When you go camping, you can expect to indulge a little. While most of us try our best to stay healthy, you can’t help by grill a couple of hot dogs over the BBQ or wake up and make pancakes with maple syrup. You’re on holiday, so you deserve it, and if you are hiking or taking part in other activities, you need the extra energy. Of course, it is not always easy to choose what you should take with you on your camping trip, and that is why we have created this checklist, stating all of the essentials you should make sure you pack in your camping food box or cooler.
How to Choose the Best Food for Camping
When you go through a camping food list for camping, there are a few things you need to bear in mind before you start buying and packing. This food list has been made with these criteria in mind, so if you want to add anything, ask yourself the following questions before you buy:
- Is it perishable?
- Is it going to get squished?
- Is it nutritious enough?
- Is it filling?
Of course, it is ok to bring some fruit and veg, but try not to bring anything that will go off quickly and make the rest of your camping food start to turn.
You should always pack more camping food than you need, and it should be enough to at least last you a couple of days. You never know what is going to happen, and having some extra camping food could come in a lot handier than you might think.
Make sure you pack all of the equipment you will need to cook with as well. This includes things like your camping stove, pots and pans, kettle, utensils for cooking, and even the cutlery you will use to eat. You can check out our food list of things to bring, and great camping recipes, on our Yummy Camping Food post.
Below, we have the best camping food for you to pack for each meal, as well as drinks, condiments, and special treats for sitting around the campfire. Of course, you can amend the food list to your own tastes if you wish, but make sure you take a note of each of the items here.
What You Will Need: General Equipment
For each of the recipes, the ingredients required will be listed. However, there are also some general items that you will need to prepare and cook each meal. Take a look at our general equipment list below:
Packing for Breakfast
Breakfast is considered the most important meal of the day. Munching on something good and nutritious each morning helps to give your metabolism a much-needed boost, as well as providing you with enough energy to see you through until lunch. Here are some of the best foods that you should pack for breakfast:
- Pancake mix
- Maple syrup
Packing for Lunch
Lunch is a good time to head back to the campsite and chill out over a delicious meal together. Of course, you don’t want your lunch to be too filling as you don’t want it to sit in your stomach when you go to your afternoon activities. Unless you plan on spending the afternoon on the campsite, you should have something that is filling, but also light. Here are our suggestions:
- Pita bread
- Salad (if on the first day)
- Lunch meat
- Tinned tuna
- Tinned sardines
- Baked beans
- Tinned soup
- Dry soup mix
Packing for Dinner
Dinner time is the best time of day. It’s when everyone gets together after a long day of fun and activities so that they can share their favourite moments. Dinner gives everyone a chance to bond over cooking together, which is great for strengthening relationships and building good memories. We have some great suggestions for dinner ingredients, so check them out below:
- Potato salad
- Vegetables of your choosing (we recommend carrots, potatoes, and courgettes)
- Ground beef or pork
- Chicken wings or breast
- Tinned tomatoes
- Black beans
- Lettuce, tomatoes, and cucumber
- Bell peppers
Packing for Light Snacks
When you are out hiking, you don’t always want to stop for a proper lunch, and hiking snacks are often the best way to go. They keep your energy levels up, while also providing you with the nourishment you need to keep going. Snacks are an important part of any camper’s diet, so make sure you take a look at our suggestions:
- Chopped fruit and vegetables
- Trail mix
- Granola bars
- Finger sandwiches
- Beef jerky (high in protein)
- Dried fruit
- Chocolate dipped in yoghurt
Packing Drinks and Condiments
Drink and condiments are also quite important. Making sure you have a good supply of water, as well as other refreshments, can be key to the full enjoyment of your trip. Similarly, camping trips can benefit from a few condiments to really bring out the flavour of your campfire meals. Here are some of the drinks you should think about bringing:
- Beer or cider for the adults
- Bottled water
- Hot Chocolate
Here are some of the condiments to consider bringing with you:
- Salt and pepper
- Hot sauce
- Seasoning mix (cumin, paprika, etc.)
- Dips for chips (e.g. guacamole)
- Dips for chips (e.g. guacamole)
Packing for the Campfire
In the evenings, there is little better than sitting around the campfire sharing stories and roasting tasty treats. It’s the perfect time to indulge in a mug of warm hot chocolate while munching on gooey marshmallows – something both adults and children enjoy. Here are our campfire recommendations:
- Graham crackers (these three items will make smores)
- Hot dogs
- Bananas (melt chocolate onto these as well)
- Steak kebobs with bell peppers
- Bread and cheese (grilled cheese)
It’s actually amazing what you can cook over a campfire, and it is a lot of fun too. You can even take an egg and hard-boil it using a stick. Why not try a few different camping food over your campfire on your next trip? It’s sure to be a fun experience for everyone.
Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. It gives you the base energy that you need to be able to tackle the day ahead. Whether you are hiking, fishing, or simply chilling, a good breakfast is essential for a good day. Here are three of our favourites.
