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Calorie Count Blog

Eating Healthy While Camping

By +Carolyn Richardson on Jul 28, 2012 10:00 AM in Tips & Updates

What's on the menu when you're enjoying the great outdoors overnight? Aside from roasting marshmallows, camping trip meals may be a big question mark. To make sure you don't end up overdoing it with trail mix to keep your hunger pangs at bay, think C.A.M.P. before you leave civilization.


The bulk of the food you bring should not require cooking. Whether or not you're ready for the campfire, you will probably only cook one main dish a day, usually meat and roasted vegetables before turning it in for the night. The rest of the day, meals can be based on foods that are ready to eat such as beef jerky, fresh fruit and vegetables, nuts, grains such as oatmeal or barley, and canned foods. Because cooking and eating utensils will be at a minimum, remember to bring single use cutlery that's plastic-wrapped.


Water (or agua in Spanish, hey, we had to get creative!) is essential to keep you hydrated and for reconstituting any dry meals such as pasta, soup, or milk you might bring along. It's also a reminder that water is not in abundance to keep you and your cooking utensils clean. Remember to bring single-use and a large tub of wet wipes to keep your hands clean before and after eating. Also remember to bring sanitizing tablets to clean any cooking surfaces you use. If you have the luxury of ice and electricity, be sure to bring along an electrical cooler, and bring backup water to keep in your vehicle just in case. Bring a small crock pot or insulated canister to more water in. You can never have too much.


Some foods are a good match but shouldn't be put together until just before they're eaten on a camping trip. Instead of making sandwiches, salads, or shakes before hand, match the ingredients and put them together when it's time to eat. Pack pita layers, olives, grape tomatoes, deli meat, and single packs of condiments to put together a wrap on site. Salad greens can be treated the same, with cucumbers, celery or broccoli kept in a sturdy plastic container to prevent them from being smashed. Matches that will make cooking possible should be packed away from any food items. While it will help you cook dinner, any moisture from defrosting food could wet your matches and leave you in the dark when night falls. Another thing you should avoid matching is food and drinks. Drinks may make food soggy, so keep them in separate coolers if possible.


A protein-rich meal is a good way to stay satisfied. Think summer sausage, salami, energy bars, beans, hard-boiled eggs, nut butters and hard cheeses. All of these need minimal refrigeration and can be eaten on the trail or at base camp. You might also get some canned or prepackaged chicken or tuna that is easy to add to crackers or pita bread. You can also prepare for a protein shake by bringing protein powder to be added to a water bottle. Shake away and you can drink your meal.

Here's a checklist of food-related items to take on your camping trip.

Your thoughts...

How do you eat healthy while on a camping trip?


Haha I'd never heard of Summer Sausage so I looked it up on Wikipedia:

"Summer sausage, like many sausages, uses leftover scrap meat and organ meat that would otherwise be wasted. However some brands of summer sausage do not use scrap meats."

I think I'll stay well away from that... Anyway good advice, I plan to do a lot of camping so this will come in use! 

I am surprised at the food recommendations in this article. Salami and summer sausage are full of fat. Just about everything you eat at home, you can eat while camping. Backpacking requires more meal creativity. But setting up your tent in a base camp for a week gives you the chance to try new meals. You can wrap chicken, rice, and vegetables in foil and toss the packet in the coals of you fire. The possibilities are endless. Ham and sweet potatoes. Teriyaki beef kabobs. There are a lot of web sites for cooking while camping, start with the Boy Scouts. You can eat healthy while camping, it is no more work than doing it at home. However, roasting a marshmallow over your campfire is a perfect ending to a day at camp!

These are more like picnic tips... Good luck bringing coolers on a canoe?? This is hardly helpful. Plus sweetacb is right about the suggestions.

