When most people think of camping foods, their senses often summon memories of s’mores, hot dogs, marshmallows, and other edible but not terribly healthy staples of Summer Camp, Boy Scout outings, and family expeditions. All of those camping foods have a place in our hearts (or stomachs) and memories, and some of them are suitable to any occasion. For serious outdoorsmen, however, camping foods need to be both lightweight and nutrient-heavy.
Not every camper or outdoor enthusiast is going to be as intrepid as Euwell Gibbons – who had a singular gift for finding the “edible” parts of just about any plant — or have the fortitude and cast-iron stomach of a Bear Grylls, who can eat or drink just about anything with perfect composure. But by the same token, anybody geared toward survival will most likely be able to get by with camping foods that are a little hardier and healthier than cheese doodles and marshmallows. Some of the best camping foods are inexpensive granola bars, trail mix, and jerky.
Dried fruits and nuts are inexpensive, storable, and highly nutritious camping foods as well. It’s quite easy to make home-made granola and to cure home-made jerky. There is a trade-off here between nutrition and shelf life. If you know how to freeze dry foods, or have a home dehydrator, you can build up a large supply of dried fruits, fruit leather (which i survival food kits s essentially like “Fruit by the foot” or “fruit roll-ups”), and jerky. All of this is splendid camping food, in addition to being really good for home food storage.
Common oatmeal is a wonderful staple that can be prepared very easily and tastes wonderful when cooked on a breakfast campfire and eaten outdoors. In addition to its famous levels of healthy fiber, oatmeal is very high in protein and vital minerals. When combined with milk, nuts, and dried fruit, oatmeal makes a nutritionally complete meal. It is cheap to obtain, easy to store, and ridiculously simple to prepare – and thus one of the best camping foods imaginable. Although they’re a little pricey, various kinds of MREs (Meals Ready to Eat) can be bought and used as camping foods. Originally designed for the military, MREs are available at many surplus stores and upscale outdoor sporting goods stores. In previous generations, military surplus stores sold C-rations, the equivalent of today’s MREs. More than a few campers have dined on the same fare used to sustain U.S. GIs overseas. Ramen noodles aren’t particularly healthy, but they can provide volume and carbs for hungry hikers and campers. Generations of college students and bachelors have subsisted on Ramen noodles. They store forever and cost next to nothing to buy. Various companies offer breakfast bars combining whole grain (usually oats) with fruits such as strawberries, blueberries, and apples. These are good to bring along in a pack or duffel bag.