The Essential Camping Food List
Preparing camping food doesn’t have to feel like a chore, especially if you’re well organised. You can easily plan out your camp meals from four or five core ingredients, using different seasonings to add variety at mealtimes.
Whether you’re looking for something that’s quick and easy to rustle up at base or for heading out on the trail, we’ve outlined all the essential camping food you’ll need, from core ingredients to seasonings:
- Camp breakfast foods
- Dry foods
- Tinned foods
- Fresh camping ingredients
- On-the-go foods
Camp breakfast foods
Breakfast is one of the most important meals of the day – you’ll want to make sure you’re getting enough fuel for the day ahead. Here we’ve listed the basic breakfast essentials, but you can find more camp breakfast recipes here.
Eggs are a great source of protein, and you can cook them in a few different ways, depending on your camp kitchen setup. The easiest way is to simply rustle up fried eggs in a frying pan over your stove, but you can also make scrambled eggs or even omelets – a great way to use up any leftover or excess ingredients from other meals.
A must-have for your camp fry-up, bacon is a versatile ingredient that you can use in other meals, not just at breakfast. Make sure to invest in a good quality non-stick frying pan to help make cleaning up easier.
The fact that cereal is non-perishable makes it a must-have for campers. Simply serve in a bowl with milk for a quick, filling breakfast, or create a parfait by adding yoghurt, honey, and fruit.
Dry foods are ideal for camping trips as they’re easy to store and the majority are non-perishable. They’re also versatile, forming the basis of many different camp recipes. Here are some dry food must-haves for your next adventure:
Bread is a camp staple, great for creating balanced meals at any time of the day. Ideal for extra fuel at breakfast, you can simply toast the bread in your camp frying pan, or use it to make sandwiches using other breakfast ingredients.
Non-perishable, quick, and easy to cook, pasta is a versatile camp cooking essential. Whether you’re making bolognese, mac and cheese, or simply pasta and sauce, this carb-heavy staple is sure to keep you full of energy. You can also double up evening portions and eat the rest cold the following day, saving on future meal prep time and mess.
Rice is another highly versatile, filling ingredient that can form the basis of many different meals at camp. Great for one-pot recipes, rice can be used for paella, chili con carne, curries, and more.
An ideal lunchtime food that doesn’t need to be cooked, which means less time and less mess. You can top them with different ingredients such as cheese, cream cheese, pickles, tomatoes, and cucumber to create a variety of different snacks.
Sometimes it’s just not possible to purchase or carry around fresh milk, depending on where you are and the nature of your trip. Powdered milk is a great alternative to add to tea, coffee, and hot chocolate.
Tinned foods are generally heavier than most other staples, so make sure you plan your meals carefully and only take what’s necessary – especially if you’re out hiking on foot. Again, as with dry foods, tinned foods have a long shelf life, which makes them ideal for camping trips.
Whether it’s baked beans, chickpeas, or kidney beans, tinned beans are full of protein making them perfect for camping. Baked beans are a great breakfast option, kidney beans can be added to chili con carne, and chickpeas make a great salad addition. You’ll find plenty of uses for beans in your camp cooking.
Soup is the perfect camping food – it’s quick and easy and comes in many different varieties. Serve with bread for a hearty lunch or evening meal.
Tinned tomatoes can be used to make numerous campfire meals, such as stews, casseroles, pasta sauce, and chili. You’ll want to stock up on a couple of tins if you’re planning on cooking any of these tomato-based dishes at camp. They’re also a great addition to a breakfast fry up or to simply serve on toast.
Tinned veg such as carrots, peas, potatoes, runner beans, sweetcorn, and mushrooms are worth having in your camp kitchen. These non-perishable alternatives to fresh vegetables make great accompaniments to any lunchtime or evening meal. They’re also ideal for adding into stews and casserole dishes, saving on prep time – simply pour them straight in from the tin.
Tinned fruit is another camp kitchen must-have, and a great alternative to perishable fresh fruits. You can get everything from pineapples and pears to peaches, prunes, mango, and more. Use them as a breakfast accompaniment or as a dessert.
Fresh camping ingredients
If you’re bringing fresh ingredients with you on your camping trip, you’ll need to consider how you’re going to keep them fresh. A cool box is a must – making sure you replace the ice at regular intervals or use long-lasting ice packs to keep ingredients cool. If you’re at a campsite with an electrical hookup, you could also invest in a portable camping refrigerator.
You’ll also want to make sure your ingredients are properly stored, especially if you’re bringing meat, to avoid any cross-contamination. Store your ingredients in airtight containers or quality ziplock bags. It’s also a good idea to double wrap meat to avoid any possible contamination.
Beef is a staple ingredient in many classic one-pot camp dishes, such as casserole and stew. You can also use ground beef to make burger patties, add protein to spaghetti and chili dishes, or use it as filling in tacos.
