Favorite Camp Eats

Here at Tuscarora, we try to be straight with our guests. And our camping food menu, well, it’s just plain confusing. So if you book an outfitting trip with us and find yourself scratching your head when it comes to making meal selections for your trip, we’re sorry: it really is us, not you. 

So we thought we’d take a moment to highlight some of our personal camp food favorites to give you an idea of how we approach camp food decisions. Spoiler alert: we keep it simple and we’re not afraid of redundancy.  

BWCA Camp Food Breakfast

Oatmeal 

Breakfast might be the most important meal of the day, but when I’m camping, there’s no risk of getting “analysis paralysis” about our breakfast options. We’re having oatmeal.  

Sure, the idea of whipping up some eggs “en plein air” for breakfast makes me feel cowboy-esque and like I should spend the day ahead “gettin’ along my little dogies.” And when enjoying pancakes alfresco, who doesn’t think of Pa Ingalls drizzling his johnnycakes with molasses next to the family covered wagon? As romantic as a big camp breakfast sounds, all that pioneer/cowboy literature fails to mention the mountain of breakfast dishes that the likes of Ma Ingalls and Hotbiscuit Sally  had to tackle before they could get on with their day. 

So, we eat oatmeal – either instant with some dried fruit and nuts or a granola – when we’re on trail. Maybe it’s boring, but I pretty much eat the same breakfast day in and day out at home and there’s really no reason to change that when we’re camping. Versatile, filling (with the right add-ins), lightweight, minimal waste, minimal dishes, just add water that was already getting boiled for tea and coffee anyway, oatmeal checks all the camp food breakfast boxes. 

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Bagels 

On family camping trips growing up, bagels were consumed basically at every meal and they’re still my camping bread of choice. While they’re certainly heavier per serving than a loaf of bread, they’re also more filling and don’t squish easily in the pack. They work well toasted for breakfast with peanut butter and jelly and you can take out that PB&J again for lunch, or top your bagel with summer sausage and cheese (block or cream) for an easy mid-day meal. We realize we’re starting to sound like very lazy camp cooks, but we’re 100% in the no-cook, no dishes lunch camp. 

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All about those snacks

Since we’re not exactly going all out for breakfast and lunch on the trail, snacks are an important part of our calories throughout the day. A batch of homemade granola bars at the top of the food pack is a great treat for the end of a strenuous portage.

GORP is another snack staple. We make ours with peanuts (preferably not dry-roasted), milk chocolate M&Ms, and raisins.

We also grab handfuls of almonds and dried fruit and we’re certainly not opposed to a well-timed Snickers bar should endurance (and tempers) start to falter. 

CampCook

We do actually resign ourselves to dishes when it comes to dinner. We’re often pretty content with some instant soup and cheesy toasted bagel for supper, but we have a couple freeze-dried meal favorites. 

Red Beans and Rice 

We added this meal to our camping menu last year and it quickly became a guest favorite. We usually use Vigo or Backpacker’s Pantry brand and then add sliced bratwurst or kielbasa to make an easy, filling one-pot meal. If adding sausage, you’ll want to plan to consume this meal within the first couple nights of your trip. 

Salmon Pesto Pasta 

This is a Backpacker’s Pantry item, but we like to mix it with Cache Lake’s Country-Blend Vegetables for a tasty pasta primavera. (If you’re wondering where this option is, it’s on our vegetarian menu, but we’re happy to pack it for you on request.) It tastes a lot “fresher” than many freeze-dried meals and it’s basically a one-pot meal since you just add water to the pasta’s meal pouch and can make the vegetables in the same pot you boiled your water in. (By the way, if you’re worried about the waste created by camp food, Backpacker’s Pantry just rolled out a recycling program for their pouches. Hallelujah!) 

SmorePudding

What your favorite food to eat on trail? Agree or disagree: everything tastes better in the woods. 

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6 Responses to Favorite Camp Eats

  1. Bruce Tucker says:

    Good menu! The “Dutch Oven” menu is not in our canoe trip plans. Too heavy, too messy! Camp rule: While, I cook; you filter water & do dishes.
    We do succumb to pancakes, for a breakfast or two, but instant oatmeal is the standard.
    Flour tortillas are light, easy to carry, fairly indestructible, and a good substitute for bread. Tacos are a welcome dinner, after a strenuous day.
    I don’t use much freeze dried food, but rather stagger our menu, according to the trip days, for frozen or fresh items.
    Admittedly; my food pack starts out, a little on the grunt & groan carry, at the portage trails.
    Good article!
    Thanks!
    Bruce

  2. George E. Wamser says:

    Fried walleye, smallmouth, bluegill and pike! Everyday! With hash browns…..Tuscarora customer twice!

    • Bruce Tucker says:

      Last October – trip
      4 guys
      We ate northerns, for dinner. Just fried fish!
      4 scorched tongues 😆

  3. Norman H Dynneson says:

    I always made Bannock in the evening when supper was done. It baked in the dying fire, packed on the top of the food pack the next morning and our hearty lunch was ready for noon stop. One version was with raisins and cinnamon eaten with PButter and jelly. One version was with chocolate chips and a bit more sugar. One version was with pizza spices and parmesan cheese . All the bags of dry mix were made at home and all we had to do was add water on the trail. Kids loved it !

  4. hooky says:

    When I found out how easy it was to dehydrate my own meals, we started eating like kings. Dinner is beef stroganhoff, shepherds pie, beef & bean burritos, chili, the list is endless and is always a group meal. Breakfast is all individual choice oatmeal, eggs & sausage with hash browns/onions/peppers, cereal bars and we typically do a group breakfast of pancakes once. Lunch is everyone for themselves so you’ll see bagels or tortillas with summer sausage & cheese or peanut butter. GORP, hudson bay bread or more bars.