by Regina Wu
0 Comment(s)



Scramble them, fry them, or hard boil them: Eggs can do the heavy lifting in a dish (like breakfast tacos) or be added to something elseCamping Foods Eggsfor extra protein (6 grams per large one). Crack one into water that's also boiling ramen noodles for a basic egg-drop soup on the trail. One trick for bringing the eggs but not the pesky shells is cracking a dozen (or however many you'll need) into a bowl, adding 1/2 teaspoon of salt per cup of eggs, mixing everything so the yolks are broken and you've got uniform yellow, pouring it all into a sealable bag (double bag it in case of holes and spills), and freezing it flat so the final product is easy to transport. Plus, thin layers of egg defrost faster.


Flour? Corn? Whatever your preference, tortillas literally bring your ingredients together. Whether wrapped around beans, meat, and veggies to make a camping burrito or sitting above and below some melted grated cheese for a simple quesadilla, these super circles definitely earn their place in your camping kitchen–especially since they basically double as utensils, allowing you to scoop up any loose bits left in your pan without getting your fingers dirty. Roll them up with peanut butter and honey for an energy-boosting midday snack or pan fry them with some butter, cinnamon, and sugar for a buñeulos-tasting treat.


Like most of the ingredients on this camping food list, cheese is a workhorse. One block alone can provide enough of the stuff to be grated over your morning meal, layered on an afternoon sandwich, sliced with apples for happy hour, and added to just about any dinner: pasta, chicken, tacos. The list goes on–and that's just for cheddar. Melt cheese over chips for nachos, or fill a pot with some of its more pungent forms, add lemon juice and heat, and dip whatever you've got lying around into your delicious camping fondue.


We think just about every 'we finished setting up camp for our first night in the woods' celebration calls for steak, but hamburger's probably more practical–not that you can't bring both along on a trip. Ground beef adds dimension and protein to spaghetti, anchors a taco salad, brings balance to camping chili, and forms into a mean meatloaf. The main course one night can yield leftovers that show up in new ways the next. Of course, beef dried into jerky is a no-brainer for backpackers.


You've got your red meat, and you've got your white meat. When prepared properly, chicken can be a lean and delicious component of any camping diet working well as the featured main course–skinless barbecued chicken comes to mind–or joining other ingredients after being cubed, chopped, or shredded. Equally at home on a skewer, in a tortilla, tucked between two slices of bread, boiled in a soup, or sitting in the open air, this powerful protein will give you the energy you need to tackle your next adventure. A related fowl, turkey, also provides good meat for a journey into the wild.


Fruit Camping Food

A touch of sweet in your diet is so much better coming from an apple than from something made with refined sugar. Plus, you need the vitamins. Slice peaches and bananas into yogurt or simply wash and/or peel your favorite selection and take a bite. Fruit can be a simple way to get a dose of moisture and flavor while on a quick break from the trail (as with a single Satsuma orange) or be served up as a decadent dessert (have you tried roasted pears with chocolate?). Remember that camping food tends to get jostled, so maybe save thin-skinned, easily bruisable, turn-to-mush-in-your-ice-chest fruits for when you arrive back at home. Also remember that avocado is a fruit. Dried fruit can be added to trail mix, added to yogurt for a parfait, or eaten plain.


Granola is delicious, but it can be pretty dry. Milk makes cereal more than something you just pop from your hand to your mouth to crunch. Some campers drink it plain, but you're most likely to see it applied to coffee as a creamy accompaniment to that all-important jolt of caffeine. Speaking of which, it also makes a richer base than water for cocoa. As a cooking staple, it mixes into batter for everything from pancakes to toad in the hole to cake. Campsite bakers can certainly fill their measuring cups as necessary in the woods, but pre-made batter saves time and mess.


Some people see this as a luxury. These people are wrong. Hot sauce is a staple of any well-stocked camping kitchen. You can bring along a bottle of your favorite brand, or several bottles so you can serve up some variety, but also consider that the little packets you get with every Mexican fast food order are the perfect size to bring along on a camping trip. Hot sauce will obviously pair well with anything that also involves tortillas, guacamole, and the like, but it's also amazing on eggs, from sunny-side up to camping omelets.


Don't make this leafy green an afterthought, because it's much more than merely another sandwich topping. When used as a bed for hamburger meat and other toppings, lettuce presents itself as a healthier choice than chips for taco salad. It lends crunch and color to any meal, whether it's served on the side or arrives as the bulk of the dish. The vegetable is low in calories but high in moisture, so pair it something more substantial if you need to replace what you're losing during a serious hike or other activities. Kids can spear it with toothpicks to enjoy a sort of 'salad on a stick.'


