Meal Ideas for Camping & Road Trips

At first, it might feel like the structure of a food recovery program is too inflexible or fragile for traveling or adventuring. I felt that way during the weight loss phase. But now, 150 days into maintenance, I’m living pretty darn happy, thin, and free and absolutely loving taking my right-sized body out on trips!

In fact, at this point I feel that my program IS what allows me to take such fun adventures. I’ve found that when I’ve put in the time to plan and prep my food, I am so much more present and able to relax fully into these trips. My food fades into the background and life becomes all about enjoying and immersing myself in the places that I find myself. For me, traveling, adventuring, and food management work together to put the happy and free into happy, thin, and free.

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Breakfast and morning art time overlooking the Grand Canyon

Still, no matter how solid my program is, breaking out of my meal routines can rock my boat a little bit, so planning, preparation, and strategic meal choices are key. I’ve gone on multiple road trip & camping adventures trips in the past few weeks, and I’ve got my food pretty streamlined for these types of situations.

Here are a few things I’ve figured out.


Tips for Camping & Road Trips


When I say camping, I mean car camping with access to a cooler with ice. We have a little camping stove, but I tend to be too lazy to cook my food when I’m out in the wilderness.

Backcountry backpacking is a different story. I love backpacking and was looking forward to figuring out backpacking, but my backpack, tent, and sleeping pad were stolen out of my car recently. 🙁 Someday I will replace those items and experiment with portable, light, clean foods. Not today.

My husband and I like to van camp, because we have an awesome travel van. We love our Toyota Sienna mini-van and have removed the seats to convert it into a mini-camper. (The back row of seats folds into the floor, which is perfect if we ever want to take other passengers) We’ve taken multiple cross country road trips in this fashion over the years, staying in campgrounds, national parks, and the occasional Walmart parking lot.

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Off we go! Our stuffed Totoro usually joins us on camping trips.
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My sister in our travel van, ready for bed.

Food Prep Before You Go

I like to pre-weigh and portion my meal components before I leave into single serving containers or ziplock bags. These can easily be stored in a cooler or food bins. This makes it so that it takes zero effort to put a clean meal together after a long willpower-depleting day of adventuring. At mealtime, I just grab all my components and throw everything onto a big camping plate and eat happily with everyone else!

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Food Prep Tips for Traveling

  • Pre-weigh as many dry goods as you can, and store them in ready-to-go single-serving ziplock baggies or tupperware containers. This works well with dry cereal, oatmeal, nuts/seeds, grains, soy nuts, dried chickpeas, etc.
  • Chop fruits like melons or berries ahead of time and store in the cooler pre-weighed in Tupperware containers.
  • Store pre-weighed veggie baggies in the cooler for car meals or quick stops. Baby carrots, peppers, snap peas, cherry tomatoes, and cucumbers all work well.
  • If you have access to a microwave or camp stove, pre-make one-container meals, pre-weighed, so that you can dump the whole thing into a bowl or pot and easily heat them up.
  • Bring bagged, pre-weighed nuts, soy nuts, or dried chickpeas into restaurant situations so that you always have a protein option. There is almost always a salad or veggie option. Choose salad, add your supplemental protein, ask for oil and vinegar on the side, and a side of fruit. Boom. No excuses or exceptions.
  • Store dressings, fats, and condiments pre-weighed in little single-serving dressing containers. I love GoStak containers and use them literally every day.

Easy, No-Cook Breakfasts

To Take On-The-Go

Cold Cereal &  Fruit

  • Grain: 1 oz dry cereal (see this post about sugar & flour free cereals)
  • Fruit: Berries, melon, bananas, apple, etc.
  • Protein: 4 oz of milk or yogurt (1/2 protein) and 1 oz nuts or seeds (1/2 protein)

Packing List: Cooler, bowl, spoon, knife, cutting board.

Caption: Quick Cereal Bowl – Put together (and pre-weighed) into containers ahead of time, just add milk/yogurt and fruit in the morning for an instant breakfast.

Rice Cakes, Nut Butter & Fruit

  • Grain: 1 oz dry rice cakes
  • Protein: 2 oz nut butter
  • Fruit: 1 banana or apple (or weigh 6 oz)

Packing List: Knife, cutting board.

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BLE-Friendly Breakfast Cookies, Muffins, or Bars

  • One recipe of these cookies makes a complete breakfast including a serving of grain, protein, and fruit. They don’t need to be refrigerated and will keep for about a week. Recipe is in the link above. Great for airplanes and hiking!

