How to plan your menu for camping
February 26, 2014
We try to be pretty healthy eaters usually. We try to maintain that when we go camping, but we also want convenience. We also have some special meals that we only make when we’re camping. To plan our camping menu, we multiply the number of full camping days by three meals, plus add two meals for each of the travel days (arrival and leaving of park). For example, 4 days of camping will require 3 breakfasts, 4 lunches, 3 dinners plus snacks.
Dinners – think of any of your perishable food – e.g. burgers. If you’ll be car camping and won’t have a real fridge, you’ll want to eat those on the earlier days. Even though you’ll have a cooler with ice, you are not guaranteed food safety for very long. We try to eat those by the second day, third at the latest. It will help to bring the burgers still frozen and in additional waterproof packaging. By the second day all the ice has melted and all your food containers are floating in a pool in the cooler.
Example dinners: burgers, hotdogs, mac n’ cheese, canned stew. For starches, I prefer using egg noodles or instant rice. In daily life we eat rice everyday, but it takes too long to cook on a propane stove.
Breakfast – eggs, French toast, cereal, instant oatmeal.
Lunch – think of your camping activities and whether you’ll be cooking lunch or will want something to have on the go – like sandwiches.
Once you fill in your special meals but have some slots (e.g. some lunches and dinners) open, fill up the rest with canned food – e.g. soups. Make sure to get at least 2 extra cans (to tie you over in case something happens to one of your other meals, or you decide to stay an extra day). Read my tip for making canned soups healthier in Tips for eating healthy while camping.
For dessert, we add a couple of cans of canned fruit. We also bring a bag of apples or other hardy fruit. Tip: wash them at home ahead of camping so they’re always ready to eat. That will help stave off camping constipation.
After you make a list of all your meals and your grocery list from that, don’t forget to add in condiments, drinks and cooking aids: ketchup, mustard, butter, oil, salt, soy sauce, coffee, tea. We always forget something from this list. TIP: keep a list for your next camping and keep adding to it as you notice that you miss something while you’re camping.