Spaghetti feeds the masses like little else. The noodles can be boiled at the campsite or prepared at home ahead of time and thawed/heated when desired to save time, effort, and energy before dinner. Carbohydrates are very filling and ideal for people exerting themselves in the great outdoors, but there's more to this ingredient than tomato sauce and oregano. Consider pesto as a topping, or mizithra cheese and butter. Noodles can be pan fried, stirred into soup, baked in lasagna, or served cool in pasta salad. Even packaged instant noodles can be pepped up with spices and vegetables. Just remember that if you add some salt to the water before you start cooking, the water will take longer to boil.


For the purposes of this camping food list, this category includes large chunks of tomatoes suitable for roasting in kabobs or tossing with salads, as well as tomatoes processed into sauce added to pasta or smothered on pizza dough. While citrus hogs most of the anti-scurvy credit, these red fruits boast a healthy dose of vitamin C. They can be chopped roughly and served with bread for bruschetta or mixed into salsa?either the chunky or smooth variety, depending on your preference. Keep a couple tomatoes handy for any campsite cooking that has an Italian bent.


Despite its reputation, there's little to cry about with this vegetable?especially if you dice it ahead of time at home. Onions work well in just about all the same situations as tomatoes: They can be chopped raw and added to salad or salsa, skewered in larger pieces for shish kebabs, or cooked into a sauce. The vegetables can lend their distinct flavor to cold sandwiches, warm hamburgers, and hot, simmering, spicy turkey soup.


Camping Food - Bread

Forget slices. Bread is for ripping into hunks and dunking into soup, dipping into stew, and sopping up every last bit of chili. Still want slices? Yeah, a couple of slabs of whole grain goodness make the perfect platform for a delicious sandwich. Bread also works its way into campsites in the form of hamburger and hotdog buns, as well as rolls. Baking your own bread can be a satisfying outdoorsy activity that's as practical as it is enjoyable, since it yields delicious results. Recipes abound for everything from coffee can bread to bannock bread. (And for the sake of s?mores, let's count Graham crackers in this category, too.)


Butter sizzling on a hot griddle is a quintessential campsite morning sound. Popping a pat into a pan allows for eggs that slide out when ready and flapjacks that flip with ease. Let another cube melt over the top of a stack of pancakes before applying a liberal amount of syrup. While butter moistens biscuits and tops bread alike, its biggest role in a camping kitchen is in keeping stuff from sticking to other stuff. Any sort of tinfoil-based recipe, like a hobo stew recipe, benefits from butter applied to the cooking vessel before it's tucked into a layer of coals.


This one is another ingredient rather than a food per se, but a little spice goes a long way. Salt is the most versatile member of your taste arsenal, enhancing the flavor of breakfasts, dinners, and everything in between. A pinch can even enliven a mug of cocoa. Pepper should be in your collection, too. Anything that provides a bit of a kick can transform a collection of calories to be dutifully consumed into a meal you'll actually enjoy. Consider bringing along a few other spices, including Cayenne pepper, cinnamon, cumin, rosemary, and garlic powder (especially if you don't bring along fresh garlic). These ingredients alone can make three successive nights of hamburger actually work.


For some campers, this is the only true must-have on the list. Caffeine may come in many forms?including tea and even chocolate?but coffee will forever percolate in the hearts of those who equate it with the sunrise: The day can't truly begin without it. Absent the invention of any backpacking-friendly espresso machines, camping coffee options are generally pretty basic?but that's as it should be. Let the unfiltered dawn, branches trembling with waking life, and air filled with possibility of adventure seep into your ground beans and hot water. (Though they make extremely portable flavored creamers now, too.)


You may have trouble choosing between uniform white cylinders from a store-bought-bag or gooey homemade marshmallows packed with probiotics, but there should never be a question of whether you're going to bring marshmallows camping. In fact, this might be the only truly mandatory ingredient on this list. You can eat them cold and plain. You can toast them and pull them from the roasting stick. You can slide them into s'mores. You can plunk them into your cocoa. And by 'can,' we mean 'have to.' Camping without marshmallows is like a movie with no popcorn or a road trip with no music blasting in the car: Sure, you can do it 'but why'


Carrots - Camping Food List

These root vegetables make for great snacks, given their crunch coupled with a good deal of moisture. Bite into a few raw sliced sticks when you get back to the campsite after a busy day. They can be eaten alone, dipped in dressing, and served up alongside other vegetables and snacks. Carrots add more color and crunch to any salad, and they soften up well in soups, from simple vegetables simmered in broth to game-meat meals, like snake stew.


Oil is a lot like butter in its ability to prevent meals from sticking to their respective surfaces. To that end, brush it on just about anything you're cooking directly over the campfire, from vegetables to nuts. It's invaluable in baking, whether you're making something at home to bring along on the trip or are creating something at the campsite. When combined with tangy vinegar, it makes for a delicious dip for bread?and, of course, a salad dressing with a whole lot less fat that anything creamy.


This may not be your first thought for inclusion on a list of must-have camping ingredients, but it earns a spot for filling so many roles. At breakfast, it's ready to welcome camping granola to create a smooth/crunchy texture combination. By dinnertime, it can step into the role usually held by sour cream, serving as a healthier option for topping tacos and baked potatoes.


