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Winter Camping Meals and Tips on Winter Camp Cooking

More from Outdoor Living Newsletter December Outdoor Living Newsletter
Cooking food while winter camping
The most ideal kinds of winter camping meals should be easy to prepare and can be cooked in just one pot.

For those that love the outdoors, winter camping offers a totally unique experience and a whole new sense of respect towards nature. That is why many campers, particularly those that enjoy tent camping, find winter camping one of the most rewarding - if not the most rewarding - kind of camping to do.

Winter camping is relatively easy for RVers since they have the luxury of having the cozy interiors of their RVs and the appliances to stay warm and cook their camping meals. It's a completely different story for tent campers.

If you're thinking about doing some winter camping this year, choosing the right camping meals to bring with you is just as important as getting the right camping gear for the season.

Your Average Calorie Intake Requirements when Winter Camping

During the warmer months, the average camper would require about 2,000 calories on a daily basis to give them the energy that they need to go hiking and other outdoor activities. But when it comes to winter camping, the amount of calories you need to consume is considerably higher.

According to nutritionists, those that want to do winter camping would need camping meals that would provide them with as much as 6,000 calories on a daily basis! The reason? Your body needs the extra calories to keep yourself warm and still be able to do all the different outdoor activities that you enjoy. That is why aside from getting the right camping gear for the weather, you need to properly plan out the camping meals that you will bring during your trip.

Breakdown of Food Groups for Winter Camping

When winter camping, it is highly recommended that 50% of the camping food that you bring and eat should be carbohydrates. That's because unlike the other food groups, carbohydrates are far easier to digest and convert into energy by the body. As such, you're able to help your body stay warm.

30% of the camping food to bring should be comprised of foods rich in fats. While they take the longest to convert into simple sugars that the body can use to generate heat, the good thing about this is that they allow you to produce heat this over a long period of time.

Protein-rich foods should only compose 20% of your camping meals while winter camping. These foods are there to help deal with hunger and help repair muscle tissue and cell construction that may easily get worn off while you're enjoying your favorite outdoor activity.

Tips when Planning Winter Camping Meals

While your body needs a lot more calories during winter camping, that doesn't mean that you're going to feel any hungrier. In fact, your appetite greatly reduces during the winter months. That being the case, it is not only important that the food you bring during winter camping be easy to prepare but also be extremely appetizing and appealing as well.

Here are some tips to help you plan out easy camping meals for your winter camping trip:

1.  Go for One Pot Meals

The cold weather is more than enough for you to feel sluggish and less willing to do a lot of cooking. One pot meals are quick and easy to prepare, which is ideal for winter camping. Here are some examples of one pot meals that you can prepare during your camping trip:

Caribbean Pineapple Curry

Serves 2
Cooking Time: 10 minutes


  • 1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and sliced
  • 1 clove garlic, chopped
  • 1 cup red bell pepper, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 onion, peeled and sliced
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon generic curry powder
  • 1 7-oz pre-cooked chicken breast, sliced into bite size pieces
  • 1 mini bottle of rum
  • 1 snack container of pineapple chunks


At Home:

Prepare all of the ingredients and pack them into separate containers.

At Camp:

Add the rum into the container with the chicken breast and set it aside to marinate. Heat the oil in the pot and fry the garlic and jalapeno pepper for 30 seconds. Add the onion, bell pepper and curry. Stir for 3 minutes or until the vegetables have softened. Add the pineapple, rum and chicken and cook until it's tender. Serve with rice or bread.

Hot & Sour Soba Seafood Soup

Serves 3
Cooking Time: 15 minutes


  • 4 1/2 cups water
  • 1/2 cup seasoned rice vinegar
  • 3 cubes Knorr fish bouillon
  • 1 ounce dried mushrooms
  • 1 bundle (about 4 oz) of buckwheat soba noodles
  • 2 teaspoons of dried minced garlic
  • 1 tablespoon dried chopped chives
  • 2 teaspoons red pepper flakes
  • 4 pouches of imitation crab or 2 cans of crab meat


Bring water and vinegar to a boil in a medium pot. Add the bouillon cubes and stir until it dissolves. Add the mushrooms, garlic, chives, and crushed pepper. Cook for 2 minutes. Break the soba noodles in half and add to the pot. Cook for about 5 minutes. Stir in the crab and cook for another 2 minutes.

