Either way you view it, camping is all about preparation. Before you head to the great outdoors, follow these tips from three Sharp HealthCare dietitians about how to pack your cooler with healthy foods to keep you energized on your adventures.
Nicole Herrmann, MS, RD, CLEC, clinical nutrition manager at Sharp Coronado HospitalCamping is a great way to get some fresh air, enjoy the beauty of nature and have fun cooking outdoors.
A family favorite for breakfast when camping is baggy omelets. It may sound a little difficult to make an omelet when camping, but, it’s actually very simple. You just need a large pot to boil water, freezer bags, eggs, your favorite vegetables and seasonings. I like to bring onions, mushrooms, bell peppers, garlic and pepper. To make this prep even easier, you can pre chop the ingredients and place them in Tupperware in your cooler.
To keep eggs from getting crushed in the cooler, make sure to place them on top of everything or use a plastic container to store the eggs for camping. The best part is everyone can customize their omelet, making it with the whole egg or egg whites. Place all of your omelet ingredients in the freezer baggy and place in the boiling water until fully cooked. It’s important to ensure the omelet is cooked thoroughly before consuming. This is a great way to start of your day and provides the fuel you need for exploring the great outdoors.
Homemade granola bars are a great snack to have on hand for camping since they are an easy grab-and-go item while you are hiking, fishing or relaxing. Making them at home is a great way to customize them and limit the amount of added sugar.
Try adding nutritious ingredients such as almonds, walnuts, pumpkin seeds and dried fruit (without added sugar). If you need additional sweetness, add a few dark chocolate chips. You can find several great and simple recipes on the internet, just be cautious to limit those ingredients with added sugars.
Jamie Downs, registered dietitian at Sharp Rees-Stealy Medical CentersI make sure to incorporate healthy fats, such as hummus or avocado, to my snacks and meals to keep me full longer and fuel me for the activity that comes along with camping.
Look on Pinterest or Google for low-calorie or healthy grilling recipe ideas. Make a shopping list and prep food before you go to enjoy more fun time while you're away.
Most importantly, be sure to bring more water than you think you will need, or a water filter, so you can stay hydrated. This extra water may also come in handy to wash dishes, wash hands and for pets to drink.
When camping, I love starting my day off strong with old-fashioned oats. For flavor, you can change it up daily and put them in separate bags or make one big container that you can scoop out 1 cup dried mix daily per person. I'll usually add some chopped walnuts, dried fruit and peanut butter powder to the mix.
Kendra Busalacchi, registered dietitian at Sharp Grossmont HospitalI love to try new forms of physical activity while camping, like hiking, kayaking, paddle boarding, yoga in the mountains and nature walks. Not only do these activities provide physical activity, but they also allow you to explore the area and enjoy nature while doing so. For stress release and to practice mindfulness, try meditating on a mountaintop or by the water.
Bringing healthy snacks is always important when camping. Planning ahead and washing and cutting fruits and vegetables to take with you is a good way to be guaranteed a quick and healthy snack full of fiber, vitamins and minerals. Pairing the vegetables with a hummus dip and the fruit with a yogurt dip is a nice way to add even more flavor and nutrition.
Food safety tips"A cooler will provide a safe way to bring uncooked meats, but remember to bring them frozen and cook the meat early in your camping trip before the cooler loses it cool," says Bauer. "While packing coolers with ice packs and large ice, make sure you put raw food in one cooler and cooked food and beverages into another."
"I always try to put foods that I'll be using later in the trip at the bottom and foods I'll be using in the beginning at the top to minimize digging around in the cooler," says Downs. "I also keep any beverages in a different cooler because that usually gets opened more frequently."
This story was updated in October of 2020.