The Backseat Pantry: A Photographer's Guide to Nutrition - On the go!

When planning your camping trip, the main logistics you tend to prioritize will be your itinerary, where to sleep, what to pack, and how much to budget for gas, food, camp sites, etc. It is easy to say “we’ll buy a bunch of food on the way, no big deal.”  Likewise, being away from home doesn’t mean eating just fast food and Slim Jims. Food is essential to your well-being on and off the trails, so we recommend prioritizing and planning your nutrition in order to make the most of your trip. There is nothing like hot mac and cheese made with fresh glacial runoff found at Moraine Lake, after a 10-mile hike in the mountains. Tasty meals sometimes make for the best moments when camping, and are a good reward after a long day. Here is a list of tasty and nutritious foods that don’t require complex preparation.


  • Instant Oatmeal - on chilly mornings it’s great to have a hot meal, just add boiled water!
  • Cereal or granola - nice for a warm morning and is quick to prepare.
  • Almond milk - it keeps longer than dairy milk, especially without refrigeration. Don’t use soy milk because it curdles!
  • Yogurt - contrary to popular belief, it keeps for a really long time, even at room temperature.  Caution: Do not set your open yogurt container on the middle console, or this could happen:
A candidate in the running for BlueHour's funniest moment during the Canadian Rockies trip - from Paul's perspective only.

A candidate in the running for BlueHour's funniest moment during the Canadian Rockies trip - from Paul's perspective only.


  • Peanut butter and jelly/jam - we prefer to pick flavors that are native to the area. In Canada, we ate black currant and peach jams because we knew we wouldn’t find them back home.
  • Our beloved Safeway deviled egg potato salad, or chicken salad, with a loaf of bread, can make many lunches or dinners.
  • Eat high fat foods when the weather is cold - salami, pepperoni - for sustained energy over time.  Your body needs those calories, so now is not the time to be going on a diet.


  • Mountain House dehydrated entrees - primo option, but expensive. If you are ever in Olympic National Park in Washington, they are ⅓ the normal price at Forks Outfitters! They also have breakfasts and desserts that are pretty good.
  • Ramen noodles - throw in fresh vegetables to “spice” things up a little, and make a more well-rounded meal. Celery, carrots and tomatoes are da bomb and add a ton of flavor! Click here for some 'Gourmet' Ramen tips.
  • For the truly adventurous appetite:  Canned luncheon meat.  Spam anyone??  Eat it cold out of the can, or pan fry it for a taste sensation.  Try the Canadian version, Klik, for some international flair.
Is it a mystery, meat, or both?

Is it a mystery, meat, or both?


  • Always have granola bars in your bag, for quick boost - many times these are a substitute lunch.
  • Pre-bagged washed veggies make a nutritious snack for car or trail- sugar snap peas, baby carrots, tomatoes, celery
  • Gummy bears - for the inevitable “sugar-low” that comes from being out for too long
  • Nuts - a great source of protein that keeps well in all conditions, no matter how long your shoot is. Make sure not to discount salt if you are working up a sweat!
  • Powdered drink mixes - fresh juices may not keep, so we bring powdered lemonade and iced tea for an Arnold Palmer. Hot cocoa and instant coffee are for the chilly mornings and nights.
  • Tea - when camping, you’re off your normal “cycle” so this helps flush everything out and also keep you focused with a touch of caffeine.

Food storage, transport and cleanup

  • When traveling by car for many days without refrigeration, keep your food in the shaded areas of your car, such as the foot wells of the back seat.  And put your sleeping bags on top of your food bags, which keeps the mid-day heat away from your food.
  • Save the messy and soft foods for car and camp. When packing your backpack for the day, bring “sturdy foods” like bagels, block cheese, and carrots, celery, salami, pepperoni.  Don’t forget to bring a knife to slice everything! This is when multi tools or Swiss army knives come in handy.
  • Pack up your food trash carefully - leave no scraps on trail, around camp, at car, or it may attract bears - or tourists. Or, you can purchase 'bear canisters' to 'bear proof' your food.
The tourists had never seen a camp stove before, so Lauren gave the grand demonstration.

The tourists had never seen a camp stove before, so Lauren gave the grand demonstration.

Lauren ChagarisComment