Top 10 Healthiest Foods for Camping


Top 10 Healthiest Foods for Camping

Consider these wholesome, energizing alternatives rather than the sodium-filled ramen. When you set out on your next outdoor adventure, you don't have to give up convenience or nutrition.

Make sure you bring food that is nourishing, energizing, and lightweight when you go camping, especially if your trip involves physical activity.

For instance, that can of chickpeas might start to feel like it is weighed in pounds rather than ounces if you are hiking in an area with high elevation. When it comes to healthy food for camping, that means going for lightweight options, but that's not the only consideration. While spending time outdoors, you'll need enough energy to stay nourished.

A 150-pound hiker with a 40-pound pack will burn just over 1,200 calories on a 10-mile hike with a 1,000-foot elevation gain, according to one hiking calculator, and that's on a fairly flat trail. Your body will require more nourishment when you hike and are active all day than you may be accustomed to, according to Madison, Wisconsin, RDN Kara Hoerr. "Foods that are high in energy can provide concentrated calories without taking up a lot of room”.

Because they are frequently laden with sodium, relying solely on freeze-dried meals or other packed foods can be detrimental. According to a study that was published in Nutrients, that may result in water retention in the short term, especially in the hands and feet, and tends to raise blood pressure.

Fortunately, there are lots of options for wholesome camping food that can help keep your body nourished and your energy levels high so you can take advantage of everything the natural world has to offer.


Here are Top 10 Healthiest Foods for Camping

1. Dried Oatmeal Packets Offer Healthy Carbs

Top 10 Healthiest Foods for Camping

Before a day of hiking or exploring, oatmeal offers complex carbohydrates for adequate and enduring energy, according to Hoerr. Furthermore, they are portable, lightweight, and simple to prepare while camping”.

According to research from 2022, high-quality carbohydrates are still a reliable source of energy for physical activity. Although protein and fat are still important, carbohydrates are a crucial macronutrient to maintain energy levels during high-intensity exercise because they are broken down quickly.


2. Peanut Butter Pouches Give You Nutrients on the Go

Top 10 Healthiest Foods for Camping

Hoerr claims that because nut butters are high in energy, they can increase your calorie intake without making you feel full too quickly. According to Hoerr, they are also nutrient dense because they are high in protein, fiber, vitamins, and minerals as well as heart-healthy fat.

Hoerr found that adding a packet to her morning oatmeal kept her sustained through elevation-gain hikes until lunchtime while backpacking through Yosemite. Individual pouches are practical and less messy than trying to eat from a jar, she claims.


3. Packets of Chicken or Tuna Offer an Instant Protein Boost

Top 10 Healthiest Foods for Camping

The concept of "individual packets" is still present. These are the perfect healthy foods to pack when going camping because they can easily fit into smaller spaces in a pack and can be tucked into jacket pockets to be available for snacks when you need them most.

Hoerr advises paying attention to your body for cues that it needs more food at this moment. "You might be feeling dizzy or the activity feels more difficult than it should. You are showing signs of being low on energy. You can eat tuna or chicken in the form of packets because they are shelf-stable and have so many delicious flavors”.

StarKist Tuna Pouches is one brand with a wide range of flavors. The business also provides them with chicken and salmon. For instance, their lemon pepper packet contains 17 g of protein. The formula for how much protein you need each day is 0.8 g per kilogram of weight, according to Natalie Allen, RD, a clinical assistant professor for biomedical sciences at Missouri State University in Springfield. 

Divide your weight in pounds by 2.2 to obtain your kilograms. According to Allen, men and women require 70 to 80 g of protein daily on average, with higher levels of activity potentially increasing those requirements.


4. Protein Powder Can Balance Your Meals with a Plant-Based Option

Top 10 Healthiest Foods for Camping

Protein powder offers a way to get your daily dose of this nutrient if you don't like meat or follow a plant-based diet (such as a vegan or vegetarian one). Since protein powder is portable and easy to combine with water, it can be an excellent hiking food. Of course, you don't need to bring the entire container; simply transfer a few scoops to a plastic bag that can be sealed for convenience.

Spread out your protein throughout the day, advises Allen. For instance, instead of trying to consume all of your daily requirements for protein at once, aim to consume 20 grams at each of your main meals. You'll be able to stay satiated thanks to this”.

A protein shake can help you pace your protein intake when you're camping and active since you might not have regular mealtimes.  Allen advises pea protein, which is widely accessible, if you want to switch to a plant-based protein powder source instead of using whey. For instance, Naked Pea or even creating your own powder beforehand are both excellent choices.


5. Dried Fruit Is a Portable, Quick Source of Energy

Top 10 Healthiest Foods for Camping

Dried fruit, such as raisins, dried apples, and prunes, is a welcome go-to snack on the trail due to its concentrated sweetness. According to Jackie Newgent, RDN, of Brooklyn, New York, dried fruit also provides a quick carbohydrate fix to fuel activity. You'll be getting a nutrient-dense snack because the fruit maintains its vitamins and minerals during the dehydration process, she continues.

The nutrients are more concentrated ounce for ounce, so they contain more advantageous bioactive compounds, according to Newgent. "However, always check the ingredients because some products may contain added sugars and preservatives, and it's best to choose products that only contain fruit. She advises staying away from ingredients like potassium bromate and carrageenan, as well as sugars like corn syrup and sucrose.