Packing List: A baggie with your cookies in them! No prep required.

Caption: BLE Breakfast Cookies & Tea on a Plane

Overnight Breakfast Porridge

  • Grain: 1 oz dry rolled oats or instant oats (steel cut doesn’t work here)
  • Protein: 4 oz yogurt or milk (1/2 protein)
  • Protein: 0.5 oz flax, hemp, or chia seeds (I use a mix) (1/4 protein)
  • Protein: 0.5 oz nuts for topping (1/4 protein)
  • Fruit: 6 oz fruit for topping (for topping ideas check out this post)
  • Spices: 1/8 tsp cinnamon

Directions: Stir together oats, yogurt, a little water (so it doesn’t turn in to cement), seeds, and cinnamon. Store in cooler to refrigerate overnight. Add fruit and nuts before eating. 

Packing List: Cooler, tupperware or jar with a lid, bowl, spoon, cutting board, knife.

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Caption: Overnight Breakfast Porridge – Rolled oats, unsweetened soymilk, pecans, banana, cinnamon


Easy, No-Cook, Lunches & Dinners

For Hikes, Rest-Stops, Scenic Stops, Car Meals, Camping, or Hotel Room Meals

Hummus Platter

  • Protein: 4 oz hummus
  • Veggies: Raw veggies such as carrots, bell peppers, snap peas, cherry tomatoes, or cucumbers.
  • Fat: 0.5 oz almonds, hazelnuts, cashews, or other favorite nut.
  • Grain (Maintenance Only): 1 oz Mary’s Crackers or 1 slice Ezekiel Bread
  • Fruit: 6 oz apple, pear, banana, cherries, pineapple, melon, or other easily transportable fruit.
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Caption: Raw sliced veggies w/ Mary’s Crackers, avocado, hummus, and an apple

Bean & Corn Salad

  • Protein: 6 oz black beans or 4 oz shelled edamame (or sub 4 oz quinoa)
  • Veggies: Red onion, red peppers, tomatoes, cucumbers, corn, salad greens
  • Fat: 1 serving of Avocado, Lime & Cilantro Dressing
  • Grain (Maintenance Only): Add 4 oz quinoa or your other grain of choice.
  • Side of Fruit: 6 oz apple, pear, banana, cherries, pineapple, melon, or other easily transportable fruit.

Chickpea “Tuna” Salad

  • Protein & Fat: 1 serving of Chickpea Tuna Salad (recipe link above)
  • Veggies: Raw veggies such as carrots, bell peppers, snap peas, cherry tomatoes, or cucumbers.
  • Grain (Maintenance Only): 1 oz Mary’s Crackers or 1 slice Ezekiel Bread
  • Side of Fruit: 6 oz apple, pear, banana, cherries, pineapple, melon, or other easily transportable fruit.

Tahini Bowl

  • Protein: 3 oz chickpeas or beans (1/2 protein)
  • Protein: 1 serving Go-To Tahini Sauce (1/2 protein)
  • Veggies: Raw pre-weighed salad, or pre-roasted or steamed veggies.
  • Fat: 0.5 oz (or 1 tablespoon) nuts, or 2 oz avocado (half of a medium-sized avocado), or 0.5 (or 1 tablespoon) oz olive oil
  • Grain (Maintenance Only): 1 oz Mary’s Crackers or 1 slice Ezekiel Bread
  • Side of Fruit: 6 oz apple, pear, banana, cherries, pineapple, melon, or other easily transportable fruit.
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Caption: Packed salad w/ edamame, tahini dressing, rice crackers, apple (at Shoshone Falls, Idaho)

Caesar Salad 

  • Protein: 3 oz chickpeas or beans (1/2 protein)
  • Protein: 1 serving Caesar Dressing (1/2 protein)
  • Veggies: Raw pre-weighed salad, or pre-roasted or steamed veggies.
  • Fat: 0.5 oz (or 1 tablespoon) nuts, or 2 oz avocado (half of a medium-sized avocado), or 0.5 (or 1 tablespoon) oz olive oil
  • Grain (Maintenance Only): 1 oz Mary’s Crackers or 1 slice Ezekiel Bread
  • Side of Fruit: 6 oz apple, pear, banana, cherries, pineapple, melon, or other easily transportable fruit.

Kale & Quinoa Salad

Kale salad is great to make ahead because it only gets yummier when it sits with dressing on it for a few days, as opposed to lettuce which gets soggy and gross. Use veggies that also can withstand storage for a few days such as cherry tomatoes, carrots, peppers, snap peas, green beans, radishes, etc.

