What food to bring to camp

Try these cheap alternatives to pre-packaged dry foods

Dehydrated camp meals have come a long way since the days of greenish egg powder and the chili that didn’t necessarily look like chili. But they can get expensive. So why not try walking down your local grocery aisles to look for some tasty and cheaper alternatives. Today’s selection of non-perishable foods far exceeds the old standbys of mac-and-cheese and ramen noodles. (Not that there’s anything wrong with ramen noodles.)

Instead of bland hot cereal mix or Pop-Tarts, try Bear Naked Native Maple Hemp Walnut Granola, available at most grocery and natural food stores.

  • Indian-inspired dishes are easy with rice and curry sauce packs, and can be livened up with PC Indian Naan Flatbread or fried papadums; toss a handful of crushed nuts on top and you’ve got an amazing meal.

  • If you like Italian, try Bella Pasta’s dried cheese tortellini and pesto sauce or tomato paste stored in a tube.

  • The new-age vacuum-packed foil pouches for tuna, chicken and turkey keep meat fresher for longer. Combine with one of the many dehydrated sauces and mixes such as hummus or tabbouleh. Knorr also makes some tasty dried veggie mixes.

  • Even if you keep things to a minimum by packing the regular dry foods such as rice, lentils, couscous or egg noodles, you can improvise a fancy meal by adding spices—everything from wasabi to paprika, stored in zip-locks—or even Tabasco sauce.

  • Forget the trail mix that looks like hamster food. Snacks like Kitchen Table Bakers Gourmet Cheese Crisps and Raincoast Crisps are far tastier.

  • Bulk-food stores have all kinds of dried food at cheap prices.

  • Instant coffee packs provide a decent caffeine fix. Starbucks has perfected the science with their VIA packs.

  • There are a wide variety of good Tetra Pak wines on the market now. French rabbit Chardonnay is a best-seller.

What to cook with

The best cookware kits are the kind in which the different pieces nest inside one another—cups are inside a small pot, which is inside a medium/large pot, which is on top of the frying pan. The entire kit is then stored in a fishnet style bag with a drawstring. The lighter the better—titanium is best, but stainless steel will do. The frying pan should be non-stick and the handle should either be separate—such as a gripper—or fold into the pan.