Everyone loves snacks, but knowing what snacks to take with you on a camping trip where space is limited and refrigeration is nonexistent can be tricky. Should you try packing a cooler and bring your cold snacks, or should you just stick to non-perishables? And how do you deal with kids who are picky eaters? If you’re drawing a blank when it comes to camping snacks, here are 11 fun snack ideas to get you started.
1. Apple “Cookies”
The worst thing about packing apple-based snacks isn’t that apples are heavy — it’s that they turn brown if you keep them out too long before eating them, and no one wants to eat brown apples. Instead, pack whole apples, an apple corer and a sharp knife in your kitchen kit, and make apple cookies right at the campsite.
Simply core the apples, slice them into big, flat circles, then top with peanut butter and your favorite dried toppings — raisins, chocolate chips, coconut shavings or anything else your heart desires. They’re a healthy little snack that takes no time at all to make, even if you’re out in the wilderness.
2. S’mores Cones
S’mores are so last season — anyone can roast a marshmallow and put it on a graham cracker! Instead, make s’mores cones. Take all your s’mores toppings, and anything else that catches your eye, and stuff it in a waffle cone. Wrap it in aluminum foil and toss it on the coals or on your grill for a few minutes to heat everything through. Chocolate melts, marshmallows become awesomely gooey, and it’s all kept in a nice, relatively clean, ice cream cone shell.
3. Energy Bites
Energy bites are a great way to get a little boost of energy to keep you going during your camping trip. They require no baking, take less than 10 minutes to make (not counting chill time if you put them in the fridge) and can be adapted to picky tastes or allergy needs.
These snacks are oatmeal-based — take a cup of dry oatmeal, mix with peanut butter (or another nut butter) and honey to bind, and add your ingredients. We use coconut flakes, flax seeds and chocolate chips, but you can add just about anything.
They do have to be refrigerated to help them keep their shape, but they keep well in a backpack or a cooler while you’re traveling.
4. Trail Mix
You can’t go wrong with trail mix, the most iconic camping snack. It’s dry, non-perishable and makes a great snack when you’re out on the trail or just lounging around your campsite. And the best thing about trail mix?
There are so many different types, you can easily stock up on all the different ingredients and combine them to suit every picky eater in your party.
You can also make up your own trail mix recipe if you can’t find a flavor combination you enjoy. Generally, trail mix is made up of nuts, dried fruit — and M&Ms, if we’re being honest — but like the energy bites we just mentioned, you can make trail mix out of pretty much anything. We had a big batch in the kitchen for the longest time whose main ingredient was Captain Crunch cereal.
No, we’re not talking about reaching for the Slim Jims — jerky is a great natural source of protein, and if you’re heading out for a camping trip, it’s lightweight and doesn’t require any sort of refrigeration. Unfortunately, store-bought jerky is also incredibly expensive, so if you’re stocking up for the entire crew, it’s more cost-effective to just make your own.
Making jerky is easy — simply slice your meat thin, flavor it and place it in a low-temperature oven (less than 200 degrees F) for a few hours to dry out.
If you’re feeling adventurous — or your oven is occupied with other cooking — Food Network chef Alton Brown has a great recipe for jerky that uses a box fan and some brand-new air conditioner filters.
You’re not restricted to beef for your jerky, either — thin slices of just about any meat can be dried and turned into jerky, so if you’re trying to cut red meat out of your diet, try turkey, pork or chicken jerky for your camping trip.
Making your own granola is a lot simpler than it sounds. First, pick your base — oats are usually considered the best granola base, but that’s up to you. Then, pick your other ingredients. You can include nuts, dried fruit, pieces of chocolate or anything else that catches your eye.
Then, add a couple of tablespoons of cooking oil and a couple of tablespoons of sweetener to bind your ingredients together — honey works, as does maple syrup or agave. It’s important to use a sticky sweetener because it acts as a binder for the granola.
Thoroughly combine all ingredients, then bake at 300 degrees for 10 minutes. Let it cool, bag it up and you have a lovely batch of homemade granola.
This tasty snack can be eaten straight out of the bag, and if you pour it into a bowl and add some milk, it doubles as a breakfast cereal.
7. Dried or Freeze-Dried Fruit
Fruit is a great snack, but most juicy fruits don’t keep well in the heat — plus, they have a tendency to get squished in your backpack, leading to a giant mess. Instead, pick up some dried or freeze-dried fruit. These have all the same flavor of the fresh versions, with none of the mess.
Freeze-dried fruits are a good alternative for camping because they weigh less than traditionally dried fruit.
However, they’re also more fragile. You might end up with a bag full of freeze-dried fruit dust if you’re not careful. Keeping freeze-dried fruits in a hard container can prevent inadvertent pulverization of your snack food.
8. Ants on a Log
No, we’re not actually suggesting you eat ants — though we’d be remiss if we didn’t point out that bugs make a great high-protein snack.
Ants on a log refers to a celery stick, filled with peanut butter and topped with raisins to resemble the little marching insects. It’s a quick and easy snack to make that requires little to no preparation — simply chop up your celery sticks, break out the peanut butter and raisins and go to town!
You can even change it up — use different nut butters or add different toppings like chocolate chips, peanuts or other nuts to create a unique snack. You can even let the kids come up with their own names for it!
Popcorn is a healthy snack, and contrary to popular belief, doesn’t require a microwave. If you’re going to have a campfire or grill going, consider bringing some Jiffy Pop popcorn with you. It’s designed for use on the stovetop, but the kids will have a blast watching the popcorn puff up over the fire as they cook it.
You can even bring toppings for your popcorn to help spice it up a little bit — either literally or figuratively. Seasonings from your spice cabinet, like garlic powder or cayenne pepper, can add a bit of spice, while sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg can make a sweet popcorn experience.
Nuts are a great high-protein and high-calorie snack — which is just what you need to keep you going after a long day hiking, swimming or fishing. Peanuts, almonds, cashews and any other type of nut are all delicious and heart-healthy. You can even roast them over your campfire in a cast-iron pan to add an extra layer of flavor. Just let them cool off and bag them up, and you can take them out on the trail with you.
Seeds also fall into this category — pumpkin seeds and sunflower seeds are all good options to include in your snack mix. Just be mindful of your salt intake — too much could lead to dehydration.
11. Pigs in Blankets
This is more of a campfire snack, but if you’ve got hot dogs, canned biscuits and marshmallow sticks to hold them over the fire, you can let the kids bake their own dinner. Simply cut the hot dogs into three pieces and wrap each with a piece of biscuit dough. Then, hold over the fire until the dough is golden brown, and you’ve got yourself a nice snack or an easy dinner the kids can participate in.
Campout snacks don’t have to be boring or bland. Use your imagination — you’ll be surprised at the different flavor combinations and snack ideas you can come up with. Just remember to keep all your food secure from local wildlife, or you might find yourself scrounging for food after the raccoons have made off with all your snacks!