When we’re camping, we tend to eat a lot of protein and grains, aka hot dogs, hamburgers, and chips. Why is that? Because it’s easy and, for some of us, that’s what we grew up with and it’s all that comes to mind when we’re planning our camping menus. Cooking from scratch takes a little more planning, a little more prepping, and a little more cooler space, but it is so worth the effort.
Food is a critical camp component. At the end of a long day of hunting, hiking, swimming or whatever, a good meal can lift your spirits and boost your morale. It is fuel for hard working and hard playing kids and adults. Likewise, a poor meal can leave you malnourished, hungry, and empty both in body and spirit. With a well-fed belly, you’ll stay warmer and sleep better on colder evenings.
When we’re camping, our bodies need quality fuel. For the weekday desk potatoes, which are probably most of us, we’re burning more calories when we’re camping than we do during the work week. Just being outside burns more calories than we normally would.
That’s why cooking healthy in camp is so important—and March is National Nutrition Month so, let’s up our nutrition at home and in camp.
Whether you are old school and still subscribe to the Food Pyramid or you are new school and subscribe to the My Plate, a balanced diet of proteins, grains, fruits, vegetables, and dairy is key. Cooking fresh as opposed to processed is also important. Processed foods tend to contain higher amounts of sodium as well as preservatives and other junk. They also make it harder to adapt for allergies because you are stuck with what’s in the box.
Cooking fresh and from scratch is much better for you, tastes amazing, and you have way more control over the ingredients. Cooking fresh gives you the ability to swap out ingredients making it easier to adapt recipes for allergies, picky eaters (we all know one), and health issues.
In my teen years, my grandmother was diabetic and my father had heart disease so we cooked from scratch a lot because we needed to cook without sugar and without salt. We still ate very well and very tasty, and after the initial salt and sugar withdrawals, I actually didn’t miss it much. We learned to compensate by using other spices. My dad made a chili so hot and spicy it would light your nose hairs on fire, but it was so good you just had to keep eating. I learned to appreciate sour cream.
Nowadays, when I’m cooking for an outdoor event or a large campout, I might have to cook gluten-free, dairy-free, vegetarian or vegan. Cooking from scratch enables me to adjust my recipes for the dietary needs of my campers.
So, while cooking from scratch takes a little more effort, it’s much more nutritious, more adaptable, and provides better fuel for our hard working, and hard playing, bodies.
Get outside and get cooking!
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