Some people (mostly moms) have asked us what we’re eating on the trip, so I thought I would pass along some of our tricks, tips, and recipes. We try to eat tasty, relatively healthy foods, make sure to get enough protein, and not get stuck buying all our food from expensive camp stores or grocery stores right outside the big parks.
One great thing about camping is that all food tastes better when: 1) You are outside, 2) You just did something active, and 3) you are cold. On most nights, we hit all three of these, and our food is incredible.
As always, I like to keep an eye out for new things to eat. If anyone has any other tried and true camping recipes, please send them my way!
It’s easiest to start with food for car camping, when we park our little Mazda right at the campsite and have full easy access to our small camp kitchen and cooler. I will explain our backpacking eating strategy sometime in a future post.
Breakfast: It always starts with coffee. After a few weeks of terrible instant coffee, Adam recently found a new type of coffee maker, the AeroPress, which quickly brews excellent coffee in a plastic device with easy cleanup. We haven’t invested in a manual grinder for camp yet, so we just bring along ground coffee. It is SO much better than instant.
After coffee, depending on what’s in the cooler, we sometimes make egg sandwiches or burritos, but more often we make our patented mix of oatmeal and whey protein powder. Adam named it “proatmeal” and claims the chocolate mix tastes like mushy cocoa krispies. This is a solid shelf-stable option to add protein to our diet. We can only eat so many protein bars and cans of tuna.
Here is how you make it:
Lunches are almost always sandwiches or wrapped tortillas. If we’ve been to a store lately, we might have lunch meat and cheese, but PB&J is our real go-to. While it’s nice to keep the ingredients cool, PB&J won’t go bad, and super-sized jars last a long time.
We buy our snacks in bulk at Costco or the grocery store. While Adam usually prefers protein bars, I found Austin crackers and cookies that can be purchased at Costco for pennies. The crackers are mostly made of wheat flour, vegetable oil, and salt, and therefore have no nutritionally redeeming qualities, in my opinion anyway, but they are salty, relatively calorie-dense and amazingly delicious on hikes.
Dinners: When we are car camping, we have a small but adequate kitchen consisting of our amazing Coleman two burner gas stove with frying pan and small pot, plus bowls, cups, forks, knives and spoons. We also have a cutting board, one moderately sharp knife, and a cooler.
Our usual go-tos, from most to least close to real food are…
Pre-made foil pack entrees, such as chicken and potatoes or beef and veggies. Here’s the post with the “recipe” for fajitas. These work best for a short trip or for a crowd, since you prep in a kitchen and then can cook quickly and in bulk on a fire. Just cut your meat and veggies into bite sized pieces and season with your own spices or a store-bought spice packet. The secret is to tightly wrap them in two layers of foil so the food inside stays nice and moist.
Option 2: if you don’t have a kitchen for prep, it’s also easy to purchase boxed rice or pasta mixes, like Zatarain’s jambalaya. These dishes for two fit perfectly into our one small pot. We buy fresh but pre-cooked summer sausage or frozen de-tailed shrimp, and then throw those into the pot. We’ve also tried Hamburger Helper or similar mixes, though most of those require a small amount of milk or butter. We try to purchase the exact quantity of items that we will need, so buying milk and butter is annoying because it will go to waste.
And finally, our true healthy Option 3 “camping fuel” is a meat, cooked in diced tomatoes in the frying pan, served over a starch like rice or quinoa made in the little pot. We have a very small spice rack, but it includes two pre-made rubs for seasoning the meat. We try to buy meat that’s already cut up, so we won’t have to do it ourselves at camp. Cooking the meat in the diced tomatoes keeps the meat moist and flavorful, and makes the pan easy to clean. It’s even better if you can get canned tomatoes with onions, garlic, or jalapenos. These dinners are easy, healthy, and range from edible to tasty.
When we are car camping for longer stretches and without fresh foods, we usually keep it similar to the above but with canned chicken or tuna. These tend to taste fine but really lack texture, so we sometimes canned black beans when we remember to grab them.