Well friends, this August was JP’s third and last week of classes in Santa Cruz, CA for the Circe Institute. This was also our last big trip before baby Rainsford comes in for landing. So this year we decided to go big (because just going back home would be boring)! After wrapping up classes in CA, we flew to Denver and started the flat, long drive across expansive Wyoming to Yellowstone National Park.
After camping in Yosemite last August we fell more deeply in love with our National Parks than ever. These public lands are our inheritance (yours & mine!) & they are awe inspiring - truly one of America’s best ideas.
Last year, we told you all about how to pack & what to wear for a camping trip to a national park, if you need a little refresher, check out the two-part post here! This time, we’re going to pick up right where we left off & get down to one of my personally favorite topics: eating! (Can I get an amen?) We’re going to get from coffee to dinner, with everything in between. Buckle up y’all!
Before we start, let’s talk philosophy about any camp meal. (Yeah, I just used “philosophy” and “camp meal” in the same sentence.) When you’re exploring an amazing place, time is too short for complicated meals & lots of clean up. Leave that complication at home people! We want our meals to be as healthy, uncomplicated & speedy as possible.
Coffee: There are as many ways to make coffee in the woods as there are at a barista convention, many of which are great. So I’ll only mention three means to get your morning fix: First, the Aeropress is a brilliant invention for making espresso shots. It’s small, light, and very simple. Second, there is some great instant coffee out there these days! Third, cold brew anyone? Piece of cake! Put your coffee & water in a Nalgene the night before & let the magic happen!
Meal: Oatmeal is pretty much our go-to. Instant oatmeal packets taste great, but are not a great serving size & often have a LOT of sugar. So, do it yourself! Mix proportioned dry quick oats with some goodies: salt, cinnamon, nuts/seeds, dried fruit, etc. before you leave for your trip. Then you can either cook it hot in the morning, or make overnight oatmeal (mix it with water in a seal-able container the night before & just let it soak!). Top it with some honey & banana & you’ve got a power bowl.
You’ll most likely be having lunch on the road/trail so have food that packs well & doesn’t need much refrigeration. Peanut or Almond butter really is the easiest. I like to add some crunch to mine by adding banana chips - it’s totally cool, not weird. Vacuum packed tuna (not canned!) is another great protein option. Top that with some condiment packets from a fast-food restaurant. (Just don’t tell!) Instead of pulling squashed bread from your bag, pack tortillas instead! Raw peppers, carrots, and edamame are great veggies that don’t need much refrigeration if you have a simple cooler or are only out for the day. Top it off with some fruit & nuts!
(Because we all know that snacks happen between lunch & dinner, duh.) Camping/hiking can be an excellent excuse for needless snacks (I’m the worst here). I usually feel justified to have a snack after about every mile on the trail, like just being the woods burns crazy calories! Alas, this is a lie, so plan your snacks well! Either make JP’s awesome protein cookies ahead of time (look for those on the blog later this month!), or buy some healthy energy. Aussie bites from Costco are basically the quintessence of trail snacks! Nuts & fruit make up the rest of our snacks.
Ah dinner, my favorite meal after breakfast… Just like before, the options are endless, so focus on things that are healthy, quick, & easy to clean up. Also, refrigeration usually isn’t an option, which gets tricky. The fastest & easiest things are those freeze dried meals. If you’re backpacking this can be a great option, but these are expensive and aren’t the healthiest. Here are two of our go-to meals:
(Note that the pictures below are not exactly the recipes we're sharing. We stayed in cabins this year with small refrigerators so could spare a few extra refrigerated things! Baby Rainsford sure was happy about that! Instead, these recipes are some of our favorites when we're out backpacking.)
- Instant cous cous (1 box with spice packet)
- 1 can black beans
- 1 small jar salsa (or can tomatoes & green chilies)
- 4 oz. mushrooms (keep them in a brown paper bag & they don't need to be refrigerated!)
- ½ red pepper
- Fresh avocado
- Instructions: Saute your mushrooms & pepper then remove from the pan & replace with the beans. Follow the instructions to cook your couscous then top with the sauted vegetables, warmed beans, avocado, & some salsa! This is delicious with some tortillas or tortilla chips!
Pesto & Veggies
- Instant cous cous (1 box with spice packe
- 1 small jar pesto (Trader Joe’s and Aldi both have these small jars)
- 4 oz mushrooms
- 1/2 onion
- ½ red pepper
- Instructions: Saute your onion, pepper, & mushrooms then coat with the pesto. Follow the instructions to cook your couscous then top with the sauted vegetable and pesto mixture!
If you can get eggs, a fried or scrambled egg is a great topper to any of these meals (or just about any meal really!). Otherwise, you can also go for some hard salami that doesn’t require refrigeration before opening.
> These are just a few of our super-simple go-to meals & there are so many other options (we didn't even touch dehydrating!), but here’s the most important thing to remember: As always, although the options are endless, you only need enough to get you out there! So get what you need and get out there & don't look back. Adventure is waiting, my friends - go tackle it! Happy camping!