Healthy camping food to write home about
Matthew Kadey, MSc, RD
Camping is one of Canada's most cherished pastimes. It's tempting to rely on granola bars and freeze-dried meals, but why not try some healthy camping food?
Camping is one of Canada’s most cherished pastimes. It’s tempting to rely on granola bars and freeze-dried meals when enjoying the great outdoors, but camping meals should balance the need for convenience, flavour, and nutrition (yes, we’re talking to you, Mr. S’more!).
Use these tips and camp stove-friendly recipes to make camp meals taste better, pack easier, and, mercifully, cook and clean up faster.
Camp chef makeover tips
Whether you’re a weekend car camper or a serious backpacker, here’s how to excel as an outdoor foodie.
Make a plan
Map out the meals you plan to make for the duration of your camping trip. This ensures you have all the ingredients needed, so you won’t have to choke down another bowl of ramen noodles on day four.
For fewer dishes, embrace one-pot meals such as pasta, soups, and chili. An 8 to 10 in (20 to 25 cm) nonstick aluminum saucepan should serve you well. If cooking over an open fire, rub a bar of soap on the outside of the pot to protect it from burning. Soot sticks to the soap and wipes off easily.
Opt for nutritious, fast-cooking items such as quinoa, rolled oats, and eggs so you have more time to play in the outdoors.
To minimize trash, repackage as many foods as possible, such as meats, chopped veggies, sauces, and beans, into reusable containers before leaving home. Bring powdered milk for cereals and hot cocoa.
Spice is nice
Don’t leave home without a good array of spices such as curry, cayenne, and cinnamon that can instantly transform most camp meals from ho-hum to yum!
Stackable bowls and cups that you can find at most outdoor shops are a great space saver. Also pack bamboo chopsticks: they’re light, heat-resistant, and a cinch to clean.
If bringing along raw meats (and to avoid spending a night in the outhouse), it’s crucial to keep these in a cooler with plenty of ice that is replenished frequently.
Be fuel conscious
Use a windscreen when cooking. Place your camp kitchen in a protected spot, since wind sucks heat away from your stove.
Keep wild things away
To protect food from animals of various sizes, place edibles, as well as other items with scents such as soap and toothpaste, in your vehicle’s trunk or hang them in a tree with a sturdy rope. Ideally, your tent should be upwind from your cooking area so odours don’t draw scavengers toward it.