Rethinking Camping Staples: 7 Key Foods to Take With You

Camping is the highlight of many families’ summers, but meal planning can be a challenge for many. Here are seven foods to put on your shopping list.

As summer starts to heat up, you’re likely dusting off your camping gear and planning your next adventure at one of BC’s beautiful campgrounds. After exploring the outdoors, the perfect way to end the day is with a nutritious and delicious meal that is easy to prepare, while you sit back and enjoy time with friends and family. Sound too good to be true? It’s not! Read on for some great camping meal ideas for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

Stocking up on wholesome ingredients will allow you to create nutritious camping meals, which satisfy the whole family, without sacrificing taste or convenience. These seven foods will have you eating tasty snacks and meals by the lake in no time!

1. Oats

Add your favourite mix of dried fruit, nuts, cinnamon, and a touch of brown sugar to your oats for a satisfying hot breakfast. High-fibre oats will keep you feeling full through your morning activities. Steel cut oats or regular rolled oats are both great choices but you may want to choose the quick-cooking steel cut oats to save time. Pre-mix different blends of ingredients in sealable bags at home to quickly customize your oats each morning.

2.  Eggs

Don’t overlook this humble ingredient next time you’re packing the camp cooler. Eggs can be hard-boiled for a portable protein to fuel a long day of exploring the outdoors. Tip: hard boil your eggs at home and pack unpeeled eggs to save time and camp fuel. Simply peel off the shell when you are ready to eat! Not exciting enough for you? Try topping your hot cooked oats with an egg and your favourite spices for a savoury meal. Or, stick to the classics: scrambled eggs or egg sandwiches.

3. Yogurt

You don’t have to forgo the benefits of fermented foods while camping. Yogurt makes for an easy no-cook breakfast paired with fruit and granola. Buy individual portions for a grab n’ go snack that you can take to the beach in a cooler. This nutritious snack will keep you going until the sun starts setting and it’s time to head back to the campsite for dinner.

4. Nut or Seed Butter

There are a variety of nut and seed butters to suit all tastes: our favourites include sunflower seed, almond, cashew, and peanut butter. Regardless of which you choose, all natural nut and seed butters keep well and make an easy vegetarian-friendly protein. Spread onto apples or bananas for a mid-day snack, or put a spoonful into your morning oats for a boost of protein and flavour.

5. Bananas

Housed in its own biodegradable packaging, this nutritious fruit makes an easy-to-grab snack for activity filled days. Bananas can jazz up yogurt and oats, or can be combined with tortillas and nut butter to make a roll-up or quesadilla. Tired of s’mores? Banana boats are a fun fruit-based dessert that both adults and kids can enjoy around the campfire.

6. Tortillas

Sandwiches can make a great lunch in the woods, but bread often ends up squashed by the time you want to use it. Tortillas make an excellent substitute: they pack well and can be used in savoury or sweet meals. Melt cheese between two tortillas near the fire for quesadillas, or wrap up some scrambled eggs and veggies with salsa for a breakfast burrito. Tacos made with fresh caught fish on corn tortillas after a successful day of fishing would be amazing, too!

7. Couscous

This miniature pasta cooks in under ten minutes with the simple addition of hot water, making it a time-saving substitute for dishes that use rice or quinoa. Plus, you won’t have to worry about running out of fuel or it sticking to the bottom of your pot. It tastes great seasoned with anything from curry to fresh herbs. Get the whole-wheat version for a fibre boost!

Once you’ve got versatile, wholesome ingredients like these in your camping cooler, you’ll have lots of options for easy meals. Try something new on your next camping trip or put an outdoorsy twist on your family’s favourite recipes. When camping, always keep food safety in mind; check out these important food safety tips for healthy summer outings. Now, pack up your cooler, and experience the joy of eating fresh, nutritious, homemade meals with family in the outdoors this summer.

(Special thanks to Amanda Hunter and Carly Sable, two UBC dietetics students, for drafting this article.)

By Melissa Baker, MHSc, RD, 2016

Updated by Carmen Gorlick, RD, June 2019

About BC Dairy

BC Dairy is a not-for-profit organization representing BC’s dairy farmers.