When it comes to camping food, keeping it simple is the way to go, in my opinion.
When I was in Girl Scouts as a kid, we did a lot of “camp cooking” which involved prepping in-camp, sometimes cooking with a fire, and then there would dishwashing afterwards. When I go camping now, I don’t want to bring stuff like cutting boards and dishpans if I don’t have to, and I don’t want to spend time preparing meals out in the bush – usually when I and my fellow campers (ie kids and husband) are already hungry!
So here are my favorite no-cook, vegan camping and hiking foods. These are all either “grab and go” snack foods that you can eat on-demand, even if you’re walking, or foods where you only have to add boiling water – with no dishes to clean up after. Sound good?
Vegan Camping Snacks
Nuts & Seeds
Nuts are an ideal food to bring camping because they are packed full of good nutritious fats and protein. They don’t require any cooking at the time when you are ready to eat them, and they don’t need to stay cold. They also don’t get crushed up easily in your backpack or pocket. Since they are so nutrient dense, a couple of nuts goes along way.
Almonds go well with other flavors of nuts as well as dried fruits.Are usually bring plane unpeeled raw almonds when I go camping but sometimes I will bring dry roasted almonds as well.
Cashews have a high fat content, so just watch that if you are trying to be careful about it. (I’ll go personally when I go camping, I try not to worry too much about stuff like that because I am burning so much energy all day anyway!)
I like to bring dry roasted cashews for camping. I usually buy raw cashews and then toast them at home before I leave to go camping. To toast them, I just boil them on a cookie sheet for about five minutes on one side, then flip and broil about two minutes on the other side. Do you want to watch the cashews closely as you broil them, because they can burn quickly once they start to brown.
Sunflower seeds also make a great camping snack. Be sure that your sunflower seeds are unsalted because sunflower seeds are so small and can really hold a lot more salt than the larger nuts. You can grind sunflower seeds up with raisins and oats to make some tasty no cook snack balls, but I find out for camping and hiking plane I’m altered sunflower seeds are the easiest because they won’t spoil or get crushed in my backpack.
Dried fruits are absolutely perfect for a camping or hiking food. Since they are dried out they have a very low weight, so you don’t add heaviness to your backpack. A little bit goes a long way with dried fruits also. You can eat them as they are, or add them to some thing like oatmeal. They also make a great addition to your trail mix since they taste nice with things like nuts and pretzels.
Raisins are a classic ingredient in trail mix and they are one of the least expensive dried fruit so you can find. They are sold pretty much everywhere including all grocery stores in the US as well as places such as gas stations. Raisins don’t have a very high sugar content compared to other dried fruits in this list which makes them nice for snacking on all day long.
Craisins is a brand name for dried cranberries. They have a similar texture and appearance to raisins, but they are sweeter and cost a little bit more. They can add a nice bit of sweetness and tartness to your trail mix.
I got these dehydrated watermelon pieces from my mother who has gotten really good at food preservation over the past couple of years. They are surprisingly sweet and tasty, very light weight, and perfect for keeping in a baggie for camping snacks. Dehydrated watermelon is a good source of fiber and protein.
Here’s my mom’s tips on how to dehydrate watermelon: (thanks, mom!)
- Use seedless watermelon
- slice into 1/4 thick slices, snack size 3-4 in. long, 1-2 inches wide
- Remove visible seeds
- dehydrate at 135 degrees Fahrenheit (~57 c) 7-15 hours
- They should be dry to the touch, pliable and not brittle
- When done and cool place in a large glass jar or ziplock bag and shake for several days to insure dryness and keep from sticking.
Dehydrated Apples with Cinnamon Sugar
These dehydrated apples are also from my mother, they are just so delicious you would not believe. We are bringing them camping this summer and I know they will make a perfect snack for when we are out hiking all day. Of course you could always bring regular apples with you when you go camping, but the nice thing about this is that they don’t get bruised even when they are packed with a bunch of gear. And of course they are all as light as a feather which is always a good thing!
