Camping food can either make or break a camping trip. You either pack unwisely and it is so heavy that it literally breaks your back or you pack those lightweight backpacking meals and it tastes like dust.
There is a middle ground. You can eat delicious camping food without lugging too much stuff around with you. You just need to think ahead and do plenty of preparation. Interested? Read on....
WHAT DO I NEED TO THINK ABOUT WHEN PACKING CAMPING FOOD?
When it comes to camping food, there are a few things that you need to take into consideration.
First, camping food generally has to be lightweight. If you are hiking dozens of miles carrying a backpack filled with camping equipment, you need food that is light and won’t break easily in your bag (tins and eggs therefore aren’t very practical). However if you are camping in a campervan, you can afford to stock up on heavier items and store them in your van.
Fresh food won’t last very long when you are camping. Carrots will last a few days, for example, but most fresh produce can only last one or two days.
Fresh food won’t last very long when you are camping. Find camping food that will last for longer than a couple of days...
You also want to make sure your camping food is easy to prepare. The less faff, the better. You might like the idea of creating cordon bleu cuisine on the move, but you are likely to end up cooking your meal in the dark using a head torch for light with no space to prepare your food except a muddy patch of grass. Keep it simple.
Water is also a key thing to consider. Is it readily available or will you have to carry your own water supply? This will affect what you cook. If you are winter camping, there should hopefully be snow to boil and melt. In the summer, water might not be as easy to find.
Gas is another big consideration. Make sure you bring enough fuel to cook your food. This is worth figuring out in advance because some food takes longer to cook than you think. It also might not be possible to buy more gas canisters on the way.
Stoves like the BioLite work using scrap firewood which could be a better option if you can’t carry lots of gas canisters. Check out our full guide to camping stoves here.
Make sure you always bring food that doesn’t need cooking, just in case your stove stops working or your gas canisters fails.
Breakfast when camping depends on how much time you have. If you need to get on the trail quickly, just stick with cereal bars and nuts. Those with a little more time can indulge in porridge and cup of tea or coffee.
Quaker porridge sachets are great for camping, especially the flavoured ones like golden syrup and dried fruit. If you can only make porridge with water, then these flavours will make it taste a whole lot better than regular dried oats.
Pancake mix is also a good option. You can buy some mixes which just require you to add water. Have a decanted tupperware of syrup and you are good to go!
Don’t bother with rehydrated eggs, they taste pretty damn gross.
Wraps are an excellent lightweight bread form that won’t crumble as quickly as regular bread, plus they last for ages. You can wrap them up nice and small. Fill with peanut butter for energy and sliced cheese if you are only camping for a weekend. Tinned tuna is small and relatively lightweight, just watch that greasy oil it comes in doesn’t leak all over your bag.
Chocolate, dried fruit, beef jerky, nuts and energy bars are all great camping lunch supplements, especially when you don’t want to stop for too long to prepare food.
Dinner offers many options - from pasta to noodles to Indian food. My personal favourite are Indian sachet meals. You can get them in most supermarkets. Brands like Ashoka make tasty Indian meals in sachets, such as Dahl Makhani and Matar Paneer. They are cheap, lightweight and mess-free. Just place the sachet in boiling water to cook.
Boil-in-a-bag rice is another simple yet filling suggestion. Rice makes a great accompaniment to the curry above. It will help you get your carb intake for the day and again it is super easy to cook. All you need is a pan of boiling water. You can use the leftover water to fill up your water bottle afterwards.
Pasta is a little more effort as you need some sauce to make it taste good.
Packet soup is also easy to cook, but make sure you have some carbs to go with it, such as pasta or bread.
Spices are a great way to spice up (geddit?) boring bland camping food. Bring along some onion and garlic powder, chilli flakes and maybe dried basil, coriander or oregano for extra flavour.
Finish off your dinner with smores. Yep, toasted marshmallow and chocolate sandwiched between two crackers or digestive biscuits. Delicious.
Make sure you also check out our article on amazing gourmet camping recipes.