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Planning your Vegan Camping Meals, in your Camping Journal

You’ll never struggle to make camping meals again, thanks to your Camping Journal companion app.

There are many things to take into consideration when preparing for a camping trip. From packing supplies to planning a route, you’ve got plenty on your mind. One element that often gets forgotten is the food situation. You’re camping, right? So…what are you going to eat?

 

It’s hard to figure this out, but life is much easier when you plan some self-made camping meals. Get ideas in your head for what you’re going to eat, before you set off, and the whole trip will be a breeze.

 

One wannabe trekker shows just how easy this can be when you plan ahead and make your Camping Journal in the Routespunkt Hiking Grid Diary app.

Plan your vegan camping meals in a Camping Journal

Two Weeks To Go

I’m extremely excited to set off on my trekking and camping trip in a couple of weeks. It feels like I've been planning this forever, but there’s still so much to do! Thankfully, everything is booked - so that’s all the admin stuff done already. I know where I’m going, I’ve got my car in order, the routes are prepared, and I managed to bag a neat portable refrigerator on eBay for a bargain!

 

All I really need to do is get my hands on some key supplies for the trip. I already have all the essentials - like my sleeping pack, tent, and all the camping gear I need for this trip. The only thing playing on my mind is what to eat while I’m away outdoors. If you’re reading this and you know me, then you know I love food! Cooking is a big passion of mine, so I’m used to some pretty good meals every single day. In fact, a lot of my friends have been making fun of me saying I won’t make it through the whole week without some home-cooked meals.

 

To be honest… I think they’re right!

 

I won’t survive on boring tinned food all the time, and I know it. I need to come up with some substantial and delicious meals that fuel me during my treks. At the same time, they have to be relatively easy to cook given the circumstances - I can’t sit around a campfire for 3 hours making a casserole (though that would be delicious).

 

So, that’s where I’m currently at on my camping trip journey. I need some meal ideas - and then I need a shopping list of things to buy. Everything must be vegan-friendly as well because I love making life difficult for myself, don’t I?! The good news is I’ve been training for this trip for the last two months. A lot of hours have been spent in the gym getting ready to carry a heavy backpack for hours a day. Aiming to have a backpack weight at about 10% of my own weight, I don’t need to worry too much about the weight of the supplies I’m bringing - it’s more about how much I can fit inside my pack.

 

Right, I can do this! How hard can it be to plan for a week-long camping trip? Time to think of some camping meals to jot down in this journal then.

Camping Meals

It’s easier to plan ahead if I split the meals into different categories. Obviously, I need ideas for each day, but within each day I should have a few possible options. I need food that’s ready to eat, alongside meals that are either ready to cook or require more preparation. The current plan is to arrive in the late afternoon/evening, so I won’t need to worry about breakfast or lunch on the first day.

Day 1 Meals

Dinner - Vegan Carbonara (Ready to Cook) -

I’ve come across loads of cool brands that provide packets of food you can make by just adding hot water and mixing them together. One of them offers Spaghetti Carbonara for vegans, so it gives you the carbs needed to replenish energy stores, plus some added protein from the fake bacon bits. It’s such an easy thing to make, which is why I’m having it on the first night. After a long car journey and trek to camp, the last thing I need is to spend a long time whipping up dinner. I’ll keep it nice and simple; dinner will be ready in around 5 minutes, and then I’d be done eating in another 5!

 

Day 2 Meals

Breakfast - Overnight Oats (Ready to Eat) -

I mean technically this should come under a day 1 meal. Well, I’m eating it on day 2 but it’s being prepared on day 1. I think oats are going to be a big thing for me on this trip. They offer a slow release of energy that I’ll need to keep me going on my treks every day. Plus, you can bring a big bag of them and they’re easy to cook in multiple ways with plant-based milk or water (I’m an oat-lover, I must confess). Overnight oats can be thrown together the night before by mixing some milk with oats and a few pieces of fresh fruit. I’ll bang this in my mini refrigerator overnight and top it with some nuts/granola in the morning. A gourmet breakfast that’s ready to eat right away!

