June 4, 2016

The Best Camping Food is Home-Made.

Julian Bialowas/Unsplash

Yesterday, I tasted one of the most flavorful foods I have ever prepared.

Dried watermelon!

And I almost feel guilty even suggesting that I “prepared” anything with the dried watermelon, because all I did was chop up the watermelon into little chunks and slide it on trays into the dehydrator.

For such little work the reward was amazing, the intensity of the flavor of the dried watermelon mind-blowing. With all the water drained out of the fruit, the sugars intensified and the watermelon flavor just exploded.

But thankfully, I had willpower and only ate two pieces (okay, maybe four), because this taste sensation isn’t for immediate eating—it’s for our camping trip this summer.

There is no point denying that pleasing our tastebuds is one of the best ways to feel good in life, and this is especially true when we are on back-country trips.

When we are out in nature, all of our senses are heightened. Away from our computers, televisions and the four walls of the buildings we usually inhabit, the sun, air, water, trees and mountains enliven us. We feel more, see more and experience more.

I love to make great-tasting food part of this experience.

Last summer, my family and I went on a two-week kayak trip in Alaska, and we packed in all of our food.

As you can imagine, the food we brought needed to be light and compact in order to fit enough for four people for 14 days into two kayaks.

But we did it—no problem.

Our magic trick was the dehydrator.

Dehydrating our own food is the best way to ensure that what we’re eating when out camping is healthy and nutritious.

By preparing our camping food ourselves, we can ensure we are using high quality organic ingredients, limiting the amount of processed sugar and salt, and only including the flavors that make our family smile.

Here are some of our family favorites:

Apple Rings.

So simple, but tasty and filling, too. Dip the apples in lemon water before placing on the dehydrator so they don’t brown.

Granola Bars.

Last summer, I set up a granola-bar-making station on the dining room table, putting all the ingredient options out and letting each person in the family choose the flavors they wanted. I labeled the bags of finished granola bars with each person’s name, and everyone had the tasty treat they wanted when we were out on our trip.

Dried Soups.

These are a life saver. I brought four small thermoses with us on the kayak trip, and each morning  as we heated water for coffee and oats everyone filled their thermos with their dried soup of choice, and I just added the boiling water. A hot lunch was now ready whenever anyone was hungry. The best soups were vegetarian chili, red lentil/veggie and potato leek.


Our family isn’t vegetarian, so we make our own jerky from wild meat that we hunt. Home-made jerky is much healthier than store bought, because again we can control the spices and eliminate the preservatives. We need to hide the home-made jerky from the kids when we are on trips so that it can last the whole time—that’s how much they love it.

Backpacking, canoe or kayak trips are a great way to spend time alone or with friends and family. They don’t need to be long trips to fill our souls with adventure and open our consciousness to the gifts nature has to offer. Even a weekend out in the woods can remind us of who we really are.

And if there are challenges such as wind, rain or wild animals, even better. Then we get to work with our own minds and bodies and develop ourselves by facing the challenges in front of us.

But, we can still eat good food.

Delicious food is one of the tricks I have found to thriving in challenging conditions in the wilderness.

If we have healthy and delicious food with us, any challenge nature throws at us becomes that much easier.

Happy camping and eating!


Relephant Reads:

Eight Camping Recipes: the Classics. [via NWF]

Six Ways to Minimize the Impacts of Camping.


Author: Ruth Lera

Editor: Toby Israel

Image: Julian Bialowas/Unsplash


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