Camping is a great family adventure…a wonderful way for you to take a break away from your busy lives and enjoy some quality time together. All you need to do is pack up the camping gear and find a place to put up the tent.
You’ll also need to pack along food for the duration of your camping trip. A cooler packed with ice is ideal for some foods but bringing along more than one cooler can take up a lot of room. And ice!
Next time you go camping, why not leave the cooler at home. No need to worry about not eating, there are plenty of delicious, tasty, and healthy foods you can bring along that don’t require any refrigeration at all.
Here’s our list of 47 camping food ideas that don’t require refrigeration.
Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. And starting your day on the right foot is easy even if you don’t bring along refrigerated foods.
1. Coffee or tea
No refrigeration required for coffee. Just grind the beans and put into a coffee percolator on a grill placed over open flames. Or for an even easier coffee option, buy packets of instant coffee and make individual cups by pouring in boiling water. Not a coffee drinker? Bring along a selection of teas for everyone to choose from.
2. Sugar and cream for coffee or tea
Pack sugar in a tight sealable container to use for coffee, tea, or any other foods you need sweetened. If you need a little cream in your coffee, the powdered creamer packets will do just fine.
3. Powdered milk
So easy to make, use it for coffee, tea, and over your breakfast cereal or granola. Just add cold water and stir.
4. Instant hot chocolate
Great for kids and adults for breakfast – or at night around the fire when you’re sitting under the stars. Add mini-marshmallows for more of a treat.
5. Juice packs
The kids will appreciate these – bring both apple and orange juice for variety.
6. Breakfast cereals
Every kid has their favorite. Bring along one or two larger boxes or buy small, individual boxes for smaller servings and more variety. Just add some of the powdered milk you made for your coffee and breakfast is served.
7. Quick cooking oatmeal
Another fast and easy breakfast idea…just add boiling water to quick cooking oatmeal packages – they come pre-sweetened in a variety of flavors. Or use plain oatmeal and sweeten with honey or maple syrup. Top with a handful of granola for some crunch.
8. Granola or muesli
Make homemade granola or muesli or buy it packaged…both are good for breakfast. Just add some powdered milk.
9. Energy or granola bars
Both energy and granola bars make a decent breakfast or snack. They’re also easy to pack along in your backpack when you’re out walking or paddling in the canoe.
10. Pancakes and syrup
A box of pancake mix fits easily into your camping gear…pancakes aren’t just easy to make, they smell great on a cool camping morning. Use a little oil in the frying pan to grill them up. Then top with maple syrup or spread with jam.
11. Fried potatoes
You won’t need to refrigerate potatoes…and they make a great breakfast when diced and then fried up with onions in a little bit of oil.
Bread is versatile for a variety of meals –toast it over the fire and spread with peanut butter. Keep the bag tightly closed and out of the sun. It should last for a few days with no problem.
So long as you’re not camping in hot weather, bring along the butter. Keep it out of the sun in a sealed container and it will last for two to three days. Toast and jam are the perfect way to start your day.
14. Peanut butter
Adults and kids alike can’t resist peanut butter so be sure to bring along a jar. Use it for peanut butter and jam sandwiches. Or bring other nut butters instead, such as almond butter.
15. Jams and honey
Buy individual packets of jam and honey –these are ideal for spreading on bread and buns. Or use the honey to sweeten your coffee or tea.
Bananas are good any time of day, and easy to pack in your knapsack when you’re on the go, and they’re budget friendly. Kids love dipping bananas in peanut butter – a great breakfast or snack idea. Keep in mind that if the weather is really hot, bananas won’t keep for more than a day or two
Perfect at any time of the year, easy to pack, and nutritious all at the same time. Bring along a variety of fruit that your family enjoys eating such as apples, oranges, and grapes. If they’re in season, strawberries and raspberries will keep well in the shade for up to two days.
18. Canned fruit
Fruit canned in water is a quick way to get your kids to eat fruit when you don’t have the room for fresh. Bring a few different choices such as peaches, pears, apple sauce, or fruit cocktail.
Lunch is great in the outdoors, under the sun on a warm summer day. And there are lots of non-refrigerated foods you can use to put together a great lunch for the family.
19. Beef and turkey jerky
For a good source of protein, dried meat jerky can be eaten with crackers and cut up veggies.
20. Bagels and buns
A pack of bagels or buns goes a long way and will be fresh for two or three days. Use for sandwiches or grill up with a bit of oil and sprinkle with garlic salt as a side dish.
21. Tuna bagels or sandwiches
An easy camping lunch is tuna salad on bagels or bread. Open a can of tuna and mix with two or three individual mayo packets. You can also buy small individual servings of tuna with different flavorings in tin packs.
