Food for Camping Meals

Food for Camping MealsFood is one of the most important things to pack for a camping trip. You don't want to go to the store when you could be having fun outdoors, so pack what you need--but no more. The food on this list is probably either in your kitchen already or easy to find at your grocery store. Measured servings of prepared main dishes, and any condiment or side dish you can imagine, are available at camping good stores in your area or online, but it costs less and, frankly, tastes better to cook at your own campsite.


Food for Camping Meals

Oatmeal, farina, cooked cornmeal and multigrain cereals fill your stomach for several hours of sports and recreation. Take dried milk powder for your cereal. You can measure one-half cup of oatmeal, add a dash of sesame seeds, a few raisins and almonds, some dry milk and sugar to a sandwich baggie for breakfast servings. Granola doesn't need to be cooked and can be eaten with and without milk. Some fresh fruits last a week or more. In the continental U.S., apples and oranges are the easiest to buy and pack. Small melons also are good, if you can responsibly dispose of the seeds and peels. Under-ripe, hard stone fruits, especially plums and nectarines, are a treat, but eat them early on your trip.


Food for Camping Meals

Sandwiches are so portable that you'll probably eat one or two every midday. Meat eaters can choose hard sausages and dress up the sandwich with mustard packets collected from a restaurant. Hard cheese packed in plastic sandwich containers and semi-soft cheese balls coated in wax will last three to five days of lunching, depending on the temperature. Peanut butter, augmented by jelly or honey packets, is also handy to pack. Put these fillings on crusty, unsliced bread for the first four days, then on dense, black, sliced deli rye bread. You can then make it to the end of your trip with crackers.

Don't ignore tortillas for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Packed in a shallow plastic storage container, they will last up to a week, depending on daytime temperatures.
For lunchtime crunch, carrots in sandwich bags last about a week, but they should be air-dried a little each day. Celery, jicama, sweet potatoes and yams offer a nice change of pace.


Food for Camping Meals

As the sun sets, boil potatoes and hard vegetables such as onion, garlic, carrot and celery in bouillon and water or in diluted dehydrated soup mix for a hearty stew. Alternate potato-based dinners with parboiled rice or another grain--quinoa is a complete protein and cooks in under 30 minutes--that is spiced with a mix of herbs, salt and pepper that you concocted at home and brought in a sandwich bag. Add freeze-dried meat or fish to taste. Cook biscuits cook in a covered frying pan or in an aluminum foil packet placed in a camping pan or even buried in coals for a side dish for your stew. For your sweet tooth, bring ginger snaps, biscotti and other hard cookies.


Water is a camper's primary beverage, but tea and coffee are easy to bring. Electrolyte solutions help many athletes rehydrate, especially in the heat of summer, and they come in one-serving packets or small plastic jars. Mix your own hot chocolate from cocoa powder, sugar and dry milk.


Food for Camping Meals

Trail mix is a traditional pick-me-up. Fruit leather packs well can be eaten plain or reconstituted as a puréed dessert. Dates are candy in an edible wrapper.


Hard candy and nutmeats are good choices when you crave something different. Chewing gum gives a quick explosion of flavor.

Sample Food List for Seven Strenuous Days, One Person

Oatmeal mixed with seeds, dried fruit and dried milk powder (3 times): 4 cups
Granola, mixed with dried milk powder (2 times): 4 cups
Pancake and biscuit mix (2 breakfasts, 2 dinners): 3 cups
Fruit: 7 apples, 1 pear, 1 banana, 4 stone fruit, 12 dates, 2 cups dried fruit pieces, 4 rolls fruit leather
Vegetables: 5 carrots, 1 jicama, 3 stalks celery, 1 onion, 1 yam, 3 potatoes, one-half head lettuce (first evening and next lunch only)
Cheese: 8 oz. hard cheese, 1 mesh bag semi-soft cheese in wax balls
Peanut butter: 2 prescription pill containers
Bread: 1 baguette, 1 loaf deli rye
Crackers: 1 or 2 regular-size boxes
Tortillas: one sandwich-size plastic container (8 tortillas)
Rice, parboiled: 2 cups
Quinoa, rinsed: 1 cup
Hard salami: one 12-ounce stick
Indian meals: one 2-serving package
Turkey jerky: 2 oz. package
Soup mixes: 3
Condiments: 12 honey packets, salt, pepper, herb-spice mixture, sugar, 6 mustard packets, 6 soy sauce packets, 6 cubes bouillon
Cooking oil: 1 prescription pill container, about 4 tbsp.
Trail mix: 5 cups
Hot cocoa mix, homemade: 3 cups
Tea bags: 10
Coffee: 1 cup ground
Almonds: 1 cup
Hard candy: 30 pieces
Cookies: 24


Tips & Warnings

Stack crackers in emptied, waxed cardboard one-quart milk cartons.
Check seal on prescription pill containers by filling with water and inverting overnight on a dry saucer.
Double-bag food in plastic bags, pre-measuring portions. The extra bag provides a trash container that can be sealed.


Article Written By Lani Johnson

Lani Johnson is a hiking, writing musician. Recent published work includes journalism, poetry and research. See her online writing at or at

Don't Miss a Thing!

All our latest outdoor content delivered to your inbox once a week.



We promise to keep your email address safe and secure.