10 Actionable Tips To Reduce Camping Food Waste

Camping food waste should be one of the seven deadly sins!

Since Americans waste large amounts of food at home and dining out, it stands to reason that camping food waste is also part of the issue.

Think of your last camp out. Paper plates, propane containers, plastic water bottles – all that garbage has gone somewhere! 

Think of how much trash you generated then multiply that by the 300 million – the number of visitors the National Park Service had last year.

In Grand Teton National Park alone 1800 TONS of garbage is generated every season.

How do we remediate to this situation? It starts with the 10 simple tips.

Preventing Food Waste While Camping

zero waste camping food tips

Although we do our up most to avoid food waste at any cost at home, preventing food waste away in nature is much harder.

But over the years of planning our camping trips, my wife and I have almost perfected our food waste dilemma with each year becoming less waste full.

Below is a handful of the best tips we’ve learned.

10 Tips for Reducing Camping Food Waste

  • Be realistic

You may think that you are going to cook gourmet meals over the campfire, but this takes time and money. Imagine what a waste it will be if you throw out the premium steaks you bought for $15 a pound when you decide not to cook them the first night and they spoil.

  • Don’t buy everything you need in advance 

By buying all the ingredients you need to create your menu in advance will likely cause a lot of food waste. Especially if you change your mind on what you will be eating when you get here. 

  • Plan meals carefully

Eat most of the perishable items at the start of your camping trip. Towards the end of the trip, you can open the cans of tuna, beans, soups, and pasta.

  • Pack small snack bags

You may have purchased in bulk, but that doesn’t mean you need to bring it all along. Pack small snack bags with a nice mix of different foods that you know your family likes to eat, e.g., nuts, granola bars, and jerky.

  • One pot meals

When we are away the last thing I want to be doing is hovering over the cooker for hours cooking meals, let alone all the washing up that comes with it.

One pot meals are easy, take less time, less washing up and saves food waste.

For example, I may cook our family favorite bacon, pasta, and onions one night and if there are any leftovers have it cold as a salad the following day.

Or I may cook bolognese (with pasta) and whatever is left over have with baked potatoes the next day.

There are lots of meals you can create in one or two pots that can be reused the next day with a slight twist so you are not eating the same meal twice.

  • Pack small 

Place all your condiments, tea, coffee, sugar in small glass jars that can easily be stored in a small space. Not only does this save space but it also reduces any wastage of what we don’t use.

  • Consider Freeze Dried Food

Freeze dried meals are lightweight and easy to pack. They do not require a cooler and provide quick and delicious meals.

You can bring as much as you need on a camping trip and have plenty left at home for emergencies and future trips.

If you are looking for bulk food with even longer shelf lives, this selection of meats, fruits, vegetables, dairy, and eggs may be the perfect solution.

Wise is a wise choice and you’ll feel good about not wasting food or contributing to campsite waste.

  • Free food 

Take part in the local food foraging events or buy a fishing license to catch your own tea. There is nothing like going out and collecting your own fresh free food that nature provides for us. The whole family can get involved having fun collecting your next meal.

  • Hang your food

Be sure to hang your food at night or use a bear canister so unwanted guests don’t start digging through it. When you’re done with your bag, toss it in a designated trash can or dumpster.

  • Plan, Plan, Plan

“Start planning your zero waste camping trip by thinking about your destination in terms of waste you are likely to create. Consider where you are heading, how you are getting there, what and where you’ll be eating, where you’ll be sleeping, what you’ll be doing for entertainment, and any obstacles you are likely to encounter. Your destination determines a lot about the garbage you’ll be concerned with.” – The Zero-Waste Lifestyle: Live Well by Throwing Away Less

And before you go… Remember to leave everything as you find it for the enjoyment of other campers and hikers — and the benefit of the environment.

Any other camping food waste tips? Leave them in the comments.


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