Going camping, need lunch recipes
June 14, 2013 8:08 AM   Subscribe

Going camping, responsible for lunches. Need ideas. Googling primarily gives me chili and hot dogs. Ideally, I would like tasty, protein-rich lunch ideas (sandwiches are perfectly acceptable and maybe even desirable) made from ingredients that can be kept at room temperature and which have minimal cleanup.

I'm primarily stuck on the protein. I could take a lot of veggies to stick in a sandwich that don't need refrigeration, but aside from peanut butter, I'm feeling stuck on protein. We are omnivores. Help?
posted by rabbitrabbit to Food & Drink (27 answers total) 25 users marked this as a favorite
Veggie sandwiches get a protein boost from using hummus and/or bean dip as the spread and adding cheese. They're more portable and less smooshy if you make them as wraps instead of sandwiches.
posted by headnsouth at 8:12 AM on June 14, 2013

peanut butter and jelly, banana, honey, or nutella
almond butter and nutella
sunbutter and banana

or mix and match.
posted by Ms Vegetable at 8:14 AM on June 14, 2013

Nuts are an easy way to get protein. You don't necessarily need to focus on protein being in the main dish.

How about roasted chickpeas?
posted by something something at 8:17 AM on June 14, 2013

Flatbread/pita packs a lot better than regular bread.

Summer sausage is kinda disgusting in real life, but on the trail it is an energy- and protein-rich gift from FSM herself. Pack it whole, slice it up on the trail, and put it on flatbread with some cheese, which will keep at room temp for a few days (though it can get kinda soft and oily). Only cleanup from this meal is wiping your knife off on your pants and packing out your trash.
posted by PhatLobley at 8:23 AM on June 14, 2013

Precooked lemongrass tofu + crudite + crusty french bread (which has the advantage of being hard to smoosh) = banh mi
posted by Juliet Banana at 8:26 AM on June 14, 2013

We always stick to sandwichs for lunch when camping. Simple, cheap, and portable if you are going to on the trail or away from the campsite at lunchtime.
posted by COD at 8:36 AM on June 14, 2013

Cheese and dry sausage are just fine at room temperature for half a day. In sandwiches or as finger food, both work well. A friend of mine was notorious in our hiking group for "loving the sausage"; he'd bring a 1lb summer sausage for trips up to a week as his only lunch supplies.

Loose nuts are great too. I'm not crazy about trail mix, but I love having almonds as a high energy/protein snack.
posted by bonehead at 8:40 AM on June 14, 2013

Gouda cheese, sealed in the wax, has made a good camping food for us. That, plus some buns, are good to pack because they put up with a little abuse. Just slice the cheese and the buns, create sandwiches, and distribute.
posted by Midnight Skulker at 8:44 AM on June 14, 2013

You can buy little foil pouches of tuna that don't need to be refrigerated -- I find those a nice break from peanut butter, hummus, etc.
posted by cider at 8:48 AM on June 14, 2013 [2 favorites]

Pepperoni and cheese (often those adorable Baby Bel cheeses) are our go-to camping lunch.

I'm also somewhat addicted to the shelf-stable Bumble Bee tuna salad you can buy pre-made in a can. Camping is the only time I allow myself to pay that insane amount of money for something I could otherwise make at home.

Really any kind of smoked or pre-cooked sausage (think Hickory Farms) will be stable and easily packable.
posted by anastasiav at 8:49 AM on June 14, 2013 [1 favorite]

Oh, and also: precooked (either packaged or cooked by you) bacon.
posted by anastasiav at 8:49 AM on June 14, 2013

Canned sardines, if your campers will go for them. Get the good kind in olive oil (I especially like the ones from TJ's), squirt some lemon and grind some black pepper on them, then just have them with carrot sticks, bell pepper strips, nicoise olives, shavings of parmesan cheese, etc. Oh and hard-boiled eggs. You do have to deal with the cans of fishy oil though.

