Healthy, Simple Camping Menu (Free Printable!)
Need a simple menu plan that uses real food? We got you covered! Get the free printable below. Plus 5 tips to help you plan your own easy, healthy, budget-friendly camp food.
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Honestly, until a few years ago, camping just for fun – the mother of all cheap vacations – was an extravagant expense that we didn’t prioritize in our budget.
That being said, I’ve been cooking with real food for over half my life. During our almost-homeless days, we found ways to eat cheap and well in kitchenettes, gross apartments, and on the road.
When we went camping recently, I promised on Instagram that I would share two things with you:
- Our minimalist packing list
- Our real food menu plan
Here is our simple, real food, camping menu plan.
How We Eat Healthy & Budget-Friendly While Camping
Since we don’t own a camp stove or hot plate – and I don’t want to spend all my beach or hiking time over a cooking fire – I typically bring 2 cooking appliances:
With these 2 appliances we can do all this:
- Heat water (for coffee and washing dishes)
- Cook eggs
- Make rice
- Slow cook or pressure cook meals
- Fry bacon
- Pan-fry bread (for “toast”)
- Cook oatmeal
- Keep food warm if we don’t eat it right away
What if I Don’t Have an Instant Pot?
If you don’t have an Instant Pot, don’t worry. Just pack your slow cooker and cook your meals 3-4 hours on high or 6-8 hours on low. You can even do that with oatmeal (there are many recipes online)!
However, I recommend packing an electric kettle so you can boil water for coffee or tea.
A Simple Camping Menu for Everyone
Some people camp because of the food, and some people just want easy food so they can keep camping.
This menu plan sits in the middle. If you love to cook over the fire, these recipes are perfect for you. There’s a pancake recipe for your cast iron griddle, hearty stew for your dutch oven – you’ll love it.
The only thing I didn’t include is the classic foil-packet dinners. Plenty has been said on the subject by voices who have more experience than me.
On the other hand, if cooking outside sounds like a nightmare, and you’re only going camping because your kids and spouse bribed you with an air mattress and promised family time, you’ll like this menu plan too.
Keep Your Healthy Camping Menu Simple
When we camp, we keep food simple and minimal.
I have made the mistake of overpacking food, and it’s frustrating. The lack of refrigeration makes saving leftovers tricky after 2 days.
We usually camp at the beach or with friends, so my focus lies less with the food and more with the people. On vacation, family time is important. I cook a lot at home. When we camp, we play.
You can certainly take this menu plan and make it more complicated if that’s more fun for you. However, if you stick to the plan, you’ll make great food, keep it budget-friendly, and spend a minimal amount of time cooking.
5 Tips for Easy, Healthy, Budget-Friendly Camp Food
- Don’t buy a whole bunch of “special” food simply because you are camping. Decide what is most important and just stick to those. For us, our treats are smores and hot dogs.
- Don’t try all new recipes on your camping trip. If you’ve never made foil packet dinners, don’t plan them for every meal. Try it for one meal this time, and if you love it, make more next time.
- Make a rain contingency plan. In case it rains, have a back-up plan. Hot dogs cooked over the fire are amazing, but if you can’t build a fire, make sure you have an electric griddle or Instant Pot so you can still eat dinner.
- Eat leftovers for lunch. Unless you have an amazing cooler, you’ll get 2 good days of cold food. You can go pick up more ice, but I also like to make sure we eat all the food we bring with us. We always plan leftovers for lunch.
- Make a few things ahead of time. In order to save time and effort at the campsite, I cook a few things ahead of time. Not much – packing for camping is a big job, and I don’t want to cook 4 days’ worth of food on top of that. You’ll see in the menu plan what I suggest cooking ahead.
Healthy Camping Menu Plan Printable
Here is the menu plan we typically use every time we camp. We might change a meal or two depending on the season or the weather, but this menu plan keeps our camping trip simple, delicious, and budget-friendly.
If you don’t have an Instant Pot, don’t worry! See our note above.
Full disclosure: We believe a camping trip without hot dogs or sausage and smores roasted over a fire is not a real camping trip. I included those in the menu plan. We won’t win any health points for them, but we build great memories. I typically use more allergy-friendly and “healthier” options.
What You Can Do Now:
What do you eat when you camp? Share your favorite camping meal below!
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