Update: Trash-Free Camping + Easy Delicious Recipe

Folks have asked us how our initiative to camp and make no trash is going, so one month into the quest here’s an update along with our favorite recipe yet. The best part? You can make it without creating trash (unless you add chips).

The other best parts? It takes only 30 minutes, requires just a knife, 1 pot and 1 pan, camp stove – and although it’s hearty – it’s gluten-free, sugar-free, and oil-free + vegan! Plus you can eat it straight out of the pan. No one cares if you’re camping.


Check out the recipe at the end, or read our trash-free update first.

How easy is it to camp and make no trash?

It’s not easy, but here is what we’re doing to reduce trash:

  • Shopping in bulk at Whole Foods. We chose Whole Foods for the ability to use our own bags / containers. Although we have run out of bags at times – resorting to using plastic – for the most part it’s worked out well. I love the Produce Stand Chicobags, check ’em out. So far we’ve shopped at Whole Foods in Cincinnati, Nashville and Oklahoma City. Most recently I shopped at Durango Natural Foods, which felt like a mini-Whole Foods.
  • This is a typical grocery list that allows us to use our own containers:

    • Any vegetable (we go with carrots, celery, onion, potatoes, garlic, avocado and peppers for their ability to last longer. We do get leafy greens too but those have to be eaten within the first few days).
    • Any fruit
    • Lentils + legumes from bulk bins
    • Grains from bulk bins (rice, quinoa, etc.)
    • It’s amazing how much variety you can find in a bulk bin. Even pre-made soups
    • Snacks (trail mixes, dried fruit and nuts)
    • Nutritional yeast. If you’ve never had it, this magical powder that can turn into everything from gravy to creamy cheese is a-m-a-z-i-n-g for adding healthy flavor and thickness to recipes
    • Rainbow of spices
  • BUT. There have been times when we’ve run out of certain foods or quite simply craved a snack. Here we’ve stopped at any grocery store along the route.
  • We buy the following packaged items:

    • Tortillas
    • Salsa
    • Mustard
    • Sometimes chips
    • Sometimes cheese for Andres
    • That six-pack in Great Sand Dunes to warm the night
  • What about the budget?

    • As I mentioned from the get-go, shopping at Whole Foods and similar markets can feel pricy for folks on the road. However we feel the significance outweighs the cost and not having some typical bills of our apartment life has balanced things out.
  • Restaurants? Yep, we’ve eaten out about once a week so far for breakfast and lunch.
  • Other things? There are a few essential cosmetic items like toothpaste, sunscreen, etc., which all come packaged. Same goes with any new gear, but we try to purchase brands with minimal packaging. Most of our other trash is organic scraps, which leads me to challenge the park service to create on-site composting systems. That would be awesome.

That’s the quick update, now on to the tasty stuff:


Trash-Gluten-Sugar-Oil Free Vegan Amazing Enchilada Pie

*Also happens to be my first ever own recipe designed with love, shared with you.

**I rarely cook with measuring cups, so this recipe doesn’t have exact measurements, but if you like to cook, it’s pretty easy to figure out the right ratios. Experiment and have fun with it!

***You can buy all the ingredients from bulk sections of grocery stores like Whole Foods and use your own bags, no packaging required, except for the chips if you choose to have them. 

Cook time: 30 minutes. Eat time: 2 minutes.


  • 1 pot
  • 1 pan
  • 1 camp stove
  • 1 knife
  • 1 spoon
  • Optional: a fork and plate


THE VEGGIES (all chopped)

  • 1 large carrot
  • 1 handful of basil
  • 1 handful of spinach
  • 1 large ear of corn
  • Half of red pepper
  • 1-2 clove garlic
  • 1-2 avocado
  • Optional: onion


  • 1-2 cups lentils of your choice (I used red)
  • 1-2 cups rice (I used white)

THE SPICES (in order of most to least used)

  • chili powder (about 1 – 2 tablespoons)
  • smoked paprika (about 2 teaspoons)
  • cumin (about 2 teaspoons)
  • Dash(es) of cayenne for a kick
  • Anything else to give a southwest flavor!

Secret ingredient: nutritional yeast

Salt & Pepper to taste (About 1 – 2 tspn sea salt recommended for lentils)




  1. Finely chop veggies.
  2. Boil water in 1 pot. Cook corn on the cob in boiling water for a few minutes. Set aside.
  3. In same water, cook rice. Add dash of salt.
  4. Meanwhile, sauté garlic, onion, pepper, and carrot in the pan with a bit of water for a few minutes (you can use oil, I don’t)
  5. Add lentils to veggie mix with equal parts of water. Let cook while rice cooks, about 15 – 20 minutes.
  6. While lentils are cooking, add in spices.
  7. While rice and lentils are cooking, prepare avocado spread.
  8. Mush fruit of 1 avocado, mix in chopped basil and spinach. Add salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.
  9. Shave the corn off the cob.

Assembling the pie

  1. Once lentils are done and water is cooked out, remove from heat. **lentils must be thick and not have any more water**
  2. Use spoon to flatten down lentil mixture into pan and smooth over.
  3. Scoop the cooked rice on top of the lentil mixture. About half an inch thick. Use spoon to flatten down.
  4. Add corn in an even layer on top of the rice.
  5. Spread avocado “guac” on top.
  6. Add dash of spice on top for additional color and flavor. I sprinkle nutritional yeast on, yum!

Best part: Scoop out with chips or eat with a fork. Enjoy. 

This recipe is perfect after a few hours of hiking or a long day at work.




  1. This looks really yummy! Going on an 8-day camping trip this coming week, and hoping to try this! Thanks for sharing your recipe, Karla!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *