If you love camping and you love food, then you’ll find this guide super helpful. I’m going to be discussing in-depth the things that you might want to take camping in this ultimate guide, so it’s worth bookmarking for later reference.

I’ll be talking about the most common types of food and drink campers, hikers, adventurers, and explorers choose to take with them when they go camping, what items you really shouldn’t take, and also some alternatives you may not have thought of.

If you know anything about camping, it’s about being really organized so you don’t forget anything.

That’s where having a comprehensive camping food list and checklist comes in. Knowing how many people we are going to cook for and the special foods we need to take is paramount to having a successful camping trip.

This guide should help make sure you’ve got everything covered so no one goes hungry or thirsty! Let’s get started…

Contents

Planning What Camping Food and Drink to Take

Before we start compiling our camping food list we need to know who is going and whether they need any particular foods and what we’re going to cook on:

What size is the group?

Knowing the size of the group is really important. The list will vary depending on how large the group is. There is a big difference between cooking for two or cooking for twelve.

77 million households in the U.S. contain someone who camps. Statistica

Do you need to cater to vegetarians or vegans?

Knowing if there are vegetarians or vegans are in the group is really important since they will need specific healthy food to eat.

So, the best thing to do when before adding vegetarian camp food is to ask them ahead of time what they need to you can include it on the list.

This will be much easier if you vegetarians in the group since it is quite straightforward to swap out meat for an alternative veggie-friendly ingredient.

However, it is much harder catering for vegans as they can’t have anything with meat in, nor can you cook in the same oil or use the same utensils you use when preparing on handling meat. However, we have produced a handy guide that goes through what vegans can eat when going camping.

Are there any kids in the group?

Of course, you know what to cook for your own kids. However, if there are other kids in the group, finding out what they like and don’t like from their parents will help you when choosing food and drink to take.

Generally, pasta and rice dishes tend to go down quite well with kids, as do sausages and burgers.

It will be much easier to take food for one or two kids than it will be several, so make sure you know how many you need to take for well in advance.

The more notice you can give the better your chance of finding something they like.

Kids tend to like fun things like:

  • Hot dogs.
  • Veggie kebabs (campfire stick food).
  • Homemade burgers.
  • Hot and cold pizza.
  • Campfire popcorn.
  • Corn on the cob.

Freeze Dried Camp Food

One of the main reasons why it is a good idea to pack freeze died camp food is that it is light to carry.

Freeze-dried healthy food is also packed with protein and nutrients while being easy to prepare, which makes it perfect for camping.  

Rei Coop screenshot of freeze-dried camp food
Rei Coop is a good example of where you can purchase freeze-dried camp food

Did you know freeze-dried food retains 97% of its nutritional value after being freeze-dried?

You can either freeze dry the food yourself or there are both offline and online stores that sell them.

They range from:

  • Pasta Bolognaise.
  • Chicken Tikka with Rice.
  • Chicken Fajita with Rice.
  • Beef and Potato Stew.
  • Macaroni Cheese.
  • Vegetable Chilli with Rice.
  • Salmon and Broccoli Pasta.
  • Chicken Fried Rice.

Related: Keto Freeze-dried Meals

How to freeze dry your camp food

You can either use your freezer or purchase a purpose-built freeze dryer. It all depends on how many times of year you are going camping, really.

Freezing food in a freeze dryer

  1. Ensure you choose the freshest food options before you start. Wash the food and remove any particles of dirt.
  2. Cut them down into small pieces.
  3. Place the food in trays (don’t exceed the height of the tray).
  4. Place them in the dryer and close the door.
  5. Freeze them at -40 to -50 degrees.
  6. Allow at least 24 hours for them to freeze.
  7. Take them out and place them into Mylar bags and seal.

