Camping is a great way to shake up your routine and get some exercise that is different than the norm. A day spent hiking around not only burns a lot of calories but also boasts a lot of benefits for your brain as well. Whether you’re hiking or simply going for a leisurely walk while camping, spending time outside is one of the best ways to de-stress. The constant hustle and bustle of everyday life can take quite a toll, and sometimes we don’t realize how unhealthy it is, and the damage it’s caused until we take a step away to recharge.
While there are numerous health benefits of spending time outside and camping, it does pose a challenge in ensuring that the food you’re eating while camping is healthy. To simplify things, to save space, and to maximize the amount of time you get to enjoy the outdoors rather than cook, oftentimes the default is to pick quick and easy options. Unfortunately, the items that are the quickest and easiest are usually the options that don’t offer many health benefits.
However, with some knowledge, ideas, and planning, you can keep your healthy habits while camping — you don’t have to default to roasting hot dogs simply because it’s, well, simple. Here are our top tips on how to stay healthy while camping.
5 Ways To Stay Healthy in the Wild
If you’re anything like us, snacks are life. Whether it’s chips, nuts, trail mix, beef jerky — we love it all. However, most of the snacks that are associated with camping are not going to provide you with much nutritional benefit and may end up doing more harm than good. Though we aren’t suggesting that you get rid of your s’mores tradition (it is camping, after all), we do know of some easy ways for you to eat healthy food that actually tastes good while you’re camping.
Fast food became so popular because it provides a quick on-the-go option that doesn’t require any planning. However, we all know that fast food is not something we should eat regularly, as it is some of the worst food out there. Fast food is what you reach for when you failed to plan.
Camping isn’t much different. While there may not be a McDonald’s in the wild, there are food options that are equivalent to fast food that require little to no planning (hello again, campfire hot dogs).
By spending just a bit of time planning before your camping trip, you can avoid any of those last-minute, fast food choices.
Our favorite way is to make a spreadsheet for your camping trip and plan what to eat for each meal. By taking the time to do this ahead, you won’t worry about scrambling around in your groceries at camp trying to piece a meal together. And you’ll also be less likely to reach for unhealthy alternatives. One of the reasons for that will be that you didn’t plan any unhealthy foods, so you won’t have any to reach for!
We love that a menu also serves as a great packing list for food, so you’re really getting two-for-one with this.
When making your menu, stick to items that are easy to pack and that don’t take much time to make.
2. Prep Ahead of Time
You are almost there, but it is not quite enough to only plan out a menu and pick nutritious meals. To stay healthy while camping, you also need to prep food ahead of time. This will make sure that being healthy while camping doesn’t only happen one time, and instead becomes your new routine.
By prepping food ahead of time, you take away the need to spend your time outdoors cooking, and you also cut the option to reach for fast, unhealthy food when you’re in a hurry. Rather than coming back to camp after a day of hiking, only to reach for some hot dogs and potato chips because they are quick and easy, imagine coming back after a day of hiking to reach for a healthy salad or nutritious meal that is ready to refuel you.
Preparing your food ahead of time helps you to stay away from foods packed with sugars and other unhealthy filler additives.
3. Only Bring Healthy Snacks
We would never suggest that you stop snacking entirely. That is part of the fun of camping that we don’t feel you have to give up, as long as you do it smartly. And the only way to snack smart is to allow yourself to have only healthy snacks.
We’ve all been there where we say “I’ll have just a couple of chips, and then I’m done.” And we’ve all regretted not stopping after those two chips and instead of plowing through the whole bag. With all the addictive ingredients in snacks such as chips, it is pretty much impossible to only have a couple. To avoid overindulgence in snacks, bring healthy snacks that give you the same satisfaction of eating something between meals, but without the guilt. Some of our favorite snacks include fresh fruit, dried fruit, nuts, protein bars, and veggies with hummus.
4. Get Moving
If you’re the type of camper who enjoys relaxing at the camp as opposed to adventuring around, that’s great! There is really no wrong way to camp.
However, if your preference is to soak up the views from your camping chair rather than explore the wilderness, then find some time during the day to get moving a little bit. Even just taking a short nearby trail to get in some steps will make you feel much better, and your body will thank you for the movement. Is walking not your thing? Then go for a quick swim if you’re near water. Or, if you’re really committed to staying at the camp, roll out a yoga mat and do some yoga to get your blood flowing.
Incorporating movement into your day in the form that works best for you will help you make healthier decisions while camping.
5. Drink Water
Did you know that you should be drinking half of your weight in ounces of water a day? That means if you weigh 160, you should drink 80 ounces of water per day. Unfortunately, many people don’t consume that much water and the lack of water does damage to the body.
Your body needs water to flush itself out, and also to keep everything in your body running smoothly. On top of that, many times we mistake thirst for hunger. Our body is telling us it needs something, and we assume that it needs food. But oftentimes, what it’s really asking for is water. So if you think you’re hungry, drink a glass of water first. If you feel full, then you were simply thirsty. And if you still feel hungry after that glass, then you truly are hungry.
When camping and potentially spending more time moving and exercising than you’re used to, you should up your water consumption even more. If you aren’t able to pack in enough water to last you through your trip, get some electrolytes to put in your water. These help to take your hydration to another level and are also great for those mornings after a night of too many beers by the fire. The Liquid IV powder is our favorite. These packets are easy to take on-the-go and require nothing but you pouring the packet into a bottle of water and shaking it up. Plus, they taste delicious and come in a wide variety of flavors.
