top of page
  • Writer's pictureChristina Trotter

Camping Food List (Essentials with Printable Excel Checklist) [2023]

Updated: Aug 20, 2023

Camping is an excellent way to disconnect from the busy city life, unplug, and enjoy the beauty of nature. However, deciding the food list for camping can be challenging, especially if you are new to camping.


Over the years, I have gotten really good at our camping food packing list. This wasn’t an accident – it comes from years of having forgotten key food staples.


I might bring everything for a meal and then realize I forgot to pack some spices or condiments. And the worst? Packing coffee filters and creamer only to realize that I forgot to grab the coffee. That, alas, has happened on multiple occasions.


In this post, I’ll discuss the key food staples you need when camping. But more importantly, I also have an Excel / Google Sheets you can use as a checklist / printable for what camping food to bring - and CUSTOMIZE for your camping group.


TLDR: Jump straight to download.


For clarity, I’ve broken the food checklist out by meal type.



Table of Contents:


 

If you want help to create a menu and always having EXACTLY the ingredients that you need for your favorite camping meals, make sure that you read my camping meal planner article and download the tool.

 

Camping Food List:

Some of the links within this blog post are affiliate links. If you purchase anything from this website via an affiliate link, I will earn a small commission at no extra cost to you.



Breakfast

When it comes to camping breakfasts, many people tend to go for simple and easy-to-prepare options that don't require a lot of cooking time or clean-up. For us, it depends on if we have a morning activity planned or not. Sometimes, making breakfast is the morning activity, so we cook eggs, bacon, sausage, and pancakes. Other times, we have a hike planned and just need to grab and go.


For a quick breakfast, here are some popular breakfast options:

  • Instant oatmeal: Fast and only requires hot water. You can add nuts, dried fruits, and honey for taste and nutrition.

  • Breakfast bars or granola bars: These are easy to pack and can be a great option for those who want a quick and portable breakfast.

  • Pancakes or waffles: We get a mix that only requires adding water. Then cook the batter on a portable stove or griddle and serve with maple syrup, butter, and fruit. Our kids love to add whip cream too.

  • Fresh fruit, yogurt, and granola: This healthy and refreshing breakfast option can be prepared quickly. Simply layer yogurt, fruit and granola.


 

TLDR: Jump straight to download.

 

A stack of pancakes sits on a plate drizzled with syrup and fresh fruit
Yum....pancakes. Photo Credit: Unsplash, Patrick Walliner


If we are having a leisurely morning, we take the time and make a more traditional breakfast. Some of our favorite things to make are:


  • Breakfast tacos: We start by cooking ground sausage. Once cooked, we add eggs to the mix. I promise it tastes magical mixing the two when cooking. We then put them in tortillas and add the fixings: cheese, salsa, jalapeños. [On a related note, a tortilla warmer has infinite uses to keep food warm when camping.

  • Breakfast sandwiches: You can prepare these ahead of time, but it’s even better fresh. Pack English muffins or bagels, and cook bacon and/or sausage on the grill and separately eggs. Add cheese and eggs.

TLDR: Jump straight to download.



 

Afraid of forgetting a cooking or serving utensil? What about cleaning after campfire cooking? Read my article on Essential Campfire Cooking Equipment

 


Camping Lunches

For lunch when camping, we usually prefer to keep it simple and easy to prepare so that we can spend more time exploring the outdoors. Here are some of our favorites:

  • Sandwiches: An oldie but goodie. Pack bread, cheese, deli meat, veggies, and condiments, and you have a full meal with no cleanup required

  • Charcuterie Boards: We pack salami, cheese, nuts, olives, dried fruits, gherkins (that word always makes me laugh), and anything else that sounds good.

  • Wraps: You can pack tortillas, cheese, veggies, hummus, and meats and assemble the wraps when you're ready to eat. If you aren’t a hummus fan, you can swap in your favorite dipping sauce.