No mere dessert treat, chocolate can sneak into practically every meal of your camping day, starting with chips in your morning pancakes and ending with a slow melt into s'mores and hot cocoa. In between, you can find it jostling peanuts and raisins in a handful of trail mix or adding a burst of flavor to your day as a solitary pip from a dark bar. Just remember that your own body heat can liquefy it, especially if you're working up a good sweat, so be careful about packing it against any part of your body if you're going on a long hike.


Mmm. Bacon. The smell of it mixing with fresh-brewed coffee rivals the clean scent of pine for the No. 1 reason to look forward to opening your eyes each morning in the woods. Of course you're going to eat it for breakfast. Of course! You can also wrap it around a fresh-caught trout set to cook over the coals, and it forms one of four crucial foundational points of a 'B'-based camping chili (the other three being beef, beans, and beer). Crumbled bacon can add a salty element to any salad, and strips of it serve as the filling for a tasty sandwich. Frying it up is so, so amazing, though pre-cooked-and-crumbled bags of it are an acceptable option, too, especially if pans and heat sources will be in short supply at your site.


Ketchup, mustard, and mayonnaise share one listing here, since condiments tend to make group appearances around mealtime at a campsite. Any one or all of them can grace a leftover turkey sandwich, a barbecued hamburger, or a charred hot dog. Tweak the members of this group according to personal tastes, as some like plain yellow mustard while others like the spicier versions. Depending on the type of cooking you'll be doing and the preferences of your fellow campers, this section of your camping kitchen might also include relish, soy sauce, barbecue sauce, and more. Just remember that hot sauce is in a class of its own.


While this ingredient shares a lot of similarities to bread, it's absolutely not the same thing. You'll want to be sure that you have a way to make pancakes at your campsite. You may also want biscuits. Chefs looking to spice up their coal-fired menu beyond meat and potatoes (not that there's anything wrong with that) can roll out some dough and top it with sauce, cheese, and whatever else they feel like adding to create a mouthwatering pizza.


Sweetener adds a touch of necessary luxury to any camping trip, whether it's a spoonful of something in your morning coffee, maple syrup drizzled over hot flapjacks, or honey cooked into a steaming tinfoil bread pudding. While you want to get your energy boosts on the trail from natural and complex sugars, the straight sweet stuff can bring a special smile to your face when that's called for, too?and that's OK. You should be enjoying your time in the woods.


Sometimes you want a solid, greasy, fat-filled breakfast that will stick to your ribs, but other times you want a few bites of crunchy grains, maybe with some fruits or nuts mixed in and a little milk poured over the top. You can get mass-produced boxes of flakes and O's, or you can make your own batches of perfectly spiced camping granola to sprinkle into your yogurt or pop by the handful for an afternoon pick-me-up.


From side dish to center star, beans are a hearty essential. They can help fill out a burrito or (despite some cooks? insistence of the opposite) create a foundation on which to build a mouthwatering chili. As with many ingredients on this list, there are many variations (black, red, white, etc.), and they can be prepared in advance for reheating at the campsite or made from scratch over a stove or campfire. Beans are like a best friend, as they're frequently found in pairs: pork 'n' beans, beans 'n' bacon, beans and rice?you get the idea. They can also appear in surprising, but delicious, forms, such as a burger patty.


Ah, the baked potato: a steaming blank slate onto which hungry campers can paint a masterpiece of toppings. A pat of butter will do, but even the most die-hard minimalist will have trouble saying no to some Greek yogurt and/or bacon and/or onions and/or cheese and/or just about anything else in your camping kitchen. Camping potatoes are good diced, sliced, chopped, grated, mashed, fried, peeled, and boiled.


Camping Food List - Nuts

Peanuts in the shell keep hands busy around the campfire, but if you need those fingers for s'mores construction or guitar plucking, already-shelled versions work great, too–and they can also be included in a protein-packed trail mix. Nuts can do more than be crunched in the raw. Include them in homemade energy bars or roast them to release a new range of flavors and textures. They also make a great topping for salads to eat with dinner and cobblers to slice into afterward.


This probably shouldn't be last on the camping food list, but as noted at the beginning, these are in no particular order. In addition to being a flavorful addition to a multitude of camping dishes, including grilled sweet potato fries, garlic serves as a mosquito repellent. Yes, your breath may keep away your fellow campers after you chow down on a clove or two, but you'll also be less likely to boast an itchy collection of raised and red bites when you arrive back at home. Rub it on your steaks or devour it whole so it comes out your pores. Better yet, do both.

Honorable mention goes to junk food and other assorted odds and ends that make camping more enjoyable, including potato and tortilla chips, powdered mixes for dressings and dips, beer, wine, the hard stuff for cocktails or shots, pretzels, candy–whatever enhances your time spent relaxing and/or recharging in the wide open kitchen of the outdoors.

by Regina Wu


Leave a comment