Food is really important and it can be hard to know what to bring and use on multi-day camping trips. Plus we all need to adapt our usual food habits when we are on expeditions and adventures.
This blog post will cover my top tips for camping food in general and what I used on my recent winter camping trip in Sweden.
I have a lot of food issues at the moment, so I was extremely planned out and prepared with my food in order to keep healthy. Expedition food can be healthy and inexpensive if you have some good ideas (keep reading) and are happy to put the work and prep in before the trip.
Making your own camping food would work well for anyone that wants to prepare some healthy meals pre trip or has a dedicated diet like halal, vegan. It also saves some pennies, as ready-made dehydrated meals come in at about 8 quid a meal, though they are definitely good to consider if you need an easy option or to lighten your rucksack (or someone else is paying). Still expect to spend some money on a few items to make it a pleasurable and tasty trip. Food is the way to the soul after all.
Some of the preparation comes with thinking about the following things:
- Weight & volume
- Calories & nutritional value
- The climate you are going to
Weight & volume
We want food that gives us nutritional balance (carbs and proteins) and is as lightweight as possible (especially if carrying for multiple days), things like lentils, rice and oats are good examples of this. We also want to make sure that we are getting enough fibre and protein so our bodies can recover well and we keep going to the bathroom. Herbs and spices are a great addition to any healthy diet and a lightweight option for camping. This trip I made a Dahl spice mix and a jalfrezi spice mix. I’ll buy some fresh vegetables that boil quickly and I’m happy to eat either raw or a wee bit crunchy. Sometimes I pre-chop garlic, onion and ginger to add if I know it’s not going to be too warm out/go off or it’s a short trip.
Calories & nutritional value
Food can be a triggering issue for a lot of people, it’s important to note that when adventuring outside we are required to adapt our eating habits to sustain our trip. So that we can enjoy it and recover well. I increase my calorie intake and try to make sure I’m constantly fueling my body, before, during and after the trip. I don’t want to end up in a calorie deficit. Hydration is also key, so don’t forget that bit!
I personally think about what I put in is what I’ll get out, and also consider increasing my protein and carbohydrate intake to ensure that I can recover well. Calories are a good way of figuring out how much food to eat, but as well as this nutrition is another important aspect to consider. I follow a lot of Dr. Stacy Sim’s work, with her suggestions of 30g protein needed per meal plus 30g post workout or 40g if perimenopausal/menopausal.
Another consideration is menstruation, and fueling your body for your period, and resting enough, I plan with my period using the clue app.
Storage, this is a really important point, how do you store all these items? I personally use silicone or PEVA for my storage (be warned PEVA cannot be heated unlike silicone and easily warps even through washing with hot water). It means I can fill up the bags, flatten them so they don’t take up too much space, wash them easily and then reuse them.
I’m going to a cold climate so the concern I have is making sure food doesn’t have too much moisture in it so it doesn’t freeze. I want to make sure I can eat! Being in a cold climate also means I need plenty of gas to melt snow for water. I’m happy carrying extra gas if it means I get hot water and hot food.
This blog post is the first in a series of two written by Harriet MacMillan, reposted from her blog. Keep an eye out for the second one that will cover dehydrated vs boil in the bag meals and provide some example camping meals.