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Amazing Dehydrated Camp Food on a Budget

By Rebecca Grim

How to make your own dehydrated camp food without breaking the bank

I used to be the kind of camper who lived on protein bars and expensive instant food. I quickly became uninspired with the same pre-packaged meals and with the dwindling state of my bank account something had to change. I knew there must be a better way to camp for an extended period of time without sacrificing nutrition and taste: enter dehydrated camp food.

A few years ago, a friend introduced me to homemade dehydrated meals. My camp food experience changed for the better, and I have never looked back. Chilli, dried fruit, tofu jerky, hummus and so much more became staples for all my overnight trips.

dehydrated camping food

The Equipment

Any dehydrator will do, but if you are looking to invest in quality, the Rolls Royce of dehydrators is the Excalibur. This mean machine has a setting for everything from herbs to meat. There are some health food stores that will rent dehydrators out if you don’t want to splurge and buy one.

Cooking and dehydrating your own meals for a multi-day trip is by far the most economical option and allows you to eat exactly what you want. Almost anything in your daily diet can be dehydrated and turned into delicious camp food. The condensed dried food also allows more space for fresh fruit and vegetables and other necessary items (like a boxed wine) in your kayak.

There are endless possibilities dehydrating food, one of the most simple and easiest camp snacks is dried fruit. Slice up bananas and dip them into lemon juice for a delicious snack on the water.


A few tips for dehydrated meals:

  1. With a sharpie write the amount of water needed, cooking time and the ingredients on each bag to avoid confusion.
  2. Before leaving on the trip with heaps of dehydrated meals, be sure to test out your creations. Some meals rehydrate spicier or you may not prefer the texture or taste.
  3. Pack additional sauces, spices, nutritional yeast, salt and pepper so everyone can customize their meal.
  4. Soak meals ahead of time for at least 4 hours in a Nalgene container or a freezer Ziplock. This will save on fuel and also reduce the cooking time
  5. You can store dried meals up to six months so you can always have meals ready for your next adventure.

home made dehydrated food

Recipe For Dehydrated Chilli

Here is a simple one-pot wonder that will be sure to be a camp favourite.

Hearty Vegetarian Chilli Recipe

–       2 tablespoons olive oil

–       1 cup chopped onions

–       4 cloves garlic, minced

–       1 cup chopped carrots

–       1 cup chopped pepper

–       1 cup chopping mushrooms

–       40 oz diced tomatoes (fresh or canned)

–       20oz kidney beans (soaked or canned)

–       20oz black beans (soaked or canned)

–       20 oz navy beans (soaked or canned)

–       3 tablespoons curry spice

–       1 tablespoon chilli powder

–       1 tablespoon cumin

–       Salt and pepper to taste

dehydrated chili recipe

Soak the beans overnight if they are dry. Toss all the ingredients in a crockpot on low for 8 hours or a big pot on the stove for a couple hours. Once the chilli is cooked let it completely cool before spreading it on dehydrator racks.

For more amazing camp food recipes check out “Fork in the Trail” by Laurie Ann March and “Another Fork in the Trail: Vegetarian and Vegan Recipes for the Backcountry”. These cookbooks are packed with easy to prepare and mouth-watering recipes, Ocean River Sports has a healthy library in store with books to help with your adventures.

Be sure to comment with your favourite recipes and tips! Happy camping!




2 Responses to “Amazing Dehydrated Camp Food on a Budget”

  1. Marianne Wilson says:

    Great tips on meal prepping for the wilderness. Dehydrating meals is just another exciting part for me, in planning a trip! Another added bonus: you generally have next to NO garbage to pack out!
    I have the book “Another Fork in the Trail” and heartily agree: it’s a great resource!

    • Stephanie Brown says:

      Marianne, great to hear from you! So glad you also dehydrate your own food – you are very right about the reduced garbage.

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Located in Victoria, British Columbia on beautiful Vancouver Island, Ocean River is one of the premier speciality kayak and adventure companies in North America. Brian Henry, the founder & current owner, has been running Ocean River since 1981, and Ocean River continues to be recognised as one of the most significant outdoor/paddlesports instructional & tours provider in North America.

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