Are you a camping family? Do you love to pack up a tent, roast some marshmallows and hike through the woods? Camping can be a great activity and with the warmer weather and school-free days, many families will be spending a vacation at a campground. Sometimes however, the food that comes along with camping isn’t always the most delicious or the healthiest. How can you keep your family eating well while in the middle of nowhere?
“No matter how you are camping, whether in a tent or RV, it’s still possible to eat a healthy, balanced diet” says Dayton Children’s dietitian Lauren Lavretsky, RD. “When preparing meals just think of MyPlate to create balanced, nutritious meals for you and the family. Include whole grains, fruits and/or vegetables, and a source of protein.”
Here are eight easy tips to continue eating healthy while enjoying the great outdoors.
1. Get creative with fruits and vegetables that hold well at room temperature such as apples, bananas, oranges and canned fruit in water/its own juice. Avocadoes are also great and can be mashed up and used as a sandwich spread. There are many brands of “fruit pouches” on the market as well which include only pureed fruits/vegetables and hold at room temperature. Yes, these are marketed for children, but they’re great for adults too! If you don’t have to carry food on your back, canned goods are easy and don’t need to be kept cool.
2. If you have the luxury of an ice chest, keep it stocked full of ice and have zipped bags of easy to grab fresh fruits and vegetables for snacks, such as cut-up oranges, baby carrots, grapes and watermelon.
3. For breakfast, oatmeal is an easy, non-perishable and filling breakfast. Add cinnamon and dried/fresh fruits or nuts with boiling water for a quick meal. Peanut butter is also a non-perishable protein source that is easy to pack and very versatile. Use it as a dip for fruit, or on a wrap/sandwich for a quick lunch.
4. Check out the many new items on the market today to aid with backcountry cooking, which include everything from miniature lightweight propane stoves to larger camping barbeque equipment. Many companies also carry large lines of dehydrated meals including main courses, vegetable sides and even (delicious) desserts that only require boiling water. Just be aware that the sodium content is usually a little higher in these packaged items.
5. Live off the land! If you fish, more power to you. If you’re camping by water, you will usually have a whole lake of fresh fish at your fingertips to provide a lean, protein-packed meal. Cook your fish right after catching, so you don’t have to worry about refrigeration. Bring a few basic spices/seasonings to mix up the flavors.
6. Use your campfire as an oven. Wrap vegetables such as potatoes, sliced zucchini, squash, corn, fresh green beans and onions in foil, sprinkle with a little pepper/seasoning and put in the fire pit for dish-free cooking.
7. Camping can mean being active all day long, so bring easy snacks such as fiber/protein bars, fruit pouches, and dried fruit and nuts for in-between meals.
8. Bring plenty of water and stay hydrated. If you are camping in a remote location, be sure to have multiple methods of sanitizing your water (water filters, UV sanitizing options or sanitizing tablets).
With some careful planning ahead of time, your camping experience can be a fun and healthy family adventure!