Best Camping Foods
The season of camping is upon us and that means a new year of making memories with your family and friends by hiking in the wilderness, visiting the nearby beach, or sharing a great meal together. When camping nothing really brings the family together like a home-cooked meal, where you can discuss the great day that you all just shared together. The problem lies in trying to decide what food you are going to bring, to create that great dinner atmosphere we all love while camping. The answer is below! We have done the research and brought you the top ten camping foods to make your life easier and give you more time eating and making memories with your family. So if you are in a bind when it comes to dinner time, the food below will give you some great ideas!
In a Hurry? The test winner after 14 hrs of research
A good amount of protein and calories
Top Ten Camping Foods
1. Jack Links Original Beef Jerky
A good amount of protein and calories
Could use more variety, you get sick of beef after awhile
When you're out on the trail and get a meat craving, sometimes all you have on you is a sandwich you made before leaving the campsite that you're trying to keep cold with ice packs so that it doesn't spoil. That's why you need a big bag of Jack Link's Original Beef Jerky in your backpack.Read more
The people at Jack Link's have kept the constant snacker in mind with the packaging of their great-tasting beef jerky. This big one-pound bag of it is resealable, so you really don't have to stop moving while you eat it.
Ease of Use
Jack Link's jerky is one protein-packed snack. In just one serving, there are 12 grams of protein and 80 calories, providing you with major energy just from a few minutes of snacking. This makes it very easy to add to your calorie intake for the day, and you don't even have to stop and cook. And, there are different flavors to choose from, such as sweet and hot teriyaki, hickory-smoked, and pepper.
Jack Link's great grandfather, Chris Link, came from the old country to America in the 1800s with lots of meat recipes. He passed down the recipes to his son Earl, then he gave them to his son Wolf, who then gave them to his son Jack, who started the jerky that we love today. Jack was actually out hunting himself when he got the idea from his son (the current owner of the brand) to start making jerky.
You can pass out some to your friends, have some yourself, then quickly toss it back in your backpack.
2. Kraft Original
Not the healthiest option
Everyone knows Kraft dinner and this food is a staple amongst generations of campers. it is quick and easy to make and is affordable when you are cooking for a large family. If you are looking for a great dinner that will be easy to prepare while on your next camping trip, check out Kraft Original.Read more
This product comes to you highly rated from customers who have decided to go with it for their camping trips. It is an affordable product that is great if you are cooking for a large group. You can also add in chopped hot dogs or other food to mix with it.
Ease of Use
Nothing is easier to make than Kraft Original. It might be one of the first things we learned to make as a child. You simply need to boil the noodles and once boiled added some butter and milk and the packaged cheese powder and let it sit. It's as easy as that!
Everyone knows Kraft. They make quality foods that we can use in our kitchens and on the road, and their products are always affordable.
This small box of Kraft Original is quite portable and easy to pack as it is a block shape, so if you have a couple of packages, they will fit nicely together and not be a nuisance to bring with you to your campsite.
3. Mountain House Breakfast Skillet
Compact food packaging
Easy to prepare
12-year shelf life for pouches
Some had troubles with consistency
With this Mountain House Breakfast Skillet, you get the whole meal deal for brekky. With hash browns, scrambled eggs, crumbled pork patties, peppers, and onions, you will not go hungry.Read more
The reviewers and testers all seem to agree, this meal prep kit comes in handy in various camping situations. Not to mention, it's the perfect meal addition to any emergency kit situation that you may have at home or car. You definitely will start your day off with a quick, as this kit includes major essentials of taste, such as eggs, pork sausage, and peppers and onion for taste.
Ease of Use
Along with the great reviews and taste tests, if you are looking for a meal that is beyond easy, has a long-lasting shelf life, and is tasty as heck, you won't go wrong with this kit.
Mountain House is one of the top providers of freeze-dried meals for camping and backpacking. They are a great company with a number of years providing meals to outdoor enthusiasts. If you decide to go ahead with one of their products, you will not be disappointed.
Travel light and easy with this meal kit in your backpack, as all you need to do is add water. The serving size that comes with this kit is 2 one-cup servings, so it won't feed a huge amount of people.
4. Peak Refuel
Have a good amount of protein
Comes in a variety of flavors
Could have more taste
These freezes dried packaged meals are quite convenient if you are looking for an easy to make and quick dinner that is packed with nutrients and calories to give you the extra energy that you need for the day of activities.Read more
These freeze-dried packaged meals are highly rated amongst previous customers as they are convenient and great if you are going backpacking or traveling a far distance to your campsite and want to bring a meal that will give you energy but is lightweight.
