Camping Food List: Best Food for Camping

Planning a trip to the great outdoors involves overcoming a litany of challenges to ensure that the experience is centered around general enjoyment rather than feeling like you are on a survival show. As you might expect, one of the greatest obstacles is securing food; if it tastes good, all the better. So, what is the best food to take camping?

The best foods to take camping with you are the ones you will want to eat, contain high nutrition, and can last for as long as you camp. For example, if you are camping for three days, consider perishable items you may want to take with you. Another thing to consider is finding food that will provide you with plenty of energy if you wish to hike, backpack, or do some physical work while camping. 

Assuming you aren’t simply foraging and hunting for your meals, we’ll dive deep into some of the best possible foods you can bring along for your excursion that will keep you full and give you energy for the infinite activities you and your family can get into while enjoying nature’s bounty.

camping food

What Are the Best Foods for Camping?


The best food you can bring camping is those that don’t spoil quickly or don’t need to be constantly cooled to remain edible. Other options to be mindful of would be how much energy you gain from eating them and how delicious these foods are when you finally get around to indulging in them. Below, we’ll go over some of your best options available!

Note: These options should be combined to form delicious and nutritious meals. Although they can all be eaten individually, some of the flavors will be lost without something to complement them.


1. Flatbreads


Aside from its namesake being an exceptional flatbread, these fantastic pieces of floury goodness can be made in several different ways, with some options being unleavened and some that being. This kind of bread is usually eaten alone or can have various toppings on it, sometimes assembled like a pizza and others as a compliment to other meals.


2. Bread 


A food nearly as old as humanity itself, bread has been a staple of diets since ancient times. For that reason, it makes an entrance here. 

Bread can be eaten by itself, with a bit of butter, as a sandwich, or even shredded to form even more creative and flavorful toppings on other meals. Regardless of how you cut it, bread can’t be beaten, assuming your diet can handle it.


3. English Muffins


An English muffin might appear like a biscuit to those who don’t have it very often. The biggest differences between the two are overall consistency and, of course, taste. Other than that, you can treat these delicious breads much like you could a piece of toast, adding jam, butter, or even gravy if you like, whatever your pallet desires.


4. Baked Goods


Baked goods, in general, are a great choice because they will usually last for about a week without any extra cooling efforts on your part. The timeframe for their freshness dwindles severely when things like creams and other miscellaneous dairy fillings are added to them. Assuming you eat them before they begin to grow something, you’ll be in for a tasty treat, though.


5. Pancakes


Few things can hit the spot, like a tasty stack of flapjacks. With the variety of fruit and syrup options available, you can customize the flavors of your stack to be almost anything you want. 

Some people are bold enough to add Skittles and sprinkles, while others are plain Jane and keep things traditional with some maple syrup. No matter how you flip it, these flat discs will surely hit the spot and hold you over, no matter the time of day.


6. Bagels & Cream Cheese


Few people could ignore the allure of a nice bagel, even fewer if it has a bit of cream cheese on top. Now, while this is a great way to start your day in terms of flavor, it may not be the best choice for those of us looking to watch our weight or endure a particularly hot day, as the cheese might sour in their stomachs.

Another thing to be wary of when using cream cheese is that it tends to spoil sooner than you’d expect or spill inside your bag if packed improperly. Be mindful of how you stack your foods to avoid getting messy!


7. Oats


Another timeless classic in the food pyramid, oats will fill you up and keep you that way for a long time. More importantly, as far as preparation goes, you could be lazy and eat them by the handful (which would require you to have a large bottle of water for the effort). 

Another way to eat oats is to invest in instant oatmeal with dried berries and diced fruit for flavor or even cookies that have oatmeal in them. Oats also take a very long time to go bad, and a similarly long time to digest, so they are a strong choice for any outing.


8. Peanut Butter


This is another flavorful superfood that is fantastic by itself or on other things. If times are bad or you are short on time, a few spoonfuls of peanut butter will keep you full and fill your stomach. Still, if you’ve got time to spare, you can slather some onto an apple or even make creative desserts with it!


9. Eggs


Few things scream breakfast like eggs, but you can enjoy these any time of the day (I’m looking at you, steak and eggs). With the myriad of different ways they can be prepared, you can find one way or another to enjoy them. If transportation and durability were a concern, making a batch of hard-boiled eggs prior to heading out could be just what the chef ordered to fill that egg-shaped need in your diet.


10. Granola


Granola is very similar to oats in that it can be added to just about anything as a flavor enhancer. It, too, can hold you over for extended amounts of time and doesn’t go bad quickly. Best of all, you can eat it alone or sprinkle some on top of a desert.