Freeze drying food in your freezer

  1. Ensure you choose the freshest food options before you start. Wash the food and remove any particles of dirt.
  2. Cut them down into small pieces.
  3. Place the food in trays (don’t exceed the height of the tray and make sure they are spread out).
  4. Place in the freezer and ensure the temperature is set at the coldest setting in can go.
  5. Instead of 24 hours, you would need to keep the food in there for two to three weeks.
  6. Take them out and pack them in an airtight storage bag and store them in your freezer or pantry (a popular place for camp food storage).

What Will you Be Cooking On?

The next thing you need to think about is what you’re going to cook on and what will be the primary heat source.

There are a few options available for you:

More often than not, cast iron cookware is the choice for skilled campers. This is down to the fact that they retain and disperse heat really well, they are both durable and flexible. Also, some stainless steel pots are handy if you want to heat things up quickly.

Cooking pot on a stove

The heat source:

  • A camping stove (gas or electric) – This depends on if you are in the wild or on a camping site where there is electricity.
  • Fuel – If you are going with a traditional stove then you will either need coal, butane, alcohol, Kerasine, and/or propane-fired stoves.
  • Gas or BBQ grill – There are many different varieties of these now.
  • Firepit with grill.
  • Dutch pot/oven.

Camping tools

Ensure you pack the correct tools for cooking to avoid burning or cutting yourself when you are in the wild.

You will need:

  • Lighters/matches/firelighters – to light your campfire.
  • Spatulas – a multiuse kitchen utensil.
  • Campfire food tongs – You will be surprised how much you use these.
  • Grill brush/scraper – To keep your grill clean for the next time you cook.
  • Kitchen knife and chopping board – Handy platform for food prep.
  • Can opener – Not that important at home. In the great outdoors, vital.
  • Fork, spoon, and soup spoons for each person in the group (more if you can take them).
  • Collapsible water containers – These are great if you are camping on a camping site. Simply fill and use it when you get there. Great if you are cooking foods that need a lot of water like pasta or potatoes.
  • Camping kettle – These come in handy if you are not on a camping site. You can use this to boil water, washing-up, or even make a pot noodle.
  • Food thermometer – This is for checking if the food is properly cooked and to stop you from getting camp food poisoning.

Packing Perishable Goods For The Camping Trip

If you are just camping with your partner or with a smaller group and it is just for the weekend, then you can definitely get away with just taking canned food and some dried goods.

However, if you are camping for a week or more, then you will need to take perishable food and drink too.

This will also depend on where your trip is, but usually, foods such as bread, fruit, and vegetables go off the quickest if they aren’t stored correctly in the right temperature conditions.

Here are some ways of storing them for longer:

Keep fruits and vegetables in an airtight container along with dry ice to keep them fresh for days at a time.

You can get dry ice from gas stations or other locations that use it – check online beforehand!

If you have access to electricity, freezing your perishable goods should be fine until you reach camp again.

If it is a short trip, then a non-electric cooler will do just fine.

Camp Food hack: If you do take perishable food with you. Try to prepare and cook them in the first few days. That means organizing your food menu accordingly.

Here’s What Your Camping Food Should Be:

OK, so we know the size of the party, special requirements, and if there are any kids to cater for.

Let’s make planning the camp food menu easier for you by adopting these few things:

Quick and Easy – Ideally the food you are going to cook should be one that is quick to prepare and easy to cook. This also equals less time spent cooking, more time relaxing!

Don’t forget, you won’t have as many utensils or ingredient choices as when you cook at home, so you need to pick something that will be quick and easy.

Obviously, if you are camping in the wild, then you’ll want to cook on a campfire or BBQ grill. But if you are at a campsite with electricity, then why not use your camping stove too?

If you are cooking on a campfire, the key is keeping it at optimum heat. Don’t let it get too hot, otherwise, your food will burn and cook very quickly.

Keep your food healthy and nutritious – Where possible try to pack food with a good source of fiber like vegetables. You also want your meat to be lean and with very little fat (chicken and fish are firm favorites) and also dried food like nuts and dates if you guys fancy a snack.

