By Carley Mendes, RHN
It can be challenging to stay committed to healthy eating when you’re travelling. Especially when you’re camping because convenience foods rarely equal healthy foods. Even though they’re incredibly convenient, I’m not a fan of prepackaged camping meals because they’re highly processed and full of preservatives.
Before we had children, my husband and I spent quite a bit of time hiking and camping in the backcountry. On those trips everything had to be as light and compact as possible, so I’d spend days dehydrating and preparing our food. The meals were wonderful, but I always missed fresh foods. We mostly go car camping now that we have 2 kids, so we have the luxury of being able to bring along coolers filled with fresh foods. Keeping meals and snacks simple is key, and a little pre-planning goes a long way when camping.
Plan & Prep
Before you start packing, plan all of your meals so you’ll know exactly what you’ll need to make them. Do as much prep as possible while you’re still at home. Simple tasks like pre-washing & chopping veggies or pre-cooking quinoa are much easier to do in the kitchen than the campsite. Pack produce that tends to last longer and doesn’t bruise as easily, such as carrots, celery, apples and oranges. If you’re bringing produce that is more fragile, such as soft pears or leafy greens, plan to eat them first.
Packing your cooler with ice packs or ice blocks, rather than cubes, helps to keep food chilled for longer. It’s also wise to bring a separate cooler for drinks to prevent the food cooler from opening as frequently.
Pre-make smoothies at home and freeze them in freezer-safe jars. Bringing frozen smoothies helps keep the rest of the food in the cooler cold, and they’ll be perfectly thawed when you’re ready to have them.
Simplify morning by bringing oatmeal in pre-measured reusable storage bags, or use pre-cooked quinoa to make porridge, adding fruit, nuts & a drizzle of honey.
Chia seed pudding is the perfect morning meal when camping because you just add liquid, such as almond milk or even dairy-free coconut yogurt. No cooking is required, just top with fresh fruit, nuts & hemp seeds.
Lunch & Supper
Take along a portable grill or cook right over the campfire.
Come prepared with some homemade dishes such as veggie burgers or chili, which can be warmed up at camp for a quick, easy and filling meal.
Root vegetables, such as potatoes, yams, carrots & beets, are great to grill and leftovers keep well for future lunches. Other great vegetables for grilling are asparagus, zucchini and mushrooms. You can also make a big veggie stir-fry in a cast iron pan.
Think ahead and cook extra food at supper to have ready for lunches, or try sprouted whole grain sandwiches or wraps.
For dessert, banana or pineapple is delicious cooked over open fire on a stick like a marshmallow.
- Trail mix
- Kale chips
- Roasted chickpeas
- Date & nut bliss balls
- Dehydrated fruit
- Hummus & guacamole with veggies
- Small bottle of olive oil
- Sea salt, pepper & spices
- A sweetener (honey or maple syrup)
- Grainy mustard
Pranin Organic’s PureFood A to Z can be added to water, juice or nut milk, which makes it perfect for camping and is a great way to make sure you’re getting complete nutrition away from home. I never travel without it!
Find out in advance if there are safe sources of water on site, or if you’ll have to bring your own. The weather is usually warm when camping and you’re often active, so make sure to stay properly hydrated!
Spending time in the great outdoors is one of the best things you can do for your health. Being prepared and sticking with nutritious foods while camping will supply you with sustained energy so you can enjoy nature and fill each day with adventure.
Carley Mendes is a Vancouver-based Registered Holistic Nutritionist specializing in naturally nourishing mama & baby through fertility, pregnancy, & postpartum. Read more from Carley on her website, Oh Baby Nutrition.