What you need: porridge oats, water or milk, honey or sugar as wanted.
Porridge is one of the easiest breakfasts to make, and it takes hardly any time at all. On top of that, it is really good for you and will keep your energy levels up until lunch time. It’s the best breakfast for any camper, and can be topped with honey or sugar if you want a little extra sweetness.
Alternatively, you can also add some chopped fruit to your porridge for the same effect and a little extra slow release energy for the day.
This quick and easy breakfast can be eaten dry, with water, with milk, or with yoghurt. It contains a great mix of oats and dry fruit, and some may contain nuts for a little extra bulk and flavour. Much like porridge, it provides a slow release energy that will keep you going throughout the morning and until lunch. While one of the perfect breakfasts for camping and hiking, you can also bring some along for lunch or an afternoon snack.
What you need: eggs, salt and pepper, bacon if desired, sunflower oil if frying
If you have space in your cooler, you can bring some bacon along with you for a breakfast treat if you like. If you are looking for a healthy bacon alternative, then you have the option of turkey bacon, which is leaner and much better for you. If you decide to fry your eggs and bacon, use sunflower oil to help go easy on your heart – it’s a healthier option.
Eggs are filled with protein and nutrients that will keep you powered for a good few hours. Boiled eggs are often a good way to go as there is less mess and you don’t need to fry them in oil. Of course, a dash of salt and pepper on a boiled egg can never go wrong. Fried eggs are the definition of a classic camping breakfast, so it’s worth giving them a try on at least one morning.
If you are off hiking, snacks instead of lunch tend to be the best option. Of course, there might be some days that you spend at the campsite, and something a little more might be in order. Here are some of our top selections when it comes to quick snacks and lunches for your camping trip.
What you will need: bread, meat/substitute filling, salad for filling if desired, light sauces
Sandwiches are perfect for afternoons at the campsite, and it’s possible to make them a little healthier. You can use pita bread instead of regular bread, and whole wheat instead of white. If you are using a meat filling, then turkey is a lean choice that also tastes great, and adding plenty of salad creates a refreshing crunch as well as providing you with a balanced lunch. If you use sauces like mayonnaise, use the light versions where there is less fat – same for reduced sugar ketchup.
#2 Trail mix
What you will need: nuts (peanuts, cashews, pecans), M&MS (or a similar chocolate), dried fruit, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, a sweet treat (if desired)
Trail mix is so easy to make, and it is the perfect hiking and camping snack. The balance of ingredients combines quick and slow release energies, which means that it will help keep you going throughout the day while you are hiking or engaging in other activities.
All you need to do is take each of the listed ingredients and mix them together in a Ziploc bag or container. You can also mix things up by adding your own sweet treats, such a pretzels, popcorn, or dark chocolate. The great thing about trail mix is that it can be changed around and ingredients can be substituted.
#3 Oat muffins
What you need: 175g self-raising flour, 50g porridge oats, 140g light muscovado sugar, 2 tsp ground cinnamon, ½ tsp bicarbonate of soda, 1 egg, beaten, 150ml ¼ pint buttermilk, 1 tsp vanilla extract, 6 tbsp sunflower oil, 175g stoned prune, chopped, 85g pecans
These oat muffins are not only delicious, but they provide a healthy and guilt-free snack for the afternoon. Plus, kids find them delicious, which is an added bonus. Here is the recipe for these tasty oat muffins – just make sure you bake them before you leave for your trip.
Preheat the oven to 200C/gas 6/fan 180C. Butter 6-8 muffin tins. Put the flour, oats, sugar, cinnamon and bicarb of soda in a large bowl, then rub everything through your fingers, as if making pastry, to ensure the ingredients are evenly blended.
Beat the egg, then stir in the buttermilk, vanilla and oil. Lightly stir the egg mix into the flour. Fold the prunes and nuts into the mixture. Divide between the tins, filling the cases to the brim, then bake for 20-25 minutes until risen and golden. Once cooled, pack them up and take them along with you on your trip.
#4 Chopped fruit and veg
What you will need: fruit and veg of your choice. We recommend apples, melon, carrots, and celery.
It might seem like a boring snack, but chopped fruit and veg can make a healthy and delicious snack for while you are on the move. Things like chopped carrots and celery provide some quick energy and relief if you get peckish, and fruits like sliced apple and chopped melon are hydrating as well as delicious. The natural sugars found in fruit also release slowly in your body, helping your energy levels stay up.
At the end of a long day camping, hiking, or just hanging with friends and family, it’s good to gather over a delicious evening meal. Dinner is a great time for everyone to socialise, be together, and share good food. Here are some delicious and healthy camping recipes that you can all make together in the evening.
