to take camping, you should take into account how many days you’ll be there as well as the size of the group. It’s best to feed large groups by making a bulk batch of something that is simple to make but filling.
Other considerations include the age of the campers and any dietary restrictions or allergies. Depending on how active you will be, you may need to bring extra food to make sure everyone is full and to make up for any caloric deficits.
We will cover food for three types of camping-
- Best foods for tent camping
- RV camping food ideas
- Hiking foods and snacks
- Lightweight foods and snacks
No matter waht type of camping you are doing, we have a great article that you should come back and read when you finish this on about preserving food for camping. It can be used for any type of camping method since it gives you mulitple options that can be used. How To Preserve Food For Camping ( Don’t let your food spoil )
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Best Foods for Tent Camping
If you’ll be camping at a designated campsite, you can probably bring a lot more food with you compared to backpacking or camping in the backcountry. The biggest consideration for tent camping is the lack of refrigeration so you will do best to bring foods that do not need to be chilled.
For shorter trips, a cooler with some ice or frozen blocks can be used to keep some things cold for a day or so. Make sure to store the cooler in the shade and, if possible, replenish the ice frequently to prevent food from spoiling. A cooler can also be buried in the ground to help with cooling or simply draped with a wet cloth.
Any cold foods should also be put immediately away after they have been served so they don’t sit outside at room temperature, or warmer, for a long period of time. Group together similar types of food that will be used at the same time to minimize how many times you open the cooler.
If you plan to bring any frozen foods, use them to keep all the other things cool. Bringing frozen fruit is a good idea because it can be eaten after it thaws. Frozen vegetables can also be added into a dish to get essential vitamins and nutrients without risking spoilage of fresh ingredients.
Because you’ll reach your campsite by driving your car and parking it nearby, you don’t have to worry about weight or packing light. When preparing for your trip, you can quickly pack non-perishable foods just as they are without portioning them out to save space.
- Rice – Just toss the big bag of rice into your car and scoop out as much as you need when it comes time for dinner. Make stir fry, fried rice, Spanish rice, jambalaya or even paella and risotto if you’re feeling really confident.
- Pasta – Dried noodles can easily be packed and then cooked in a pot of boiling water. Thin ones will cook faster and meals include spaghetti, linguine, macaroni and cheese, noodle salads, and more. Pasta can also be added to other dishes to bulk them up.
- Soups – Make some in advance or bring some cans along to make a variety of hot meals. Instant ramen is another option and can be dressed up by adding vegetables or you can bring bullion to cook from scratch.
- Cereals – Grab the big container of oatmeal you’ve got at home and you’ll have breakfast every day while camping.
- Cans – Because cans are heavy, they aren’t usually the best option for camping but can easily be brought along in the car. Bring canned fruits, vegetables, beans, and even meats to create delicious meals.
- Fresh fruits and vegetables – Another great snack when weight isn’t a restriction is to bring fresh produce. Fruits that travel well include bananas, apples, and oranges. Vegetables that make great snacks or can be added to any dish like carrots, celery, onions, and potatoes are also good to have on hand.
- Peanut butter – No need to buy single-serve packets, just take your entire jar along and dip fruits and veggies in it, put it on toast, add it to oatmeal, or just eat it as is on a spoon for a quick snack.
- Burgers and hot dogs – If the campsite has a grill or you’re able to bring your own, then don’t miss the chance to barbecue some classic comfort foods. Bring mini packets of condiments and pre-slice any toppings in advance for fast assembly.
RV Camping Food Ideas
Camping in an RV definitely allows for more food options because you have access to electricity which means refrigeration. Even though the refrigerator in an RV is much smaller than what you have at home, you can still bring just about any kind of food along to enjoy while camping.
Most RVs also have an oven, microwave, and stovetop which allows you to cook a wide variety of meals, bake desserts, and heat up leftovers for a quick meal. Electricity also means you can use gadgets like a blender, toaster, or coffee maker to expand your food options.
- Comfort foods for breakfast – With a skillet on the stove, you can easily make pancakes, French toast, bacon, and eggs of any kind, including fried, and omelets. Take advantage of the oven and make fresh biscuits to go with gravy.