Ease of Use
They are quite easy to use as you simply need to open the packaging and hot water and seal the package. The hot water will cook your meal and it will be done and ready to eat in no time.
Peak Refuel is a great brand but it may not be as known as Mountain House. Their meals still pack a good amount of protein and will satisfy your hunger.
These packages are lightweight and make them great for backpacking or traveling as they are easy to pack and you will not notice them due to their weight.
5. Mountain House Noodles and Chicken
A large amount of food in every pouch
Packed with flavor
Could have a better taste
When you're winter camping, sometimes you may get the sniffles out on the trail. At times like those, there's nothing better than some hot Mountain House Noodles and Chicken.Read more
This is a meal you can eat directly out of the bag, with big hearty noodles and big chunks of chicken. Everyone likes big servings, especially after putting out so much energy hiking. When you do have time to stop, it's great when you have a meal that can refuel your physical batteries.
Ease of Use
This creamy soup with red peppers is delicious, the bag is very easy to carry, and the meal only takes a few minutes to prepare. There's nothing better than a nice hot cup of soup when you have to hunker down in snowy areas spontaneously.
Mountain House has a reputation for making good food, and their noodles and chicken is one of their most popular items, especially among cold-weather campers.
Each bag contains two and a half servings, 33 carbs and 220 calories a serving, and most campers are hungry enough to eat the whole bag after a very physically demanding day.
6. Folgers Classic Instant Coffee
Historically delicious coffee
Does not taste like home brewed coffee, but does the job
About a year before James A. Folger (the originator of Folgers Coffee) died, he wrote a letter to his son James A. Folger, Jr., that gave him some wise advice about running a business. It read that making money comes second to having a good reputation. Folgers is one of the most well-loved brand coffees ever, and their Individual Classic Instant Coffee packs make it easy to take the wonderful flavor camping with you.Read more
When you wake up in the morning at home, coffee is probably one of the first things you grab for. So you definitely don't want to deprive yourself of it while you're out camping with your friends and family.
Ease of Use
One of the primary things you need when camping is boiled water, and as long as you have it you can enjoy your nice hot cup of Folgers just about anytime, whether you're at the campsite or making a stop out on the hiking trail.
Folgers is always been dedicated to developing the best tasting coffee possible. It's the thing that stands out the most in the entire Folgers story. James A. Folger, Sr. is said to have started what's called cup testing. He personally taste-tested bean shipments that were coming into San Francisco in order to develop a taste of coffee that would stand out above the competition. It was 1854 when he found that mountain-grown beans are what made the coffee smell and taste the best.
These individual single packets are better than carrying around the jar of instant coffee, simply because the jar weighs more and you want as less weight on you as possible when out exploring. They also create less waste, and when you're done with one you can simply stick the small wrapper in your backpack until you get back to the site to throw it away.
7. Mountain House Chili Mac with Beef
12 grams of protein
31 carbs per serving
May require seasoning
There are certain foods that are popular for camping. One of them is macaroni and cheese, and another one is chili. When they are combined, you have one of the best dinner combinations ever invented, and the Mountain House Chili Mac with Beef is one of their most popular entrees yet among campers.Read more
Chili mac is such a loved dish that everyone always wants big portions of it. These pouches are two and a half one-cup servings and, although they are meant to serve two people, a camper or hiker at the end of a long day will enjoy an entire bag to themselves easily. When out doing physical camping activities you need your carbs and protein, otherwise, fatigue and/or headaches will set in. This delicious Mountain House dish is filled with real noodles, beans, cheese, and beef.
Ease of Use
As with most of their meals, all you need is boiling water and you're good to go. You can eat the chili mac right out of the bag, then just reseal it, fold it down, stick it into the bottom of your backpack, and throw it away into a recycling can when you get back to the campsite.
One of the best things about Mountain House meals is that they're easy to prepare, and all you really need is a spoon, fork or spork to eat them without on the trail.
With these pouches carrying freeze-dried food, they are quite lightweight and easy to transport. If you have a weekend worth, you will barely feel them and can travel easy.