#1 No-oven pizza
What you will need: 225g self-raising flour, 3 tbsp olive oil, plus extra for frying. For the topping: 1 tsp olive oil, 1 onion, sliced, 3 garlic cloves, crushed, 250g pack cherry tomatoes, halved, 4 tbsp passata, handful fresh basil leaves, chopped, 50g cheddar, grated.
Pizza doesn’t always have to mean it’s an unhealthy choice. With the right toppings, you can make your pizza a healthier one, and one that tastes amazing too. Here’s the step-by-step for making this delicious group meal.
Heat the oil in a frying pan, then add the onion and garlic and cook for 5 mins. Tip in tomatoes and passata, and simmer for 5-10 mins or until the tomatoes are soft. Remove from the heat, stir in the basil, season, then allow to cool.
Put the flour into a bowl. Make a well in the centre, add the olive oil then add 6-7 tbsp warm water or enough to make a soft dough. Tip the dough onto a lightly floured surface and roll out to fit a 22cm frying pan or make 2 small ones. Heat a splash of olive oil in the frying pan, then press the dough into the pan and cook over a medium heat for 8-10 mins or until the base is golden.
Spread the pizza base with the tomato sauce, scatter the cheese and heat until it has melted and the base is golden at the edges. Serve immediately.
#2 Spanish Omelette
What you will need: 400g bag spinach leaves, 3 tbsp olive oil, 1 large onion, finely sliced, 2 large potatoes, peeled and finely sliced, 10 eggs
An omelette is a wonderfully light and delicious meal for a warm evening. They are large enough to serve several people, and they take hardly any time to cook. If you are in the mood for this rich and healthy dinner, follow the steps below for the perfect results.
Tip the spinach into a large colander and bring a kettleful of water to the boil. Slowly pour the water over the spinach until wilted, then cool under cold water. Squeeze all the liquid out of the spinach and set aside.
Heat the oil in a non-stick frying pan and gently cook the onion and potato for about 10 mins until the potato is soft. While the onion is cooking, beat the eggs together in a large bowl and season with salt and pepper.
Stir the spinach into the potatoes, then pour in the eggs and cook, stirring occasionally, until nearly set. Ease the omelette onto a plate, then flip over back into the pan. Finish cooking the omelette on the underside and turn out onto a board. Serve by cutting into wedges.
#3 Chilli Con Carne
What you will need: 500g of mince beef (or meat of your choice), 2 bell peppers, 1 large red onion, diced, 2 cloves of garlic, chopped, 2 tin of chopped tomatoes, 2 tin of kidney beans in chilli water, 500g of rice.
Chilli is a classic dish for a cold evening and a group of friends. This recipe can easily serve six people, and if you want it to serve less, only add one tin of tomatoes and beans. Healthy and filling, it is hearty food that will certainly leave you feeling content. Just follow the instructions below.
If you only have one stove to hand, boil the rice first and leave it to the side. Once this is done, tip the onion, garlic, and peppers into the pot and allow them to sit for two minutes while they soften. Add the beef (or other meat) and cook until it has browned.
Once browned, add the tins of tomatoes and kidney beans, stirring to ensure everything is mixed together. Leave it to simmer for 15 minutes to make sure that everything cooks through. If the rice has been cooked first, mix it together once the chilli has been cooked and then serve.
#4 Minestrone Soup
What you will need: 3 large carrots, roughly chopped, 1 large onion, roughly chopped, 4 celery sticks, roughly chopped, 1 tbsp olive oil, 2 garlic cloves, crushed, 2 large potatoes, cut into small dice, 2 tbsp tomato purée, 2l vegetable stock, 400g can chopped tomato, 400g can butter or cannellini bean, 140g spaghetti, snapped into short lengths, 1⁄2 head Savoy cabbage, shredded, crusty bread, to serve.
Soup makes a wonderful dinner, especially if you are looking for something healthy and nutritious. It makes a wonderful meal for everyone you are camping with, and minestrone is particularly good for giving you all of the nutrients you need after a long day of hiking. Take a look at the step-by-step below.
Chop the carrots, onion and celery into small pieces. Heat the oil in a pan, add the processed vegetables, garlic and potatoes, then cook over a high heat for 5 mins until softened. Stir in the tomato purée, stock and tomatoes. Bring to the boil, then turn down the heat and simmer, covered, for 10 mins. Tip in the beans and pasta, then cook for a further 10 mins, adding the cabbage for the final 2 mins. Season to taste and serve with crusty bread.
Hopefully, you have found this camping food list to be informative and useful when it comes to deciding what you should pack on your next trip. From tasty treats to the bare necessities, everything you need for a good (and delicious) camping trip is right here.
What did you think of our camping food checklist? Is there anything other camping food that you would have added? We love hearing from you, so leave your suggestions in the comments below.
A seasoned camper and hiker, there is nothing he doesn’t know about the Great Outdoors. Hiking alone, with friends, or even little ones, he’s done it all. A trained survivalist, he gives Bear Grylls a run for his money.