My mom’s tips on dehydrating apples: (thanks, mom!)
- Use very firm apples
- l cut mine on the Apple peeler, slicer, corer.
- Leave peels on or remove. (I left mine on)
- Once sliced and cored, cut in half or quarters.
- You can soak for a few minutes in warm water to avoid browning (I didn’t).
- Lay on trays of dehydrator not touching.
- I sprinkled the apples with cinnamon sugar.
- Dehydrate at 135 degrees Fahrenheit (~57 c) for 7-15 hrs. I started early afternoon and went overnight. Turned off for an hour and checked for dryness and pliability. When done and cool place in a large glass jar or ziplock bag and shake for several days to insure dryness and keep from sticking.
Premade Energy Bars
Premade bars such as these Larabars are made out of similar ingredients to the other ones and I have already mentioned here except they tend to come in more exciting flavors to try. Energy bars like these will have a pretty balanced nutritional content with higher calories. They’re not some thing that I would choose to eat on a daily basis, but for high activity days when we are camping and hiking in the summertime, they’re not bad. Check the discount section of your grocery store because you may be able to find energy bars at half price when the box they were in his broken open (like the ones I have here!)
No matter what type of snacks you bring when you go hiking or camping, the most important thing is to bring enough water and drink it regularly. We used to bring tons and tons of water bottles with us when we went camping which was so heavy. Then you have to figure out what to do with the empties!
This year we decided to switch to using a portable mini water filter. At first we considered the Lifestraw, but then we chose the Sawyer mini water filter. It’s easier and faster to use than the life straw, and has a smaller filtration size (0.1 microns with Sawyer vs 0.2 microns with Lifestraw). Basically it allows you to use any natural water source or non-potable wells near your campsite for drinking water. I was skeptical about it at first, since I thought it would take a long time to filter the water, but I am super impressed with how fast this little filter works. I can’t wait to use it again and again with all of our future camping trips.
For camping oatmeal, I recommend getting the individual-size packs of instant oats. They often come in various tasty flavors such as apple cinnamon or brown sugar. All you need is some boiling water to make them. You can use freezer bags to pour the boiling water into if you don’t want to have dishes, otherwise, a small mess kit bowl will do. Since they tend to be sweeter than the oatmeal we normally make at home, I think they make for an excellent cozy camping treat.
For a more savory camping breakfast that’s also vegan, try making grits. You can pre-measure the ingredients into a freezer bag so you only have to add boiling water later. Aside from corn meal you can also add: salt, onion powder, vegetable broth powder, garlic powder, nutritional yeast, dried veggies.
Coffee & Tea
For the sake of simplicity we usually bring instant coffee with us when we go camping. That way there’s no additional equipment required other than a cup. We prefer the Starbucks instant coffee over Nescafe, which both come in small individual serving packs. Again, just add boiling water and you’re good to go.
If you drink tea in the morning, individual tea bags are easy enough for camping.
Lunch and Dinner
For dinner in the past we would bring things such as egg salad (which my daughter happily ate and then later referred to as “that gross butter,” LOL) or sausages.
And then there’s the classic “ramen bomb” which I learned back in my girls scout days. We cooked ramen with cream of mushroom soup over a campfire and then added canned chicken. It might sound terrible but it was actually so delicious, I remember coming home from day camp and making it again for myself on the weekend.
I’ll make a vegan ramen bomb for myself this time, and here’s how I’ll do it – use an egg-free ramen or noodle cup (just check the ingredients, there are lots of eggless ones in the store nowadays), add in some powdered potato and powdered mushroom, and instead of canned chicken I’ll do canned chickpeas.
Other vegan camping dinners we love are fire-baked potatoes (just bring russet potatoes or sweet potatoes wrapped in foil, and don’t forget to bring a fork!), veggie sausage, and canned baked beans.
I’m going camping in July ’21 so I’ll update this post with more info and photos after my trip! Feel free to comment with your favorite vegan camping foods below.