8. Harmony House Backpacking Kit
Harmony House Foods have no GMOs
A wonderful value for the price
Good variety of ingredients
Vegetables are fresh so you may have to add your own seasonings
Many times when you're out on the trail or back at the campsite, there may be meals where you feel like you're missing something. It's very inconvenient to have to bring a lot of cans with you just to get the vegetables you need for preparing things like large stews. That's why Harmony House has developed this Backpacking Kit with a wonderful mix of all the dehydrated items you need.Read more
The kit has a large variety of vegetables, beans, and other fresh food items. for example, if you want to add potatoes to a large stew, there's a big bag of diced one in here.
For the price, you really can't lose with this loaded backpacking kit. It comes with two bags of carrots, two bags of potatoes, two bags of green beans, and a bag each of diced tomatoes, celery, green beans, corn, cabbage, red and green peppers, onions, and four types of beans, black, northern, red and Pinto. This large kit is going to last you for a few camping expeditions depending on how many times you go camping a year, and how many people go with you.
Ease of Use
These pouches are actually ingredients, you will still need to combine them and cook them to create a meal. They are good for snacking on, but when it comes to an actual meal, there will still be some preparation involved.
Harmony House Foods is not as known of a brand as other food suppliers for camping that are on the market, but they do produce quality food. If you are looking for something quick and easy to eat on your next camping trip then maybe you might want to look at another brand.
This backpacking kit is not only good for camping foods but also to have around the house. Still, they're especially good for camping because they're very lightweight.
9. Wise Company's 60 Serving Entrée
Long shelf life of 20+ years
Food is tasty and easy to prepare
Hard to transport complete
The Wise Company 60 Serving Entrée Only Grab and Go Food Kit is wonderful to have on any outdoor camping trip, whether you eat them at the campsite or out backpacking. They guarantee you a hot hearty meal and anytime you need it.Read more
This food kit has enough food for one adult to eat for an entire month, or if someone was to split it with three of their friends it would last each of them a week.
Ease of Use
These food pouches are quite easy to use and are great if you are in a hurry to eat or if you are in an emergency situation and need something quick without using too many cooking utensils.
This grab-and-go food kit is not only good for camping but also for emergency preparedness. Many people who live in areas of the country that have frequent natural disasters such as hurricanes, earthquakes or floods may at those times need an emergency food supply. So, when they get the kit for camping they may pick up a few extra ones just to have there at the house.
People like the entrees because they're lightweight to carry on hikes, and because they allow them to prepare a lot of food all at once. For example, if you're in the mountains hiking with a group, one bag could provide a big meal for everyone. Still, some people who camp alone feel that the bags are too big because once you open them you have to cook everything at once, being that they're not resealable.
10. Patriot Pantry Emergency Meals Kit
Easy to prepare
Your family, friends, and most importantly, you, will not go hungry with this hearty Patriot Pantry Emergency Meals Kit on hand. With 48 meal servings and seven different options to choose from, you will be prepared with this food kit.Read more
There are seven different meals included in this kit. The meals include chili, mac and cheese, black bean and rice soup, Alfredo, savory rice, stew, and creamy chicken rice. So while you will definitely get your fair share of carbohydrates with this kit, you definitely get a ton of great-tasting options to choose from.
Ease of Use
These meals are simple, quick, and easy to prepare; you just need to ensure that you have a stove top, pot, some oil, and water, and you should be good to go.
The benefit of this product is that it has a shelf life of 25 years, so even if you don't use it camping, it's a good food option to have on hand for a time when you need meal prep help.
The meals in this pack are all simple to prepare and should take no more than 15 minutes to make, and it all comes in a slim storage container for easy travel and packing.
Criteria Used for Evaluation
The foods chosen above were chosen for two types of camping trips, single and multi-day. They are packed with high energy, (even the s’ mores!), and prepare you for whatever activity that you have planned for that day. You want a good mix of carbohydrates, proteins, and fats. That’s why the trail mix with the M&Ms and nuts in it is so popular because it fuels you up whether you’re out and about moving around or sitting back relaxing on the campsite.
Dried bananas and other dried fruits are also nutritious and good to grab at whatever you get the munchies on a camping trip. If you’re trying to make sure your kids continue to eat healthy on the camping trip, then get plenty of dried fruits. Always have granola bars on you – make it a habit to grab a few of them every time you leave the campsite. Just stuff them down in your pockets or your backpack, they’re delicious and really good for you.
