perfect campfire grill

Healthy Snack and Meal Ideas for Car Campers

By Heather

Last time, I wrote some tips on how you can eat a healthy, even highly restrictive, diet and continue to camp.

Now, I present to you ideas and inspiration. When it comes to food while camping, it’s fine to bring perishables. But I’d shy away from anything both perishable and likely to give you a case of food poisoning should it perish or not be kept at the optimal temperature.

Although I’m not eating or limiting a lot of things these days, including grains, gluten, dairy and sodium, the food ideas below are for anyone who just wants to eat better at camp. Make your own adjustments to this list accordingly, and please share ideas of your own in the comments! I’m always looking for new ways to keep things interesting.


We rely on snacks a lot. We used to do lunch, but generally don’t anymore. Our first several camping trips always felt like we were forcing food down by dinner time.

For snack procurement, Trader Joe’s is the mecca of snacks. It is also the mecca of cashiers who also love snacks and will comment on your snacks and want to know what you’re going to be doing with your snacks, and they will suggest other snacks for you to try. It cracks me up every single time.

But the most wonderful thing about TJ’s is that they not only have a million snacks, a lot of them aren’t bad for you!

Wherever you go, look for stuff like this for your snacking merriment:

  • Hummus (Trader Joe’s has good hummus, and the Sabra brand is very tasty; Athenos is gross)
  • Unsalted roasted almond butter (Trader Joe’s all the way – no added sugar!)
  • Pretzels (better than chips, am I right?)
  • Beef jerky (not terrible in small amounts, so take it easy, tiger)
  • Edamame (heat it up at home, sprinkle with Kosher salt and eat chilled)
  • Bean dips/salads, such as Cowboy Caviar
  • Vegetables for dipping into hummus, bean dips or almond butter (celery, carrots are good)
  • Nuts (cashews, macadamias, almonds, pistachios, peanuts)
  • Rice puffs (Pirate’s Booty or the Trader Joe’s knock-offs)
  • Pita chips (Trader Joe’s has yummy baked ones, and surely we have all heard of Stacy’s by now)
  • Jiffy Pop (can be tough to find, but if you see it, get it!)

Side dishes

  • Diced potatoes, green peppers, onions, light butter made w/canola oil, seasoning in foil (cook for 45 minutes or so, turning once. Don’t put it directly in the flames, but hovering above them by a few inches, otherwise you’ll be eating el scorcho. Eat with mustard and ketchup if you so choose. I always so choose)
  • Any grilled vegetable; you can’t go wrong
  • Canned baked beans (terrific with sausage)
  • Canned black beans (go nicely with eggs, tacos)
  • Corn on the cob (have you ever had grilled corn on the cob? Shuck it and place directly on the grate. No foil, no nothing. Takes about 10 minutes total; turn every so often. Serve up with this chili lime butter. You’re welcome)



  • Sausage, no bun and lots of mustard (Sierra Nevada Mustard is heaven, btw)
  • Pulled pork tacos with red onion, queso, crema and lime (we get the Costco pulled pork)
  • Lean steaks with fat trimmed (also from Costco)
  • Skewers with shrimp or chicken and vegetables
  • Lean hamburgers with light cheese, no bun
  • Vegetable chili, topped with fat-free sour cream, green onions, hot sauce and light cheese

For more labor-intensive and creative ideas, check out Sunset Magazine‘s camp cooking recipes. We may have to try a few of these this season!


Well, here’s where things get a little less exciting and interesting. For breakfast, we are all about the mighty breakfast burrito.

Since we last went camping, I’ve cut out most grains, so I will not be having flour tortillas. Corn doesn’t seem to bother me much, so I’ll be making soft breakfast tacos. Top them off with some fat-free sour cream, a little avocado, a little bacon and some 2% cheese… Yumsville!


And then there are some things that just don’t pair very well with camping and eating healthy. Mainly, it’s salad. It’s hard to keep cool and crisp, making for a very unappetizing side dish. Bleh. Leave it at home!

Got any of your own healthy meals and snacks to share? Let’s hear it! Plus, we need some breakfast ideas.