15 Easy and Balanced Camping Snacks

By Jenna Braddock, MSH, CSSD, RD, ACSM-CPT, a mom and consultant sports dietitian who works with Clif Bar & Company.

The ideas and suggestions written below are provided for general educational purposes only and should not be construed as medical advice or care. Always seek the advice of a physician or other qualified health provider before beginning any physical fitness or health- and nutrition-related activity.

If you’ve caught yourself daydreaming of getting away from it all during your days of sheltering at home, you’re not alone. Adhering to social distancing and stay-at-home orders has led many of us to dream of vacationing beyond our backyards.

One of the most obvious options is to enjoy the great outdoors with good old-fashioned camping. Camping offers families so many advantages right now. You don’t have to go far from home, it’s low cost, it’s a welcomed change of scenery, and it’s fairly easy to adhere to public health coronavirus guidelines.1 This may sound so good you’ve already started packing!

Whether you are going for a weeklong excursion in the woods or an overnight stay down the road, identifying the right foods to pack can leave you scratching your head and wondering, “What kinds of snacks should I take camping?” Sure, it’s great to bring fun foods like s’mores and chips on your trip, but you also need some camping snacks that will help keep everyone energized, full, and happy.

Yes, camping snacks need to deliver on many things, including being fun AND balanced. This might seem like a challenging task, but here’s a simple way to break it down. The best camping snacks have a combination of whole food ingredients, protein, whole grains, and some good fat. Here’s why.

Whole foods snacks are those with recognizable ingredients you can see and taste. There are many convenient, packaged options that prioritize whole foods and make nutritious snacking on the go a breeze. Simply read the ingredient list and look for ingredients you might find in your own kitchen like whole grain oats, nuts and seeds, nut butters, and fresh or dried fruits.

Protein is typically known for its ability to repair muscles post-workout, but its satiating powers make it a crucial nutrient for camping snacks too.2 Protein can help curb your hunger and allow you to focus on enjoying the great outdoors and not a nagging hunger pang.

Foods made with whole grains often include fiber, a nutrient that most adults and kids do not get enough of in their diets.3 Fiber is really important when traveling because it can help promote a healthy gut and keep you regular.4

Lastly, fat rounds out the winning mix of nutrients for camping snacks. Fat can help your body better absorb important nutrients and good fats (mono- and polyunsaturated fats) from plant-based sources like avocados, nuts, seeds and olive oil are also satisfyingly delicious.5

Now that you know how to build a balanced camping snack, check out this list of favorites that the whole family will love.

No-Cook, Grab ‘n’ Go Camping Snacks:

  • Trail mix with nuts and dried fruit
  • Freeze-dried fruits and veggies with roasted bean or chickpea snacks
  • Cheese stick + single serving whole grain cracker packs
  • Snack bars like CLIF Kid Zbar® Protein for the kids or CLIF® Whey Protein Bar and CLIF® Nut Butter Bar for adults
  • Squeezable yogurt + mandarin orange
  • Carrots + single serving hummus cups

Light-Assembly Camping Snacks:

  • Campfire Banana Boats – Slice fresh bananas down the center from tip to tip. Do not peel. Gently open the split and fill with toppings like berries, granola, nuts, or even some chocolate chips. Wrap the stuffed banana in aluminum foil and warm over a campfire for about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool slightly. Open the foil and use a spoon to scoop out the warmed banana.
  • Savory Popcorn Snack Mix – Gather round the campfire and pop some popcorn using an open fire popcorn popper or a ready-to-pop stovetop option. Let popcorn cool and mix with add-ins like pretzels, roasted peanuts, crunchy chickpeas, cheese crackers, and dried fruit. No campfire? No problem! Store-bought popcorn makes this savory snack even simpler.
  • Cheese + Fruit Kabobs – This is a fun way to mix up the traditional cheese board. Simply fill skewers with alternating cheese cubes and fruit like grapes, blueberries, or strawberries.
  • Deli Meat Roll-Ups – Try a twist on a traditional deli sandwich by rolling a slice of deli meat with a half slice of cheese. Add a slice of fresh avocado or a pickle spear to the middle, and wrap it all in lettuce or a whole wheat tortilla for a heartier snack.
  • Peanut Butter + Jelly Skewers – Who doesn’t love PB&J? Use your favorite spreads and bread to make a traditional PB&J sandwich. Then cut it into cubes and thread it onto a wooden kebob skewer along with fresh strawberries, blueberries, or grapes.

Make-Ahead Camping Snack Recipes:

  • DIY Chips + Dip Bar – Create a build-your-own chips and dip bar at camp featuring homemade salsa, bean dip, and guacamole.
  • Bento Snack Boxes – Keep hungry mouths happy during your road trip or at the campsite with a bento box packed with miscellaneous nutritious snacks to mix, match, and munch.
  • Fruits and Veggies + Dip – For something sweet, dip fruit into this peanut butter frosting dip, or for something savory, dip veggies into a roasted carrot & ranch hummus.
  • Morning Glory Veggie Muffins – These veggie-filled muffins can be made before you leave home and enjoyed by the whole family throughout the trip.

Now that you have the snack situation figured out, go ahead and plan that getaway. Find some open space with a beautiful vista or a refreshing swimming hole. Pitch the tent (or plug in the camper), kick up your feet, and enjoy a much-needed change of scenery.

References

  1. U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Visiting Parks & Recreational Facilities. Protect Yourself and Others from COVID-19. Available at: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/daily-life-coping/visitors.html. Accessed on 6/25/20.
  2. Arentson-Lantz E et al. Protein: A nutrient in focus. Appl Physiol Nutr Metab. 2015;40(8):755-61.
  3. Kranz S, Brauchla M, Slavin JL, Miller KB. What do we know about dietary fiber intake in children and health? The effects of fiber intake on constipation, obesity, and diabetes in children. American Society for Nutrition. Adv Nutr. 2012. 3:47–53.
  4. Slavin, JL. Fiber and prebiotics: Mechanisms and health benefits. Nutrients. 2013;5(4): 1417–1435.
  5. U.S. National Library of Medicine. Dietary fats explained. Available at: https://medlineplus.gov/ency/patientinstructions/000104.htm. Accessed on 6/26/20.