Ease of Use
Whether or not you make it to your destination by the end of that day is going to depend on how convenient your camping food is to eat. All those granola bars trail mix and freeze-dried foods will keep you on schedule because they take next to no time to prepare. A good rule of thumb is to try to find the same types of food that you eat at home in freeze-dried form. This way, you’re not sacrificing taste for convenience. Same thing with drinks, such as coffee. Whatever brand you normally have at homebrewing in your coffee pot, get the same instant brand when you come camping.
Sometimes how convenient your food is will depend on what you have to prepare it with. If you have a small camping stove that can fit in your backpack you’ll be able to cook those freeze-dried meals in a jiffy while out on the trail. If you have a nice camping stove with burners that have a good amount of BTUs back at the campsite, then you’ll be able to prepare more of the meals that you like. If it’s snowing, and you prepare hot food back at the campsite that you want to take with you, store it in the part of your backpack that’s closest to your body so that it stays warm and eat it as soon as you can. You should do this with your freeze-dried meals and most of your other food too when camping in winter conditions.
The reputation of the companies that make the freeze-dried meals was thoroughly considered in this evaluation. For example, Mountain House is one of the most popular companies today that make freeze-dried camping food. They started out making food for the US Special Forces during Vietnam when the military started asking for better tasting food for the troops. They needed foods they could carry out with them to the field that weighed less and lasted longer. The company was established in the late 1960s and has been providing nutritious freeze-dried food for well over half a century. Their items have been everywhere from the Earth’s highest mountain ranges to the Moon and back.
Another well-liked company by campers and backpackers is Harmony House Foods. They received the 2007 Backpacker Magazine Award, and they were named Business People of the Year by the North Carolina SBA. Their products have been enjoyed worldwide from Italy to the UK to Germany, and they just started doing door to door business in Canada in 2017.
Backpacker’s Pantry started back in 1951 and helped to initiate the trend of freeze-dried food that was easy to prepare with boiled water. The Wise Company the other brands on the is not only famous for their camping food, but for the products they produce. For example, they produce camping stoves and camping cooking utensils. The other brands on the list of reviews were also chosen because of their rich histories for making their customers happy – Folgers, Hershey’s, Jack Link’s and Planters.
Make sure you take the appropriate types of foods for the stoves or cooking ware you plan on bringing. To make sure you still eat healthy while camping or hiking there are also plenty of nourishing items on our list. Make sure that the food you bring can fit into your pack with ease and will not weigh too much and cause you stress and pain while journeying to your campsite. There are a variety of different foods and packaging on the market, so find one that will give you the nutrients you need and at the same time be easy to transport.
Expert Interviews & Opinions
Most of these camping foods are very convenient and taste great but require that you pour boiling water into the package to hydrate the food. If you cannot boil water, you will have a hard time enjoying these tasty camping food options. So make sure that you not only have your camping food handy but also have a way to cook as well.
When looking for camping food, do not only look at the price and how much you will get but focus on the taste. What good is getting a bunch of cheap food that will be bland and not taste like anything? The best way to ensure that you are getting a product that will taste great and be affordable is to check the customer reviews. This way you are getting the opinions of customers who decided to go ahead with the food and put its taste to the test.
Other Factors to Consider
When you are looking for the next food to bring with you on your next camping trip so you can make some quality meals for yourself or for your friends, you want to make sure that you are getting food that will taste great and be easy to prepare. You want food that will be easy to prepare as when you are camping out in the wilderness you will not have the tools that you would find in your kitchen, so you want meals that you can make using basic tools.
Frequently Asked Questions
q: What kind of camping meal options do I have?
You don’t want to deprive yourself of too many things that you normally eat, but when it comes to fresh foods, you don’t have the luxury of a refrigerator when you are out hiking on the trail. A few fruits or perishable food items that you do carry with you in your backpack are only going to last like a day and a half, so you have to eat them the first days of the trip. I mean there are other options, such as dried fruits that you can eat on the trail, so you don’t deprive yourself of these fresh items completely.
But, for the most part, for large meals out on the trail, you’ll be more dependent on pre-packaged foods, ones that only need boiled water to prepare. These prepackaged freeze-dried meals give you options so that you don’t have to eat the same thing over and over again. Many of them are packaged in cans, but they’re not recommended for long hikes being that they take up so much space in your backpack. The pouch packs of food are much lighter, are resealable, and don’t contribute to so much waste. When you’re done eating one, you could simply push all the air out of it, reseal it, fold it down and put it in your backpack until you get back to the campsite to throw away. The best thing to do with these meals is to bring your favorite spices with you if you can. Just the basics, salt, pepper, maybe a small bottle of Tabasco sauce. You don’t want to load your backpack up with too much extra stuff, but a few seasonings and spices won’t be a problem.
q: How much food should I bring on the camping trip?