 

Lunch - Vegan Mac & Cheeze (Ready to Cook) -

Again, this is another one of the ready-made meals I’ll be bringing. They’re just too easy to ignore because I can carry the packets in my backpack without adding too much weight or taking up space. All I have to do is heat up some water and then pour it in to get a quick & easy lunch that’s full of nutrients and flavor.

 

Dinner - Vegan Fajitas (Preparation Needed) -

Right, this is where I don my chef hat for the first time. It’s day 2, and this is basically my first proper dinner at the campsite. So, I’m going for one of my favorite meals…fajitas! For this, I’ll need some wraps, a bell pepper, an onion, some mushrooms, tofu, and a bit of tomato paste. Despite needing some preparation (mainly chopping and frying) it’s a relatively quick meal. I cook it at home all the time and it takes maybe 20 minutes max. I’m confident I’ll have this whipped up and in my mouth within the same timeframe while camping. It’s a great evening meal as I get protein from the tofu, plus all the goodness from the veggies and mushrooms. I’ll probably only use half the onion and half the mushrooms today, so they’ll be saved for tomorrow’s meals.

 

Day 3 Meals

Breakfast - Oatmeal (Preparation Needed) -

Look, I’m bringing a big bag of oats with me, so I might as well eat them on most days. Oatmeal is an easy favorite for any camper. At least, that’s what all the guides and tips I’ve read online tell me! During my two-month preparation for this, I ate a lot of oatmeal before going to the gym. I’ve kind of perfected my oatmeal morning blend, not to brag or anything. Just add some to a pot with a bit of plant-based milk or water and cook until creamy. It’ll take a couple of minutes, then I add my toppings. I’ll have fresh and dried fruit, plus some of the nuts/granola I used the day before.

Oatmeal breakfast topped with fruits and nuts

Lunch - “Bacon” Rolls (Preparation Needed) -

As a vegan (yes, I know it’s very cliche to keep mentioning I’m vegan, but here I must) I have to get creative when making food. Lunch is particularly difficult, but one of the best things to make is a fake bacon roll. Today, the “bacon” will be mushroom leftover from last night. Anything I didn’t cook will be thrown in my cooking pan over the highest heat possible. I’ll chuck in some smoked paprika and cook it until the mushrooms get really gnarly and sticky and blackened. They’ll be popped in a burger bun, and I’ll have a fake bacon roll to give me a boost during the day’s activities.

 

Dinner - Sweet Potatoes & Beans (Preparation Needed) -

It might look like day 3 is full of meals that require preparation, but they’re all incredibly simple. Sweet potatoes & beans are so easy for anyone to make. The hardest part is cooking the sweet potatoes as you need to wrap them in foil and almost bake them over a fire until they get soft on the inside and crispy on the outside. Then, I’ll make the filling - which is the beans. I’m going to use a sneaky hack here that I do when cooking at home all the time. I get a can of baked beans and add them to a pan with some fried onions (yep, the half an onion from yesterday comes in clutch today). Throw in some spices - paprika and cumin are my faves - and you’ve got some extra tasty beans. I’ll split open the potatoes and spoon the beans on top. It’s a protein and fiber-rich meal full of great carbs and loads of nutrients.

 

Day 4 Meals

Breakfast - Yogurt & Granola (Ready to Eat) -

I’ll take a break from oats today and have a superfast brekky instead. I’m bringing my portable refrigerator with me, so I can keep a tub of vegan Greek yogurt in there without any issues. All I’ll do is spoon some in a bowl and top it with granola.

 

Lunch - Mexican Rice (Ready to Cook) -

You can buy those bags of pre-cooked Mexican rice from basically anywhere these days. Usually, you need a microwave to cook them, but they can be heated up in a pan anyway. I’ll do this on day 4 for a speedy lunch. I’m planning lots of activities today and I need something quick for breakfast and lunch, hence these two choices. It depends on how I’m feeling, but if I have a few minutes to spare I might grate over some vegan cheese and let that melt on top of the rice for added luxury. It’s not essential, but I do love me some melted “cheese”.

