I write a lot of blogs about packing food for road trips, backpacking trips, and general car camping. Here is a one-stop place for tips and suggestions. I will keep adding to it but here is a start…
Car camping is a luxurious form of camping that allows you much more eating flexibility - you don’t have to worry about weight or only using non-perishables.
- Prep at home. While you may think you won’t mind cooking in the great outdoors, it is much more enjoyable to stare at the beautiful scenery than to be chopping and grating. And lets face it, if you are camping with children you won’t be doing much staring and relaxing as it is. So chop your veggies, pre-shred your meat, grate your cheese, par-cook your potatoes, do whatever you can ahead of time. Plus you won’t have to worry about that fish smell on your fingers attracting bears.
- If you are going to camp frequently, create a camp box that stays stocked (restock if needed after each trip). We have a ‘cook box’ in a tote that contains olive oil, paper towel, a lighter, fuel, spatula, plates, bowls, silverware, salt, pepper, garlic powder, the arm of our camp stove, coffee press, and various other things. When we head out to camp we just pack the box and know everything we need to cook is right there.
- Pack foods together that will be used together. If you are making beans and rice, chop your onions and peppers and put them together in a single container. This way you can pull one or two containers out of your cooler instead of 4.
- Plan meals that have similar ingredients. One of my go-tos for camping is to make beans for dinner then add eggs to the leftovers for breakfast.
- If you are going for just one night, go ahead and break your eggs into a container — that way you won’t have to worry about cleaning up raw eggs or dealing with the shells at camp. I think they store better in the shell for multiple nights. I just put the plastic egg container from our fridge door right in the cooler.
Packing food for backpacking trips is a challenging endeavor. You need to carefully consider getting enough calories and protein from your meal but also good nutrients, perishability, and the numero uno issue - weight! When you are backpacking with kids, weight is an even bigger issue. Right now, Ryan is carrying all of our gear and I carry our daughter in a backpack. My pack is 40lbs as a minimum. There are many pre-made backpacking food options now - so many more options than were available 5 or 1o years ago. But if you are interested in trying it yourself, here are some ideas.
- Get a large dehydrator. The one I use (and love!) is the Excalibur 9-tray. They now make stainless steel trays, which I would love to try.
- Plan ahead. You can’t decide a day or two before your trip that you want to make your own food. You need time to plan your meals and dehydrate. I recommend getting organized at least a week beforehand.
- Store fatty foods in the freezer. If you dehydrate meat, peanut butter, or other fatty foods, keep it in the freezer for longer-term storage (more than a month).
Rather than reinvent the wheel, here are links to some recipes I’ve already posted. More recipes to come!
Car Trips, Airplanes, or Other Traveling Trips
I always travel with food. I am extremely particular about what foods I want to eat myself, much less feed my toddler. There are few options on the road or at the airport for good, nutritious foods so its much better to be a self-contained unit (thats one of our favorite phrases). There are a few places that are great to seek out and I plan to expand on that soon (places like health food stores, co-ops). In the meantime…
- Water bottles on the plane - Bring your own water bottle, empty, through security. You can fill it up at the water fountains once you go through.
- Get a cooler lunch bag. There are all kinds of options out there now but basically they are our old lunch bags and lunch boxes made of cooler material. These make snacks convenient so you don’t have to go digging through a big cooler. Also great for the airplane. You can bring gel packs or cooler packs as long as they are still frozen by the time you go through security.
- I use small glass bowls with lids in which to pack food. The brand I have is Libbey and you can often find them at one of those discount stores like Marshalls or Ross. These bowls fit snugly into the cup holder of a car seat and the serving size is great. Lunchskins are also great. These reusable bags come in various sizes - we have the snack (fits half a sandwich perfectly), sandwich, and sub bags (fits 2 sandwiches nicely).
- Veggie pancakes are great traveling food and store well in the freezer.
- A list of good foods for small toddlers can be found on my Traveling Toddler Treats post
- Some hints about road tripping can be found on my The 10.5 Hour Road Trip post