When I started going on wild camping adventures, I struggled to think of healthy vegetarian meals that are quick and easy to make in a single tiny ‘pot’ (the Jetboil). I needed to find a way to combine healthy, filling, and lightweight foods in each meal. After much experimenting and some unhealthy mistakes, I’ve created my wild camping staples.
I’ve put together a list of tried and tested healthy vegetarian camping foods that will keep you nourished in the wild. I hope it’ll help you plan your next adventure.
Having something warm in the morning feels great when you’re in the wilderness. It makes you feel at home. In a resealable bag, take some organic porridge oats with you. All you’ll need is some water and, if you like, some nuts to add at the end. Take an extra empty resealable bag with you – you’ll use this to cook the porridge in so that your pan or Jetboil doesn’t get dirty.
Tea and biscuits
Tea is one of the lightest items you could bring with you. If you’re not fussed with doing any cooking in the morning, just carry some biscuits with you and dip them in your brew for extra softness.
This is an excellent wholesome, filling, and nutritious dish, perfect for an evening meal. I wrote the recipe here. You can just use quick cook wholewheat pasta and the avocado and leave the other ingredients at home. To make the avocado mash, use your Swiss Army knife to cut the avocado into cubes and your spork to mash it. The pasta might take a little longer to cook than at home, but it’ll be worth it. If you like, carry some salt and pepper in a resealable bag with you and sprinkle on top once you’ve mixed the pasta with the avocado mash.
Lightweight and incredibly quick to cook, couscous is the perfect wild camping food. In a resealable bag, mix olives, raisins, and your favourite roasted veggies at home before you set off. Once at camp, simply put some couscous in a bowl or mug and add some boiled water to it. Add the veggie mix to the couscous, and enjoy!
Gnocchi in tomato sauce
If you can bear the weight, gnocchi is a very satisfying dinner dish. Make some tomato sauce at home with some garlic and herbs and store it in a lightweight airtight box to put in your backpack. At camp, cook the gnocchi in boiled water. The gnocchi will only take a couple of minutes to make, and they’ll warm the tomato sauce up when you mix them together. Maybe keep this one for a bivvy adventure – the weight you save on the tent will make space for the gnocchi.
Hard cheese and bread
Hard cheese is an excellent source of fat and protein when you’re facing a long hike. It doesn’t weigh much, and it can last for a couple of days outside of the fridge. If you fancy a quick lunch, bread and cheese won’t disappoint you.
Omelette in a bag
At home, break an egg and pour it into a resealable bag. Add the veggies of your choice and some salt and pepper. Seal carefully. When you’re at camp, just bring some water to the boil and place the bag inside it. You’ll be able to see when it’s done. Enjoy!
This is my winter favourite. Take some minestrone mix and a vegetable cube with you – they’re not that heavy and much healthier than instant soups. In your camping pot, boil some water and add the two ingredients. Cook until the mix reaches the consistency you like.
Nuts and dried fruit
These are obvious ones. Make your own homemade trail mix with organic unsalted nuts and dried fruit. Store it in a resealable bag and keep it in your backpack in a quick access pocket. If you’re the kind of hiker who likes grazing all day, it’ll keep you going until the evening.
Pick the ones with the most natural ingredients (my favourites are Nakd bars) and keep them handy in case you need a snack pronto.
If you boil some eggs on the morning you set off, these can last for about 2 days in your backpack. They provide an excellent protein boost for tireless hikers.
Sweet peppers and cream cheese
This is an excellent snack to have in the late afternoon if you set up camp early or as a starter if you cannot wait for dinner to get ready. Cut and clean the sweet peppers into halves with your Swiss Army knife and dip them in the cream cheese (I personally prefer a herby cream cheese). It’ll feel very fresh, which is great when you’re a bit dehydrated after a long day outdoors.
When planning a wild camping trip, remember that the first day you’ll be fine eating foods that usually live in the fridge, so if you really fancy some hummus or Quorn, take it with you and eat it within the first 10-12 hours.
If you’re unsure about what to pack for your adventure, have a look at my wild camping packing list – I’ve included all the essentials needed.