Camping food ideas can be useful to you whether you’re an inexperienced camper or have been camping and hiking for years. I had always considered myself to be fairly knowledgeable about how to pack food for my camping trips until I spoke to an Uncle of mine that had hiked the West Coast Trail in British Columbia.
Anybody that has camped before knows that in order to eat well you pretty much need to bring along a big giant cooler of food and as the days go on that cooler can turn into a problem as the ice or freezer pack melts until eventually it’s keeping the bugs off the food, but not really doing much to keep it cool. I myself used to spend time freezing meats and packing tem in a way that I would hope they would not easily thaw, only to find by the first morning that I wake up on my canoe or hiking trip that everything need sto be eaten right away or it’s going to go bad.
I mentioned my Uncle above… He changed the way I pack my camping food forever. Because of him I have bought a food dehydrator and because of it, when I’m camping cooking is not only very easy but I eat like a king all the time. This is what he used for food on his trip up the coast and it’s what I’ve used ever since.
You can buy dehydrated food of course at most outfitters but it can be somewhat expensive, especially if you’re trying to feed a small group of people. With your own food dehydrator you can almost never run out of camping food ideas. Some examples of the type of food i make using mine would be things like chili, spaghetti sauce, stews and hearty soups, fruits and vegetables, fruit chews etc… In fact when you purchase an item like this it will come with a list of the type of food you can prepare so you’re not likely going to run out of ideas .
There is not really a single “biggest advantage” to eating like this on the trail. In fact, everything about it is good. First of all you don’t need to lug around a big heavy cooler trying to keep your food from spoiling. The only thing dehydrated food requires is that you keep it out of the sunlight (i.e. in your back pack). Because all of the water content of the food has been removed the food is substatially lighter so you’ve saved weight in two ways, by not bringing a cooler, and the food is lighter as well. Also I’ve kind of always felt that when the water has been removed that the food loses much of it’s smell. That makes me feel safer in terms of animals. I know animals have a far keener sense of smell than we have but I feel they’re less attracted to the food when it doesn’t smell. That being said I NEVER keep food or anything that smells good in my tent.
Becuse I’m able to prepare food in this manner I can also bring side dishes like rice and pasta to prepare with it and I can have a meal like I might have at home. There has been more than one occasion where my friends have been jealous of the food I have brought for myself.
The best part is that when you dehydrate your own food it saves you from bringing food packaging into the woods with you that may be a source of litter. I always pack out what I bring in with me so I end up coming home with just a few plastic wraps that my food has been sealed in.
Inexpensive Camping Foods
When most people think of camping foods, their senses often summon memories of s’mores, hot dogs, marshmallows, and other edible but not terribly healthy staples of Summer Camp, Boy Scout outings, and family expeditions. All of those camping foods have a place in our hearts (or stomachs) and memories, and some of them are suitable to any occasion. For serious outdoorsmen, however, camping foods need to be both lightweight and nutrient-heavy.
Not every camper or outdoor enthusiast is going to be as intrepid as Euwell Gibbons – who had a singular gift for finding the “edible” parts of just about any plant — or have the fortitude and cast-iron stomach of a Bear Grylls, who can eat or drink just about anything with perfect composure. But by the same token, anybody geared toward survival will most likely be able to get by with camping foods that are a little hardier and healthier than cheese doodles and marshmallows. Some of the best camping foods are inexpensive granola bars, trail mix, and jerky.
Dried fruits and nuts are inexpensive, storable, and highly nutritious camping foods as well. It’s quite easy to make home-made granola and to cure home-made jerky. There is a trade-off here between nutrition and shelf life. If you know how to freeze dry foods, or have a home dehydrator, you can build up a large supply of dried fruits, fruit leather (which is essentially like “Fruit by the foot” or “fruit roll-ups”), and jerky. All of this is splendid camping food, in addition to being really good for home food storage.
Common oatmeal is a wonderful staple that can be prepared very easily and tastes wonderful when cooked on a breakfast campfire and eaten outdoors. In addition to its famous levels of healthy fiber, oatmeal is very high in protein and vital minerals. When combined with milk, nuts, and dried fruit, oatmeal makes a nutritionally complete meal. It is cheap to obtain, easy to store, and ridiculously simple to prepare – and thus one of the best camping foods imaginable. Although they’re a little pricey, various kinds of MREs (Meals Ready to Eat) can be bought and used as camping foods. Originally designed for the military, MREs are available at many surplus stores and upscale outdoor sporting goods stores. In previous generations, military surplus stores sold C-rations, the equivalent of today’s MREs. More than a few campers have dined on the same fare used to sustain U.S. GIs overseas. Ramen noodles aren’t particularly healthy, but they can provide volume and carbs for hungry hikers and campers. Generations of college students and bachelors have subsisted on Ramen noodles. They store forever and cost next to nothing to buy. Various companies offer breakfast bars combining whole grain (usually oats) with fruits such as strawberries, blueberries, and apples. These are good to bring along in a pack or duffel bag.
Pop-Tarts are also easy to bring along and delicious as a reward for climbing a particularly challenging incline – but they are all sugar rush with no lasting benefit, so if you bring them, use them sparingly. Then again, they would just be taking up room better used to store granola bars or dried fruit. For simple carbs and snacks, crackers are a very handy thing to have around. Home-dried fruit and jerky aren’t terribly expensive to make, and much healthier than nearly anything you’re likely to buy from a commercial outlet. Here’s another interesting idea: Many stores offer candy bars for sale in inexpensive bulk packages. These can be a very good survival food, if they survive long enough themselves.
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