Condo Blues: 8 Ways to Eat Healthy When Camping

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

8 Ways to Eat Healthy When Camping

Someone complained that it is hard to eat healthy while camping during a recent Girls Night Out (#gno) Twitter party. I disagree! Every vacation of my childhood involved camping of some sort. My parents often referred to our camper as their hotel room on wheels. Because we brought a kitchen with us, we ate healthy while traveling.

The first summer we were married, Husband and I road tripped from Ohio to South Dakota tent camping all the way. People pitied us because they thought we ate crappy food. Not so. Even when camping in a tent, Husband and I always eat very well. Generally our kitchen is a cooler, a propane grill, and an electric teakettle. (You may consider the electric teakettle cheating but I need caffeine in the morning or else I will turn into a grizzly bear, ‘K?)

Here’s how we eat healthy while camping in a tent. If you have a camper with a little kitchen it’s even easier.

  1. Plan ahead – I don’t do a weekly meal plan at home but I do when we were camping. That way, I can pack the car and cooler with what we need for our trip and nothing more since space is at a premium. My mom used this strategy to counter fussy kid eaters. We only have room in our small camper kitchen to bring certain food so that was what we ate or we didn’t eat. 
  2. Make what you normally would at home – Most of the food you normally eat at home can be cooked at a campsite with a few tweaks. You can stir fry vegetables in olive oil on a camp stove just as easily as you can on your big kitchen stove at home although you might consider serving it with pasta because it has a faster cooking time than rice and will use less propane to prepare. 
  3. Make things up ahead of time – Sadly, there isn’t room service at a campground, which means that the family cook doesn’t get a vacation. If you make things up ahead of time like Sloppy Joe or a cold salad, you can easily cook from scratch at home and have a quick healthy meal while camping. I like to make hummus at home and pack it in the cooler. Hummus makes a great sandwich spread and vegetable dip while on the road! 
  4. Sometimes you might want to take a cooking shortcut – While I’m a big advocate of cooking from scratch, sometimes the convenience or space saving aspect of prepared food will win out during a camping trip. Some of my favorites include spaghetti sauce and whole wheat pasta, veggie burgers, tabouleh mix, deli made stuffed grape leaves, and red wine. Yes, I consider stuffed grape leaves and red wine roughing it because I drink my wine out of a coffee mug. To save space I leave the stemware at home. 
  5. Take advantage of cooking outdoors – You can grill meat, veggies, fish, and kebabs on your patio just as easily as you can on a grill them at campground. Grilled bananas make an excellent camping treat! 
  6. Fruit as snacks – Fresh fruit is so much more refreshing on a hot day than salty snacks. In addition, you can easily park the kids outside when fruit juice dribbles all over their chins instead of letting it dribble all over the inside of your RV or tent. 
  7. Popcorn over the campfire (or camp stove) – As long as you don’t slather it in sticks of butter and pile on a mountain of salt, popcorn can be a healthier snack choice than potato chips.
    • Tip: Try sprinkling oregano or basil or both over your popcorn to make Popcorn Pizza – yum! 
  8. Think healthy drinks – Consider bringing iced teas, lemonade, and bring your own water from home if the water at the campground may bother your tummy (sometimes this happens with me.)
    • Tip: To save money and cut down on waste, fill up reusable water bottles with drinks for the family throughout the day.
    • Tip #2: Put your drinks in a separate cooler to keep the kiddos from opening and closing the camper’s refrigerator or the food storage cooler so often. This goes double if you’re tent camping and you have to keep your food cold in a cooler with ice.
While going on a camping vacation you can eat just as healthy as you do at home. Although I do let that slide a little bit when I’m on vacation because who can resist making and sharing s’mores with friends over a campfire? Not me!

How do you eat healthy while on vacation or camping? Or you do you follow the 80-20 Rule and figure that vacation or camping is the 20% of the time you can throw caution to the wind and eat whatever you want?

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I would be promoting simple healthy meal ideas just like the one in this post. It would be a dream come true!

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Rachel (Hounds in the Kitchen) said...

Good tips. We just went backcountry camping with 19 people and ate very well. Meals were tasty, healthy, lightweight, and completely non-refrigerated. I'll be sharing some tips and recipes in the coming weeks on my blog if people are interested in that kind of extreme camp cooking.

Daisy said...

Planning is a large part of it. Keep basics/ staples in the supplies, pack healthy snacks, and stay hydrated. Many easy foods taste so much better over a fire or cooked on a grill!

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