 

Dinner - Vegan Carbonara (Ready to Cook) -

I’ve had it once already, but there are plenty of servings in the pack, so it makes sense to have it again. Plus, I was thinking, it’s illogical to pack for a week’s worth of camping meals and eat completely different things every night. I need to eat similar stuff, or I’ll take too many supplies. You already know the deal with this one; just add boiling water and wait. As I said, I’m going to do a lot of activities on this day, so I kind of want something easy in the evening. It’ll give me more time to relax and recover after a very active day.

Day 5 Meals

A camper is singing beside a boiling cauldron of food, out in the open

Breakfast - Overnight Oats (Ready to Eat) -

I’m back on the overnight oats again this morning. Same as before; I’ll prepare the evening before, so everything is ready to eat the moment I wake up. If you’re interested, the main fruits I’m bringing for breakfast are apples and bananas. Why? Because they’re the easiest to store and have the longest shelf lives. I can literally bring a bag of apples and keep them in my mini fridge for the whole week without them going rotten. The same goes for bananas, but they can be kept out of the fridge. So, I’ll either slice up a banana to put on my oats or grate an apple. Yep, I’m bringing a mini grater with me. It might sound excessive, but it’s a necessary tool if you want to eat well while camping.

 

Lunch - Tomato Soup (Ready to Cook) -

I know it’s cliche, but bringing some tinned soup on a camping trip just makes a whole load of sense. I won’t bring many as they will take up too much space and weigh things down unnecessarily. Nevertheless, a couple of tins will be super handy for a quick lunch. I’ll heat the soup over my campfire and sprinkle some croutons over the top. I was going to bring bread, but I think it’ll be a waste. I already have a pack of burger buns that are half eaten (don’t worry, they won’t be wasted) so adding in a loaf of bread seems silly. Croutons add extra bulk to the meal, and you can store them in your bag without any problems.

Tomato Soup with croutons

Dinner - Vegan Burgers (Preparation Needed) -

I think I’d get crucified by the camping community if I didn’t make burgers at least once during my trip. Remember those burger buns from a few nights ago? If you buy a pack of four, you can use two then and two now. I’ll pick up some vegan burgers from the grocery store before I leave, making extra sure that they’ll last until this late into my trip. Then, it’s a case of cooking the burgers - I’ve done some research and the campsite I’ll be staying at on day 5 has some small barbecues dotted around, so I can cook the burgers on them for a more authentic flavor. I’ll form the burger with some lettuce and vegan cheese on top. Also, if I have a sweet potato left from the other night, I’ll use it to make some chips. I say “if” because it depends on how many I buy. Sometimes the store has packs of three or four, other times only packs of two. I guess that’s a problem for future me to think about!

 

Day 6 Meals

Breakfast - Oatmeal (Preparation Needed) -

It’s oatmeal time again on my penultimate day in camping paradise. I’ve heard there’s a really great local market nearby that’s just a short trek from the campsite. So, I may just treat myself to some extra fruit for this one. I’ll see what’s in season and what looks the nicest. Thinking about it, I’ll probably do this the day before so I can pick up some lettuce for the burgers in the evening. Anyway, oatmeal to kickstart the day!

Market stall - with vegetables and fruits

Lunch - Vegan Mac & Cheeze (Ready to Cook) -

I brought a whole pack with me, so I may as well eat it again today. I love little “cheat” meals like this because they’re so fast yet genuinely sooooo tasty. Plus, pasta for lunch is a firm favorite of mine and has been for some time. It’s a great energy boost but the benefit of the pre-made stuff like this is that you can easily control the portion size. So, you add a little less than you might expect so you’re not eating too much for lunch. Or, if I know it’ll be a long time before dinner, I’ll up the portion size.