  • Protein: 3 oz chickpeas or beans (or sub 2 oz quinoa) (1/2 protein)
  • Protein: 1 oz nuts (1/2 protein)
  • Veggies: Chopped kale, massaged with the allotted amount of oil and lemon juice. Other hearty salad veggies to reach veggie weight (see note above)
  • Fat: 0.5 oz oil (or 1 tablespoon)
  • Grain (Maintenance Only): 4 oz cooked quinoa, mixed into the salad.
  • Side of Fruit: 6 oz apple, pear, banana, cherries, pineapple, melon, or other easily transportable fruit.

Crunchy Thai Salad w/ Peanut Dressing

  • Protein: 1 serving of peanut sauce/dressing
  • Protein: Shelled edamame (2 oz) or bean sprouts (3 oz), or peanuts (1 oz) or double the dressing amount.
  • Veggies: Lettuce or salad mix of choice, shredded cabbage, bell pepper, cucumber, shredded carrots, snap peas, etc.
  • Fat: Add coconut milk to the dressing (see the recipe) or add 0.5 oz of oil or peanuts to the salad.
  • Grain (Maintenance Only): 4 oz cooked rice or other grain of choice.
  • Side of Fruit: 6 oz apple, pear, banana, cherries, pineapple, melon, or other easily transportable fruit.
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Caption: Packed salad w/ edamame, peanut dressing, rice crackers, apple.


Adventure Dinners

Re-Heatable Meals For Camp Stoves, Accommodations w/ Microwaves, or Access to Kitchens

For dinners, sometimes I batch cook reheatable meals ahead of time and store in single-meal portions in tupperware containers for easy reheating in a pot or a microwave. Click here for batch cooking recipes and here for other simple dinner ideas.

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Caption: Bean Chili w/ Avocado & Rice – (Weighed & portioned into Tupperware ahead of time) in a rustic cabin at Silver Falls State Park in Oregon

Campfire Meals

I LOVE campfire cooking. My favorite thing to do is grilling veggies, corn in the husks, and veggie sausages or burgers on a campfire grate, but I’m sure you can think of plenty more plant-based and non-plant based grilling options. I keep it simple with oil, salt, and pepper. I also love wrapping potatoes and sweet potatoes in foil and cooking them on coals.

Caption: Marinated portobellos in worcestershire sauce, with grilled asparagus

Another one of my favorite camping meals is tangy slaw with potato salad and white beans or chickpeas simmered in a bit of BBQ sauce. Divine.

Because this a post about adventures, I can’t help posting some random photos highlighting some of the trips I’ve been taking lately, many of which are courtesy of my beautiful mama and her professional photography skills.

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Silly breakfast candid in our airbnb yurt
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Beating the heat at the Grand Canyon
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Sister love
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Family shot!

Also, for some reason my meals taste SO good when I’m hiking and camping. Maybe it’s because I was hungrier from all the hiking, or happy from being in nature, but my meals were pure bliss. I loved that I didn’t have to give a single thought to food on our trip and could enjoy all of the activities that much more. It was so freeing to know exactly what I was going to eat so that I didn’t have to make any food decisions at all.


What other travel or camping meals have you had success with? Share your ideas in the comments below!

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12 Comments

  1. Katie, Have a fantastic trip!

  2. Anonymous

    Oh Katie! What a giant blessing you are! Thank you, thank you, thank you for your road trip meal tips. Fabulous help. You are truly a big help to me. Much gratefulness and love. Joy

  3. These are fantastic ideas! Thank you, Katie. I need to tell you how much I LOVE the Go Stak containers – used them on a recent beach trip. I had read about them on an earlier blog. They work great for virtually anything – and they NEVER seem to leak.

  4. Thank you so much, Katie!!! This will be incredibly helpful for this newbie who is going to a three day conference next week. I appreciate these ideas, and your delicious recipes!

  5. Yvonne Taylor

    Just thinking about a trip to Asheville NC and to educate myself on meals I can plan and prepare easily – this is awesome. There is NO excuse for me to want anything else. I am going to focus on chilling, enjoying the scenery, taking walks, swimming, visiting, people ooooooooooooooooooooooh getting so excited about life again.

  6. When you dry chickpeas, what is the weight that is measured?

  7. What food scale do you use?

  8. Christina Gonzalez

    This is a life saver for a new camper like myself, thank you!

  9. Pingback: Portable Meal Ideas for BLE | Katie's Bright Kitchen

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