Food to Pack on a Camping Trip

Camp food,

Camp food,

by Charlotte Walters,

There are many great choices for camping food beyond just good old raisins and peanuts (GORP), so check out these camp food tips.
When preparing for a camping trip or just a day hike, planning ahead will make purchasing and packing food and water a simpler task. The goal is to travel light, ideally buying fresh meat on the day of use, and fresh fruits and vegetables as close to the day of use as possible. There are lots of great food items that can be stored for longer periods of time, and even foods that can be eaten while hiking along the trail. In this article are some simple and clever meal ideas for camping.

Foods Ready to Eat

In the ready-to-eat category, consider dried fruits, nuts, cans of pre-cooked sausage, meat, or tuna, beef jerky, individually packaged cheese sticks (just drop unopened into a cool, clean stream for a minute to cool them down), pretzel rods, graham and other crackers, fresh carrots and other freshly cut-up vegetables in pouches, and baggies of dry cereals or Chex Mix perfect for a snack while walking along the trail. Of course, there are many ways to mix up a delicious GORP recipe. Some are quite unique.

Temperature-sensitive ready-to-eat foods to pack along in cooler climates include chocolate bars, protein bars, bagged chunks of cheese, marshmallows, and peanut brickle, to name just a few. Always remember to pack up wrappers and containers to dispose of when a proper garbage can is located.

Pack Water for Camp Outings

Freeze bottles of water (leave some air space for ice to expand) and use to keep foods cool, then use for drinking and cooking. Smaller bottles full of ice are perfect for a backpack pocket. They melt slowly so that people don’t drink too much all at once, and the water in them will stay cooler longer.

Campfire Cooking Ingredients

Simplify the camp cooking experience by packing the following staples. Powdered or evaporated milk is great in coffee or hot chocolate, or add water and use in cereal or oatmeal. Canned sweetened condensed milk can also be useful in making campfire treats and [iron pot desserts]. Oil and butter can be packed into small containers and stored without ice; butter turns rancid due to exposure to air, not heat. Carry dry powdered eggs or egg substitute.

Dry packaged pasta, rice, spices, and sauce mixes all need no refrigeration. Dry mashed potato mix can be taken out of a big box and sealed into smaller bags. The trick is to keep these foods away from nibbling rodents (not to mention bears) overnight by hanging food supplies out of reach.

Main Dish Campsite Meals

If taking a portable cooler, choose pre-cooked, sealed meats like hot dogs, and freeze them in the freezer before putting them in the cooler. Canned meats do not have to be kept in a cooler, but they should be kept out of the sun and excess heat. Many kinds of fresh fruits and vegetables with tough skins do not require refrigeration but should be protected from rodents and bugs.

Add canned chili or baked beans to beef or pork to make a casserole. Put individual portions of meat, veggies, and potatoes into heavy-duty foil pockets, seal and cook among hot coals for a hobo-style meal.

If hamburgers are an irresistible main course, then buy the meat fresh that same day, keep properly cool, and once the patties are formed, poke a finger-width hole in the center of each burger to help it cook evenly. It is crucially important to prevent food poisoning caused by undercooked meat.

Leftovers can be effectively used up in the final big meal of the camping trip. Get out the dry powdered eggs and make an omelet, adding lots of leftovers to make a delicious, healthy breakfast, lunch, or dinner. When packing for a camping trip or day hike, remember to try these great suggestions for quick and easy camp-out food. Be smart about freezing water and other freezable items before putting them into the cooler. Be a good camper, and always clean up cans, wrappers, and waste. Be prepared to pack out any trash if no proper disposal sites are available.

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