7 Eco-Friendly Camping Meals for Zero-Waste Excursions
Camping season is upon us - and campers across the U.S. (yours truly included!) are getting their gear and backpacks ready for another year of setting up camp in the great outdoors. But with every camping trip comes great responsibility, meaning trying to leave the camping spot as intact as possible. Honestly, that can be challenging for many reasons, primarily mealtime. From plastic-wrapped packages to disposable cutlery, camping meals can lead to a big pile of waste that isn't exactly nature-friendly. So, with June coming up (FYI, it's also National Camping Month), we decided to be more thoughtful about our usual nature trips by sharing our tastiest eco-friendly camping meals for a zero-waste sleepover in the nearest forest or nature park. Ready to start packing?
Few Tips on Eco-Friendly Camping Meals
- The first thing you must know to have a zero-waste camping meal is that dehydrated and freeze-dried foods are ideal. Since both types of food contain almost no water, they can last longer and don't require refrigeration. All you have to do to make a meal from them is add water. So, pack the necessary ingredients and soak them around mealtime.
- If you're using fresh ingredients, compost your food scraps. Food scraps attract wildlife, which can put both humans and animals at risk. So, pack a mason jar or a small container with you to collect your food waste, whether it's orange rinds or chicken bones.
Eco-Friendly Camping Meals
Sweet & Savory Snacks
1. Hummus with Crackers
Packed with fiber and carbs, hummus and crackers are the perfect way to boost your energy on a camping trip. However, the snack requires some heavy preparation. However, using MEP's instant hummus mix eliminates the need for heavy preparation, requiring just water and a little olive oil. Talk about an eco-friendly camping meal!
- 1/2 cup instant classic hummus mix
- 3/4 cup hot water
- 1 tbsp olive oil
Instructions: Add the hummus mix, hot water, and olive oil to a mason jar. Whisk until combined. Seal the jar. The hummus will seem thin at this point, but transfer it to a cold spot (perhaps tucked between a pile of wet leaves) and chill until it firms up. Serve with crackers for a complete meal.
2. Blueberry Almond Trail Mix
Easy and filled with energy-boosting nutrients, trail mix is a camper's dream snack. However, the best thing about it is that you can make it in advance and not worry about making any waste on the camping site. Mix the right ingredients, and you have a delicious treat ready in a few minutes.
- 1/2 cup unsalted almonds (raw or toasted)
- 1/3 cup organic crunchy blueberries
- 1/4 cup organic crunchy bananas
- 3 tbsp dark chocolate chips (optional)
Instructions: Add the ingredients to a mason jar, seal with the lid, and shake to combine. Pack the jar with you and enjoy the snack on-site.
3. Cranberry Granola Bar
Although nutritious and friendly to the environment, this camping meal requires some prepping. So, a day before your camping trip, gather your ingredients and make the bars. Make sure to pack them in a reusable container for zero-waste munching at its finest.
- 1 cup freeze dried cranberries
- 2 cups oats
- 1/3 cup flax meal
- 3/4 cup raw almonds, roughly chopped
- 1/2 cup honey
- 1/4 cup light brown sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 tbsp unsalted butter
Instructions: Add the cranberries to a bowl and fill with enough warm water to coat. Soak for 15 minutes. Once hydrated, squeeze away excess liquid and set aside. Preheat the oven to 350oF and line a 9x5-inch baking pan with parchment paper. Set aside. Mix the oats, flax meal, and almonds in a bowl. Add the honey, sugar, butter, and vanilla to a saucepan and heat over medium heat until the sugar dissolves. Mix the honey mixture into the bowl with the dry ingredients. Fold in the cranberries and spread the granola onto the pan. Bake for 25 minutes. Once golden brown, remove from the oven, cool completely, and cut into rectangle bars. Transfer to a reusable container and pack for your camping trip.
4. Strawberry Oatmeal
At just three ingredients (one of them is water), this eco-friendly camping meal is all about the zero-waste lifestyle. Just add pre-measured ingredients to a pot and cook over the open fire. Your breakfast is ready to serve!
- 2 cups water
- 1/2 cup oats
- 1 cup organic crunchy strawberries
- Sugar, to taste (optional)
Instructions: Add the water, oats, and strawberries to a pot and heat over the campfire. Once the strawberries are fork-tender, add the oats and sugar and whisk until combined. Cook until the oatmeal thickens. Serve immediately.
5. Potato & Bacon Hash Brown
Recommended for days when you need your strength (perhaps when you have an entire day of hiking ahead of you), this breakfast meal is filling and nutritious. It's also friendly to the environment as it produces zero waste on-site as long as you've packed the necessary ingredients.
- 2 cups freeze dried potatoes
- 1/2 cup textured soy protein (TSP) bacon bits
- 1/4 cup organic dried onions
- 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 egg
- 3 tbsp vegetable oil
- Salt, to taste
Instructions: Add the potatoes, bacon, and onion to a bowl and cover with water. Soak for 15 minutes. Once hydrated, squeeze away excess liquid and transfer to a bowl. Add the egg and flour and season with salt. Mix to combine and create a dough-like mixture. Heat the oil in a skillet over the open fire. Place the dough on the skillet in a layer and cook until browned at the bottom. Flip the hash and cook on the other side until browned as well. Serve immediately.
6. Chicken Salad
Stored in a large mason jar, this meal is easy to carry and divided into portions. It also doesn't produce any waste during preparation, making it perfect for a zero-waste camping trip. For the dressing, you can make a simple honey-mustard-olive oil vinaigrette.
- 4 lettuce leaves, shredded
- 1/4 cup freeze dried bell peppers (red)
- 1/2 cup textured soy protein (TSP) chicken bits
- 2 tbsp organic dried onions
- 1/2 tbsp honey
- 1 tbsp mustard
- 2 tbspolive oil
Instructions: Add the bell peppers, chicken, and onions to a bowl and cover with water. Soak for 15 minutes. Once hydrated, squeeze away excess liquid and set aside. Heat one tablespoon of olive oil over the open fire in a skillet. Sauté the chicken, onion, and bell pepper mixture until fork-tender. Transfer to the mason jar and toss with the honey, mustard, and remaining olive oil. Let cool for 10 minutes, and enjoy.
7. Beef Stew
Easy and convenient, this eco-friendly camping meal is made in just a few simple moves. Simply sauté the onion and garlic, add the remaining ingredients, and let them cook over the open fire. Serve with a slice of bread and you’re fueled for the day.
- 1 1 /4 cups textured soy protein (TSP) beef bits
- 5 cups water
- 3 tbsp dried onions
- 1/3 cup freeze dried potatoes
- 1/4 cup organic dried carrots
- 1/2 cup organic dried tomato flakes
- 1 tsp dried garlic (granulated)
- 1 beef bouillon cube
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- Salt & pepper, to taste
Instructions: Heat the olive oil in a Dutch oven over an open fire. Add the beef, onion, and garlic and sauté for 5 minutes. Add the remaining ingredients and stir to combine. Cover and cook for about 45 minutes or until the veggies and meat are fork-tender and the stew has thickened. Remove from the fire, cool for 15 minutes, and serve.
Are you getting ready for the camping season? Which are your go-to recipes for eco-friendly camping meals? Let us know in the comments down below!
- National Camping Month
- Cranberry Granola Bars
- Hash Brown Patties Recipe
- Quick & Easy Greek Chicken Mason Jar Salad Recipe
- Campfire Beef Stew
- Branden Evans