Note: This article is by special request of a dear friend, Milk Allergy Mom. We enjoy camping as we can do so close to home, homeschool in the camper (if needed) and can have the opportunity relax a little in this crazy life!
We recently walked through a season of food allergies. While the allergist has now declared our child allergy free, we managed to camp safely, even with allergies.
Here are some of the ways we stayed safe that can apply both to tent camping or a camper:
- All the adults in the party, as well as the children, are aware of all the allergies. If there is an allergen present we communicate it among everyone and separate the safe food from the unsafe food. If you are not comfortable with an allergen being present that is fine! The individual with allergies is normally served first if an allergen is present. (It goes without saying, if allergens are present, be cautious of cross contamination.)
- Read labels. Try and stick with tried and true brands as much as possible.
- Prepare a meal plan ahead of time. We often camp with friends who still have multiple food allergies and share cooking duties. So we coordinate meals ahead of time. If there is a question about a product or brand, we are not stuck at the campground without something allergy safe. Some of our favorite camping meals include allergy free pancakes and sausage, tacos, hotdogs, hamburgers and don’t forget the smores! (You will also always find prepackaged foods and treats in our camper pantries just in case.) We tend to stick with tried and true favorites that are known to be safe.
- Prepare food ahead of time. We often prepare safe cookies, Rice Krispie treats or even Milk Allergy Mom’s cupcakes at home ahead of our camping trips. Prepare fresh fruit and veggies at home ahead of time by washing and cutting and chopping. In addition, if we know we may be going on an adventure for the day, I may prepare taco meat at home ahead of time by browning the ground beef at home. I’ll add the seasoning and the meat to a crock pot in our camper the day we plan to eat it. By preparing food ahead of time you are not out of the comfort zone of your own kitchen. If you are preparing food at the campground, I prefer to use bottled water in preparation.
- Purchase your own portable grill. The person at the campground ahead of you may have just made something with your allergen before they left. Purchasing your own camping grill allows you to know what exactly has been cooked on your grill. We have one similar to this. They are great for preparing allergy safe meats, kabobs and grilled veggies.
- Have designated allergy safe roasting sticks and/or a smore maker if you plan to make something over the campfire. We have this smore maker..
- Keep your epinephrine at the proper temperature, know your emergency plan and the location of the nearest ER. Double check all labels.
In the end, do what works best for your family. If that means you prepare all the food to be comfortable, that is absolutely alright! If that means camping alone as a family, or only with those who understand and respect the allergies, that is absolutely alright too! Don’t forget to enjoy your time outdoors!