 

Dinner - Tofu Stir Fry (Preparation Needed) -

Tofu is every vegan’s best friend. It’s easy to get your hands on and takes very little time to prepare. In fact, if you made this stir fry with actual chicken, it’d take way longer. I’ll fry the tofu with a variety of veggies - I usually opt for pepper, grated carrot, and maybe something like pak choi. Then I add in some spices (Chinese five spice is an absolute must) along with soy sauce. Add in some pre-cooked noodles or rice and mix it all together. Just like that, I’ve got a delicious dinner on the table in around 10-15 minutes from start to finish. Oh, and I plan on making double this - or slightly more than one single portion. I’ll save the rest for another day when I need a quick bite to eat.

Day 7 Meals

Breakfast - Yogurt & Granola (Ready to Eat) -

My final day will kick off with yogurt and granola. I’ll add some fruit on top for an extra bit of flavor and I’m ready for what lies ahead of me.

 

Lunch - Tomato Soup (Ready to Cook) -

I’ll use up my second tin of tomato soup here (adding in croutons again, of course). To be honest, I may change my mind and bring a different type of soup. It doesn’t really matter - it’s all about how I feel at the time. The point is, this is quick to make and will keep me ticking over during my final day of activities.

 

Dinner - Vegan Chili (Preparation Needed) -

I plan on going out with a bang on my final night of camping. Vegan chili is as good as normal chili, if not better. It’s a proper campfire meal that you can cook for as long as you like. I’m heading off fairly early the next morning, so I will be back at the camp pretty early in the afternoon/evening. This gives me lots of time to prepare my spectacular dinner. I’ll use lentils as the main meat replacement here, plus chopped carrots, peppers, onion, kidney beans, chopped tomatoes, and loads of spices. I want to simmer the chili for as long as ideally possible. I’m talking at least an hour here. That sounds ridiculous and goes against everything I’ve been advocating throughout the week so far. All of my other meals are quick, but the final one deserves to be a showstopper. I hope by this point I’ve got some camping buddies that I can share this meal with.

Hikers eating fruits - earlier in the day

If this fails, I’ve got my leftover noodles to fall back on anyway! Also, I have some advice for any campers out there: always bring some pre-made food just in case. Look, I cook a lot at home, so I’m fairly comfortable making things from scratch in any situation. But, you never know what might happen when camping. Your meals could end up a disaster. With the pre-made things - like soups or meals in a packet where you just add water- there’s a contingency plan in place. This guarantees you never go hungry!

 

Camping Snacks

You’re out of your mind if you think I’m only eating three meals a day while camping! This is going to be a very active vacation where I’m moving around a lot. I’ll burn lots of calories, which is usually great as I don’t mind getting ripped. The problem is that I need those calories to keep me energized while I’m trekking around every day. My meals will help to replenish my energy stores, but I’m gonna need some camping snacks too.

 

So, I thought I’d give you an insight into some of the snacks I’ll bring and eat over the course of the week. Rest assured most are ready to eat, but some will require minor preparation!

 

  • Protein Bars - Yep, I’ll have a good supply of protein bars (enough for at least one a day). I’ll probably eat one between breakfast and lunch, or maybe even with either meal for some extra sustenance. There are loads of great vegan protein bars around these days that taste like delicious treats anyway, so that’s a plus!

 

  • Fruits - I mentioned that I’ll pack apples and bananas, and they both double up as great snacks. I can get one out and munch on it right away without needing to prepare anything. Plus, both fruits are fairly filling when eaten as a snack. I’ll also bring some small oranges or satsumas that can be peeled and eaten. Again, it’s mainly for the sake of convenience that I’m choosing this fruit.

 

  • Carrots - A couple of my planned meals will include carrots, but I intend to bring a few with me as snacks. I’m bringing a peeler too, and I plan on making some carrot sticks every couple of days. It’ll take 10 minutes at the absolute maximum, and then I have some handy sticks to store in the fridge and take with me whenever I need a quick snack. I’ll bring a pot of hummus too as a dip, making this a really worthwhile snack on days when I have a big gap between lunch and dinner or breakfast and lunch.

