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