Use this camping food checklist as a guide to help you plan your next trip. It has suggestions and ideas to consider, whether you’ve got a full RV or if you’ve got everything strapped to your back.
One of the most over-looked components of packing food for a camping trip is the cooking utensils, condiments, and other items that you’ll need to make it a meal. Things to consider are:
- How are you going to cook it?
- How will the campers eat it?
- Do they need a bowl, spoons, etc..?
- Does the food need to be refrigerated or kept cool prior to cooking?
All of these sound like minor details, but they add to your camping food checklist as you start to pack!
Here are some items that you’ll want to pack…
Most campers underestimate the amount of water that they’ll need. If you’re going to a campsite with running water, just bring enough containers for drinking water, sanitary water (face, hands, teeth brushing, etc..), and cooking water. If you’re going out into the wilderness, you’ll want to pack enough water for these things. Note: The weight of water adds up quickly! If you’re backpacking, you’ll want to limit your load to one gallon (8 pounds). Research the area and bring purification tablets or a kettle for boiling, as you’ll want to know where to find water. Most good trail maps and ranger stations can help you find the good water holes.
Sometimes it’s a nice treat to have a drink mix with dinner around the campfire. If you have the car space, you might be able to even bring cans of soda or juice, but if it’s all being carried in a backpack, it’s nice having some single serve drink packets. These are lightweight and are refreshing when you’ve been drinking water all day.
With just a simple pot and lid, rice is a lightweight and filling meal. Add some Tabasco, vegetables, the catch of the day, or some other seasonings and it really can be the main course.
A good trail mix, with cereal, nuts, raisins, and even some chocolate chips can be a tasty snack that can hold off hungry campers until chow. It’s also a good mix of protein and carbohydrates for energy on the trail. On really hot days, skip the chocolate because the whole mix will turn into a melted mess. If you’re going camping for multiple days, split the trail mix into several bags so that you don’t run out of it on day 1!
Fruit is a very convenient, healthy, and biodegradable food choice that’s ideal for camping and hiking. There are no wrappers or waste to contend with and with a small cup of yogurt, you can turn a bowl of sliced fruit into a delicious dessert!
Hot dogs are a very easy dinner to make and can be cooked simply with a pointed stick over the campfire. It works best when the flames have died down a bit and the embers are putting off a lot of heat. This will give you a better cook than if you hold the hot dog in the flames. Don’t forget the ice pack to keep the hot dogs cold, the bag of rolls, and a bottle of mustard…and then you’re ready for dinner!
This one can be a matter of preference, but a good bag of low-salt smoked beef strips can be a high-protein snack that’s light, tasty, and needs no ice packs. This is a good idea for the hikers and backpackers looking for a filling snack.
The Other Stuff…
I’ve been on a number of hikes and campouts where we forgot one critical item: extra matches, a pot large enough to boil more than one person’s water, a can-opener, extra iodine tablets, utensils, rope, an extra water bottle, etc… It only takes a few minutes to make a camping food checklist and mentally rehearse what it takes to prepare the meals. You and your campers will be happy that you did!
I hope this camping food checklist was helpful as you build up your list of things to bring. There are plenty of other ideas. Check out the camping recipes page for some more ideas.