Comment Removed

This post shows serious breaches of editing oversight, assignment focus and reporting skill. Your own data base estimates the calories burned backpacking at 619 an hour. Hike with a pack for, say, five hours and you've burned almost 3,100 calories. At that rate, you can eat a lot of s'mores and beef jerky, if that's what you mean by camping, and it won't much matter. What kind of "camping" and what do you mean "healthy?" Lots of folks who are using this site probably see camping, at best, as pulling up to a camp ground with a pop up trailer, sitting on lawn chairs and drinking beer. For them, I suppose, bringing along a crock pot probably is a part of camping and the post would be about getting beyond hot dogs... which it really doesn't do very well. It's a bad assignment/ story concept. For the folks who camp next to their vehicle, sweetacb is right, there a lots of cooking and camping web sources. But this isn't one of them. For those who can actually carry a back pack for five hours, this is less than useless. This post was doomed from the start.

I will confess that backpacking is not my thing... but at 3100 calories per 5 hour day, I might be tempted to try it.  Although my kids would protest very loudly!!

One thing that was mentioned above was to have cook-free meals during the day, grains such as oatmeal and barley. What???!?!?!?  Does she plan on chewing on some steel cut oatmeal for lunch? That sounds disgusting. I can't imagine eating uncooked oats.

We camp in all sorts of areas from primitive camps in national forests to well appointed campgrounds with WiFi. For the most part, we camp with a small propane camping stove and a campfire. Between the two, I can cook almost anything I would at home, have even baked bread!! Just because you are on vacation doesn't mean you have to eat badly. Next camp trip, we have orange chicken, teriyaki beef, omelets, hot dogs (sometimes we just have to cook something on a stick LOL). Yum yum!!

I was excited when I saw this headline as my website is specifically for this.  Then I read the article and like all of you have said, there are way TOO MANY non-healthy inconsistencies to feel good about it.

Even though I know I won't have everyone liking my site, I know it's valuable for healthy rving/camping!!!

Wow when we camp we stay at campgrounds in Mt Hood Forest and we have an extreme cooler loaded with lean meats, milk, cheese, OJ and fish everything=majority is frozen  and then we have a cooler for drinks and water, it's our small cooler we can take in the court and go to hiking trail heads.   Our extreme cooler holds all of our refridgerated items as well like eggs etc.  we eat well.  We have a pantry box for try goods like oatmeal, cereal, tuna, spices - Mrs. Dash and Pam .  We use washable dishes and cast iron skillet and dutch oven and or foil packs for making hobo paks for dinners...   Hot dogs we get hebrew nationals and turkey burgers... so you can eat healthy we go to local farm stands and pick up fresh fruits and veggies on our way back from hikes and stuff.  You can eat healthy i have done it!!!

I have been an avid camper for decades but only during the past 2 years have I been overly diet conscious due to a need to lose weight and control cholesterol.

Our camping trips usually include at least several dutch oven virtuosos, so we can cook anything that we could do at home and possibly more.  Abundant foods that are contrary to my present nutritional goals include bacon, eggs sausage, homefries, and pancakes for breakfast; hot dogs, brats, pizza, and luncheon meat & cheeses for lunch; and various and sundry high calories stews, gumbos, jabalayas with lots of rice, sausage, etc., for dinner.  Throw in an afternoon hors d'oeurve hour with crackers, cheeses, stuff named above like salami and summer sausage, beer, wine, etc, and someone trying to lose or maintain weight can suffer serious setbacks on a relatively short camping trip.

Contrary to this article, stay way from the summer sausage & salami!  I have had more success in trying to keep camping similar to home.  There are good suggestions here - protein shakes or bars are good for snacks or a quick lunch while fishing or doing other activities.  For breakfast I try to have cold cereal (like cheerios) or oatmeal with either ski milk, greek yogurt and fresh fruit.  Also like to have apples, bananas, grapes, and other fruit available during the day.  Vegetables that keep well for a few days like mini carrots, broccoli, and celery sticks and something like hummus for dip help me be healthier and not feel left out during afternoon snack hour.

Lastly, I follow the suggestions above and try to have plenty of bottled water with diet pop as a diversion (instead of  beer and liquor) to stay hydrated and limit empty calories.

Happy Camping to all!

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