Wilderness Dining: Healthy Food for Camping or Hiking
There’s something special about eating outside. I don’t know what it is, but food just tastes better in the great outdoors, whether that’s in the back garden, on a picnic, or during a camping trip. Packing healthy food for a camping or hiking trip can be tricky and even more so when you’re vegetarian or vegan. You want the convenience of pre-made food, but not at the expense of your health. While you may spend several hours prepping all the food to ensure healthy eating on the trails, it’s the necessary step to ensure you and your family have fresh, organic foods on the trails.
Staple foods and buy fresh ingredients as needed:
- Small bottle of olive oil
- Small jar of Marmite, jam or Nutella in a small pot
- Tins of beans/chopped tomatoes/sweetcorn
- Packet of microwave rice
- Packet of tortilla wraps
- Bread rolls
- Small bottle of organic tomato ketchup
- Small portions of dried herbs/spices in little bags
- Tea bags
- Liter carton of fruit juice, frozen to use as ice pack in the cool box
- Packet of vegetarian dried burger/sausage mix or frozen burgers/sausages/veggie bacon
Cooking equipment with us:
- Camping kettle
- 2 x 1 ring gas stoves
- Small frying pan
- Small saucepan
- Small sharp vegetable knife
- Vegetable peeler
- Can/bottle opener
- Plastic cutlery/picnic set
- Small chopping board
All of the recipes/ideas below either require no cooking, or can be cooked on a one/two ring camping stove.
- Fried eggs/omelette/baked beans/veggie bacon/veggie sausages/hash browns/tinned spaghetti with fresh bread.
- Warmed croissants/crumpets/mini pancakes/waffles/pastries.
- Scones with jam.
- Cereal with or without milk/non-dairy milk.
- Cereal/flapjack bar.
- Fresh/tinned fruit.
- Filled sandwiches/baguettes/bagels.
- Tinned/packet soup and bread.
- Baked beans/tinned spaghetti and crusty bread.
- Instant noodles.
- Crudites, breads and dips – Buy tubs of dips (hummus, tzatziki, salsa etc), bread-sticks, pitta bread etc. Make cucumber, pepper and carrot crudites.
- Pittas stuffed with ready-made felafels and salad.
- Veggie burgers, hot dogs or sausages in bread rolls.
- Ready-made onion bhajis/vegetable pakoras/samosas with naan.
One Pan Camping Meals
Garlic mushrooms – heat a drop of oil/butter in a pan. Add sliced mushrooms, a chopped red pepper and a large clove of crushed garlic. Cook until most of the liquid has evaporated. Serve on warm ciabatta or garlic bread.
Quick veggie chilli/curry – Fry a chopped onion in a drop of oil. Add either 2-3 tsp mild chilli powder/fajita seasoning OR 1 tbsp curry powder/paste. Add a tin of ratatouille (or some chopped veg and a tin of chopped tomatoes) and a drained tin of beans/chickpeas/lentils. Bring to the boil and simmer for 5 minutes. Serve with wraps/nachos or naan bread.
Macaroni cheese – Buy a pot of ‘fresh’ cheese sauce and a bag of fresh pasta. Cook the pasta and drain. Pour the sauce over and heat through.
(Vegan option – use a tub of ‘fresh’ tomato and basil sauce and egg-free pasta.)
Quorn & vegetable pilaf – Make a simplified version using packet rice: Fry a chopped onion in a little oil, add some chopped veggie sausages or meat-free pieces and cook for 5 minutes. Add 1-2 packets of flavored microwave rice and a drained tin of sweetcorn. Heat until piping hot, stirring regularly.
Vegetable fajitas – Make these with paneer/halloumi cheese, or Quorn pieces. Simplify spices by just using mild chilli powder or fajita seasoning.
(Vegan option – omit the cheese and add extra beans.)
Veggie couscous – a drop of oil in a pan. Fry 1 chopped onion until soft. Add a drained tin of chickpeas and heat through. Stir in 1 or 2 packets of instant Moroccan flavored couscous. Add the required amount of boiling water, cover and leave to heat through as directed.
Sloppy Joes – Make using ready-made bbq sauce.
Quick Mexican quesadillas/burritos – Heat a tortilla wrap in a pan, spread with some tinned refried beans a dollop of tomato salsa and a sprinkle of mozzarella cheese. Roll up the wrap and flip over to warm through. Or try these green vegetable burritos or the very tasty Hawaiian quesadillas (vegan option – use vegan melting cheese.)
Middle Eastern pittas – Heat a wholemeal pitta in a pan, split open and spread the inside with some olive paste. Fill with a few ready-made falafels, a chopped tomato and some crumbled feta cheese. Pop back in the pan to heat through. (Vegan option – omit the feta.)
Pesto spaghetti – Don’t panic, I realise that pesto generally contains Parmesan or Grana Padano cheese, which contain rennet, but I’ve found that the cheaper supermarket brands contain vegetarian ‘hard cheese’ instead (eg: ASDA smart price pesto.) Cook some fresh or dried spaghetti. Drain and add a good dollop of pesto. Stir through and serve.
(Vegan option – use vegan pesto or sun dried tomato paste.)
Cheese fondue – Add a glug of dry white wine and a handful of Gruyere cheese to a tub of fresh cheese sauce. Heat until bubbling gently. Alternatively, double wrap a whole Camembert cheese (plus box) in foil and cook on the bbq or stove for around 15 minutes, turning once or twice. Serve with chunks of ciabatta or breadsticks to dip in.
Frittata – Fry a chopped onion and a pepper in some oil. Add a drained tin of sweetcorn and break in 4 eggs. Mix well and cook for a few minutes until the eggs are cooked through. Serve with crusty bread.
Patatas bravas – Heat 2 tbsp oil in a large pan/frying pan. Shallow fry some (partially-defrosted) frozen potato chunks until cooked. Throw in 1 jar of tomato and chilli sauce and heat through.
Two Pan Camping Meals
Noodles and stir fried vegetables – Buy a pack of stir fry vegetables, a sachet/jar of black bean or sweet and sour sauce and 2 small packs of ‘quick noodles’. Boil a pan of water. Add the noodles, bring back to the boil, cover and remove from the heat. Meanwhile, heat a drop of oil in a pan. Fry the veg for 2-3 minutes. Add the sauce and heat through. Drain the noodles and top with the veg and sauce.
Sausage and bean stew – Chop an onion and fry in a drop of oil. Add some chopped veggie sausages and brown for a few minutes. Add a tin of tomatoes, a tin of baked beans, a small tin of sweetcorn and some mixed herbs. Cook for 10-15 minutes. Meanwhile make up some instant mash, or cook some pasta, new potatoes or rice.
Mexican rice burritos – Fill wraps with a combination of Mexican rice, refried beans and grated cheese.