11. Rice Sides


While regular white rice might not be the most flavorful experience, it will keep you full. Suppose you are running low on everything else. In that case, nothing can convince someone they have eaten their fill quite like thinking, “I’ve eaten over 100 pieces of this.” 

Optimistic visuals aside, rice can be prepped before an adventure, saving you time and energy, or packed and made on-site. Best of all, rice can fit into almost any backpack or similar casing, making it a fantastic option for saving space.


12. Pasta


In much the same way rice can fit just about anywhere in your backpack, pasta can, too. However, breaking your noodles by jostling them around too much is a very real possibility. Not that this would make them any less edible, but I digress.

As a food in itself, pasta is good because it takes a considerable time to digest. When prepared with a nice sauce (which can either be made from scratch or straight from your favorite brand at the store), it will make a great meal to settle down with. In colder climates, it can warm you up and stick to your bones, making your sleep all the more restful.


13. Soups & Dried Food Mixes


Dry-packaged soups and dried foods are generally easy to transport. Because they are dried, they will last for an incredibly long time, some even remaining good for years at a time. Considering most won’t sacrifice any flavor or nutritional value, soups are invaluable, so long as you have water to prepare them.


14. Canned Beans


A good old-fashioned can of beans has seen many of our ancestors through life, be it good times or bad. While most of us aren’t exactly struggling anymore, “Nobody is too good for a can of beans.” In proper form, canned beans are easy to take with you, can be eaten as is in most cases or heated up, and, if you are feeling creative, used as an ingredient for a hearty soup or stew.


15. Mac & Cheese


Nothing around can be as comforting as a big bowl of mac and cheese, regardless of whether you demand only the grandest and most exquisite cheeses. 

To those of us who are perfectly fine with powdered goodness, mac and cheese will hit the spot and can be expanded on depending on the ingredients you have available. Adding diced tomatoes, spinach, or sauteed mushrooms can take this classic dish to new heights. This is saying something if you are camping near or on a mountain!


16. Yogurt


Having a dairy in your camping bag can give you a lot of energy and a much-needed break from the usual dried assortment of goods available while hiking. 

However, yogurt has its own set of disadvantages, flavors aside. The biggest among them is keeping this food type from spoiling due to heat or poor storage. Assuming you can overcome this, it’s a great choice. It can be combined with dried fruits or granola to make a fantastic breakfast treat.


17. Cheese


When most people think about cheese, they think about either mac and cheese or how it’s great on a sandwich, but cheese is an excellent snack by its lonesome. Much like everything else on this list, it can be eaten with other choices to make it far more enjoyable.

It is imperative to be mindful of what kind of cheese you bring with you on your journey, though. Some cheeses will last for just a few days before going back, whereas some can last for weeks when wrapped appropriately before spoiling.


18. Milk


For most purposes, milk falls into the same category as yogurt. While it is good and has some great benefits regarding health choices, maintaining it at a low temperature to ensure it doesn’t go bad will prove a challenge. One that can be remedied by bringing an ice pack or planning around it. These sacrifices in space will also mean you are carrying more things to facilitate the milk or yogurt and less actual food or other supplies.


19. Sandwich Meat & Cold Cuts


Sliding into the final parts of our packaged options, we have cold cuts and other sandwich meats. These are delicious and full of protein and can be just what you need after a long hike and coming to a rest. But you’ll need to store them correctly and keep them relatively cool to avoid them going bad, especially on longer camping trips. To that end, an ice cooler or something similar may prove invaluable.


20. Meat & Protein


As noted above with the sandwich meats, the same can be said of almost all kinds of generalized meats and proteins. You’ll need to store them correctly to get the most out of them, and time is not your friend when it comes to these food groups. Cooking them a few days after arriving at your desired campsite can allow them to last longer, but it truly boils down to how you micromanage your food.

Here is a quick list of some meat and protein you can bring:


  • Chicken Breast
  • Ground Beef
  • Steaks
  • Frozen shrimp
  • Bacon or breakfast sausage
  • Tofu
  • Sausages


Tips for Storing Meat


Layering your meats between ice packs will allow you to store more of them and help keep them fresher for longer. Adding a thick layer of ice on top of these will ensure that the ice packs themselves remain frozen for the longest time possible, too. Keeping said coolers out of the sun and in cooler areas will further help the entire process. Alternatively, use dry ice to ensure things do not go bad.


21. Fresh Vegetables


Fresh vegetables don’t require quite the same level of upkeep as your meats do, but they are more prone to going bad if they are directly damaged. This is entirely possible when you think about how things can get shaken up while you’re walking or hiking to your desired camping location. Being mindful of your steps and storage location will be imperative to keeping these fresh veggies fresh.