6. Shelled Sunflower or Pumpkin Seeds Provide Good Fat

Top 10 Healthiest Foods for Camping

According to Hoerr, seeds of any kind make for a portable snack, and these two varieties are especially portable. This makes them a good choice for a healthy camping meal. Bonus: Nuts and seeds add beneficial fat that prolongs satiety.

Additionally, seeds like sunflower seeds can aid in reducing inflammation. The phenolic acids, flavonoids, and tocopherols found in sunflower seeds have all been linked to anti-inflammatory effects, according to a review. According to another review of the literature, excessive inflammation has been linked to a number of diseases, including arthritis, asthma, atherosclerosis, and autoimmune disorders, even though it is a necessary natural process to some extent.

According to other research, exercise does not only cause a short-term spike in inflammation but also a long-term reduction. Therefore, it makes sense that snacking on nutritious foods like seeds may help lessen that effect, as suggested by the aforementioned study.


7. Convenient, Transportable Energy is Available in Granola or Energy Bars

Top 10 Healthiest Foods for Camping

Prepackaged granola or energy bars are a choice Hoerr always brings camping because they're so simple to find and can be squished at the bottom of a pack and still be ready to eat. However, be prepared to spend some time if you're at the grocery store looking for some options for protein or granola bars in snack-size. It might seem like this should be your first campsite because there are so many options here, allowing you to read every label.

Under 6 g of added sugar is ideal, according to Hoerr, who also advises choosing products that are naturally sweetened with dried fruit. Hoerr advises looking at ingredient lists to find products with the least amount of added sugar possible. Without additional sweeteners or preservatives, this will provide you with the carbohydrate boost you need for exercise. Hoerr frequently accumulates Lärabars because they have the option to check these boxes. An Apple Pie Lärabar, for instance, has 25 g of carbs and no added sugar. The fact that the only ingredients are nuts and fruit, along with some others that are similar, appeals to Hoerr. Consider RXBars as an illustration.


8. You Can Stay Hydrated with Electrolyte Tablets

Top 10 Healthiest Foods for Camping

Think about staying hydrated while hiking. Hoerr claims that even going slowly and carrying gear makes it an endurance test. She advises consuming more water than you think you need, especially in cooler climates where you might not feel as thirsty.

Consider replenishing any electrolytes that you might lose through sweat in addition to drinking water. Hoerr prefers Nuuntablets because they are portable and can be popped into a water bottle when needed, but there are other brands like Ultima and Tailwind available as well.


9. Quinoa Quick-Prep Grains that are Fiber-Filled and Precooked Make Meal Prep Simple

Top 10 Healthiest Foods for Camping

Hoerr chose quick-cooking foods like quinoa and instant brown rice on her Yosemite trip because it can be difficult to prepare grains that take a long time on a cookstove.

For instance, if you choose quick grains and a packet of chicken or tuna when you're tired after a hike, you can make a nutritious dinner in under 15 minutes.

Options like quinoa are packed with fiber, which is helpful for maintaining regular digestion — a problem many people experience while traveling, whether to a campsite or a spa. The USDA estimates that 1 cup of quinoa contains 5 g of fiber, or 18% of your DV.


10. A Campsite Treat is Dark Chocolate

Top 10 Healthiest Foods for Camping

Dark chocolate simply tastes better after a long day of hiking, whether you enjoy some squares on their own or combine them with nuts, seeds, and dried fruit. Unless you're in extremely hot and humid conditions, you'll probably be safe from it melting. Dark chocolate has a higher melting point than milk chocolate because it contains a higher percentage of cocoa in relation to milk fat.

Additionally, according to research from 2022, cocoa has more phenolic antioxidants than most foods, which is another effective way to control inflammation.


Healthy Camping Foods (Shelf-Stable)

Top 10 Healthiest Foods for Camping

These foods give you and your children the energy you need for any adventure and can be stored in your cabin or tent without refrigeration for days (or much longer!):

• Apples

• Applesauce cups or pouches

• Avocados

• Beef jerky

• Bell peppers

• Brown rice

• Canned black beans, kidney beans, or baked beans

• Canned lentil soup

• Canned tuna

• Cherry tomatoes

• Dried fruit like raisins, cranberries, or apricots

• Homemade granola bars

• Honey

• Jarred salsa

• Olive oil

• Onions

• Oranges

• Peanut butter or almond butter

• Peanuts, almonds, or cashews

• Pumpkin seeds or sunflower seeds

• Rolled oats

• Soy milk or tofu (choose shelf-stable tetra-pack containers)

• Sweet or white potatoes

• Trail mix

• Whole ears of corn

• Whole grain cereal like Cheerios

• Whole grain crackers or pretzels

• Whole melons like watermelon, cantaloupe, or honeydew

• Whole wheat bread, buns, pitas, tortillas, or English muffins

• Whole wheat spaghetti with jarred marinara sauce


How to Pack a Cooler with Healthy Camping Foods

Top 10 Healthiest Foods for Camping

Add these nourishing foods to your "foods-to-pack" list if you're bringing a cooler on your camping trip because you have lots of other options for eating well in the wilderness.

• Any frozen fruit or veggie (they can double as an ice pack in your cooler!)

• Carrots (baby and or regular)

• Celery

• Cheese sticks and/or grated cheese

• Chicken breasts (try marinating them before you leave)

• Eggs

• Frozen salmon, white fish, or shrimp

• Ground turkey or beef

• Hummus

• Snap peas

• Whole fresh green beans

• Yogurt cups

Read: How to Use Eggs in Every Meal: 10 Brilliant Ideas

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