For starters, a camper’s food list includes a variety of food types – fresh food, dry food, canned food, bread loaves, biscuits and chips, canned beverages, spreads, and sometimes, a few spices. Most of the food we bring are light, not prone to spoilage, and has a nutritive value.
Your body needs all the nutrients it can get from the food you brought because camping is a strenuous activity – setting up the tent and lying cozily in the campfire is just the small picture. The bigger picture includes walking on seemingly endless trails, getting lost in the wildlife, steep trekking hills, and finding a place to camp.
Supposing you are a newbie at camping and you don’t have a portable camping stove, the basic food items enumerated below will surely get you through your camping trip.
5 Food Category List You Need To Pack for Camping
Cold Meat Cuts
Let’s admit it – it’s hard to go through a day without eating meat. Commercial meat – chicken, beef or pork, tastes great and are also good for our diet (in moderation) as they are sources of protein.
Of course, you cannot bring large chunks of raw steak or chicken thighs for camping, except if you have a portable camping stove and a cooler. Cold meat cuts like ham, salami, luncheon meat, roast beef, and meatloaf are the ones you should pack for your camping trip.
However, a sealed pack of the cured meat will approximately last just half a day. It’s best to consume the cold cuts on your first meal. If you plan to bring a cooler with you for your beverages, then better. You can put the cold cuts in the cooler, together with the beverages, to prolong its shelf life until the ice in the cooler runs out.
Cold cuts will definitely spice up a pack of bagels or a loaf of wheat bread, added with a slice of cheddar cheese. What a glorious breakfast!
Fresh foods are those that were picked or harvested fresh from the farm daily. Fresh foods like fruits and vegetables are go-to snacks for camping. You can munch on them while walking, taking a rest, or pair it with meals. They are very light to bring and also very nutritious.
Apples are everyone’s favorite. They are refreshing, especially during long hikes and treks.
Not only are apples refreshing, but they’re also rehydrating too. Sometimes, I swap this with water every food break because it’s so sweet and juicy, a breath of fresh air from plain water.
Moreover, if you plan to bring your kids with you, you should really bring apples. We all know they all like sweet things, so an apple is a good choice.
Personally, I pack a couple of apples instead of a bag of chips or biscuits for my kids because it takes up a much smaller place than the snack bags.
Carrots have low-fat content and a lot of calories. A lot of campers eat raw carrots during food breaks to replenish their energy.
If you want a quick carrot fix, I suggest cutting it up into sticks before you go camping and place it in a plastic container together with the apples.
You can also pre-dip the carrot sticks in peanut butter for a sweet and high-protein snack. Moreover, it would be a good side-dish in every meal.
Cereals And Wheat Bread/Bagels
Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Breakfast, likewise, is an essential meal for campers as it will provide the energy we’ll need for a long day’s walk.
Whole grain cereals and wheat bread are excellent breakfast options for campers because they are easy to prepare and highly nutritious – filled with fibers, vitamins, and minerals. They’re all we need to start the day right!
Cereals are America’s favorite breakfast. But they are actually a very tricky food. Most people consider all cereals to be essentially healthy. Well, they can be, if they’re not packed with sugars.
So be careful when buying one. Always look for uncoated cereals with whole grain oats or corn, high in dietary fibers, and low-fat. For a sumptuous morning, pair your cereals with a bowl of powdered milk (you should pack this also) or a small tub of yogurt (optional).
2. Whole wheat bread/bagels and spreads
Another easy camping breakfast you can make is a sandwich. Like cereals, whole wheat bread contains large amounts of fibers, vitamins, and minerals.
For breakfast, I usually put tuna in it (a canned one), with carrots on the side for an easy nutritious meal. If you have taken some spreads with you, like a tub of peanut butter or jam, then just grab a slice and slide the spread in.
If you prefer bagels over wheat bread, then you might as well pack a few pieces of bagels with you. Enjoy it with a slice of ham and a thin slice of cheddar cheese, and you’re good to go.
Energy Bars And Chocolates
When my sweet tooth kicks in, I just grab a granola bar on the side of my rucksack. Since we get much exercise from long walks and hikes, our energy drains fast, thus we get hungry all of the time.
That’s why packing energy bars like granola bars, Clif Bar and Powerbar are very handy. It has sufficient sugars and carbohydrates to keep us up and running. If you’re an avid hiker, trekker, or climber, energy bars will constitute your outdoor diet.
Also, it’s a break from all the highly nutritive food we munch on most of the time. If you’ll bring your little ones, you can also buy some chocolates for them to munch on occasionally.
Canned foods are staples in every camper’s food list. They are non-perishable, they take up less space in your pack, and they do taste good.
1. Canned tuna/sardines
Everyone (in my opinion) eats canned tuna or sardines, even my choosy kids. That’s what makes them great food items to pack. You can make a sandwich out of it with a slice of bread, or you can eat them on their own.
A can of tuna or sardines is an excellent protein source. We campers need to consume a lot of protein to make our muscles stronger to endure the unfriendly trails and terrains.
Also, those foods are packed with healthy oils for an improved blood circulation.
2. Canned beans
I think canned beans are the staple food of veteran campers. Almost everyone I know brings a can of beans every session.
Beans are packed with antioxidants, protein, and a lot of nutrients. Also, they’re pretty easy to cook! Have you ever tried cold canned beans? I can’t stand it.
To cook the beans, just put the unopened can on the side of the campfire. Since the tin can is a conductor of heat, the heat from the campfire will reach the can, causing the can, together with the contents, to warm up.
There goes your delicious hot beans! And yes, you can also do the can-heating process with the canned tuna.
Get some cold cuts to complement the beans or eat it on its own. Easy peasy!
Water is the most important food item a functioning body needs. A person can survive literally for weeks without food, but won’t last a few days without water.
Have you ever experienced running out of drinking water once in your camping session? I have, and it’s the worst feeling ever.
It’s my bad since I chose to bring a lot of food (because nobody wants to be hungry) while keeping only a liter of bottled water because it’s too heavy. Yes, I learned the hard way.
An average person needs to drink at least two liters of water per day. Camping is physically draining when you have to walk confusing trails and look for campsites.
You’ll be expending a lot of energy while burning calories that’s why a 2L water bottle won’t be sufficient. To play it safe, bring at least 3-4L of drinking water.
2. Flavored beverages and alcoholic drinks
Bottled juices are mainly for kids because they like flavored food a lot. If you want to bring a flavored beverage along with your water bottles, just bring one or two. Fluids are heavy, so it’s best to keep it at a minimum.
I assume that the readers of my blog are all adults, yeah? So it’s safe to say that a bottle or two of beer should be on your food checklist.
But don’t bring too many! Remember, camping is food for the soul and a way to reconnect with nature, not get drunk all night long.
They say food tastes better when you’re camping. I totally agree! The foods we have in the article are quite normal ones we take for granted on a daily basis.
But when your body’s physically drained by the various camping activities you went through the whole day, those foods can literally replenish your energy. Not only can they replenish your energy, but they’ll also toughen up your body for the trail ahead.
What about you? What foods did you pack on your camping trip? Weird food suggestions are open. Share your list below. Keep it coming!
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I’m Cindy, a free-spirited outdoor enthusiast. Since childhood, Our family frequently goes on weekend camps and my father, who was a skilled hunter, used to teach my siblings and me valuable things about wildlife survival. I made this blog to share my knowledge, experiences, and tips.