This may be a bit of a long post, so scroll to the bottom to view a handy dandy chart listing what to bring and where to put it! 🙂
This one has always been a little rough. Camping is generally a time when you grab your chips, chocolate, marshmallows, graham crackers, burgers, hot dogs, and various other junk foods and hit the lake (or a park/hiking trail, etc.) with some beers. Mainly, the reason for this is because a lot of these foods are frozen or just completely non-perishable. These things are key – when you only have a cooler, you need to pack these types of foods.
We have a great Cooler like the one on the left, which keeps things nice and cold. I love it. However, for my type of camping, where I have so many perishables, a Coolest would be amazing (plus it has a blender for any smoothies) because it has 2 separate compartments, so that one can stay closed. Unfortunately, I live in Canada, and they’re only available in the US for now.
In order to do this effectively, I recommend more than one cooling bag/cooler. The main cooler with the refrigerated food should be opened as few times for the least amount of time possible. This will ensure that everything stays cold. I am not a huge fan of beer, but I LOVE how Coors puts out a cooler backpack every year during the summer. I would suggest putting your drinks in something like that that so that you don’t need to touch the food cooler for them.
It’s even got a Velcro flap so you don’t need to unzip. Genius. Along with that, it’s a backpack so it’s easy to carry.
So, what do you do if you want to stay healthy? Or if you’ve become addicted to delicious veggies? Or if you just don’t want to feel bloated all weekend from all the salt in those foods? Well, let me show you some hack and swaps that will get you through it healthily.
One time, I went camping while on an Elimination Diet. THAT was rough. No dairy, no carbs (barely, because gluten was out the window), no fun (I thought). Well, turns out, I had a darn good time, and ate so many delicious meals. My Kale Smoothie was with me in the cooler, for example. I just froze it beforehand and it doubled as ice for the first night! Brilliant!
Now, I am a bit of a social eater, since I love food – LOL. That means that I couldn’t sit by while other people are eating chips and nachos and NOT lose my mind. What did I do?
Swap Potato Chips for Healthier Versions:
BOOM. These products come in much smaller sizes than regular bags of chips, and are much healthier. I couldn’t eat regular potatoes on that diet, so I went for the sweet potato and cassava. And I was very happy about that! I also couldn’t have dairy products, so I made my own dip with vegan cheese (which I hate, but in a dip it was alright), onion, parsley (for colour), some soy-free vegenaise, and coconut milk. I had to play around a bit to get the right texture, but once I had it, it was a great alternative to that DELICIOUS 7 layer dip that ends up going everywhere with my friends.
Swap Burgers for Chicken Sandwiches and Fish:
This was such a great idea! I used vegenaise and some pesto to make a pesto mayo that I could take with me, grilled a chicken breast, and put it all on a thin whole grain gluten-free bun. Amazing.
Having some grilled fish (I brought a bottle of seasoning with me) with roasted veggies and sweet potato got me through the next day.
Swap out fatty breakfast for a smoothie or oats/chia:
The best part about a smoothie is that you can freeze it and it will act as ice for at least one night. I used to bring a frying pan and make eggs and their fatty buddies, but I couldn’t have any eggs right then, so I had to improvise. The smoothie was great for the next day, but if you’re camping for more than 2 days, I would suggest bringing some oats or chia with some coconut milk (for elimination diet) for overnight breakfasts.
The best part about coconut milk is that it doesn’t need to be refrigerated until opened, so it can be packed with the no refrigerator required foods!! By the time you get around to using the milk, you will have eaten some of the foods in the cooler, making room for it in there.
Here you go – a handy Camping Prep and Packing Chart:
**Don’t forget that separate drinks cooler**
Using this you can make:
Chicken Burgers (2)
Grilled Fish/Fish burger (2)
Sweet Potato sides
Cucumber tomato salad
Overnight breakfasts (2)
Beef Kebab (Or sub in some chicken/turkey/tofu if beef isn’t your thing)
Grilled vegetables (2)
That (if you’re counting) is 5 main meat dishes. That should last you quite a while. If you are packing for more people, adjust accordingly. But these meals are very healthy in comparison to the usual fare. Enjoy!
I will be posting a Recipe and Reasoning Companion/part review for this post to really help with that prep work before you leave! Stay tuned!!! 🙂