Your meals want to pack in as many vitamins, fiber can carbohydrates to keep everyone happy and fueled for the day.

Also, most people drink water, so take plenty of large bottles of water and smaller empty ones to pour the water into.

Stuff you Need on your Camping Food List and Why

If you are organized in your daily life, then you will want to be just as organized when you go camping. Cutting down on the stress and frustration will be much easier with a comprehensive camping food list:

Dry foods

Cereal – Can be eaten at any time of the day, won’t perish, and is super easy to store (Also considered campfire food without a fire).

Bread – A staple in most diets and great for sandwiches, toast, and quick to prepare. It is also extremely easy to store (Also considered campfire food without a fire).

Pasta – Will fill any hungry stomach and packs a ton of carbs. It is also non-perishable, easy to cook, and there are thousands of recipes for it. Can also be eater hot or cold.

Rice – Another favorite staple, and awesome for ‘one-pot meals.’ Again, a ton of different recipes are available, high in fiber, carbs, and very filling.

Powdered Milk – Can be used in tea, coffee, and also cereal.

Crackers – A great “snacky” food and is also good to put several types of topping on.

Fuel food

campfire-eggs-and-tomato

Eggs – Again, a very universal ingredient to take camping and a must for any list. They don’t need to be refrigerated as long as they are stored at a consistent temperature.

Baked beans – The original camp food list item (don’t forget a tin opener). It is relatively healthy, packs a lot of carbs and fiber, and goes with a lot of dishes. The kids will love this in the morning or for lunch.

Vegetables – Veg such as spinach, broccoli, carrots, peas, sweetcorn, and mushrooms are great to be added to your camp food list.

Jars

Stir in sauces – when you want to add a bit of flavor.

Jams – A great topping on those crackers and a great sandwich filler.

Peanut butter – A camping favorite and makes a quick sandwich for the kids (or adults).

Sugar – To add to tea, coffee, or simply make your meal sweeter.

Beverages

camp-beverages

Having a nice drink when you are camping is just as important as having one at home. Pack lots of ice and stick to unflavored, light drinks such as fruit juices or even diluted juice packs (make sure you know the limit).

Hot drinks

  • Tea (different varieties).
  • Coffee (a camping staple).
  • Hot chocolate (for the kids).
  • Mulled cider (for the adults).
  • Cinnamon hot buttered rum.
  • Non-alcoholic mulled wine (for those that don’t drink alcohol).
  • Peppermint hot chocolate.

Cold drinks

  • Water.
  • Cider.
  • Beer.
  • Wine.
  • Fruit juice.
  • Cocktails (preprepared)

Snacks

  • Granola Bars.
  • Salted peanuts.
  • Olives.
  • Trail Mix.
  • Apple Chips.
  • Alabama Fire Crackers.
  • Cowboy Cookies.
  • Potato Chips.
  • Texas Trash.
  • Popcorn.
  • Marshmallows.
  • Chocolate Chip Cookies

What You Shouldn’t Add to Your camping food list and why

Fresh milk or cream

Unless you have somewhere to store your milk or cream for longer than a couple of days or you decide to consume it on the first day of camp, I wouldn’t recommend packing milk or cream in your camping food list.

Lots of different types of meat

If you can, reduce the range of meats you take on a camping trip. Try taking a few that you have space for. Oftentimes, people think they want as much selection as possible and most of it either goes off or you don’t have the storage space.

Any smelly food

Let’s narrow this down a little show we? When I say smelly food I mean foods like Camembert (stinky cheese), blue-veined cheeses (showing my age here – I used to like Brie growing up), raw garlic, raw onions, etc.

These types of food are really difficult to store in a hot environment and can lead to some pretty funky-smelling, funky-tasting foods.

Must-Have Camping Food Items

Must-Have Camping Items - Outdoor Rumors

No matter how many different food and ingredients you take, there are some that are a must-have on every camping food list. These include:

Meat Seasoning – to spice up those meaty meals.

