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Easy camping meals: Your guide to outdoor cooking

Explore our guide to easy camping meals. Get tips on planning, packing, simple recipes, meal prepping and cooking gear for your next trip!

6min

Easy camping meals

Easy camping meals can be a game-changer for your outdoor adventures. Seriously, who said you have to survive on granola bars and canned beans?

Preparing meals in the great outdoors doesn't need to be complex or lengthy. Adding to the enjoyment of your outdoor adventure, cooking while camping can be an exciting and rewarding experience.

With the right planning, packing strategies, simple recipes and safe food storage tips, easy camping meals will become a highlight of your wilderness experience. Trust us!

Suggested reading: How much does camping cost? Here's how to do it on a budget.


Bonfire in lakeshore campsite 

Planning ahead for easy camping meals

Figuring out the amount of food needed and packing it in an effective way is essential when campingA well-planned menu can make a significant difference in your overall camping experience.

You don't want to find yourself hungry midway through a hike because you didn't bring enough sustenance. 

Calculating the amount and type of food is based on factors like trip duration, physical exertion level, weather conditions, and personal dietary needs.

Balancing nutrition with weight constraints

Packing light is essential when hiking or backpacking; every ounce counts.

However, skimping on meals isn't an option either as outdoor activities require high energy levels.

So choosing foods that are lightweight yet nutritious becomes key.

Making smart food choices: Fresh vs dehydrated foods

Fresh fruits and vegetables might be tempting due to their nutritional value, but they're bulky and perishable - not ideal for multi-day treks. Opt instead for dried versions which weigh less while still providing necessary vitamins & minerals.

Cooked meats too have a short shelf-life unless refrigerated so consider canned tuna/salmon/chicken or jerky types that come vacuum-sealed ensuring longer storage life without needing refrigeration.

Rice/pasta-based dishes could seem filling but remember they consume a lot of fuel during cooking. Instant noodle packs and dehydrated soup mixes offer similar satisfaction with far lesser resources/time commitment. They're easy to prepare requiring only boiling water and a few minutes' wait time before ready to serve up a hot delicious meal in the middle of nowhere.

Looking for camping trips ideas? Check out the 15 best national parks in the USA and 17 of the best national parks in Europe.


Guy cooking an easy camping meal on a pot

Easy camping meals: simple recipes

When preparing for a camping trip, it's crucial to pack lightweight yet nutritious foods. This ensures you're carrying minimal weight while still providing your body with the energy it needs during outdoor activities.

Remember: The goal is not only packing light but ensuring what we carry meets our nutritional requirements too. 

Tips:

  • To save time on preparation or cleanup, consider pre-cooking certain items like pasta or rice before leaving home. This is a viable option if not going on a multi-day camping trip.
  • Create a menu: Plan out what meals you want each day. This will help determine what ingredients to pack.
  • Pack smart: Use resealable bags or containers which take up minimal space in your backpack. Pack seasonings in small containers to avoid carrying unnecessary weight while enhancing taste.

The following camping meals ideas are thought for camping trips that requires hiking and carrying all your stuff in a backpack. If in a short home-to-campsite weekend trip by car you don't need to care that much about packing light.

Instant noodles

Instant noodles can be a lifesaver after long treks due to their lightness in weight and ease of preparation. To make them healthier and more nutritious, add mock meat and extra dried vegetables in addition to those that come in the package.

Cous-cous

Couscous also cooks quickly using just boiled water - making it another great option. Add some spices and dried vegs/meat... and voilà! 

Tuna pasta

If going straight from home to the campsite, you can pre-cook the pasta and take it in a sealable bag so it doesn't take much fuel and time. 

Instant soups

Another winner during camping trips are instant soups. You'll only need hot water for them, and, as with instant noodles, you can add some extra dried meat and veggies.

Pancakes

You can buy powdered pancake mix that only requires hot water to be ready. Mix it with some raisins and nuts for extra taste and nutrition.

Oats with dried fruit

Oats with dried fruits are an easy breakfast option. Just add hot water and powdered milk, and you have a super nutritious day-starter.

Rice cakes

Rice cakes topped with nut butter provide quick snacks packed full of protein. Ideal to munch during your trek.

Basic guacamole

It goes without saying that that avocado is full of benefits. Just half of it, mashed with a pinch of salt and spread over flat bread is a great energy booster. If in a shorter trip, you can add diced tomatoes for extra flavour.

Mashed potatoes with canned legumes

Mashed poptatoes alone would not have much nutritional value, but mix it with canned chickpeas, lentils, black beans, etc, and you get a perfect camping meal. Of course we refer to instant mashed potatoes.

Mexican tortillas camping style

Well, it might not be the best tortillas of your life as if you were eating from street vendors in Mexico, but pre-cooked tortillas are ideal for camping trips. Heat them up over a bonfire or your portable stove and fill them with canned vegs and plant-based meat.


Small pot with herbal infusion over a fire

Camping cooking gear

For a successful camping experience, the right cooking gear is essential.

This not only ensures you can prepare your meals efficiently but also enhances your overall outdoor experience.

Cooking utensils and tools

A Swiss Army knife is an essential multi-tool that comes in handy for various tasks like cutting food or opening cans.

You'll require cutlery like spoons, forks and knives which can be used outdoors in addition to plates and cups constructed of tough materials such as stainless steel or strong plastic.

Pots & Pans

The type of pots and pans you choose largely depends on what kind of meals you plan to cook while camping.

Durable non-stick frying pans are great for breakfast items like eggs or pancakes, while larger pots come in useful when making soups or boiling water. Remember to pack as light as possible if your camping trip includes long hiking.

Camping stove & fuel

A portable stove is another indispensable item on any camper's checklist. It provides a reliable heat source regardless of weather conditions unlike traditional campfires which might be affected by rain or wind gusts.

Fuel types vary - propane gas cylinders are popular due their compact size whereas liquid fuel stoves offer better performance at higher altitudes or colder temperatures.

Bottles for water storage and purification tablets

Hiking trails often lack access to clean drinking water so carrying refillable bottles helps keep hydration levels up during long treks.

Water purification tablets could prove vital if forced rely natural sources where quality may questionable.

Check out the perfect minimalist packing list and the essential backpacking checklist.


Easy camping meal: cooking noodles on a portable stove

Go camping with free accommodation and meals

If you're planning an off-the-beaten-path camping trip, why not consider doing it as a volunteer? Through Worldpackers, you can exchange just a few hours of work for accommodation and other benefits at campsites all around the world. This is especially beneficial if you don't have much camping experience. We guarantee you that after a couple of weeks/months helping out in a campsite you'll be a total camping-pro.

By volunteering you'll not only save money while traveling, but also have a cultural immersion by living with locals, meet other like-minded volunteers, and make a positive impact by helping local projects.

Learn more about how Worldpackers works: What is a work exchange and how does it work?

These are some opportunities to volunteer in campsites around the world:

In addition to these positions, there are plenty of other amazing volunteering opportunities in campgrounds all around the world. 


Legs of a man chilling in a campsite next to a river

Planning ahead for easy camping meals is more than just a good idea. It's the key to stress-free outdoor adventures. Packing lightweight, nutritious foods can fuel your journey without weighing you down.

With simple recipes in hand, cooking while camping becomes an enjoyable part of the experience rather than a chore.

If you like these tips, follow Worldpackers social media to keep up with the news: we are on Instagram and Tiktok!



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