- Toaster-friendly foods – If you have a toaster, make sure to bring some bread, bagels, or even frozen waffles and pop tarts.
- Smoothies – Take advantage of your freezer and make a quick meal by combining frozen fruit with juice or your favorite milk. You can even add in protein powder for a post-hike shake.
- Cookies and cakes – Use the oven to make a variety of easy desserts from brownies to cakes and everything in between.
- Ice cream – Another perk of having a freezer is that you can bring along some ice cream or popsicles which are perfect to cool off during the hot summer months.
- Fresh produce – Make the most of refrigeration by taking some fresh fruits and vegetables along with you. Make a nutritious salad for a light lunch and munch on fresh fruits throughout the day to keep your energy up.
- Sides and salads – With limited space, it’s hard to cook in an RV but you can still enjoy traditional favorites by making them ahead of time. Prepare potato or pasta salad, baked beans, or three bean salad at home and then put it in a container to have as a side later on.
- Cold drinks – Stay cool by bringing your favorite beverages along to cool off after time spent outdoors. Water, soda, sports drinks, iced tea, juices, milk, and beer can all be kept chilled until you’re ready to consume them.
When it comes to camping in an RV, avoid making foods that require a lot of energy. Cooking pasta, for example, requires that water be boiled for a long time. A slow cooker or pressure cooker like the Instant Pot could also be a drain on your RV’s systems.
Hiking Foods and Snacks
Even though most meals will probably be eaten at your campsite, spending time camping usually means you’ll go on a few hikes throughout the day. In addition, to foods to make meals, bring some snacks that can be taken in a backpack when you hit the trails.
Ideally, hiking foods should be durable, self-contained, and non-perishable or susceptible to melting. Because you won’t be able to cook or reheat anything, they should be delicious when eaten just as they are.
- Granola bars – There is a huge variety of bars to choose from, including Clif, Lara Bar, Luna, Kind, Annie’s, RXBar, Kashi, Bear Naked, and Nature’s Path. You can find almost any flavor and a wide variety of ingredients, including ones that are grain-free.
- Dried foods – Fruit leather, jerky, dried or even freeze-dried fruits and vegetables are lightweight but filling and nutritious. Nuts and seeds also fall into this category and any dried food can be mixed to make trail mix.
- Fresh fruit – Some easy to pack fruits like apples and bananas won’t take up much space in your pack and will make a healthy snack when you want something a little fresher.
- Snacks – Other dried foods that may not be as nutritious but are certainly delicious include potato or tortilla chips, crackers, popcorn, and pretzels. Health conscious hikers can opt for chips or other crunchy snacks made from vegetables or even lentils.
- Chocolate – Depending on the weather, chocolate can melt in your bag but if it’s cool enough, it makes a great hiking snack. Choose a basic bar or opt for something filled with dried fruits, nuts, and seeds.
- Energy foods – To power your adventures, pack some energy bars or consider trying energy gels and chews. These will help keep up your endurance by providing a concentrated source of energy.
Foods to Bring While Glamping
Glamping is the perfect mix of creature comforts while still spending time in the great outdoors and enjoying all the beauty of nature. If you’re planning a glamping trip, chances are you want to splurge a little and make things extra special.
When it comes to food while glamping, this may mean spending a little more on gourmet ingredients or taking time to make everything not only delicious but beautiful too. You can also enjoy classic camping foods while elevating them to make a memorable meal.
- Breakfast treats – Make ahead some easy breakfast options that look beautiful but will be ready in minutes. Overnight oats can be made in a mason jar and then topped with fresh fruits, nuts, seeds, and coconut flakes before eating. Yogurt and granola parfaits are also really easy to make but look beautiful and taste great.
- Charcuterie board – Something as simple as meat and cheese with accompaniments served on a wooden board somehow feels fancy. Grab your favorite meats, cheese, and then add other delicious bites such as nuts, olives, jams, dips and spreads, baby gherkin pickles, pretzels, crackers, dried fruits like apricots, candied pecans, fresh fruits such as berries or grapes, sweet peppers, and mustards.
- Steaks and seafood – Take your grilling to the next level by cooking up some steaks or seafood. Grill or steam fish in foil for an easy way to cook it or grab your skillet and make scallops. Shrimp can be cooked on a skewer with other vegetables and even fruits.
