5 Tips For Campground Cooking

by Emily Rider, RDN, LD

Last Updated: June 8, 2021

With the weather getting nicer this time of year, your schedule may be filling up with outdoor activities such as hiking, biking, or camping—especially with the changes in vacation options brought about by COVID-19. According to the 2021 North American Camping Report, 2020 saw 48.2 million United States households camping at least once! However, camping has its own unique challenges when it comes to deciding what to eat while enjoying the great outdoors. Even if you have your at-home meal planning routine down to a science, figuring out what to eat while camping can be tricky! We’ve put together some tips to help you stay nourished while camping.
  1. Balance.
    It’s important to keep in mind the value of consuming a well-balanced diet, especially while camping! Your body needs a combination of carbohydrates to fuel you, fat to help keep you full, and protein to help preserve muscle mass. Fiber, vitamins, and minerals are also key nutrients to keep you feeling your best while keeping up with the increased physical demands of outdoor activity. Aim to include at least three food groups with your meals and two food groups with snacks. Camp-friendly options within each food group include:

    Fruit
    Shelf-Stable
    Fridge/Cooler Required
    • Pre-cut fresh fruit (such as melons or pineapple)
    • Frozen fruit

    Vegetables
    Shelf-Stable
    • Whole fresh vegetables (cherry tomatoes, cucumbers, potatoes, etc.)*
    • No salt added canned vegetables*
    • Low-sodium canned vegetable juice*

    Fridge/Cooler Required
    • Pre-cooked pasta
    • Pre-cooked rice

    Starch
    Shelf-Stable
    Fridge/Cooler Required
    • Pre-cooked pasta
    • Pre-cooked rice

    Protein
    Shelf-Stable
    Fridge/Cooler Required
    • Meat (frozen, raw, or cooked)
    • Fish
    • Eggs

    Dairy
    Shelf-Stable
    • Powdered milks
    • Non-refrigerated milks

    Fridge/Cooler Required
    • Milk
    • Cheese
    • Yogurt

    *Refrigerate after cutting or opening.

    Note: shelf-stable foods are best stored at room temperature.
  2. Plan ahead.
    Take time to plan meals and snacks in advance. Consider how many meals you can prepare ahead of time, how many meals/snacks you might need to carry with you while hiking on a trail, and how many meals you can prepare at your campsite. While at home, try washing and chopping produce (this is best for shorter camping trips—processing these foods too far in advance could cause them to go bad before you can eat them!), assembling dishes (like sandwiches or pasta salad), and pre-cooking or pre-freezing items in advance to reduce stress during your trip. Some items that can be pre-frozen include fruit, vegetables, meat (wrapped in wax paper followed by plastic wrap and stored in an individual bag), milk, water, or juice.
  3. Stay organized.
    In addition to planning what you will bring for meals and snacks, plan how you will transport and store items. Store produce separately from each other (especially apples and bananas) to prevent rapid ripening. If you are using a cooler, spend time determining the most strategic way to pack the cooler to maximize convenience and freshness while maintaining food safety.
  4. Prioritize food safety.
    This is essential to prevent foodborne illness from ruining your camping trip. When using a cooler, be sure to keep the internal temperature below 40 degrees Fahrenheit. Also, avoid cross-contamination of raw meat and ready-to-eat foods. Using separate coolers, cutting boards, and utensils can be a good strategy to minimize any risk of cross-contamination. Always cook food to the safe minimum internal temperature and do not eat any food that has been left out of refrigeration for more than 2 hours (or no more than 1 hour if the temperature is above 90 degrees Fahrenheit).
  5. Keep it simple.
    Campground meals don’t have to be complicated. Planning and prioritizing organization can ensure camping mealtimes run smoothly, but fun and flavor don’t have to be sacrificed! Check out some of these camp-friendly recipes to help keep things simple and flavorful:

Using the strategies above can help you stay fueled while minimizing mealtime stress when enjoying the great outdoors. If you are interested in more personalized nutrition recommendations, schedule a virtual appointment with a Kroger dietitian today!

Disclaimer: This information is educational only and not providing healthcare recommendations. Please see a healthcare provider.


Emily Rider, RDN, LD

Emily Rider, RDN, LD

Emily strongly believes in a balanced diet- choosing foods that are good for your body AND good for your soul. With this philosophy, she can help you meet your health goals without having to give up your favorite foods. In addition to a passion for nutrition, Emily loves spending time outside with her two rescue dogs.