Are you wondering how to eat inexpensive but delicious and healthy food while camping? Camping is an excellent way to have an affordable vacation. Still, if you are not careful, your food budget could mess up the overall experience.
So, how can I eat cheap while camping? To eat cheap while camping, you’ll want to make as much food as possible from scratch. The price adds up quickly when you buy expensive dehydrated and other pre-packaged meals for several days. You can grill meat and vegetables like potatoes, cook oatmeal, pasta, and pancakes for delicious and affordable meals. Wild berries, fruits, and trail mix are tasty as well, and won’t hurt your budget.
This article will explore the best budget-friendly camping food ideas, including snacks, meals for large groups, and how to eat healthy while camping. You will also discover where you can buy cheap camping food online.
Budget-Friendly Camping Food Ideas
Below are some pocket-friendly food ideas while you are out camping.
Oatmeal for Breakfast
Wondering what to have for breakfast? Have you considered oatmeal? This budget-friendly breakfast option is excellent while camping. What’s more, you can cook the oatmeal over the campfire. Don’t forget to carry a pot for this.
Sandwiches make an excellent lunch-time meal while camping. Furthermore, you can make a big batch during breakfast and pack them for later. Enjoy your sandwiches on the go, sit down for a picnic in the woods or lightly roast them over hot coals for a fantastic dinner.
There’s a dizzying array of sandwich options ranging from peanut butter, jelly, tomato, cucumber, and banana. To make this meal even more cost-friendly, bake your bread at home, then carry it in a sealed plastic bag. Pack different ingredients, too, so that you can make a variety of sandwich flavors.
Have Fresh Fish
Are you camping next to a lake or river? Freshly caught fish is the best camp meal you could ever have. Not only is this meal option cheap, but it’s also remarkably tasty. Besides, you will enjoy catching your dinner and can add fishing to your list of activities – if it wasn’t there already.
Remember to bring your fishing gear, but in case you don’t, you can hire the equipment at most camping grounds at a small fee.
Affordable Snacks for Camping
The snacks below are tasty, practical, and take minimal effort.
Homemade Beef Jerky
If you are going out hiking, you need a handy snack as you cover the long distances or something filling as you retire for the night. How about making your own beef jerky? Homemade beef jerky makes an excellent snack you can make in your oven.
Besides, regular jerky is very expensive and not that healthy either since it’s full of additives. You thus have a chance to make a healthier version of your favorite snack.
Homemade Trail Mix
Homemade trail mix is not only easy to make, but you can make it using your favorite ingredients such as raisins, pumpkin seeds, and almonds. You can store the trail mix in zipper bags, and each family member can have their signature mix.
These easy-to-carry packs make excellent snacks for the trails.
Homemade Granola Bars
Another snack you can make in advance is granola bars. All you need is oatmeal from your pantry and whatever other ingredients you fancy. Granola bars keep well in the freezer too. Homemade granola bars are thus cheap, convenient, and simple to make.
Cheap and Easy Camping Meals for Large Groups
If you are a group of families camping together, you will need lots of flavourful, easy to make food. But this shouldn’t be a problem as there are various affordable options to try out.
Cook Eggs for Breakfast
Everybody loves eggs. Well, almost everybody. Eggs are cheap, tasty, filling, and you can cook them in several ways to suit everybody’s taste. This makes them an excellent option for a large camping group.
For a heartwarming breakfast, make scrambled eggs, omelets, or boiled eggs. Spice up your preferred meal with salsa, ketchup, or spicy seasonings. You can even take eggs on a short backpacking trip or day hike.
Burgers and Hotdogs
Hot dogs, hamburgers, and steaks are must-have campfire meals. However, these tend to be pricey and would push your food budget through the roof if you are looking at feeding a large group.
But not if you buy such food items during sales and stock up prior to your trip. Besides, different families can contribute various meats for more variety.
For your camping trip, pack your frozen meats in airtight containers and place them in an ice chest. You can then enjoy sizzling campfire dinners as you devour juicy burgers or chicken skewers, among others.
Pasta is one of the easiest camping meals you can make. It’s delicious, filling and you can use various ingredients such as ground beef, cheese, and herbs to make this one-pot meal even tastier. Better yet, add sauce to your cooked pasta for a mouth-watering dish.
Children, in particular, love pasta and will not have any trouble clearing up their plates.
Make a Pot of Chili
For a warm, comforting, and hearty group meal, make a pot of chili. While you can make this meal ahead of time, it’s also easy to make on-site. All you need is a saucepan and several canned ingredients.
Flavor your chili by adding leftover hamburger. You can also use the remains as filling for your burgers and hotdogs for the next meal.
Other budget-friendly meal options for large groups include:
- Pancakes, sausages, or french toast for breakfast
- Stir-fries, salads, and rice for lunch or dinner
- Energy balls or popcorn for snacks
How Do You Eat Healthy While Camping?
Is it possible to eat healthy while camping? Let’s find out.
Consume Roasted Vegetables
Many campers spend lots of money buying packaged snacks or convenience foods since they are unsure about how to keep their food fresh throughout the camping period. Unfortunately, most of these foods lack taste and have low nutritional value.
But what better way to have a wholesome camping experience than to eat natural foods? You can roast potatoes, corn, and squash over the campfire and have these along with your fresh fish for dinner. Besides, all these vegetables pack easily and don’t need to be placed in a cooler.
Have Cooked Fruits for Dessert
Fruits make a healthy, economical dessert. But if you are looking to have a more creative option, try cooked apples or peaches. Wrap your fruits in foil and then place them on the hot coals for a few minutes.
After they have softened and cooled, they are ready to eat as is, or you can sprinkle some cinnamon over your apples.
Forage for Berries
What if you can get free food? If you camp during the summer, you can find all sorts of wild berries growing in the countryside. These include raspberries, blackberries, and blueberries.
But that’s not all. In springtime, you will get wild asparagus, while dandelion greens are available all year round. While you can consume the greens raw, you can also saute them with your breakfast eggs if you find them too bitter. This meal is both delicious and nutritious.
If you are camping with kids, foraging can be a fun family activity. Be careful to inspect what they ‘hunt’ before they eat it, though, and avoid picking any unfamiliar plants as you might eat something harmful.
Where to Buy Cheap Camping Food Online
You can buy cheap camping food on Amazon, shopping marts like Walmart, and online stores that cater to camping needs. This includes:
- Energy bars
- Dried fruits
- Assorted freeze-dried meals, soups, and vegetables
The meals are mostly ready to eat, so you only need to heat.
As you can see, it’s possible to eat well while camping. You don’t have to rely on the convenience of unwholesome junk food either. Use these suggestions to spur your creativity, and you will get to eat healthy, tasty meals without breaking the bank.
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Erick is a freelance writer and outdoor enthusiast. Growing up in Nairobi Kenya and now calling Glasgow, United Kingdom home. Sipping on homemade spiced swahili tea and enjoying a good book is his idea of bliss.