Chicken is a versatile meat that you can cube, chop and shred to use in many camp recipes, such as skewers, curries, fajitas, and more. You can also make chicken soup for a hearty campfire meal, or use it in sandwiches whilst out on the trail. This lean protein will give you the energy you need on your next adventure.
Fruit and vegetables
Whilst the tinned fruit and vegetables mentioned in the tinned foods section are great for camping due to their extended shelf life, you may also want to bring along some fresh alternatives. Fresh fruit makes a great snack whilst out on the trail, for example, oranges and pears. Depending on the recipes you have planned, fresh vegetables may be more suitable – they’re also great for chopping up into crudites for a healthy snack.
Milk is another camp essential for those morning coffees, or to pour over cereal. We mentioned the powdered version previously, but of course, fresh milk is an option if keeping your gear lightweight isn’t an issue!
Greek yogurt isn’t something that instantly comes to mind when thinking about camping food, but it’s actually a highly versatile ingredient that can be used in multiple recipes. Use it as a healthier alternative to sour cream in tacos and jacket potato recipes, or add it to granola or fruit at breakfast.
Another versatile camp essential, butter can be used as spread on toast or sandwiches, but also as a substitute for oil when frying to stop your ingredients from sticking to the pan.
Hard cheese is great for melting on top of dishes such as pasta, jacket potatoes, and chili con carne for an added protein kick. It also makes an ideal snack whilst out hiking – simply store in an airtight container or wrap in wax paper.
Simple spice combinations can really elevate your camp cuisine whilst adding variety to your meals – especially when you’re cooking with the same core ingredients. You’ll also be saving on space, which is particularly handy if you’re out on the trail and need to be conscious of the weight of your gear.
Every camper will want to make sure to bring salt and pepper on their trip, as they are often the basic ingredients needed in many recipes. We’d also recommend the following core versatile spices, which can be used in various combinations to add great flavour to stews, roasts, grilled meat, veg, and more:
- Garlic powder
- Onion powder
Optional extra spices:
- Chilli powder
- Curry powder
Consider your meals and mix up the spices accordingly into airtight jars before you go to save even more prep time and space.
Tea and Coffee
The perfect beverages to accompany camp breakfast or to flask up and drink on the go, tea and coffee are absolute camping must-haves. Make sure you’ve got a suitable insulated mug to keep your coffee warm. Go one step above instant coffee by grinding your own coffee beans and filtering through a coffee dripper, for a barista-style beverage at base.
This might sound obvious, but you need to consider whether there will be drinking water available nearby. If not, make sure you have a good quality water container at base for both drinking and cooking. You may also want to consider investing in a pack tap for easy camp cooking and washing.
Depending on space, you can either pack sachets or bottles of sauce such as tomato ketchup, mayo, mustard, barbecue sauce, and soy sauce to add some extra flavour to your meals.
Peanut butter is full of protein making it the perfect camp condiment. Enjoy on toast, as a sandwich filler, on crackers, or even as a dip for crudites whilst out on the trail. You can even have it with chocolate for a tasty camp dessert.
Another great breakfast option, Jam is also ideal for stirring into oats or yoghurt, on sandwiches, or with dessert.
Sugar is a camp must-have! Use it to add flavour to cereal and fruit, or for sweetening up your tea, coffee, and hot chocolate. It’ll also come in handy if you’re making any tomato-based recipes – you’ll often need a pinch of sugar to cut the acidity of the sauce.
If your camping itinerary involves hikes, climbs, and other outdoor activities, you’ll need foods to keep your energy levels topped up whilst keeping your gear lightweight. In addition to the foods mentioned above, such as fruit and cheese, here are some additional energy-packed snacks:
Nuts are good sources of fats as well as calories – which you’ll be needing if you’re out hiking on your trip! You also don’t need many per portion. Pre-pack them at home into snack-sized portions and simply take them with you as you need.
You can either purchase these or pre-bake them at home ahead of your trip. Small but filling, granola bars are a great option to keep you satisfied until your next meal at base. Look for options containing plenty of nuts and seeds for an added boost of healthy fats and protein.
Kendal Mint Cake
You’ll find Kendal Mint Cake in any experienced mountaineers’ arsenal! Famously used as fuel food by both Edmund Hillary and Chris Bonington on their Everest climbs, the minty treat has been used on many expeditions around the world as a source of energy.
Jerky is a great lightweight snack that’s packed with protein. Great for giving you an energy boost whilst quickly satisfying hunger, you can find beef, chicken, and even vegetarian jerky options in most supermarkets.
Setting up your Camp Kitchen
No camping setup is complete without a practical camp kitchen. Our Camp Kitchen range has everything you need, from quality pots and pans, cutlery, and insulated mugs to plates, bowls, water containers, and coffee makers. Browse and shop our full range of cooking equipment here.
If you’re feeling inspired and ready to start planning your next adventure, our experts are here to help, and we would love to hear any questions, so please get in touch with us on Facebook or Instagram. You can also share your adventures with us using the hashtag #SeatoSummitUK.