Cooking a delicious, hearty meal over a fire, under a canopy of trees or overlooking a picturesque vista is one of the pleasures of camping. Extended weekend trips spanning three days are long enough to let you relax in nature, yet so brief you won't need to stuff your car or camper with weeks' worth of meals. By planning your menus in advance based on the number of people and the appetites of your camping party, you'll avoid packing too little or too much food.
Convenient, easy-to-prepare breakfast foods for camping include packets of instant oatmeal, pre-baked muffins and other breakfast breads, eggs, bacon or sausage, and cold cereals with milk and fresh fruit. Count the number of people in your camping trip, and multiply by three: That's the number of breakfast servings you'll need to bring. For example, four people in your group will each need one packet of oatmeal per day, or 12 packets altogether.
Midday meals during a camping trip need not be fancy, but they should provide healthy nutrients like complex carbohydrates and protein for energy. Lay out a buffet of sandwich fixings like whole-grain rolls, low-fat condiments, lettuce, tomato and cheeses, then offer cold cuts or freshly-grilled burgers. Accompany sandwiches with carrot and celery sticks, baked chips or dill pickles. Have at least one burger and bun per person per lunch.
After a day of hiking, backpacking, swimming or boating, you'll be hankering for a hearty dinner. Pack your cooler with pre-cooked chicken that easily can be warmed on the campfire, whole potatoes and corn on the cob for fire-grilling, and macaroni and potato salads. Bet on two pieces of chicken, one potato or ear of corn and a healthy scoop of salad per person per dinner. Alternate the chicken with freshly-caught fish or burgers on the grill.
Fuel your activities with filling, nutrient-packed snacks. Trail mix with peanuts, raisins, dried fruit bits and sunflower seeds contains healthy carbs, protein and vitamins for sustained energy. Granola bars are convenient; simply count the number of people in your group, bet on two bars a day, and pack the correct amount. Cut up a pound of carrots, and bring a 16-oz. tub of hummus for a crunchy-creamy snack. Tuck a 1-lb. package of cookies into the pantry box for a sweet dessert.