Salt/Pepper – whichever you prefer.

Tomato Ketchup – Well, this can be pt on every type of meal, right?

Dried Herbs & Spices – Go ahead and take a few different ones. You never know what will taste great together until you try it! 🙂 Also, don’t forget to take a salt and pepper shaker.

Cooking Oil – Yes, on the surface this sounds obvious, but it is amazing what you forget when you’re in a rush preparing your camp food list.

Here are some easy camp food ideas (don’t forget to bookmark this page).

Note: The camp food ideas will be simple and basic and won’t be gourmet campfire food you would find in a fancy restaurant. Before you cook any of these meals, just be careful of Camp Food Poisoning (also called foodborne illness) which is when you get sick from the food at your campsite.

6 Awesome Camp Food Breakfast Ideas

Now, these camp food breakfast ideas are going to sound run of the mill. However, what you don’t want to do on a camping trip is introduce anything new, especially to your kids.

Cereals

It’s quick, easy, and you should have some powdered milk to use. You can pair it with different fruits or nuts if you want something a little bit more exciting…but always remember camp breakfast foods should be simple.

Pancakes

All you need to do is take some of that pancake batter mix (you can find these in any supermarket now), add the right amount of water and oil to make up for the moisture lost during transport (if you’re feeling really adventurous then campfire pancakes are great (assuming that you like them).

Breakfast omelette

Who doesn’t like food wrapped in eggs? This is a camp breakfast favorite along with some toast and beans (don’t forget the camp coffee).

Tinned fish (think mackerel or sardines)

There’s nothing like a camp tin of fish when you’re feeling hungry in the morning after a long night of campfire fun.

Tinned fish is cheap, usually comes with some type of sauce for added interest and it’s easy to cook up over your camp stove. Also, don’t forget camp bread to go with it!

Toast

This will be on everyone’s list because it is so versatile as a meal. You can have camp toast with eggs, camp toast with some camp tinned fish, or camp tinned meat. The options are endless!

Breakfast burritos

Now, if you are feeling really adventurous, why not try some camp breakfast burritos. Throw some beef, onion, salsa into a flour tortilla wrap and then bake or fry it over the camp stove! Hmmm.

6 Awesome Camp Food Lunch Ideas

Campfire nachos

Remember that dutch oven we mentioned earlier? Why bake some nachos, add some cheese, add in some meat and then add your favorite nacho ingredients. Once you’ve added everything you can pop it into the dutch oven to reheat. Yum!

Campfire burgers

This is another one that uses that trusty dutch oven. You take your ground beef or mince and add whatever spices/mixes you like (just make sure they’re packed) and get cooking!

Serve on burger buns with tomato ketchup or whatever other sauces/condiments your family likes.

Chicken tzatziki skewers

I bet you weren’t expecting this one on the list. But, it’s all about including something special on your camping food list. You can either have the chicken skewers on their own or with some camp rice/potatoes.

Campfire banana boats

This has got to be the easiest, most ingenious way to consume your bananas and marshmallows.

You take a banana and cut down the middle, take some chocolate, and either place it in the middle or on top of the bananas.

Next thing you know you’re eating one of these camp foods that tastes like a campfire dessert!

Campfire flatbread

Probably the easiest thing to cook on a stove over a campfire is some delicious flatbread. All you need to do is choose your favorite toppings (we like cheese and ham) and get cooking!

Easy chickpea curry

Packed with a ton of protein and a range of different vegetables, this is a great way to have a delicious curry without having to go through all the hassle.

All you need is some pre-cut veggies from your supermarket and then just add that into some tinned tomato sauce with chickpeas, spices, and coconut milk. Leave it on for 20 minutes or so and serve!

7 Awesome Camp Food Dinner Ideas

Campfire potatoes or baked potatoes

Potatoes are pretty much a staple on any camping food list and for good reason. You can make this delicious camp food using your dutch oven.

