There is nothing quite like unplugging in nature and camping is a great family activity to do so. During the summer or on vacation, it is normally hard to eat "right" and stick to a good routine. We want to let go and relax, and we should! However, our food and health shouldn't suffer too much because of it. I completely agree with the 80/20 rule. Have fun and do not stress out about what you are eating (that will add more stress to the body), but also make good, healthy decisions whenever you can. And of course any time you choose real food over processed it's a win-win.
Back in July, my family and I took one week and planned two types of camping trips. The first half of the week was camping in a cabin by hiking trails and streams at a NY state park, and the second half was out in Rhode Island where we pitched a tent on a campsite and drove to the beach to get the best of both worlds. While a lot to squeeze in for the week, we made sure to prepare ahead of time so it was less to think about as far as meals and snacks.
When it comes to camping and survival tips, I leave that to the hubby because he is the ultimate professional. Trust me, I was never the "camper" growing up (even with all those years in girl scouts) as my family grew up in the city. "Troop Beverly Hills" was more my style as my mom would say (now I'm really showing my age with that movie mention hah). How I turned into this camping, hiking and homesteader mom I will never know, but am sure glad I did (and can't help but thank my husband for teaching me the ropes).
In this article, I will focus solely on some real food camping tips for you and the whole family! Let's have some fun with this, mommas, and enjoy our kids while they still want to go on vacation with us!
How Long is Your Trip and What Type of Gear?
Are you sleeping in a tent, cabin or a camper? Will you have electricity or running water? How long will you be camping for? Where is the nearest the bathroom? These are all great questions to help prepare you for real food camping (and I threw the bathroom question in because of real life motherhood and potty training - it's always good to have a bathroom nearby and pack a travel potty for the kids!)
If you have a camper or cabin, for example, and access to electricity then you can bring a toaster oven, a blender or a coffee pot with you! Also you most likely will have a fridge so you can prepare more meals and bring more food with you and/or stay a longer duration.
Real Food Camping Inspiration
How to Prepare for Your Trip
Make food ahead of time such as pancakes, muffins or dips like guacamole (if you do not buy store-bought). You can reheat certain foods with your own method of cooking.
Prepare a pot of coffee in the morning before you head out in the car and store in a hot thermos to keep warm. That should give you at least 24 hours of hot (or warm) coffee if you have a high quality thermos.
Fill up everyone's water bottles for your travels and make sure to pack a separate "snack" bag for the car ride that you can easily grab within reach for the kiddos.
Depending on how long you will be camping for, research farmer's markets or farm-stands nearby (if you wish to purchase fresh meat, seafood or produce to cook). The following sites are a great place to start: localharvest.org, http://eatlocalgrown.com/, or www.buyfreshbuylocal.org.
Again, depending on the length of your vacation you will only be able to bring a certain amount of perishable food. Research local supermarkets or health food stores for groceries that you can pick up, local farm-to-table restaurants to eat out or plan your trip for a shorter duration such as an overnight or weekend.
Real Food Cooking Gear to Pack
Cooler with ice
Cast iron skillet
Small pot/pan for boiling water, making soup or reheating foods
Hand towels (or recycled paper towels)
Plates, bowls, cups, utensils from home (or opt for compostable ones in a travel pack like this)
Mugs from home or compostable hot cups
Ziplock bags (or alternative water-proof storage items)
Coffee percolator (stove-top; non-electric) or french-press
Gallons or quarts of filtered water (avoid individual bottled water if possible)
Bucket (for washing dishes)
Lighters (for campfire)
Parchment paper and plastic wrap
Dried sage: not for cooking, light a smudge stick and keep close by to keep the bugs away!
General Non-Perishable Foods
Dried spices/herbs of choice (granulated garlic, parsley, Italian blend)
Ghee (clarified butter; non-dairy)
Avocado or olive oil
Sea salt and pepper
Homemade salad dressing (olive oil, apple cider vinegar, seasoning, sea salt)
Lemons or limes
Cinnamon or pumpkin spice (add to coffee or tea)
Trader Joe's 'Everything but the Bagel Spice' (or spice blends of your choice!)
Organic ketchup and mustard
Quart of organic broth (store-bought better for traveling; if homemade keep frozen)
Simple Meals to Cook
Grilled vegetables with red or green onions
Grilled chicken thighs and legs (skin-on, bone-in)
Wild caught cod or shrimp (cook over fire with ghee, lemon and sea salt)
Organic vegetable soup
Organic green salad with homemade dressing
Grass-fed beef hamburgers and uncured hot dogs (gluten free buns, sourdough buns, or in a lettuce wrap)
Pancakes (just add water mixes are convenient (Birch Benders is a great brand) or just reheat if you make these ahead of time with some ghee or oil in a pan.
Eggs (soft boiled, hard boiled, over-easy or scrambled)
Bacon or sausage
Easy Snacks, Sides or Lunches
Grain-free or sprouted granola
Organic granola bars
Organic fruit (apples, pears, bananas, and clementines travel well)
Nut, seed or coconut butter
Sourdough crackers or grain-free crackers
Beef or Turkey Jerky (from grass-fed animals like these)
Sprouted nuts or seeds (or an organic trail-mix)
Chia Squeeze travel packs (for the kiddos!)
Uncured, nitrate-free cold cuts (ham, turkey, cheese)
Raw, local sauerkraut
Raw, aged cheeses
Guacamole or hummus dip.
Avocados (cut in half, hold from the skin and eat with a spoon; drizzle some olive oil, lemon juice, sea salt and seasonings of choice)
Organic celery, carrots, grape tomatoes, snap peas (easy to travel with or for group snacking)
Kombucha or kefir water
Travel instant organic coffee - just add hot water (don't forget to bring your own ground, organic coffee with your french press too!)
Traditional Medicinal organic herbal teas (lemon balm, red raspberry leaf and chamomile are great choices). If you normally purchase loose tea leaves, bring with you for the french press!
Organic graham crackers, marshmallows & dark chocolate (can't forget the s'mores for dessert!)
Real Food Camping Slideshow
As I previously mentioned in my real food travel hacks article, remember that no one is perfect (in diet or in life) and to just relax and have fun with food. It should never add to stress and it should be an integral part of your trip with lasting memories. Wishing you and your family real food adventures!