Since embracing The Mediterranean Diet & Lifestyle, a goal of mine over the last few years was to figure out how to put a Mediterranean diet spin on healthy camping food that was still enjoyable and easy to execute at a campsite.
A Camping We Will Go
In 2016, I wrote this Healthier Camping Meals post and wrote about how much I don’t really enjoy camping. Well, I definitely married the wrong family because my husband is obsessed with camping and now my kids have become little camping bugs too.
Rather than fighting it or figuring out how I could get out of it over the last 5 years, I decided to embrace camping and learn enjoy the time spent outdoors with my family. That being said, I have two rules when it comes to roughing it in the great outdoors –
- There MUST be bathrooms
- I get to plan the menu
You may think that I wouldn’t want the headache of planning the menu but if I left it up to Dan (my husband) we would have beer, chips and maybe a can or two of beans. However, he would forget a can opener. So basically beer and chips. Since I’ve taken over the meal planning, we’ve definitely been better at including some healthy camping food during our trips.
Healthy Camping Menu Meal Prep
Through a lot of trial and error, I learned that a big part of being able to enjoy somewhat healthier meals while camping is planning and prepping. Options are somewhat limited as far as cooking when you go camping, especially when you tent (or VW Bus camp) like we do. A little bit of meal prep can go a long way.
Tips for Meal Planning & Prepping
- Make a plan – include a list of everything you need, ingredients needed for all meals, any utensils or cookware you need for specific dishes, and what you’ll serve and on which days
- Try to eliminate leftovers or double ingredients, especially when cooler space is tight.
- Pre-chop, wash, slice and cut anything you can at home to save time, space and dishes that need to be washed once at the campsite. For example, if you are brining strawberries – wash, dry and slice them before you leave. Having kebobs one night – chop all the veggies in advance or even pre-skewer them before you leave.
- Marinade any chicken/poultry/veggies you will be having before you leave. I like to put chicken and the marinade in a large sealable bag and then just place that right in the cooler. Cuts down on the time you need to prep and saves packing space.
Mediterranean Diet Inspired Healthy Camping Recipes
Since the Mediterranean diet is truly a lifestyle and meant to fit into all aspects of your life, a goal of mine the last few years was to figure out how to put a Mediterranean diet spin on healthy camping meals.
Before our typical camping meals consisted of hot dogs, burgers, lots of chips, cookies, etc. Then I discovered with a little pre-planning you could easily create healthy camping meals that are delicious and just as easy to prepare at a campsite.
That being said, it’s all about balance and we still fit in the fun stuff like s’mores, chips, etc. Is it even considered camping if you don’t roast marshmallows?
Healthy Breakfast Recipes for Camping
- Greek Yogurt Breakfast Bowls – so easy and no cooking required. Just bring a large container of yogurt, some granola or sliced nuts (bonus they don’t require refrigeration) and some fresh fruit and viola! Just remember to pack bowls and spoons.
- Avocado Toast – just because you are outdoors doesn’t mean you can’t still be trendy. Simple pack some bread (you can toast it over the fire in a pan) and crack open an avocado. Bring along some hot sauce or red pepper flakes for a extra kick to get the day started. Smoked salmon is also a great addition if you are feeling extra fancy.
- Egg Sandwiches – English muffins toasted over the fire, a fried egg, some arugula (pre-washed) and avocado. A bit more time and effort but honestly just a single pan for the egg so clean up is a breeze.
Mediterranean Lunch Ideas for Camping
- Sandwiches are typically a go to for lunch because they are easy, packable if you are headed out on a hike, etc and people can customize their own. The basics are simple – a nice loaf of bread, a few deli meats, jar of mustard, and some sliced cheese. But then you can really Mediterranean diet it up by brining along some leafy green lettuce (pre-washed and stored between slices of paper towels in a sealable bag), sliced red onion (pre sliced if you want to save time), pickles, avocado (since you might be needing it for breakfast anyway) and a few tomatoes to quickly slice up and now you have yourself a veggie filled sandwich.
