Welcome back to part three of the Crua Camping Food Guide.
If you are joining us at the mid-way point, we highly suggest going back to Part One of the Series. In part one, we gave a crash course in camping nutrition and why it differs from a normal 'at-home-diet'. In Part Two of the Series, we looked a few key considerations with regard to backpacking food. If you haven't read either of those articles yet, we suggest you do so now. Otherwise, let's get into part three.
In part three, we are getting to the real nuts and bolts. In this article we will be offering camping meal suggestions for breakfast, lunch and dinner. We will also give some of our favourite camping snack ideas.
Introduction - Backpacking Meal Prep
Before we get into the nitty-gritty, we first want to provide you with a basic understanding of backpacking meal prep and the scenario within which our meal suggestions are perfect.
The below meal suggestions are mainly aimed at backpackers that are planning a multiple day trip, one that includes lots of hiking and on-the-go action. (That said, we hope that all campers will get something out of our meal suggestions.) For these backpackers it is important to plan what you will be eating in advance. The last thing you want is to make broad estimations. This will either leave you short or needlessly carrying extra weight.
A rule of thumb is to carry appoximately 2 pounds of food per day. To make your food as compact and convenient as possible, a good practice is to individually ziplock each meal and daily snacks. That way there are no misconceptions about what you will be having for every meal each day. Everything is ready-made in a sense. This keeps everything nice and concise, making life easy, just the way we like it.
Backpacking Meal Suggestions
Breakfast is widely considered as the most important of the day. For campers and backpackers, breakfast most certainly has an important role to play. Breakfast isn't a time for lounging around. Most people don't want to spend too much time preparing their morning meal. Breakfast for us has to tick a few boxes. It should be light, in that it won't leave you feeling too full or sluggish. It should be easy to prepare. Finally, it should set you up for a day of activities and remove hunger from brain for at least 3-4 hours.
Oats and More - Oats are an amazing way to start the day. Instant oats or rolled oats provide slow releasing energy that you need on the trail. Oats can however, be quite bland and lifeless. That is why we suggest boosting your oats with added elements. You can add some whey protein powder for an extra protein hit. For extra flavour we suggest adding dried fruit such as raisins, blueberries or goji berries. Chia seeds or flax seeds also provide added energy in the form of healthy fats. Your entire meal can be mixed together in a zip-lock bag. It can be enjoyed warm or cold if you allow it to soak in water for 10-15 minutes.
Energy Bars or Breakfast Bars - Some people like to keep it very light at breakfast time. Here, a protein bar, Clif bar or a Fig Newton along with a cup of coffee can be a great option. However, if you a light eater in the morning we suggest having snacks pre-planned. No doubt, hunger will kick in an hour or so up the trail.
Granola and Dried Fruit - For those that are not keen on oats, granola is another excellent backpacking breakfast option. Granola is full of healthy fats and quite calorie dense. Add some dried fruit to the mix for an extra kick of healthy sugars.
When we think lunchtime meals, we think of a temporary setting, halfway along the trail and brief pit stops. For some, they might be thinking long feasts. However, when you have a half-days worth of hiking ahead of you, you don't want to get too comfortable. Our meal suggestions are all simple to prepare and can't be assembled on your lap if needs be. Goodness knows, that happens a lot!
Peanut Butter and Jelly Wraps - This might not seem like the most nutritious of meals. However, we know for certain that many hikers will attest to its adequacy. Wraps are simple to prepare and are quite satisfying. Nut butters such as peanut butter are a great source of energy and healthy fats. To your wrap you can add jelly for added flavour. We have also seen campers add raisins, dried apples and coconut flakes. Try it, it's surprisingly delicious.
Traditional Wraps - Some people might not see peanut butter and jelly as an appropriate adult meal. For those, there are more traditional wrap fillings that make for perfect backpacking food. Matured cheddar holds up surprisingly well on the trail. You can add matured cheddar to cured meats or vacuum-packed tuna for a deliciously wholesome wrap. We recommend bringing along individual condiment sachets for moistness.
Supplement with Snacks - No matter what you choose for lunch, it's always good to add on a bit extra. Note: You are always hungrier at lunchtime than you expect! We always suggest to get some protein with every meal. Here, protein bars work nicely or even vacuum-packed meats on their own. Other snack ideas include trail mix, dried fruits, cashews or almonds, pop tarts, jerky or fig bars.
The final resting place. Dinner is often the only meal that a backpacker or hiker can enjoy without having to think about hours of exercise ahead. For that reason, this meal is a lot more relaxed and you can afford to settle in a bit more. This meal should be seen as a chance to stock up on fuel for the next day.
Camping Pizza Wraps - This not-so-hidden hiking secret is a real gem. You mightn't categorise pizza as a true camping food but that is where camper's sense of improvisation sets in. Create your own campfire pizza with a tortilla wrap. Spread pizza sauce on the wrap and top with pepperoni, cheddar cheese and your favourite toppings. We usually just keep it to those 3 ingredients but feel free to experiment. Pizzas can be enjoyed cold. Otherwise, you can heat them up over a campfire using a tinfoil tray.
Camping Burrito - In a similar vein to camping pizza comes camping burritos. Again it's all about a tortilla with this one. To make your camping burrito, all you need to do is heat up some re-fried beans and add them to your wrap with some cheddar cheese. For the full effect, wrap in tin foil and heat over the campfire.
Additional Options - As we mentioned above, you can afford to spend a little more time preparing dinner. A lot of campers enjoy a warm meal in the evening. Some options here include couscous with vacuum packed tuna or chicken. Alternatively you can swap in pasta, rice or re-fried beans. There are also many options in the form of "just-add-water" meals. These include rice and sides, pasta and chicken packets and dehydrated camping meals. Too many dehydrated meals can hit your wallet hard so plan accordingly.
We have given some ideas for breakfast, lunch and dinner. However, if you don't bring snacks, your entire food plan could go out the window. Without snacks, you might be left unsatisfied and dip into the next day's resources. In our mind there are two types of snacks. First, there are "food as fuel" snacks, a concept we mentioned earlier in our guide. These are snacks that keep you tied over between meals and give you an extra boost of energy when you need it. Then there are the indulgent snacks that simply make camping more enjoyable and fun.
"Food as Fuel" Snacks - These are on-the-go snacks that are calorie dense and provide you with a convenient source of energy. Some options here include: trail mix, mixed nuts, soup, jerky, protein bars, energy bars, dried fruit and instant noodles.
Indulgent Snacks - In reality, this category is up to you. These snacks shouldn't be looked as sources of energy and aren't there to replace meals. These are just there to be enjoyed. Here, we suggest bringing along your favourite candy, pop tarts etc. You don't need our help on this. Just a friendly reminder that camping is meant to be fun. Don't feel like you can't bring along something a little indulgent!
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