4 Reduce Food Waste While Camping

I love camping. I hate the campsite booking politics, the prep work, packing, driving and setting up but once all that is done I love it. That first moment when you turn into the park and head down the road where you are completely immersed in the sights, sounds and smells of nature.  Pulling up to the campsite, cracking open the cooler and grabbing a cold drink that is completely deserved after all the planning, packing and driving. Those moments make it all worth it.  As does the food. Oh the food. Glorious, glorious camping food.  I prefer to spend my time canoeing, hiking and relaxing vs spending hours making meals. Over the years I have found several ways to keep our meals healthy and quick to prepare all while producing very little food waste. 

Be realistic about how much time you want to spend cooking. You may think that you are going to make fancy over the campfire meals but the reality may be that you don't want to spend the time preparing the fire to even start making that kind of meal. Or it may be too hot. Or wood is too expensive (seriously $9 for a bag of wet wood???).  Plan quick and easy breakfasts and lunches and go big for your dinners. 

Quick and Easy Meal Ideas

  • Salads that you make ahead and store in glass jars. Add dressing when you serve. 
  • Chicken kabobs that you pre cut and marinate in a glass container.
  • Pre-make muffins or banana bread at home for a quick breakfast on the go. 
  • One pot pasta is quick and makes less dirty dishes!
  • Pre-make chili or pulled pork and freeze at home. Add your cooler and reheat a few nights after you arrive. 
  • Make soups in advance and put in glass container for an easy lunch.

Plan your meals so that you cook a bit more for one meal and use the leftovers for another meal. BBQ chicken for dinner becomes chicken on salad for lunch the next day.  Have fajitas for dinner and the next day use the leftover veggies as part of taco salad for lunch. You can even use the leftover wraps to make breakfast burritos on the third day. Planning your meals this way will save you time, require you to pack less food and result in less food being wasted. 

Dinner - Homemade burgers with roasted potatoes
When you make this meal for dinner you will get two additional meals the following day and it is a really easy meal to have the first night you arrive at your campsite. Make your burgers at home and pack in a glass container. Remember to make a few more than you would typically eat so that you have enough to make Sloppy Joe's grilled cheese sandwiches for lunch the following day. This allows you to use up your leftover hamburger buns as well. For breakfast use the leftover roasted potatoes to make hash browns and serve with eggs and bacon. 

Dinner - Chicken fajitas with rice
This is another meal that will get you two meals of leftovers. Make chicken fajitas for dinner and use up the remaining wraps the following morning by making breakfast burritos. For lunch make chipotle lime chicken bowls using the remaining chicken, veggies, avocado, rice and sour cream. 

Breakfast - Breakfast Burritos 
When you are making the bacon for your breakfast burritos make more than you need and set aside in your cooler for use in a caesar salad for dinner. Cut up any leftover burger buns and sautee with butter and herbs to make croutons. Serve with pasta for a really quick dinner. 

Dinner - BBQ chicken with corn on the cob, sweet potatoes and green beans
If you make more chicken then you need for dinner you can use it for a variety of meal ideas like adding on top of a salad or adding into a wrap. The leftover sweet potatoes and green beans can quickly be reheated and topped with an egg in the morning. The extra corn can be used to make a healthy corn and edamame salad for lunch or as a dinner side dish. 

Breakfast - Hard boiled eggs with bacon
Make hard boiled eggs in advance and in the morning fry up some bacon for a fast breakfast. Cook some additional strips of bacon, cool and store in a glass container in your cooler to use for lunch the following day to make this awesome kale, bacon and egg salad.

Pack condiments in smaller jars. I re-use old jam or mason jars. They will take up less room in your cooler and reduce the chances or ruining an entire jar of something if it does happen to spoil.  I normally have a bullet proof coffee each morning but don't bring a blender with me when I camp so instead I pre-make coconut coffee creamer to add to my coffee and keep it in the cooler in a mason jar. 

Make snacks ahead of time but know that you will eat less than you think you will. I want to say that I never come home with apples and oranges still in the cooler but I always come home with apples and oranges in the cooler that I saw every time I opened it but still did not eat. I love packing energy ballsnut bars and granola because they are easy to grab whether you are at your campsite or on the go. Oh, and if you did eat those oranges.....keep the rinds to make muffins or cakes on the campfire

Plan you week so you are using the most perishable items at the start of your camping trip. This will reduce the chance of them spoiling. Towards the end of the camping week is when I plan to have pasta, soups and tuna. If we go camping for an extended period we plan to stop and grab additional meat and produce part way through so we don't have to bring it all in the beginning. 

Make sure you plan meals that everyone will enjoy. Or else you may end up with someone revolting.  Looks like someone hates kale. 

What tips do you have to share that reduce food waste while camping and help you prepare healthy meals?

Related Posts - Check them Out
Pick the Perfect Campsite
Eat Healthy and Reduce Waste
Protect Natural Areas By Exploring Them

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  1. Great ideas. One pot pasta sounds easy enough. :)

    1. It is super easy and way less to clean up!

  2. Great tips. I had to laugh, though, over the first couple sentences. I feel exactly that way each and every time we go camping! I'm pinning this for our next trip.

    1. It is all worth it in the end but holy moly is it exhausting at first.