Now that it is close to summer, it is time to pack up and hit the outdoors. You have already checked all of your gear, planned where you are going and are ready to go, except for packing your food. Meal planning and prepping is not just for at home. It’s a great way to save money and to make sure that everyone is well fed. From personal experience, you do not want to end up with no food in the wilderness with two days left and the closest store is a five mile hike and a two hour car trip one way.
You do not want to overcompensate either. Nobody wants to waste food or have to pack out extra weight. It is important to plan for your outdoor adventures the same way that you would plan for your daily meals. Here are a few tips to eliminate food waste and not get hungry during your next camping, backpacking or outdoor adventures. These tips can also be helpful for long road trips too, and RV camping. **Please note, this post may contain affiliate links, at no cost to you and by clicking on them, we might earn a small commission.
Head Count– Plan ahead of time for number of people you will be feeding. We are a family of five, so I plan for three meals per day and two snacks. It sounds like alot, but it really isn’t when you take into account how many meals you eat at home.
Cooking Source– Now that you know how many people you are making meals for, it is time to figure out how you are going to cook or make your food. This will depend on if you are using a gas stove, campfire or backpacking stove. We like to cook over the fire a lot. Usually in August, with fire restrictions, we can no longer cook over a fire or use briquettes, and we can only use gas stoves. If we’re backpacking, it is usually meals that you just add water to, so a small stove is all we use. If using a gas stove, make sure you pack enough canisters. For car camping we use a Coleman and for backpacking we use a Jetboil.
Weight– If you are backpacking,cycling or kayaking, weight really does matter too. There are lots of easy and lightweight meals you can purchase or make yourself. Water is also extremely heavy, so that needs to be a consideration too. If water is accessible, you don’t need to pack water, you can use a filter instead to eliminate that extra weight you would have to carry to make food. We use Lifestraw Water Bottles, and carry two water filters for both backpacking and camping. Also remember that water tales longer to boil at high altitudes so you’re using more gas. Sometimes dry meals are better.
Budget– I like to plan out all of my meals the Tuesday before we head out because that’s the day the new store ads come out starting Wednesday. I like to see what is or will be on sale. For example, brats this week are three packs for $5.00 but last week they were $5.00 a pack. Because we do use lots of brats, I bought multiple packages to freeze for other trips. Your meals for camping should not cost more than when you cook at home in your kitchen.
Perishables or Dry Goods– If you plan on taking a cooler or a small fridge, space is limited. Food can go bad quickly in the summer heat too. I usually plan to use perishables within 24 hours, even if we take the camper, because usually we dry dock so if the generator fails or the battery dies, I don’t have to worry that all of the food will go bad. We never take more than one cooler. I also keep several types of canned and dried goods in our camping box, like soup, instant potatoes, and chili.
Recipes– Having a plan of what you are going to cook is a great idea. That way, you know exactly what you need to buy. There are some great recipe books out there like The New Camp Cookbook and Feast by Firelight. If there is something I want to try, I will checks the ads and make those recipes if the ingredients are on sale and affordable. Another great resource is online, at MONTyBOCA, a recipe collective for outdoor adventures.
Snacks– Fruit and sandwiches make great snacks. I like granola bars too, but only buy them when they are on sale. I can easily stock up on peanut butter, jelly and tuna when they are on sale for future use..
Seasoning and Flavor– Don’t forget the condiments and seasonings. However, you do not need to take the whole soice rack with you. I usually pack salt, pepper, hot sauce, garlic, ketsup, mustard and seasoning salt. Camping meals should be basic, but not bland. I like to use Alpine Touch, because it’s just a great general use seasoning salt and made local.
Dessert– Everyone has a sweet tooth. You can go basic with S’mores or go all out with Dutch oven desserts. It is up to you. Desserts aren’t necessary, but they sure are yummy.
I hope these tips help for your next trip or outdoors adventure. Remember, pack it, packit out. Leave no trace, so try to reduce food waste and plastic when planning meals too. What is your favorite meal? Don’t let hunger keep you from having fun. Be outside with no limits. Love, Pauline