Here is a list of some fresh vegetable examples you can bring along with you:


  • Bell peppers
  • Onions
  • Carrots
  • Avocados
  • Corn
  • Cucumbers
  • Zucchini & squash
  • Fresh herbs


22. Fresh Fruit


In the same way, fresh veggies are prone to going bad after taking a few dings. Fruits are even more susceptible to going bad after being slightly “mushed.” 

Still, these little guys are also somewhat prone to damage if they get too hot (and some can become damaged by being too cold). Knowing what kind you intend to take with you and setting the stage for how you plan on storing them will make all the difference between you having a nice piece of fruit and opting for an improv smoothie.

Some fresh fruit examples are as follows:


  • Apples
  • Pears
  • Lemons
  • Bananas
  • Berries
  • Limes
  • Kiwi
  • Mangos
  • Peaches


23. Snacks


Snacks broadly refer to anything you can pop into your mouth and enjoy while taking a much-needed break from setting up tents, hiking, adjusting your area, or anything in between. The general idea is to enjoy these food groups without any (or very little) prep work beforehand. They also typically store more easily and only require a little upkeep as far as individual planning around them goes.

Although there are many snacks out there, consider bringing some of them. Remember, only get what you enjoy, as there is no sense in taking food that you will not eat:


  • Popcorn
  • Olives
  • Peanut Butter Filled Pretzels
  • Granola Bars
  • Trail Mix
  • Chips With Dip & Salsa
  • Salami
  • Nuts
  • Dried Fruit
  • Smores


24. Butter & Oil


Butter and oil can become rather problematic at certain temperatures, with butter going from stick or box-based into becoming a liquid and oil either damaging the container it is in or spilling. Either way, take care when packing these and store them in a way that should the worst happen, it isn’t going to ruin other food items or important things you’ll need for your trip.


25. Drinks


Technically speaking, you can bring anything you like to a camping trip, but staying appropriately hydrated is imperative for longer camping trips, especially if you intend on being physically active for the vast majority of it. So stocking up on water should be your first choice, followed by flavored powders to alter your water’s taste, juices, and other miscellaneous drinks.


26. Sauces & Condiments


As with most things on this list, heat and time can make these food items more a risk than a boon, so traveling light might be your best choice, but if you absolutely cannot do without your favorite sauce of choice, be sure to keep it cool, and store it appropriately, or your food of choice won’t be the only thing getting saucy on your trip.


27. Sweeteners


Sugars and other alternative sweeteners usually don’t go bad during standard camping trips, although exposure to moisture and poor storage can make them problematic. Having them in tightly sealed bags or storage containers can make them easier to lug.

camping food

What Meal Prep Tips Should You Consider Beforehand?


When speaking of meal prep, it essentially means things you do before going camping that make cooking on sight easier or, in some cases, possible, assuming you wouldn’t have the luxury of certain tools available while in the middle of a forest, for example. Additionally, these can also be defined by choices you make that allow you to enjoy the foods you intend on bringing even more.


1. Start Marinating at Home


Certain meats will gain more flavor when soaked in a medley of herbs and certain sauces and oils. To that end, expediting the process at home, where things can’t spill quite as easily, will allow you to gain all the delicious flavor of a well-marinated steak, for example, without the possibility of the juices seeping out should things get a little more chaotic than expected in your cooler or backpack of choice.


2. Have Backup Meals Prepared


If things go awry, with food expiring, getting lost, or simply not being the best choice for what is going on, having alternative choices will keep your trip going smoothly without anyone going hungry. A good example of this would be having the intention of making sandwiches, but the meat has spoiled. Thankfully, you thought to bring dehydrated soups, and thus, your day and dinner have been saved with a simple fire and water.


3. Prep What You Can at Home


Saving time and energy is, truthfully, the name of the game when it comes to camping. If you can preemptively package, organize, cook, or store something before needing it while camping, it would be incredibly wise to do so. Certain items package better after being cooked, and others are easier to maintain.


4. Pack Only What You Need


While this may come as a no-brainer to some people, traveling light is more than just something that people say in movies. Bringing too much food or too many utensils can result in you carrying unnecessary weight, which will make it harder for you to move around personally. It may also cost you quite a bit at the end of the trip when things begin to spoil, but you’ve paid handsomely just because you liked the idea of bringing it.

Final Thoughts


While camping isn’t entirely about the food you eat while you are in the thick of things, it certainly does make your experience more enjoyable. Nothing carves memories quite like a scenic view, good food, and better company.

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