- Cheese & Cracker type lunches are also a big hit. Some crackers or pita chips, hummus, veggies for dipping, olives, fresh fruit, a wedge of cheese and your lunch is perfect for grazing.
- DIY Protein Bento Boxes – popular with the “coffee shop” crowd, it’s easy to put together your own protein box lunches. Bring along a few hardboiled eggs, some nuts (almonds, walnuts, pistachios, etc), an apple, some peanut butter and maybe some dried fruit. Even better, these are perfect for bringing along on a day hike. I love these Bento Style boxes for home and camping (disclaimer – this is an amazon affiliate link so if you purchase from link I may make a small commission)
- Build Your Own Burrito is a fun meal idea that is very family friendly. I pre-chop all the toppings before we leave and then bring along a serving dish so they are all in one spot at meal time.
Dinner Camping Recipes
Since dinner is typically the big event of the night while camping (what else is there to really do once it gets dark?), I like to put a bit more effort into this meal.
However, it still doesn’t have to be complicated, time consuming or messy. The goal is to do what you can at home to cut down on prep (since space and utensils are limited). My personal goal is to also have the least amount of dishes as possible.
- Fish tastes great cooked over a campfire and how much more Mediterranean diet can you get while camping! I’ve personally made this Cast Iron Skillet Salmon recipe while camping and it was amazing. Instead of cooking it in a cast iron pan, I simple wrap it in foil and place it over the campfire on a metal grate. Grilled Cedar Plank Salmon would also be so fun to bring camping since you can just put the cedar plant on the fire. Plus it would smell amazing while cooking.
- Grilled chicken is also a favorite of my family. I simply place chicken in a sealable bag, add olive oil, lemon, and dried herbs before we leave. Then simply store it in the cooler until it’s time to throw it on the fire.
Don’t Forget the Sides
I think the side dishes are where people usually have a tough time while camping. It’s fun to challenge yourself to still pack in those veggies while roughing it. Some of my favorite healthy camping sides include –
- Easy Bean Salad – this is the type of dish that gets better and better the longer it sits. I like to whip up a big batch the day before we leave and then enjoy it the first or second day. It’s filling and hearty but goes so well with so many other dishes.
- Sweet Potatoes – you could either chop them up and then wrap them in little foil packs, cook them in a skillet over the campfire or just wrap them up whole in foil and cook them right in the campfire. The secret is to make sure to bring spices or seasoning to sprinkle on top…a drizzle of olive oil and a teaspoon of Greek seasoning is my go to.
- Packaged salads are a total time saver. Costco has some great, family sized salad options available that I love brining along. We typically enjoy them on the first night because they do tend to take up valuable space in the cooler. Bagged salads from the store are also a go to for our family. They are a good way to get in some greens without needing a mixing bowl, knife, etc. I just pour the dressing right into the bag the salad came in, shake it up and serve it out.
- Veggie kebobs are fun and an easy way to prepare veggies. Make sure you cut the veggies before you go and you could either marinade the sliced veggies and then put them on skewers at the campsite or pre-skewer them and just toss them on the grill while there.
Some Staples for Healthy Camping Food
There are likely always going to be things you forget…it’s inevitable. Some things I always try to remember to bring include –
- Olive oil
- Spices (aside from salt and pepper, I look at what we are cooking and try to bring anything we might need like dried basil, garlic powder, or greek seasoning)
- Healthy snacks – trail mix, apples, string cheese, turkey jerky
- A bowl of fresh fruit for the table – my kids are snack monsters when we camp. In an effort to balance out the junk, I bring some fresh apples, oranges and bananas. Then I just point to the bowl when they complain they are hungry every twenty minutes.
Last But Not Least
Spending time in nature and outdoors has been shown to have a positive effect on health. Don’t sweat the small stuff or try to make everything perfect. Don’t count calories or skip the s’mores because of the calories. Balance is the name of game. If you can include some healthy camping food, great! If you simply want to have fun and enjoy the chips and dip you normally don’t indulge in often, also great.
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Tags: camping Last modified: February 8, 2021