2.  Prepare as Much in Advance

Pre-cut ingredients as this will limit your hand exposure time, making you less prone to getting extremely cold hands while winter camping. And because they are already pre-cut, all you will need to do is to dunk them into the pot and cook away. Also, try to cook as much of the food as possible before going on your camping trip. That way, you will need to use less fuel.

3.  Forget Fresh Vegetables

If you're one of those people that can't live without some veggies and fruits, opt to get those that are frozen or dried instead of the fresh ones. Fresh vegetables and fruits have much higher water content than meats, which will cause them to freeze in the cold weather, causing them to get ruined.

4.  Bring Instant Foods

Instant foods like oatmeal and noodles are very quick to prepare and will provide you all the energy that you will need during your winter camping trip.

5.  Snack Away

Aside from the full meals, bring lots of snacks for you to munch on during your winter camping trip. They also require no preparation on your part and still give you that quick boost of energy, especially when you wake up in the middle of the night because of the cold.

Examples of ideal camping snacks to take with you during your upcoming winter camping trip are beef jerky, energy bars, cookies, trail mix with nuts and chocolate, and cured meats like salami and pepperoni.

Things to Remember when Cooking during Winter Camping

1.  Protect your fire from the snow and wind

As you're cooking, the snow surrounding your fire will definitely melt, and that could easily help put out your fire. If you're cooking using firewood, make sure to first put down a layer of medium-sized sticks on the base. This will help prevent the melting snow from drowning the fire.

If you're bringing a stove on your winter camping trip, make sure that you put a pad underneath the stove to slow down the heat transfer from the stove to the ground and stop melting the snow underneath.

Whichever method of cooking you choose to use - either by firewood or using a stove - make sure to also protect the fire from the wind.

2.  Wrap your fuel bottles with duct tape

Duct tape provides an added layer of insulation around the fuel bottle, and helps to protect you from instant frostbite if you handle this directly.

3.  Use plastic or wooden utensils when cooking

Just like the fuel bottles, metal utensils can get really cold while you're winter camping. Not only will they be extremely difficult to use in the cold weather, they also can cause the temperature of whatever you're cooking to drop quickly, requiring longer cooking time and more fuel.

Importance of Water while Winter Camping

Keeping yourself well hydrated is very important during winter camping. Despite the sheer amount of snow that falls during the winter months, this season has actually the lowest humidity levels. The dry winter air can easily cause you to be dehydrated, and since the temperatures are very low, it can take a while for you to feel the effects of dehydration until it's too late. That is why you need to constantly be drinking water while winter camping, even if you don't feel that thirsty.

The best way to check whether or not you're starting to get dehydrated is to check the color of your urine. Generally speaking, the darker the color of your urine, the more dehydrated you are. Other signs of dehydration to watch out for include:

  • Decrease in the volume of your urine
  • Lack of perspiration
  • Headache
  • Blurry vision

In case you run out of water, don't eat the snow directly. Your body will require more heat and fuel to help you melt the snow in your mouth and still keep your core temperature above freezing. Instead, melt the snow over a low fire. Put in a small amount of water first in your container before adding the snow in order to prevent it from getting scorched. Use a coffee filter to strain the melted water before drinking it. This will help get rid of any dirt, bugs, and other particles.

At night, turn your water bottles upside down. This way the ice will form at the bottom of the bottle and not at the opening. You can also try burying it in the snow, as this will actually help keep the water in the bottles insulated, minimizing the chance of freezing.

Copyright ©2013 Camping Road Trip, LLC

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