  • Tuna, chicken, or egg salad: These salads are easy to prepare ahead of time and can be a great option for a protein-packed lunch. You can pack the salad and crackers or bread to eat alongside it.

  • Instant noodles: I lived off of ramen in college, and some things never change. It’s so easy to boil water over a portable stove or with an electric tea kettle and add the noodles and seasoning for a quick meal.

  • Quesadillas: Quesadillas are easy to prepare. You can pack tortillas, cheese, veggies, and the cooked protein of your choice and just toast them lightly.

  • Grilled sandwiches: This is a great option for a pudgy pie. Put your favorite meat, condiment, and veggies between two pieces of bread, and you have yourself a treat!

TLDR: Jump straight to download.


A campsite with a hammock in the distance and a picnic table in the middle ground. A Yeti cooler sits next to the table.
Photo credit: Reuben Kid

Camping Dinners

In reality, time flies and it often gets to be dinnertime and we are exhausted from kayaking or hiking.


My best advice is to have a back up plan when planning your camping dinners. I often have aspirational dinner plans like rich soups that have spent hours over the campfire.


I never – and I mean never – go camping without packing hotdogs and sausage links. They are a lifesaver.


TLDR: Jump straight to download.

 

Need more ideas? Here is my article on camping dinners.

 

Here are some other dinner ideas:

  • Foil packet meals: Foil packet meals are easy to prepare and require minimal clean-up. What I love the most about foil packet meals is that everyone can make their own and include whatever they want. My kids aren't always too excited to start the process, but once it's ready, they are usually happy with their creations. Our favorite foil packet meal is this Chicken bacon ranch packet with potatoes. Holy crap, ya'll. It is delicious. I would eat this at home, but we keep it as a camping highlight.

  • Grilled meats and veggies, including kebabs: Sometimes, I bring pre-marinated meats for grilling. I love the Best Steak Marinade in Existence for beef and pork and have used it for years. Everyone always loves it. Both the grilled meats and veggies are always good to do early in the trip because I find lot of ways to reuse the leftovers. The veggies are great in eggs or salads and the meats can be made into nachos which is always fun and yummy.

  • One-pot meals: One-pot meals are great for camping because they require minimal clean-up. You can make chili, pasta dishes, or stir-fry by cooking everything in one pot.

  • Soups or chili: When it's cold outside, there's nothing better. Soup is filling and feels like a hug. I make soup ahead of time so that I'm not spending time in the kitchen and also because we all know that soup tastes better on day 2. I use our Dutch oven to heat up the soup or I will admit, I sometimes cheat and just use our camper microwave (ok, glamper:).

  • Fajita tacos or burritos: Tacos and burritos are easy to make and customize to your liking. We always pack tortillas, cheese, veggies, and meat and beans and then add guacamole, salsa and/or pico de gallo. This is another area where leftovers make great nachos the next day for lunch.

  • Hamburgers, hot dogs and sausage: I think it goes without saying, these are camping staples

  • Pizza: Pizza is a great option for a pudge pie maker. You can also just make over the campfire.


Four foil packets sit atop of a campfire.
Foil packets are almost always a hit. Photo credit: Chrissy Trotter

Snacks

Snacks are essential to keeping up your energy and staying fueled for outdoor activities. This is one of our favorite things to overpack because you never know what you may be in the mid for while camping. You try and be healthy, but let's be honest: sometimes you just need a good Dorito. Here are some good snack options to pack for your camping trip:


  • Trail mix: A classic snack for camping, trail mix is convenient and easy-to-pack. You can make your own trail mix by mixing nuts, dried fruit, seeds, and chocolate chips.

  • Chips and dips: Our absolute favorite is to make French onion dip (1 16-oz sour cream container to 1 packet of Lipton French Onion soup). It goes lightning fast and also makes a great dip for veggies. Costco also has so many yummy options that I sometimes change it up with whatever strikes my fancy there.

  • Seven-Layer Dip: It’s the perfect dip – it has protein (beans) and veggies and is just pure yummy. Everyone in our family loves 7-layer dip and it always feels like a treat.