Healthy Camping Recipes
To make the planning of the menu and the prepping of the food easier for you, we’ve found some of our favorite healthy KOA recipes to share.
These things will quickly become your go-to meals for camping.
This healthy treat is a great way to start the day, and also requires zero cooking. Simply prep everything ahead of time and you are ready to enjoy!
- Granola, cereal, bran, or muesli
- Plain greek yogurt
- Bananas, sliced
- In a bowl or cup layer granola (or other chosen base), topped with a few spoonfuls of yogurt, next comes the sliced banana, and top it off with honey.
Quick No-Mess Camp Omelets (In a Bag)
Talk about simple breakfasts! This way of doing omelets may become a family tradition, even when at home.
- 2 Eggs (per person)
- Breakfast meat (precooked, diced) – ham, bacon, sausage, etc.
- Veggies – onions, peppers, black olives, green chilies, etc.
- Hashbrowns or rolls (leftovers – broken up)
- Shredded cheese
- Toppings (Tobasco, Ketchup, Taco Sauce, etc.)
- Sandwich-sized freezer bags (one per person)
- Cooking spray
- Tall cooking pot with lid
- Metal tongs
- Spray inside each baggie with a bit of Pam
- Whip and pour the 2 eggs into each bag
- Add options & SEAL baggie tightly (leave some air)
- Lower each egg-baggie bottom into water (lean top of baggie over the edge of the pot, and hold with lid). Simmer in a low rolling boil, until cooked through (5-10 minutes +/-)
- Use metal tongs to pinch baggies every couple of minutes to be sure ALL eggs are cooked throughout
- Lift fully-cooked egg baggie from the pot
- Open CAREFULLY (hot) and slide out of baggie onto plate and top with your favorites (Shredded Cheese, Tobasco, Ketchup, Taco Sauce, Ranch. etc.)
This lunch (or dinner) is a great way to get some vegetables mixed in and is easy to prep ahead of time.
- 8 tortillas
- 1-1/2 pound(s) round steak or boneless chicken breasts, cut into long thin strips
- 3 Tbsp lemon juice
- 1 Tbsp oil
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 tsp chili powder
- 2 Tbsp fresh cilantro, chopped
- 5 Tbsp teriyaki sauce
- 1 green pepper
- 1 yellow pepper
- 1 red pepper
- 1 yellow onion
- In small bowl mix lemon juice, oil, cumin, salt, chili powder, and cilantro
- Pour over beef or chicken strips in a sealable plastic bag and marinate for at least 30 minutes
- While meat is marinating slice the onion, red, green, and yellow peppers into strips and set aside
- Heat two more tablespoons of oil in a large skillet over medium heat and add the marinated meat. Fry for 4 to 5 minutes and then add the onion, and peppers
- Continue to cook over medium-low heat and pour in the teriyaki sauce
- When the onions and peppers are cooked to your liking, transfer over to the tortillas and serve with lettuce, tomatoes, and sour cream
- In small bowl mix lemon juice, oil, cumin, salt, chili powder, and cilantro. Pour over beef or chicken strips in a sealable plastic bag and marinate for at least 30 minutes. While meat is marinating slice the onion, red, green, and yellow peppers into strips and set aside.
- Heat two more tablespoons of oil in a large skillet over medium heat and add the marinated meat. Fry for 4 to 5 minutes and then add the onion, and peppers. Continue to cook over medium-low heat and pour in the teriyaki sauce. When the onions and peppers are cooked to your liking transfer over to the tortillas and serve with lettuce, tomatoes, and sour cream.
Few recipes are as simple as this one, and few taste as nice on a cool night.
- 2 cans black beans, drained and rinsed
- 1 can beef broth
- 1/2 jar salsa
- 2 tsp cumin
- Mix and heat
- Top with sour cream, diced green onion, and saltines
This easy way to eat some tasty fish will make that meal after a long day so much more enjoyable.
- Rainbow trout
- Squeeze butter or margarine
- Lemon slices
- Salt and pepper
- Prepare your freshly caught pan size Rainbow trout with squeeze margarine, or butter, slices of lemon, salt, and pepper
- Wrap in foil (enough to wrap around several times)
- Place in the campfire or on the grill (close to the coals) for about 7 minutes on each side
- Test fish for flakiness and cook more if needed
No matter where in the U.S. you’re camping, you can enjoy a little piece of Hawaii with this tasty chicken dish.
- 3 envelopes onion cup-a-soup
- 1-8 oz. can crushed pineapple, undrained
- 1 whole chicken breast, split
- 1 small green bell pepper, cut into strips
- 2-18 inch square pieces of heavy-duty aluminum foil
- In a small bowl, combine onion cup-a-soup and pineapple
- For each serving, place half the chicken, onion-pineapple mixture, and green pepper on the foil. Wrap loosely, sealing edges airtight with a double fold.
- Place on grill, seam-side up, over hot coals or high heat, and cook 45 minutes, or until chicken is tender
Leslie, a.k.a. Copy Girl, is a copywriter who gets butterflies from telling stories through words.
Her voice comes from a place filled with passion, dreams, and lots of sugar. “Cake over steak” is her go-to motto.
With over 10 years of experience in crafting words, and years of embarking on travels that have taken this Montana girl to some incredible places, Leslie love the adventures of both body and mind her writing takes her on.
Everywhere she goes, she takes this advice with her:
“Hold on to your divine blush, your innate rosy magic, or end up brown.” – Tom Robbins, Jitterbug Perfume
To see what Leslie’s up to in the writing world, visit her website here.