A good rule of thumb when camping is to bring just a little bit more than you need. If you’re an experienced camper and you’re traveling by yourself, then you probably have a good idea how much food to bring. But what if you get stuck out there for longer than you expected for, say, unexpected heavy rain that keeps you hunkered down in the same spot in your tent for an extra day or so out on the trail? Having to sit tight for a but to let the weather pass could easily happen, and those extra food pouches, granola bars, and trail mix will come in handy.
But in general, calculate three meals a day plus snacks. Then, to be on the safe side, pack one more day worth of food. If worse comes to worst, you could always eat that slowly if you’re out there unexpectedly for an extended amount of time. If you’re traveling in a group, make sure that everyone in the group follows this rule, and everything should go fine.
If you’ll be spending more time at your primary campsite than out hiking, then you can be even more cautious with even a little more extra food because you don’t have to physically carry it around with you, you can just leave it in the car. When you’re spending more time at your campsite you may opt to get the bigger cans of freeze-dried food, because you’ll have a place to throw away the trash. Every person on the trip should have at least a pound and a half to two and a half pounds of food each day. Campers eat enough food to fuel them for the activity they have planned for that day. That activity might be fishing, and you may even catch a few to toss over the fire and boil.
q: How much does camping food usually cost?
The amount of money that you spend on camping food should depend on whether or not you’re going solo or with a group. It also depends on your activities while you’re out on the camping trip. If you are going to be hanging around the campsite a little more than hiking, then you probably won’t spend that much on freeze-dried foods, but if you’re going to be on the trail more then it’s a good idea to stock up on them.
How many times you go camping a year should also determine the cost. While they’re going on the camping trip and already buying this type of food, some folks decide that it’s a good idea to go ahead and stock up on some of it at the house in case of hurricanes, floods or other natural disasters that they’ll need emergency food for.
q: What should be most considered when planning out meals for my next camping trip?
Campers like to eat traditional camping food (such as beans, chili, broiled fish, macaroni and cheese, s’ mores, and others). But the truth is your taste buds aren’t just going to change because you’re going on a camping trip, so you should plan to make at least some of the things you normally eat at home. Still, what you should pay the most attention to is getting the correct amount of calories, between 2,500 and 4,500 every day you’re on the camping trip, whatever you decide to eat.
There’s nothing worse than being hungry out on the trail hiking. You feel light-headed fatigued and your muscles will start to ache. It may be important to you to cover a certain amount of ground every day, but if you get a headache out of nowhere or feel faint, stop, hydrate and eat. You’ll feel revitalized once you do, then you can continue on your path. The Food and Drug Administration recommends that women get 2,000 calories each day and men get 2,500. So, if you’re doing the physical activity all day like most campers, then you should up that number because you’re burning more calories than you normally would on a regular basis.
q: What are some good camping meal ideas?
When you’re back at your primary campsite and you have a good camping stove, then there are dozens of hearty meals you can make for your friends and family. When you’re out on the trail is a little different, because you can only carry so much. Still, good breakfast choices are hot cereal, pancakes, smoked sausage eggs, and grits, just to name a few. This will start your day off with a lot of energy and have you ready to take on the fun, a physical day ahead of you. If you’re out on the trail, it’s good to start your day off with something hot and hearty as well, but sometimes you’ll be pressed for time and just grab a granola bar until you have a chance to eat heavier at lunch.
At lunchtime, there’s a good chance you’ll be out and about, away from the campsite enjoying activities like fishing, hiking, swimming, and hunting. You probably have packed a few sandwiches that you eat right then. Or, depending on if it’s cold, you may want a nice warm chicken noodle soup, an item that you can buy pre-packaged and freeze-dried. You don’t want to spend all your time cooking and miss the good time and all the activities you and your crew plan. If breakfast is the most important meal of the day, then dinner is probably being the second most important when camping. A nice sized dinner will help you to charge up for the next day, and sleep well that night. Pasta, beef stew, fish, chicken dishes…anything with a good amount of carbs and protein will be good to put on your stomach before going to sleep.