I love to keep things simple, especially while camping. I try to make sure that all of our meals are easy to prepare while still being YUMMY! To do this, I end up making home cooked meals before hand and freezing them. We use a Yetti Cooler with a bit of dried ice and regular ice and our meals stay cold or even frozen for 5+ days.
You know what your family likes and what they’ll eat. Pick your favorite meals and make them camping friendly. Switch out bread for tortillas (since bread takes up a lot of room), cook all that can be cooked before without going back or compromising taste or texture, consider using shelf stable milk instead of fresh.
Don’t forget the protein and fresh fruit and veggies! It’s easy to pack a lot of pre-packaged simple carbs but after a few days, you’ll certainly be feeling it. If you can’t do fresh then there is always canned or freeze-dried. Our family loves to bring protein shakes for some quick and simple protein.
Need some ideas? Here are my go-to meals.
Breakfast: Oatmeal. I choose oatmeal over cereal because it lasts longer in your system but doesn’t take long to prepare.
Lunch: Chicken Salad Wraps. Mix canned chicken with mayo or avocado and spread on a tortilla, bread, or crackers. Top with lettuce and pickles.
Dinner: Lasagna Soup. I use Mel’s Kitchen Cafe recipe and cook it all beforehand. Keep the pasta separate from the rest so they don’t get soggy or you can cook the pasta at camp.
Breakfast: Pancakes. If we have an easy morning where we’re not rushing off to another location or hike then we’ll make pancakes. They are still really easy to make with a mix since you just add water. Our favorite is Kodiak Cakes. We top off out pancakes with jam, fresh strawberries, flax seeds, chia seeds, or yogurt.
Lunch: Bean and rice wraps. A can of either black or pinto beans, wild rice (I cook it ahead of time of course) lettuce, corn, ranch or mayo, and taco sauce on whole wheat tortillas.
Dinner: Spaghetti. Spaghetti is very easy to prepare at camp if you use canned sauce or prepare your sauce beforehand. All you have to do is cook the pasta and heat up the sauce. We also love to bring some garlic and butter to make garlic toast.
Lets talk snacks!
Snacks will be your very best friend while hiking and camping and you'll want to pack more than you think you'll need. Why? You and your family will probably be burning a lot more calories than on a regular day at home. When you're running low on calories, or aren't hydrated enough, not only do people get cranky (hangry much?) but there can be some serious health issues arise. Don't fear though, with the proper snacking and drinking, you can avoid any complications.
It's important to pack some salty snacks and even some Gatorade (or a similar drink). When someone in our family has a head ache or is feeling nauseous it's usually because of a lack of electrolytes. Pretzels, salted nuts, and crackers are a few of our favorite. We also bring along a powdered from of gatorade. It takes up less room, can be packed in small ziplocks for hikes, and can make a large amount or just enough to fill our water bottle. If you want to avoid the sugary power drinks then you could also pack some coconut water which is full of electrolytes.
Don't forget the protein! As we mentioned above, we forget about protein while traveling because carbs are so easy to pack. Our favorite proteins are peanut butter, beef jerky, beans (we eat them in our wraps), nuts, protein powder, protein bars, and canned tuna or chicken. It's important to note that many of your protein sources may also have quite a lot of salt (beef jerky & nuts) so they can work for both your salt and protein.
Yummy treats! What ever this means for you, don't forget to bring some treats! We all know how unhealthy it is to reward your kids with food for good behavior but lets be honest, sometimes that's what it takes to get them to hike another 10 minutes. We always buy wheat bread but when I'm shopping for a trip I'll pick up a loaf of white bread. This is such a special yummy thing for my kids that I know they will eat the entire PB&J sandwich.
Other ideas for snacking while traveling could be fresh veggies and ranch dip (or put a package of ranch dip mix into cottage cheese and dip crackers or veggies in it), cracker cheese and meat sandwiches, popcorn, fresh or dried fruit, granola and yogurt, apple sauces pouches, cheese sticks, gogurts, or trail mix (you can make your own or buy it prepackaged).
Don't forget everything you need to prepare your meals! To make sure you're prepared download our packing list!