Simply chop up the potatoes, fry them for a few minutes and then place in some foil with any toppings you want (we like cheese or bacon) and then cook it on your dutch oven lid.

Or you could have baked potatoes rolled in foil. Just make sure that you put some oil or butter into it before cooking.

Did you know that the humble baked potato is the most popular meal cooked in foil. Essentially they are soft inside with a crispy outer layer.

Campfire chicken kabobs

Instead of cooking chicken on its own why not try putting together some kabobs? Not only will they look but will taste so good too. Just add in some veggies, preferably red and green peppers for a colorful display.

Campfire chili

Chili is a great camp dinner because it’s packed with lots of meat and vegetables which you can all eat together over rice or mashed potatoes. To make this simply add in your ingredients (remember to pack spices) and cook away!

Campfire stew

An oldie but goodie. This is slightly more complex than the other camp food ideas because it does require some time to simmer. You can use any ingredients you like but we recommend vegetables, beef, and spices.

You will want to put your stew in the dutch oven (or an alternative pot over a fire) with boiling water until all of your ingredients are soft.

Gammon steak

Another one of those camping food ideas that do require some time to cook. You need to boil water in your dutch oven (or pot over the fire) and then add your gammon steak, which you will leave for five minutes before cooking it on the frying pan or grill.

Once that’s done sprinkle over some spices/herbs/seasonings and cut them into slices. You could do this with pork chops or chicken too!

Good ole hot dogs/chili dogs

There’s no way we could leave this one off the list. Hot dogs are another one of those camping food ideas that you can cook over the fire or on your dutch oven.

You can pretty much guarantee that most kids (and adults) will like this one!

You could also add some chili to it for an extra kick.

Campfire hashbrowns

This is another one of those camping food ideas that you can cook using your dutch oven or pot over the fire. It’s super simple and really tasty too.

All you need to do is shred your potatoes, fry them up in oil until they’re browned, add them into a foil sheet with salt/pepper and cheese if desired, wrap them inside the foil sheet, and pop directly onto the bed of coals.

The heat from the coals will bake your hashbrowns so that you get that golden color on all sides while still being crispy on the outside.

6 Delicious Camp Desserts

Caramelized peaches in foil

Caramelized Peaches in Foil is everyone’s favorite and for good reason: it’s delicious, simple, and really easy to make. You can eat this while sitting around the fire which makes it even more enjoyable!

The best thing is that you don’t even need a recipe to make this. All you need is some peaches (or any other stone fruit like plums), some brown sugar, some butter, and a little bit of patience.

Grilled peanut banana boats

Bananas are another staple camping food idea because they’re so versatile and easy to cook. For this one simply cut the bananas in half, add some peanut butter and sprinkle with brown sugar before wrapping everything up in foil.

You will want to place it directly onto the coals so that it cooks for about 10 minutes or until soft.

Campfire apple crisp

These apple crisps are super tasty and so easy to make. You basically cut up your apples into slices (you could also grate them) mix together some oats, sugar, flour, and cinnamon then top over the mixture with a few cubes of butter before popping into the dutch oven/pot over the fire for about 20 minutes.

Dutch o peach cobbler

Another oldie but goodie! This one is so tasty and really easy to make. All you need to do is spoon out some of your peaches filling into the bottom of a dutch oven then top that with some crumble mixture (this just consists of flour, sugar, butter, and oats) before popping it into the fire where it will cook for about 15 minutes.

Who doesn’t like cookie dough? Making these egg bites are super simple too: all you have to do is mix up an egg with salt/pepper and bacon bits before baking in cupcake tin for 20 minutes at 200 degrees Celsius. You can serve them straight out of the tin.

Grilled plums with ricotta and honey

Even though you will need to make a special effort in packing the ingredients for this dish, it will be soooo worth it once you taste it.

You need to grill your plums, which you can do by either cutting them into wedges or slicing them in half from the top and then grilling from both sides.

