What Does Camping Mean to You?

Food for Camping
Credit: David Buxton - tacd via flickr

To some, camping may be heading out in the RV to a campsite, plugging in and enjoying some time away in the outdoors, while to others it may be heading into the bush with a canoe and a backpack for a two week voyage.

 If you’re able to drive to your campsite and stay there with your car or RV it is likely that you can choose from a wide variety of foods as you may have access to a cooler or other refrigeration and be able to go to a nearby store for supplies. If you’re looking for some classic camping foods to make your trip more fun, check out the "Camping Staple Foods" section below. 

Basic Rules for Food when Camping

When heading into the great outdoors there are a few things to keep in mind when it comes to what you are going to eat. Items which require refrigeration or which spoil easily should generally be forgotten and instead canned or dried foods become a better choice, along with other foods which can last a few days in a pack.

Even with this in mind, there are some great dishes that can be prepared away from the comforts of civilization. So get ready to dig in and eat like a real frontiersman with the right food for camping.

Camping Staple Foods

Food for camping pot

The campfire is the king of cooking when you are out camping. Sure you could bring a gas stove out and a pot and cook like you’re back in the kitchen but you’ll miss out on the real camping experience. This means that the camping staples are things that cook well over the fire or require no cooking at all. Here are some favourites

  • Beans! – The magical fruit is the epitome of camp grub. They can be eaten cold in a pinch, but are even more delicious warmed up on the fire. These will go great with a bit of rice and they also make the base for chilli, with a bit of onion fried up and some tomatoes and chilli spices added in you can have a fine dinner. If meat is available you can add some hotdogs or ground meat.
  • Griddle/Pancakes – When you have time in the morning pancakes are the breakfast of kings out in the wilderness. With readymade batters that just need water you can mix up a batch quickly and easily. If you’ve got fresh blueberries or chocolate chips to add even better. Top them with jam, maple syrup or some honey to start the day off right.
  • S’mores – A true classic of the campfire. A beautifully toasted marshmallow, slowly melting a piece of chocolate between two graham crackers. All the ingredients keep well and they go together to become more than the sum of their parts. S’mores are a great way to end a busy day on the campsite.
Credit: Eric Grignol
  • Trail Mix – First there was GORP (Good old raisins and peanuts). Then people started expanding on the idea, adding things like seeds, candy, cereals or dried fruit until that GORP became trail mix. It’s easy to eat if you’re out hiking or doing other activities and a great source of energy throughout the day. Hit the bulk section of the grocery store and discover your favourite mix.
  • Granola Bars – They come in different flavours so you won’t get tired of them and they are just so simple to carry around and eat, making them a great food for camping.
  • Fresh Fish – If you will be camping by the water and fancy yourself an angler you might just be able to have some fresh caught fish for your meal. If you have the know-how, you can do some filleting and cook it in a pan or portable grill, or you can try wrapping the whole things in aluminum foil and just letting it cook. Just make sure you bring a thermometer to test it for safety and know any local fishing laws.
  • Fire Cooked Corn or Potatoes – These are two vegetables that make a nice meal and can be transported fresh, which is nice. Using aluminum foil and a nice fire they will also cook up very well and add a lot to any meal.

There are other great camping foods, like hotdogs roasted on sticks, and things that you might be able to take on short trips or if you have a cooler with you, but if you’re roughing it or in the bush you’ll find these are some foods you can take with you and easily prepare with no refrigeration or excess cooking gear.

Rapala 7 1/2" Fish'n Fillet Knife / Single Stage Sharpener / Sheath
Amazon Price: $22.99 $22.62 Buy Now
(price as of Nov 2, 2015)
Fresh caught fish cooked at the campsite is a fantastic experience

Things to Remember when Camping

Remember to pack out what you pack in. Don’t leave your garbage in the wilderness. Speaking of the wilderness, it is also important to remember that wild animals may be around so make sure your food is all sealed up and safely stored, especially if you’ll be in areas where bears might come to investigate.

Bring the tools you’ll need to prepare your food as well. Canned food is great for camping as it is compact, easy to prepare and can usually be eaten cold if there is no fire available, but you will need to remember a can opener or you’ll be out of luck.

Here is a basic checklist of some things you’ll want to remember to prepare your food when camping.

  • Can Opener
  • Knife/other cutlery
  • Pots and Pans (Small pots work well if you’re carrying all your gear;  a Dutch oven is awesome if weight isn't an issue)
  • Collapsible Grill Grate
  • Bowls
  • Lighter/Matches
  • Aluminum Foil
  • Tongs
  • Water Bottle
GSI Outdoors Bugaboo Waffle Iron
Amazon Price: $24.95 Buy Now
(price as of Nov 2, 2015)
You can make the start of the day even better with fresh waffles if you remember to bring your campfire waffle iron!

A Great Camp Food List

The ideas above are some great classic camp food staples you should consider, but when preparing to go out it can help to have a list of good ideas to choose from. So here is a list of some other great foods that do well in the outdoors.

  • Salt/Spices
  • Premade Vacuum Sealed Food which comes in lots of different flavours
  • Dried meats like salami and beef jerky
  • Hard Cheeses
  • Dried fruit or fresh fruit that keeps like apples
  • Most canned foods work very well for camping
  • Pasta – Mac and Cheese is great
  • Soups – Canned or Bouillon
  • Flatbreads
  • Pemmican
  • Granola or Cereal with Powdered Milk
  • Ramen
  • Rice Cakes
  • Peanut butter
  • Nuts
  • Sauces – especially in packets
  • Oatmeal
  • Cocoa/hot chocolate powder or tea and coffee

These foods make up most of the basics of a good camping trip. Of course, everything depends on your situation, so make sure you consider the length and type of trip you’ll be going on when packing your food and gear. Stay safe out there and happy trails!

World Kitchens Brown Sugar Beef Jerky, 12-Ounce Bag
Amazon Price: $13.51 Buy Now
(price as of Nov 2, 2015)
Awesome on the trail and great for energy, plus one of the few kinds of meat that won't spoil.