  • Fresh fruit: Fresh fruit is a healthy and refreshing snack option. Pack fruits that travel well, like apples, oranges, grapes and bananas.

  • Energy bars: Energy bars are convenient and come in a variety of flavors and nutrient profiles. Look for bars that are high in protein and fiber to keep you feeling full and energized.

  • Jerky: Jerky is a high-protein snack option that's easy to pack and can be a great addition to any camping trip. You can choose from beef, turkey, or vegan jerky, depending on your dietary preferences. For my Texas friends, get your jerky at Bucees on your way out.

  • Crackers and cheese: Crackers and cheese are easy to pack and can be a great source of protein and carbs.

  • Popcorn: Popcorn is a light and crunchy snack option that's easy to pack and can be a fun treat while camping.


TLDR: Jump straight to download.

A close up of trail mix
Trail mix. Photo credit: Maksim Shutov


Desserts

After a day of outdoor fun, we always like to end our day over a campfire no matter what the temperature. Here are some other ideas to make everyone happy:

  • S'mores: S'mores are a classic camping dessert that everyone in your family can make. All you need is graham crackers, chocolate bars, marshmallows, and a roasting stick.

  • Pudgy Pies: Everyone can have a pie that appeals to them. Get a pie iron, spray some Pam (seriously, don't forget this step) and then add bread to both sides of the iron. Add your favorite pie filling and some sugar on top and then put into the fire. Times vary depending on the heat of the fire, but it’s more forgiving then you would guess. Put on for about 5 minutes per side and then check the pie.

  • Grilled fruit: You can grill peaches, pineapples, or bananas and serve them with a drizzle of honey, chocolate or a scoop of ice cream.

  • Campfire cones: Campfire cones are a fun and customizable dessert option. You can fill waffle cones with chocolate chips, marshmallows, and fruit, wrap them in foil, and cook them over a campfire.

  • Dutch oven desserts: Dutch ovens are a versatile cooking tool for camping desserts. You can make cobblers, brownies, or cakes.

  • Fruit salad: Fruit salad is refreshing and healthy! You can pack a variety of fruits like berries, melons, and grapes, and serve them with a dollop of whipped cream or yogurt. You could even make ambrosia (which wouldn’t make it healthy, but sure does taste yummy). My friends also mix a block of cream cheese with marshmallow crème and it to quote Ferris Bueller, it is SO choice!

  • Campfire banana boats: Slice a banana down the middle, fill it with chocolate chips, marshmallows, and nuts, and cook it over the fire

TLDR: Jump straight to download.


Condiments

If there’s one thing that a lot of people forget while camping, it’s condiments. That’s one of those things that you have in the fridge at all times, that you mean to grab on the way out the door, but you just forget.

  • Mustard

  • Ketchup

  • BBQ Sauce

  • Mayonnaise

  • Spicy Mustard

  • Hot Sauce

  • Salsa

TLDR: Jump straight to download.


Drinks

  • OJ

  • Capri-Sun

  • Sparkling Water

  • Bottled Water

  • Beer

  • Wine

  • Spirits

  • Mixers

  • Limes

  • Fruit garnish

  • Ice

  • Champagne

  • Coffee

  • Creamer

TLDR: Jump straight to download.


Spices and Oil

  • Salt

  • Pepper

  • Oregano

  • Basil

  • Chicken Fajita Seasoning

  • Old Bay Seasoning

  • Olive Oil

  • Canola Oil

  • Peanut Oil

  • Cumin

  • Cinnamon

  • Butter


Download the Camping Food List Checklist / Template

Food Staples
.xlsx
Download XLSX • 14KB


Final Thoughts


While packing coolers and grocery dry goods may sound daunting, it really isn't if you download this food for camping list as a starting point. You can customize it for your group's preferences. If you forget something, try not to sweat it. It happens to the best of us and hot dogs taste good even if you forget mustard;)


Happy Camping,

Chrissy


Comments


bottom of page