Once that’s done sprinkle over some brown sugar and ricotta cheese before drizzling over some honey and adding a few pistachios on top.

It doesn’t get more awesome than this!

Campfire Snacks (Easy Campfire Food)

Marshmallows

This classic is number one on the list because it is the most popular snack campers have around the campfire.

They can be placed on either a stick or a skewer and you can roast them under the fire until they’re golden brown.

After that, simply top with some chocolate and a few crushed-up graham crackers to create a s’more!

If you want to avoid this one just because it’s so mainstream then try making these

Campfire cheese sticks

Cheese sticks are super simple to make and they taste amazing and are a bonus on any camping food list. Simply grab a mozzarella cheese stick, wrap some crescent roll dough around it and then pop it in the dutch oven or pot for around 10 minutes. Then dip it into some ketchup and you are good to go.

Chocolate bananas

So simple, you’ll wonder why you don’t eat these at home. All you need to do is cut the bananas into about an inch thick, melt some milk chocolate and then dip them in.

Place them onto a stick or skewer and that’s it. A ready-made snack in minutes.

Peanut butter s’mores

There are so many meals and snacks we could mention with peanut butter, but Peanut butter S’mores are one that needs to be on this list.

You will want to mix together some graham crackers, chocolate, and marshmallow then top with the peanut butter before placing it under the fire until they’re ready.

Campfire oatmeal cookies (probably make before you go camping)

Do you want something more exciting than a sandwich and a granola bar for breakfast?

If you do then you’ll want to try making these delicious oatmeal cookies. They’re super easy to make, all you have to do is mix in all the dry ingredients into a bowl before adding in some milk/eggs/vanilla essence then pop them into the fire in an old coffee tin for 10 minutes.

Nachos

Such a universal snack and incredibly versatile, if you want a quick and easy go-to snack for your next camping trip, then nachos are the way to go.

All you have to do is spray some tortilla triangles with cooking oil before popping them directly onto the hot coals where they will toast up in a few minutes. Once that’s done, simply top as desired!

Camping Meal Plans

To accompany your camping food list you will need a camping meal plan. This will be a comprehensive plan of what you will eat and when, where you will get your ingredients from and how to prepare them.

For example, if you were going camping at the weekend you would write:

  • Friday night dinner – chili hot dogs.
  • Saturday breakfast – Cereal using powdered milk.
  • Saturday lunch – omelets with toast.
  • Saturday dinner – Coconut curry noodles.
  • Sunday breakfast – beans and toast.
  • Sunday lunch – campfire burgers.
  • Snacks – Granola bars, salted peanuts, potato chips, freeze-dried fruit (the healthy option).

What food should I bring for 2 days camping?

The 2-day camping trip (often referred to as a weekend camping trip) is one of the most common ways people go camping.

You should take a mixture of snacks, bread to make sandwiches, and freeze-dried food from your freezer when camping for two days.

What food should I bring for 3 days camping?

When camping for 3 days you should take a mixture of snacks, bread to make sandwiches, and freeze-dried food from your freezer, but also eggs to make omelets, rice, and pasta for quick easy meals.

What food should I bring for 4 days camping?

When camping for 4 days you should take dehydrated freeze-dried food, bread for sandwiches, rice and pasta for quick easy meals, and prepared meals like chili or stew. You will also want to take some campfire stick food like hot dogs and sausages to roast over the fire.

What food should I bring for 5 days camping?

The best meals for a 5-day camping trip are prepared meals like chili or stew, and campfire stick food like hot dogs and sausages to roast over the fire. You will also want some dehydrated foods and freeze-dried foods from your freezer. The biggest difference here is that we recommend including more snacks such as granola bars, trail mix, dried fruit, etc… because it’s much harder to cook when you are in bear country!

camping food in plastic dishes.
Ultimate Food & Drink Guide: Camping Edition
About the Author

Passionate about helping households transition to sustainable energy with helpful information and resources.

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