How to Plan Meals for a Camping Trip

Camping trips are some of the best activities that you can enjoy with your friends and family. They are an excellent way to unwind from the stress of school and work and reconnect to nature and everyone else that you love. One of the things that can make or break a camping trip is the food that everyone will eventually consume.

Packing meals for a road trip and camping trip is a process that can test your patience. It requires you to consider many factors such as everyone else’s preference, preparation time, storage life, and convenience. Luckily this is not a process you have to do by yourself!

In this article, we will explain and help you plan meals for a camping trip.

Planning For a Camping Trip

Remember that you don’t have to do this by yourself! It is best if you involve as many people as is reasonable.

You can opt to share the shopping with another person, the drinks to another, the tools to another, etc. You are camping, after all, and the essence of camping is reconnecting with each other.

First things first, you have to consider how much food you have to bring. It helps to be sure of the number of people you are expecting to attend (and whether they are all adults), the number of days you plan to have the camping trip, and the number of meals you plan to have each day.

For example, knowing that there will be a total of five adults camping for three days and two nights will help you gauge how much food you should be preparing.

Now that you have an idea of how much food you will be bringing, it’s time to go specific. Packing meals for a road trip and camping requires you to consider several other factors aside from the quantity!

The Camping Experience

You have to consider the type of camping you are planning. Will it be a stationary camping experience where you and your friends pitch tents set up at a single campsite? Will your activities be limited to a few chill walks? If so, you can opt for meals that can take longer to cook if that suits your fancy.

Or do you plan to hike up a mountain and set up camp at a different place every night? In this case, ready-to-eat and instant meals are your friends.

How to Store Food When Camping

You have to consider the longevity of the food that you will be bringing. Some foods spoil faster than others. For example, canned sauce, soups, and other canned food will usually hold up very well.

Fresh produce, however, might wilt or rot faster than you expect, especially after considering humidity. If you plan to bring food that will spoil quickly, it is best to eat them in the first meal.

You can also consider bringing along ice to store perishable food items.

How Will the Weather Affect What Food to Take Camping

Always check the weather before heading out to camp. Knowing whether the temperature will be cold or hot during your trip will help you decide what food will be best for everyone.

Cold meals such as sandwiches, salads, and frozen fruit are excellent if the weather is hot. On chilly nights, hot chocolate or a warm bowl of soup will be a blessing.

How Much Time Do You Want to Spend Cooking When Camping

If you do plan to cook food outdoors, opt for quick-cooking foods such as instant meals. If you wish to have real, genuine food, try quick-cooking ones such as pre-cooked meat, shrimp, and thinly sliced hams. Hard-boiled eggs are easy to cook in boiling water as well.

You can opt for slower cooking meals, but cooking outdoors can be quite a strenuous task if the circumstances are against your favor.

Don’t Take Heavy Food Items Camping

Carrying around large jars and cans will not work in your favor when camping. Add all the other camping equipment, such as tents, to the mix, and you could end up with a ton of items in your vehicle.

Make sure that you consider weight in planning what food you intend to prepare.

Take Snacks Camping

Snacks are important if you need to stave off hunger pangs in between meals. There are a lot of options in the market. You can choose trail mixes, dehydrated food, beef jerky, etc. If you are feeling lazy and full, a good snack can even help you skip a meal.

We do recommend you eat your meals, though, since you are outdoors and therefore more vulnerable. You need as much resistance as you can.

So, How do You Prepare Food for Camping?

After considering the above factors, you may now proceed to grocery shopping. Again, remember that you don’t have to do this by yourself! Also, make sure to ask everyone if they have food allergies so you can scratch any potential allergens off, such as lactose and gluten, or at least limit it out, the grocery list.

It will help if you plan what food you will be serving for each meal of the day. Your grocery list could look something like this:


Breakfast – scrambled eggs and hash browns
Lunch – canned meat and whole wheat bread
Dinner – canned beans and beef jerky
Snacks – trail mix; water


Breakfast – coffee and boiled eggs
Lunch – campfire hash
Dinner – tacos and hot chocolate
Snacks – pre-cut frozen fruit and tea; s’mores

Make sure that you don’t buy these things at the last minute! Doing so will increase the likelihood of your leaving behind essential items, whether food or not. Also, remind everyone to bring a bottle or two of their water while also bringing a healthy supply yourself just in case someone forgets or runs out of it.

If you plan to prepare and cook cold food, do not forget to bring a lot of ice. Ice is also a godsend if the day is hot.

Bringing condiments will also help make your meals more delicious than they already are. Remember also to bring reusable utensils to make eating much easier. Do not forget to bring the cooking equipment as well, especially if you plan to cook!

Consider cooking ahead of time. Remember that cooking outdoors is a bit more challenging and will take a bit more time as compared to when cooking in your home kitchen. Cooking outdoors in the heat (or the rain), probably with all kinds of bugs everywhere, is not easy.

It is also wise to prepare all the ingredients beforehand. All ingredients that should be cut and sliced should already be so while at home. Make sure to pack them individually if possible in lightweight, seal-tight containers.

The Trip

The point of camping is to have fun and reconnect with people and nature. Enjoy the camping experience more than stressing over the food you want to prepare for people. If you are with people that you enjoy being with, we’re sure that the food will only come second to the overall experience of being together.