Nourishing our kids with meaningful wilderness experiences can be a full-time job, and if you’re a parent who’s taken the kids camping, you know that mealtime is nooo exception! Meal time can perhaps be the most joyous or stressful moment of a family camping trip or road trip. We are no strangers to embracing wilderness experiences with little ones in tow.
In fact, Packit Gourmet’s roots run deep into the world of family fun. Many of our best selling, current entrees were first cooked on the banks of rivers and around campground fire rings as a family traveling through Canada, the US, and Mexico. The Packit Gourmet family is now on it’s 3rd generation of little adventurers, keeping everyone on their toes and constantly learning how to best provide fun, safe, and impactful wilderness experiences.
Over the years, we’ve compiled quite a list of camp hacks to keep everyone happy, safe, and well fed!
Our top 5 tips and tricks for family wilderness travel
1. Safety First
First and foremost, it’s our job as a parent to do the due diligence on all things safety, allowing the kids to do what they do best – have fun! If you’re heading into the wilderness at all (but especially with kids) make sure to plan for surprise weather, and have a strategy for communication with others. Whether that be via cell phone or a GPS device, having a fast and easy way to contact emergency services is very important and also allows for more peace of mind and less stressful time out in nature! First aid kits are notoriously forgotten or just depleted from previous usage. As you go through the mental checklist, keep a fully stocked first aid kit for both camp and the trail at the top of the list.
2. Teamwork Makes the Dream Work
Make them a part of the team! Tiny backpacks with snacks, water, map and gear give them responsibility, accountability, and something to focus on during breaks or downtime. Try to include them on the strategy for the day, whether that be navigating a day hike, planning out where to camp on a paddle or backpacking trip, or even prior to that, picking out kid-sized equipment – like a mini-paddle or trekking poles – while packing for the trip. Kids are intuitively and instinctually curious about the natural world, so allowing them to pack their own bag with tools (binoculars, head-lamp, magnifying glass, sketch book, flora/fauna identifier books, etc.) to explore this curiosity can go a long way to keeping everyone engaged.
3. Games are Fun!
Speaking of staying engaged, just about any mundane camp activity can be turned into a thrilling game, with enough creativity! I-Spy can help them notice parts of the natural world that may go unnoticed. The Alphabet game (where one tries to find elements of nature that start with A, B, C and so on) is a fun variation of I-Spy, as well. Bringing along a deck of cards, Yahtzee or dominoes can also create fun family game traditions before bedtime. And holding back a few surprises to bring out during grumpy or slow moving times works wonders.
4. Slow is Good
Take breaks often and take things slow! This allows time for children to process the moment, and build stronger memories of the day. Use these moments to touch base with their emotions around what they love about the day, animals they are seeing and what they are learning! Animal ID apps are fun or even kid-friendly animal guide books to “collect” animal sightings. When things get rough, having a comfort item (like a favorite toy from back home) that they can play with during these breaks can help to calm high tensions and help bridge the gap between everyday life and these wilderness experiences. Just like anywhere else, having a favorite snack like dried fruit on hand can be a small turbo boost to keep energy up and positive attitudes
5. Well Fed Campers are Happy Campers
Keep snacks & water handy! Some kids can be picky eaters, even on a good day, so plan for the same come mealtime at camp.
Ultimately, keeping things simple can be a lifesaver. To help, we’ve compiled our top kid approved breakfast, lunch, and dinner entrees into a one stop meal bundle. Each dish can be made by little camp chefs and enjoyed in the pouch for an easy clean-up. Best of all, they feature flavors that are tried and true favorites of our resident little ones!
Packable, Simply, & Kid-Friendly Favorites:
1. Good Day Sunshine Bowl
Starting the day off right is pivotal for a family fun trip, and there’s no better way to get the kiddos energized than a good old fashioned granola bowl! This oatmeal bowl has it all — heart-healthy organic rolled oats, toasted almonds and pecans, and bursts of flavor from vitamin C rich mango, cranberries and currants — all drizzled in organic Vermont maple syrup! Cold or hot water prep!
2. Trailside Bean & Cheese Burritos
Who doesn’t love burritos!? The Trailside Bean & Cheese Burrito is sure to be the most kid-approved meals on the camp menu. Sometimes the key for a great lunch is to just keep it simple and our tasty, no-frills, burrito is packed with seasoned pinto bean flakes, an onion-pepper-tomato vegetable blend, Monterey Jack cheese; and protein-enriched with textured vegetable protein. Pair with your favorite BYO-tortilla or wrap and voila, you’ve got a happy camper with their mid-day snack! Cold or hot water prep!
3. Dottie’s Chicken & Dumplings
A consistent fan favorite for both adults and youngins, our Chicken & Dumplings is inspired by a favorite family recipe (created by Dottie), our version is chock full of seasoned roasted chicken (cage-free), sweet carrots, green peas, whole kernel corn, mushrooms and Southern style “dumplings” swimming in a rich and savory chicken broth-based gravy.
4. Strawberry Cheesecake
There’s just no doubt about it, a well timed sweet treat can take a fun day and send it into “this is best day ever” status! Packed with strawberries and served with a gingersnap pecan crumble, a day on trail doesn’t end any better than this! This is a full dessert portion (with sugar overload potential), so we recommend sharing.
All of these meals (with exception of Dottie’s Chicken & Dumplings) can be prepared with hot or cold water, allowing for safe and easy meal prep without the need of boiling water!
Questions? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org!