On the other end of the spectrum is beef jerky, which is the ultimate in no-fuss portable food.
posted by HotToddy at 9:03 AM on June 14, 2013

Boiled eggs.
posted by BenPens at 9:16 AM on June 14, 2013

Things I have learned from Burning Man and many camping trips:

Don't laugh, but for the first day of a trip, pick up some fried chicken from KFC or Popeye's with all the mashed potatoes and biscuits. People thought I was crazy, but we did a 6-hr hike one day and I carried this in my backpack. When we arrived at our scenic picnic lunch spot, I nearly got attacked by everyone who wanted the fried chicken that they were laughing at three hours previously. I also have done this for Burning Man - it's the perfect meal for the first day because it's such a rare treat.

Other unusual lunch treats for camping or Burning Man: pre-cooked, thawed, headless, tail-less jumbo cocktail shrimp (I get the bag from Costco). Served with freshly squeezed lemon juice and jarred cocktail sauce. You will hear squeals of joy.

Smoked oysters in a can. Crackers. Babybel cheese.
posted by HeyAllie at 9:28 AM on June 14, 2013 [1 favorite]

A favourite on my camping trips is hummus and carrots/crudité. I find that when my friends and I go camping we eat a late big breakfast and then graze during the afternoon before preparing dinner, so we keep it light for lunch. Sometimes this will be supplemented with bags of chips, peanuts, etc.
posted by urbanlenny at 9:40 AM on June 14, 2013

Second'ing boiled eggs. Bring a little mustard and/or paprika. Day 1 backpacking lunch for me is usually this with some fruit (apple, banana, whatever is in seaon, etc.), a little cured sausage / jerky, and some flatbread. It makes for a nice round meal.
posted by introp at 10:07 AM on June 14, 2013

I generally eat peanut butter on bagels for lunch with handfuls of GORP for lunch. We also bring the tuna packets mentioned above, but packing out the fishy wrapper is a tiny pain. I also love to bring dry sausages, cheeses, and really crusty baguettes. I like to pretend I camp in France ;)
posted by advicepig at 11:25 AM on June 14, 2013

Are you car camping or backpacking?
If the former, and you have a cookstove or a good cooking fire available, both quinoa and red lentils are quick and easy to prepare (just need a pot and water, both cook in under 20 minutes), don't need to be refrigerated before cooking (and can keep for a day or two unrefrigerated after cooking, depending on what you put in them), super versatile (throw in whatever veggies, cheeses, nuts, random things you have lying around and voila! Instant yummy!), and packed with protein. A nice break from sandwiches and hummous.

If you're backpacking, or if you want to bring something portable on a day hike, both are still options. Inspired by this idea, I bring several "FBC" meals with me on multi-day treks, and make extensive use of quinoa and red lentils, along with a variety of dehydrated veggies (mushrooms, tomatoes, onions, carrots, etc) and whatever spices float my boat. The method also works great for oatmeal (add dried fruit, coconut, and powdered milk to the bag), rice noodles, couscous, etc. This is an EXCELLENT way to avoid trail/camping food that tastes the same day after day (because who wants to lug a spice rack along when they're camping?), and makes mealtime incredibly simple/labour-free.

The method is simple (described in more detail in link above): place one serving's worth of desired grain or legume into a heavy-duty freezer bag, add dehydrated veg and spices according to your whim, seal bag, label bag with contents and how much water you need to add (quinoa ration is 2:1, red lentils are 2.5 or 3:1) and cooking time. To prepare, bring water to near boil, add to bag, stir well, seal bag, insulate with a fleece or a toque or whatever extra layer you have on hand in your pack, wait 20ish minutes, stir again, enjoy! No need for dishes! It's not instant food, but it's pretty darn quick, super nutritious, weighs next to nothing in your pack, and instead of having to do all the assembly work of sandwiches, you can spend your time enjoying the scenery! I was skeptical the first time I tried this, but I am now an FBC evangelist. The options are endless!
posted by Dorinda at 12:17 PM on June 14, 2013 [1 favorite]

Like others above, we eats lots of cheese and summer sausage when camping. A nice dry sausage (like one of these) or a really sharp cheddar cheese will keep several days without refrigeration. Something like Hillshire Farms summer sausage is fine indefinitely at room temperature (that's how it's often sold in the grocery store), but turns into something less desirable after a couple days of really hot weather. Half a day is never a problem. Sausage sticks like these are always a hit with my kids.

