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How to Eat Healthy on a Camping Trip

Summer camping trips call for s'mores, hot dogs, boxed macaroni and cheese, chips and chocolate bars tend to be the go-to options for convenience. The catch? These sugary and salty options leave you feeling low energy and bloated. At worst, they can derail your hard work in the gym (and on the trail). Salads, lean meats and smoothies don't keep well when all you have is a backpack and a frozen water bottle. So do you have to miss out on a fun weekend because you're trying to eat healthy foods? No way! You can have the best of both worlds. Enjoy socializing in the great outdoors and be your healthiest self with these nutritious meal and snack ideas for your next camping trip.

Breakfast

DIY Oatmeal Packs

Instant oatmeal packets aren't just packed with oats—they also pack in plenty of sugar and salt. Make a healthy version by portioning out quick-cooking steel-cut oats into baggies. Add dried nuts, seeds, and fruit. The fiber and protein will keep you satisfied and provide a slow and steady release of energy. My favorite combo is coconut chips, walnuts, hemp hearts, dried cherries, and cinnamon. Boil some water over your campfire and you're ready for a superfood breakfast!

Almond Milk or Organic Soy Milk in Tetra Packs

Look for brands that don't need to be refrigerated and you'll have something to put in your coffee or tea and to add creaminess to your oatmeal.

Mini Frittatas

Preheat your oven to 390°F (200°C) and spray a muffin pan with light olive oil. Finely chop a bell pepper, 5 cherry tomatoes and handful of spinach (uncooked) and add to the muffin tin. Beat together six eggs with 1/4 cup skim milk or unsweetened almond milk and spices. Pour into the muffin tins and bake for 15 minutes or until springy to the touch. Freeze the frittatas in a bag and eat the first day with whole-grain bread.

Snacks

Fresh Veggies and Fruit

If you don't have a cooler with you, bringing fruits and vegetables can be a challenge. Pack sturdier produce like carrots, celery, apples, and oranges that will be less likely to wilt or get squished. You'll need to eat any fresh veggies the first day so they don't get too warm.

Pressed Bars by KIND

These tasty bars are made from fruit, vegetables, and chia seeds. That's it, that's all. Each bar has two servings of fruit and no added sugar. Super portable, these are a smart snack to carry with you for a boost of energy and nutrients. Legend has it that chia seeds were used by the Aztecs to fuel long expeditions. Put this ancient superfood to work for you!

Unsalted Raw Nuts and Seeds

Snack on raw nuts and seeds for protein and healthy fats. Eating nuts can help control your waistline and promote a healthy heart—just be sure you keep the portion size to a handful or so to avoid overdoing it on calories.

Roasted Chickpeas or Edamame

Looking for fiber and protein on the go? Roasted chickpeas and edamame let you enjoy the goodness of beans anytime, anywhere. Look for unflavored versions that don't have added sugar and that are lower in sodium.

Lunch

Whole-Grain Pita Stuffed with Your Favorite Protein

Packets of tuna or salmon, low-sodium beans, and nut butters keep well and give you the protein you need to power through your day in the great outdoors. Plus, sandwiches are super portable so if you're out on a hike, you don't need to rush back to the campsite for lunch.

Brown rice cakes and whole-grain or seed crackers with tuna or nut butter are also perfect for lunch or a snack.

Dinner

Turkey Chili

Make a healthy turkey chili loaded with vegetables ahead of time. Freeze in a large bag and defrost in a camp pot over the fire for a tasty and nutritious dinner.

Whole-Wheat Couscous or Brown Rice Noodles with Beans and Spinach

These whole grains are super easy to cook when you're short on supplies and time. Pack them in bags with powdered herbs and spices. To cook them, all you need to do is add boiling water and let them steep. Bring some precooked frozen beans and spinach to serve with. Reheat in a camp pot over the fire for a delicious vegetarian meal.

Another delicious make-ahead and freeze vegetarian recipe: Roasted Broccoli and Orzo with Lentils.

Tuna Casserole

Boil some brown rice or spelt pasta. Drain it and stir in some pasta sauce. Put this in bags and freeze before your trip. Bring along your rice or pasta bags, plus tuna packets and frozen peas.

Veggie, Turkey, or Chicken Burger with Corn on the Cob

Freeze your burgers before your camping trip so they keep well. Grill over the fire with corn for a balanced and tasty dinner.

Dessert

Warm Apples and Cinnamon

Wrap apples in foil with cinnamon and cook over the fire. It's super simple but tastes just like apple pie—without the fat and empty calories.

 

Christy Brissette, RD

Christy Brissette is one of North America’s top dietitians and a leading nutrition and food communications expert. She is the President of 80 Twenty Nutrition, a nutrition and food media company and private practice. Her mission? To end food confusion and dieting once and for all.  More →

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