All it takes is a plan and a little prep to create delicious, heart-healthy meals that will be the envy of the campground.
Camping for us is rustic – no tent trailers or RVs, just a good old tent and sleeping bags. We do splurge on some luxuries like mattress pads and a camp stove, but we cook most of our food over the campfire.
We love roasting sausages (we get the lean turkey ones) and marshmallows over the fire; it is the reason my son goes camping. But we certainly eat healthy meals as well — it just takes a little planning. Here are my tips for healthier camping:
- Make a menu for the days you’ll be away. Where to start? Try my three-day menu plan below.
- Make sure you’ve got a good cooler with access to ice, to ensure food safety.
- Marinate chicken pieces or lean pork loin slices in zip-top freezer bags and freeze them before you leave — they thaw as you travel and all you have to do is throw them on a grill when you’re ready for dinner. For a tasty marinade try Zippy chicken thighs.
- A first-night alternative is to put together a one-pot meal (like turkey chili or a lean stew) with meat or beans and veggies, and leave it to simmer on the campfire while you pitch the tent.
- Pack lots of fruits and veggies for snacking or stop at roadside fruit stand on your way to the campsite — local summer fruit are the juiciest and the sweetest!
- Canned tuna or salmon are good choices for beyond the first day since they do not require refrigeration. You can make a quick sandwich or add to a pasta meal with melted cheese for dinner. I look for options that are canned in water rather than oil, and lower in sodium.
- Make up a whole grain pancake mix at home and just add milk or water when you’re ready to cook. Eggs are not needed (I make mine without as my son is allergic to eggs). Or bake a batch of Banana strawberry muffins at home and bring them along frozen.
- Wrap potatoes in foil and put them in the campfire embers to cook overnight — perfect for pan-fried potatoes or hash browns for breakfast the next morning!
- Squash can be prepared the same way — cut a butternut, acorn or any type of squash with a hard skin into half, add a small amount of margarine and fresh herbs, wrap with foil and place skin side down in embers to cook for about half an hour.
- Bring extra zip-top bags or containers for dinner leftovers; pop them in the cooler and save for lunch the next day!
Now here’s a meal plan that will get you through three days with delicious, nutritious and simple meals.
Day 1 dinner
- Grilled marinated chicken or pork tenderloin
- Quinoa or Brown rice pilaf
- Zucchini, mushroom and asparagus wrapped in foil
Day 2 brunch
- Leftover chicken or pork or turkey sausages (roasted over the fire last night)
- Pan-fried potatoes with onions, mushrooms and peppers
- Whole wheat toast or buns
Day 2 dinner
- Pasta with canned tuna or lentils, melted cheese and veggies (peas/broccoli/carrots)
- Or fish cooked in foil packets, if you catch any
- Salad with low-fat dressing
Day 3 breakfast
- Whole wheat pancakes or muffins
- Fresh fruit salad and yogurt