- Fancy hobo packs – Cook in foil and make an assortment of vegetable sides like baby carrots, corn, mushrooms, and potatoes.
- Grilled fruit – Toss pineapple or peaches on the grill for a decadent dessert served with ice cream.
- Updated s’mores – Fill your s’mores with rich chocolate and pieces of candy bars or drizzle with some salted caramel. Alternately, dip marshmallows into Baileys or make your own chocolate fondue to enjoy with fresh fruits.
- Have appetizers – One way to create a five-star camping experience is to offer appetizers before meals. Simple ingredients can be combined to make snacks like jalapeno poppers, pigs in a blanket, chips and dip, bacon wrapped asparagus or dates, or a cheese ball with crackers.
- Fresh herbs – Nothing dresses up a dish more than some herbs and spices which can add flavor and be used as a garnish. Pack some chives, dill, rosemary, and cilantro to incorporate into your meals. Don’t forget lemon and garlic either which can easily add dimensions of flavor and acid.
- Go mini – Basic recipes just look cuter when they are made in miniature. Get some slider buns and make all your sandwiches in a downsized version.
- Dress up traditional favorites – Make macaroni and cheese but add in some vegetables, a different kind of protein, and use spiral noodles or mini shells. Add vegetables like asparagus as a garnish or sprinkle sesame seeds on top to finish a dish.
- Serve it in a bread bowl – Buy some rounds of bread and serve any kind of instant or canned soup inside of it. Everyone will think it came right out of a restaurant instead of being cooked while glamping.
Lightweight Backpacking Foods
While backpacking you will have to carry all your supplies with you, which is why finding lightweight foods is of the utmost importance. Not only that, you will want foods which pack a lot of calories in as few ounces as possible.
Backpacking may also mean camping in the backcountry without access to refrigeration and the only method of heating food will be on a campfire. So it’s important to have meals which are easy to cook in a single pot, require little to no preparation, and will not spoil in your backpack.
- Dried meals – These meals are designed specifically for backpackers and campers because they are lightweight and all you need to add is boiling water. All the spices and other ingredients are already mixed in so you don’t have to carry extra things to make a flavorful meal.
- Instant foods – Lightweight instant foods such as oatmeal, grits, noodles, parboiled rice, couscous, and potatoes are ideal for backpacking. All you have to do is add hot water and mix.
- Dried snacks – Ready to eat snacks like nuts, seeds, energy bars, pop-tarts, dried fruits and veggies, crackers and chips are convenient and require zero preparation.
- Junk food – There’s a debate about whether or not it’s a good idea to eat candy bars and other treats while backpacking. Yes, they are a fast and light source of calories, but they are low in nutrition. Still, in moderation, they can be a good option for a long trip.
- Energy supplements – In addition to power bars, you can also pack energy chews and gels to give you an extra boost after miles and miles of backpacking.
- Hard meats and cheeses – Salami, pepperoni, and summer sausage won’t spoil if they aren’t refrigerated. The same goes for cheese like parmesan and romano. They are great for making a sandwich or pairing with crackers for a snack.
- Condiments – Bring the small packets of your favorite sauces like mayonnaise, ketchup, mustard, relish, or hot sauce.
- Powdered meals and drink mixes – Instead of hauling drinks, bring a method of water purification and add water to a dried mix. You can grab meal replacement shakes, protein drinks, fruity beverages, and even electrolytes to mix in. Other fry food sources include powdered eggs and milk.
- Durable bread – Sliced bread will easily get smashed in a backpack so stick with sturdier varieties like tortillas, pita, and bagels.
- Hard-boiled eggs – Although they won’t last for a long time, they are a good option for the first day of hiking to get some variety in your diet.
- Packaged seafood – Pouches of tuna and salmon are easy to take with you and will provide a lot of protein. You can also purchase pre-made tuna salad to cut down on preparation time.
- Fresh fruits and vegetables – Although most produce won’t stay fresh for long while backpacking, you can still bring a few things along. Consider eating it first before it spoils or bring unripe bananas, for example, and wait for them to ripen to eat later on.