Smoked salmon is also a nice treat. Depending on the temperature, it will be fine for at least day or two without refrigeration, especially when in the original sealed vacuum packaging.

And there's always beef jerky, which I never eat at home, but do when hiking and backpacking. It has a very high protein to weight ratio, if that matters to you (it's also really salty, so don't overdo it). Maybe even higher on the protein:weight scale is dried hummus powder, which you can find in the bulk bins at some natural food stores. Just add water, stir, and you've got hummus. Not the best tasting hummus in the world, but after several days of backpacking, no one is usually too picky.
posted by partylarry at 12:37 PM on June 14, 2013

Is weight an issue or are you car camping? Tuna is easy. I save extra condiment packages to take camping, and have made tuna with mayo or with creamy salad dressing. Before you go, fill juice or water bottles 1/2 way with beverages and freeze them. For camping, you'll have cold beverages that will keep the cooler cool until you use them.
My approach to lunch packing for camping, ski trips, etc:
Column a: Bean salad, peanut butter(jelly), nuts, pepperoni, hummus, cheese, beef jerky
Column b: carrots, celery, red peppers, raisins, apricots, apple, orange, strawberries, watermelon, salsa, pea pods
Column c: crackers, bread, rice cakes, corn chips
Column d: water, iced tea, juice, milk
Pick from each column. Camping makes you hungry, hunger makes food taste great.
posted by theora55 at 1:10 PM on June 14, 2013

It's kind of a myth that peanut butter is a good protein source. I just checked the label - a serving has 16 grams of fat, 8 grams of carbs, and 7 grams of protein. I also checked the label on the whole-wheat bread we have in the house: 5 grams of protein per slice (so a sandwich with 2 slices of the bread and 2 tablespoons of peanut butter would have 17 grams of protein, 10 of those coming from the bread). So I would focus on using a good, highish-protein bread and packing it full of whole foods. Veggies are high in protein relative to everything else, as are beans, and of course there's cheese. A whole-grain pita stuffed with prepared falafel and hummus would be my pick.
posted by payoto at 1:45 PM on June 14, 2013

My wife and I usually pre-pack a bunch of vegetarian burritos. Even more portable than sandwiches!
posted by The Card Cheat at 1:55 PM on June 14, 2013

Take along a salami and you can slice off whatever you like easily. Its holds up to travel pretty well.

We usually kept a 'road-kill' box for lunches when we were car camping. Which meant that we would eat whatever we picked up along the road. So, nothing specific. But it always seemed to have a base layer of crackers, cheese and salami in it, with some kind of fruit rolling around.
posted by SLC Mom at 2:16 PM on June 14, 2013

Peanut butter and iceberg lettuce - mmmmm good.
posted by aryma at 5:06 PM on June 14, 2013

You can put many things in a tortilla for lunch! Some of my favorites are flavored tuna packets + shelf stable cheese (laughing cow wedges are great but be careful as they smush easily), or smoked salmon packets + plain laughing cow cheese is excellent but smelly. Sausages like chorizo or salami are delicious (I usually paired these with cheese, also). Hummus is great, and if you are extra ambitious you can dehydrate it ahead of time to cut down on weight - pack it in a ziploc and just add water.

Nutella and/or chocolate peanut butter is delicious and sweet in a tortilla (peanut butter & company packets are best if you can find them but jif cups work too). You could also go the easy route and bring a stack of tortillas and a jar of planters NUT*rition peanut butter (berry nut is pretty good).

If you want the extra weight you can use real cheese - most cheese you can buy in block form will last a few days on the trail.

Throw in some dried fruit and/or a granola bar and you have yourself a pretty nice lunch. If you're hiking in the heat you might want to throw in an electrolyte tablet (nuun) or some gatorade powder.

Also you might want to check out freezer bag cooking as mentioned above, you can find recipes that do not require hot water for rehydration to supplement your packet of protein.
posted by wearyaswater at 7:04 PM on June 14, 2013

Response by poster: Thanks, guys!
posted by rabbitrabbit at 8:08 AM on June 18, 2013

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