A week is longer than most people’s camping trips. Careful planning is important, especially when it comes to food. You need food that will last the entire week without going bad or boring you.
Below are some tips on what food to take camping for a week, how much food you need, and other essential food preparations.
What You'll Learn Today
Is Camping For A Week Too Long?
Most people are used to a weekend camping trip – typically just one or two days in the wild. Such a camping trip is easy to plan for and you don’t have to carry too many things.
So a weeklong camping adventure counts as extreme for many people.
That said, if you are already an experienced camper, then camping for a week is probably not a big deal. You just need to pack a few more things than usual and spend more time planning.
Work schedule is what determines how long most people can camp. For a majority of people, the weekend is the only time they can go camping.
But if you have a couple of weeks or more of vacation time or your work schedule is not too packed, you could go camping for a week.
Another factor is how much you enjoy camping. Not everyone is crazy about sleeping under the stars. Camping for one night is plenty enough for them.
If, on the other hand, you can’t get enough of the outdoors, a week is probably not long enough for you.
Finally, consider what activities you plan to do on your trip.
If you are planning to just relax at the campsite, camping for several days can get boring. But if you plan to combine camping with a road trip, hiking, mountain climbing and other adventures, you’ll have a lot to keep you busy for an entire week.
One advantage of camping for longer is that you have time to travel further away from home and explore new areas.
Something else to keep in mind is who you are camping with. If you are camping with your entire family, it’s probably best to keep it short. If you are alone or with a friend or partner (who also likes camping), you can afford to camp for longer.
How Much Food Do I Need For A Weeklong Camping Trip?
One of the mistakes beginner campers make is overpacking. It is especially tempting to pack a lot of stuff, including food, when going camping for a week.
To avoid overpacking, plan every single meal you’ll have on your camping trip. This lets you know exactly how much food you need to carry and where you can cut back (you probably don’t need three different types of pasta).
Use an app or pen and paper to write down a meal plan for the week. Include meals for breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks.
We’ll talk shortly about what food to include in your meal plan.
With your meal plan ready, it’s easy to pack the amount of food you need. You can add a day’s worth of meals just to be safe.
Remember to multiply the amount of food by the number of people who are going camping.
Tip: If you want food and recipe ideas, REI has plenty of camping recipes for every meal.
What Food To Take Camping For A Week?
There are several factors that determine what food you take camping for a week including the weather, how you’ll be traveling, and who you are camping with.
But the most important factor is food preservation.
Do you have a cooler or car fridge?
With an overnight camping trip, you can pack just about anything and it’ll stay fresh in the cooler for a day or two.
For a weeklong camping trip, you have to think carefully about how you’ll keep your food fresh. Otherwise, you risk not having food to eat or eating food that makes you sick.
If you have a good quality cooler or a car fridge, you can pack fresh foods like meats, vegetables, fruits and pre-cooked food like rice and beans.
If you don’t have a cooler or fridge, or if your cooler cannot keep food cold and fresh for a week, your best option is to pack food that doesn’t need to be kept cold. This includes dehydrated foods, dry foods, and instant meals.
Here are some of the best foods to pack if you don’t have a cooler.
- Oats – the instant ones are the best.
- Just add water foods like pancake mix, beef stroganoff, noodles and pasta.
- Dehydrated foods like powdered milk and dehydrated fruits and vegetables.
- Nuts and nut butters. These make for great and healthy snacks.
- Fresh fruits. Some fresh fruits like apples, bananas (pick under ripe ones), peaches and oranges. You can add these to your meals (like breakfast cereal) or eat them as snacks.
- Dried foods like beans, dried peas, pasta, rice, and flour. These foods keep well until you cook them.
- Energy bars and other store-bought snacks like chocolate and trail mix.
- Instant tea, coffee or cocoa.
- Canned and preserved foods. These are great if you want the closest alternative to fresh foods.
- Canned and bottled drinks.
What will the weather be like?
If you are going summer camping, you have a wide range of foods to choose from. You can even eat food cold right out of a can. Sandwiches and salads are great for warm weather.
Winter or rainy weather camping, on the other hand, requires high-energy, hot, and hearty meals. This may require you to do a lot more cooking.
Carry foods for preparing soups, stews, and chili. Starches like pasta, rice and potatoes make for hearty and body-warming meals.
You’ll also want to carry things like nuts, nut butters, cheeses, dried fruits, meats and other foods that provide a lot of energy.
Don’t forget to carry coffee or your favorite beverage to make hot drinks.
Who are you camping with?
When preparing your meal plan, consider the needs and preferences of those you’ll be camping with unless you are going solo camping.
Take into account people’s allergies, their diet preferences (vegan, keto, paleo etc.) and what food they like to eat. The aim is to make the trip fun for everyone.
If you are camping with kids, make sure to pack healthy and nutritious meals. Variety is also important to keep everyone from getting bored with the same foods.
How much space do you have?
How much space do you have for food?
If you are driving an RV or truck, you can carry a lot of food without worrying so much about how much space it takes.
If you are driving a smaller vehicle or you are backpacking, space is limited. We recommend packing food that takes up less space but bulks up when cooked.
Dry, dehydrated, and instant meals are perfect for this. You can carry a lot of calories and many different foods in a single backpack.
Here’s a helpful video for backpackers planning to camp for a week. It shows how to pack enough food for an 8-day backpacking trip.
How To Plan Food For a Week Of Camping: Meal Planning Tips
- Try to pack as much variety as you can. You can have the same breakfast daily, but try to vary what you have for lunch and dinner to keep things interesting.
- Pack multi-purpose foods. For instance, instead of 4 different types of cheeses, choose one cheese you can use in sandwiches, in pasta, and as a snack. Do the same for spices and condiments.
- Plan the meals such that you eat the perishable foods first. For example, you can go through fresh food in the first couple of days then eat the canned and dry stuff the rest of the time.
- Identify which meals you can cook ahead of time, or at least do some of the prep. It’ll make cooking much easier when camping.
- Match the meals to the cooking equipment that you have. Don’t plan a meal that requires grilling and then realize too late that you have no grilling equipment.
- Carry several storage containers or ziplocks to pack leftover meals. Instead of throwing leftovers in the bin, they can make for a good breakfast.
- Have a mix of lazy and involving meals. On some days, you’ll love spending time preparing a hearty meal. On other days, you just want a hotdog and a beer. Plan meals for each situation.
- Plan the beverages with as much care as you’ve planned the food. If you are camping as a family, pack everyone’s favorite beverage and make sure you’ve packed enough to last the week.
- If you’ll be traveling from place to place, you can carry food for just a few days and then replenish your basket/cooler when you pass through a town. This can help you travel lighter.
Don’t worry if things don’t turn out as well as you expected the first time you camp for a week. As you go on more long camping trips, you’ll become a pro and learn to camp for longer periods.