I just published a post on the allergy-friendly camping menu I use at least twice a year to feed 20-40 people. One thing I love about the menu is its versatility. There is something for everyone in the mix, so if you want to eat healthy, but a large part of the group does not, there are options for everyone. See the original post for details on the complete menu I use. This is the companion post I promised to write on what I eat on this trip while still staying “on plan” – the Trim Healthy Mama (THM) Plan, that is.
I love THM (you can read more about my journey with THM here), but one of the BEST things about the plan is that it is easy to tweak a basic menu to be on plan for you, but not for others. The basic meal types simply pair healthy carbs with protein for an Energizing meal (E), healthy fats with protein for a Satisfying meal (S), or combine healthy carbs, fats, and protein for a Crossover meal (CO). While camping, I am personally very active and generally hike a lot and I’m on my feet all day. Therefore, I eat a lot and also indulge in a good amount of Crossover meals. THM recommends incorporating Crossover meals occasionally when you are at or near goal weight, pregnant and/or nursing, trying to gain weight, or for people with high metabolisms. When camping, I am burning even more calories than I do in a normal day; as a home school mom with little kids, I am generally quite active everyday (plus I try to exercise daily), but camping takes it up a notch. If you are the kind of camper that likes to lounge at camp all day enjoying a great book and relaxing, there is nothing wrong with that, but you probably don’t want to eat as many crossovers as I do…
Please read my entire menu plan to understand what I pack for the large group for our trip – this article just goes into what I eat from that menu. So, let’s jump in…
Day 1 :
Lunch for the group is make-your-own sandwiches, fruit, chips, and water or juice. For myself, I like to do an E sandwich (think healthy carbs and low fat) on a couple pieces of sprouted whole wheat bread. I use turkey meat, light mayo/mustard, lettuce, and tomato. However, if I want to make it a Crossover by increasing the healthy fat, I would add some avocado and a cheese slice – yummy! I add a piece of fruit and some water for a perfect meal.
If you wanted to make an S meal instead (think low in carbs and higher in fat), simply switch out the sprouted bread for a low-carb wrap or a couple pieces of some THM Nuke Queen Bread made at home before the trip. You could have up to half an avocado, cheese, and mayo with this option. You could also have a fattier sandwich meat, like salami or roast beef, or even add some pre-cooked bacon slices for a treat. Most fruits would be too high carb for this option, but if you packed some berries, that would pair perfectly with an S lunch.
Snacks can be a bit tricky, because on THM we want to make sure they are centered around protein to keep us fuller longer and to stabilize our blood sugars. My go-to camping snack is a piece of fruit (an E) and maybe some healthy popcorn (low in fat), but that does not give my body enough protein to balance out the snack. If you pack some low-fat cheese sticks or a Triple-Zero yogurt, that would work. You could also grab some sandwich meat from the cooler to add to the snack. Nuts are also a great snack, especially to take along on a hike.
Sometimes on camping trips, I like to prepare some foods that travel well to bring along. (I don’t do that for these large group trips, however – getting food ready for 40 people keeps me too busy!) I love to make some Cowboy Cookies by Mrs. Criddles Kitchen or make up some pack-able treats from the THM cookbook (there are too many wonderful choices to list).
Dinner on the first night is my Famous Taco Chili, which feeds an army and is THM E. I make the base of it at home and then add the canned beans at camp for a quick “from scratch” meal. To keep this meal an E, skip adding cheese and sour cream (unless it is low fat) and eat it with some on-plan blue corn tortilla chips. I always add a pre-made salad mix to the meal, so for an E meal, I make sure it has a lighter dressing and toppings, and, of course, skip the croutons.
I love bringing pre-made salad mixes camping. I never buy them normally, but when I’m camping, I still want to get my greens, but I don’t want to bother with washing, chopping, slicing, etc. Read the ingredients carefully. You may need to mix up a salad without some of the additions to keep it on plan, but that is easy to do.
I wish THM marshmallows roasted well, but I don’t think they would hold up! Instead, I have some Lilly’s chocolate and some hot tea and sit back and enjoy the fire!
I like to keep breakfast simple with such a large group, so I have a large variety of continental breakfast items and heat up a big pot of water. I eat 2-3 packets of oatmeal topped with a little milk and sweetened with some THM Gentle Sweet. I also have hot tea sweetened with some THM Gentle Sweet packets (you can find them at the THM store – so convenient for camping!) and half-n-half. A piece of fruit is always a good addition to this E meal.
Be sure to select the instant oatmeal packets carefully to find something on-plan. Most instant oatmeal is made with many added ingredients, including a lot of sugar. Even the “Plain” variety can have many additional ingredients, but there are some healthier brands, so make sure to read the labels.
To add some protein to your breakfast, I like to add a scoop of collagen powder – it is easy to pack ahead in small Ziploc bags. Alternatively, you could add the collagen to your hot coffee or tea. Collagen can also be found at the THM Store, when they are not out-of-stock because it is such a high quality in-demand product!
In the interest of keeping things simple, day two has the same lunch as day one. There is a lot of variety in the sandwich meat, so I generally make it a bit differently, but still have an E or CO. (Actually, lets be honest – I always have a crossover – avocado is just too good to pass up on a sandwich. Plus, I need the energy for all the hiking and caving we do all day.) I add fruit and a lunch size packet of healthy popcorn.
Same options as day 1. I like to pack a piece of fruit, or two, and some nuts or cheese sticks along for some hiking energy. Some Lilly’s chocolate is also a treat!
I love cooking food over the fire while camping, and this dinner does the trick. I make everyone cook their own sausage (they come precooked, so I don’t have to worry that anyone will under cook them). I generally have Aidell’s Chicken sausages and/or cheddar-wurst for an S meal. I skip the bun and baked beans I feed the group and have a large salad (from a pre-made salad mix again), this time indulging in something with a creamy salad dressing, since this is an S meal.
We have s’mores and hot drinks again for the group, but I enjoy some Lilly’s chocolate and hot tea or sugar-free hot cocoa instead.
In keeping with the simplicity theme, my second breakfast is the same as the first. Just like with lunch, there are so many options that there is still much variety for the group. I have oatmeal and tea again, though, and a piece of fruit.
Depending on what we are doing on Sunday, we pack a lunch for a hike or simply pack up camp for the long trip home. We stop for lunch (or dinner, if we had lunch on a hike before leaving) on the drive home someplace where there are many fast food options. I like to have a lettuce wrapped burger or a large salad – my go-to choices when we eat fast food.
This is just an example of what I eat while feeding a large crowd of non-THMers on a weekend trip. We will be taking a week-long family camping trip soon, so I plan to document my meals on that trip so that I can post about that as well. Staying on-plan while out and about is more challenging than when we are at home, but it is very possible. I try to keep things simple – that works well for me. But if you like things fancier, that is also possible with some planning and prepping ahead of time.
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