Preparing My First Proper Camping Dinner

Writing everything down and planning out my meals makes me eager to set off on this camping trip. I know there are still two weeks to go, but I’m going to plan out the first proper camping dinner I’ll be making: vegan fajitas.

 

I’ll keep the recipe as simple as possible given the cooking restraints on-site. Still, it’ll be full of flavor as I always ensure my food is delectable, regardless of where I’m cooking it!

Dinner preparation - chopped vegetables

Ingredients List

  • 1 red pepper

  • ½ an onion

  • 125g mushrooms (approximately half a little tub/box in the grocery store)

  • Firm tofu (unflavored)

  • Smoked paprika

  • Ground coriander

  • Tortilla wraps

  • Tomato paste

  • Olive oil

  • Vegan cheese

 

Given that this meal will be made on the first proper night I’m there, everything can be bought a night or two before the trip. Well, the fresh stuff should be bought then - mushrooms and peppers will last a few days in the refrigerator, tofu lasts for well over a week as do onions, so they can be bought much earlier. Speaking of refrigerators, a portable one is so critical when planning camping meals. It’ll basically be the thing that allows me to make these delicious meals every evening as I can get fresh ingredients and keep them fresher for longer.

 

Fajita Recipe

Step 1 - Pre-heat the pan

The first step is to get your pan or skillet over a campfire or portable stove and start preheating it. Drizzle it with some olive oil and let it get nice and hot. Some things I prefer cooking over a proper fire, but others work best on a portable stove. This is one of the things that does cook better on a stove as you can adjust the heat to around medium/medium-high.

 

Step 2 - Chop the veg

Next, I’m going to prepare the vegetables and mushrooms. I’ll finely slice the onion as it’s a) easier than dicing it, and b) gives you nice long lines of cooked onion that fit well in a fajita wrap.

 

Mushrooms can also be sliced lengthways, as can pepper. You want everything to be reasonably long, rather than in tiny little chunks.

 

Step 3: Start cooking the veg

Throw the chopped up veg into the pan with oil and let it cook for a minute or two. I’m putting them in first because the peppers need some extra time to soften slightly. Cook for just a minute before adding in the tofu.

 

Step 4: Prepare the tofu

While the veg cooks, cut the block of tofu into thin strips. Add to the pan after the veg has had a minute or so to start cooking.

 

Step 5: Add the spices

I’ll cook the tofu and veg for a bit longer until the tofu starts to brown and the veg softens. Then, it’s time to add the spices. I usually just eyeball it and sprinkle in as much as I like. If I want it extra smokey, more smoked paprika goes in. Then, things cook until everything smells nice and fragrant and the spices coat all the ingredients evenly.

 

Step 6: Make the fajita sauce

From here, in goes a tablespoon of tomato puree and a splash of hot water. Mix everything around and a sauce starts to form. Cook until it thickens and the sauce looks all sticky and delicious.

 

 Pro tip:  don’t undercook the sauce as it will be too loose and would run out of your wrap.

 

Step 7: Warm up the wraps

Empty the fajita mix from the pan and warm up the wraps.

 

Step 8: Assemble

Assemble the fajitas by adding the mixture and topping with some grated vegan cheese.

 

The total time for this recipe should be anywhere between 10-20 minutes, depending on how fast your chopping skills are. It’s genuinely really exciting planning this recipe as I’m imagining sitting around a campfire eating it already. I cannot WAIT to head off and get started - planning also takes a lot of the stress out of the situation for me. When I first started writing this journal, I was a bit worried about what I might eat during my trip or how much food I’ll need to bring. The more I’ve thought about it, the less stressed I’ve become!

 

 

This just about rounds off everything I need to consider for my upcoming camping trip. Hopefully, two weeks will go by quickly, but I’m already in the mood to get started. So, I’m off to the local grocery store to get my hands on as many ingredients as possible. A lot of the things I’m eating will keep for a good few weeks so I can get all of them now. Oh, and I need all the spices! Double oh, I need to get my snacks and pre-cooked meals too. Ahhh, there’s still a lot to do, I better get going before I do run out of time.

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