22. Canned flaked chicken
Mix up with mayo just like you do for tuna. Serve with crackers and fruit and have a picnic outside.
23. Cut up veggies
Carrots, radishes, cucumbers, and cherry tomatoes are okay for a couple of days without refrigeration. Just keep them in a cool spot out of the sun. Cut up and serve raw vegetables alongside sandwiches.
24. Homemade cookies
Whip up a batch or two of your family’s favorite cookies – chocolate chip, peanut butter, or oatmeal raisin. Easy to grab…these won’t last long.
25. Homemade brownies
Another home baked treat to take camping. And just as easy to bake and wrap as cookies.
26. Packaged cookies and muffins
No time to bake before your trip? No problem – just pick up a package of cookies or muffins at the grocery store or bakery before leaving on your trip.
At the end of a busy day, after hiking and swimming in the creek, it’s nice to get back to your campsite for a delicious and tasty meal. And you can put together a fantastic meal that everyone is going to enjoy using foods that are non-refrigerated.
27. Hearty canned soups
Canned soups are a great option for dinner. Choose thick and hearty soups that are filling at the end of day spent outside.
28. Homemade campfire soup
Make your own soup over the campfire with just a few ingredients thrown into a pot and left to simmer for an hour: canned soup stock, carrots, onion, potatoes, and dried lentils. Optional is pre-packaged dried meat.
29. Grilled vegetables
Wrap individual portions of non-refrigerated veggies in foil and grill them over the campfire. Just sprinkle with olive oil, salt, and pepper. Good vegetable choices include carrots, potatoes, corn, onions, and butternut squash.
30. Instant potatoes
A quick accompaniment to other foods, instant potatoes are easy to make. Just add water and bring to a boil.
31. Pasta, tomato sauce, and cheese
For a quick dinner, put this together. Boil pasta in water, strain and add canned tomato sauce. Grate cheese over top. Yes, cheese.
32. Pesto sauce
A little pesto sauce on boiled pasta is a nice change from tomato sauce. Just because you’re camping doesn’t mean you can’t elevate your food a notch. Add grated parmesan cheese on top.
33. Hard Cheeses
If the weather isn’t too hot, a block of hard cheese such as cheddar, will last for a couple of days. Just store wrapped in plastic and then in a tea towel….in the shade. A container of grated parmesan cheese will also be just fine for up to three or four days.
34. Macaroni and cheese
Not exactly a gourmet meal when camping, but a box or two of macaroni and cheese can save the day when you have hungry kids. Boil water for the pasta, then use the powdered cheese, powdered milk, and water to complete the dish. Use a bit of butter if you brought some along.
35. Classic baked beans
We’ve all had a can of baked beans heated over the flames. Continue the camping tradition and heat up beans for a quick meal. Add some nachos on the side for even more flavor and to make a more filling meal.
36. Packaged rice and a Mexican meal
Another easy dish to cook up, just add the rice mix to boiling water. Choose from plain or flavored rice. You can eat the rice on its own or add a few ingredients to make a full meal – add canned corn, salsa, and taco seasoning. Then serve up in tortilla shells for a Mexican night around the fire.
37. Canned chili and garlic bread
Open a couple cans of chili and heat over the fire or over the grill. While the chili is heating make toasted garlic bread using a bit of garlic salt mixed with olive oil – just spread over the bread and toast. Grated cheddar on top of the chili is filling and satisfying on cooler nights.
38. Canned beef stew
Don’t dismiss beef stew…rich with beef, potatoes, carrots, and peas…there are some great tasting brands available.
39. Herbs and spices
Just because you’re camping doesn’t mean you want to eat bland food. Keep an assortment of herbs and spices in a sealed container. Then just pull them out when you want to add a bit of flavor and spice to your campfire meals.
It seems everyone builds up an appetite when they’re camping. Have lots of snacks available to soothe those grumbly tummies.
Buy packaged popcorn or make your own and store in bags. Telling stories around the campfire and eating popcorn. A great way to end the day.
Chocolate, marshmallows, and graham crackers. There’s not one thing about S’mores that needs to be kept in the fridge. Good thing…a camping trip without this sweet treat just wouldn’t be complete.
Nuts, nuts, and more nuts. Always a healthy snack whether you’re at home or camping.
43. Dried fruit
Dried apricots and apples, dried cranberries, and raisins. A nice sweet snack that you can still consider healthy for the kids.
44. Fruit leather
Easy to buy and easy to make, fruit leather is a delicious snack that both adults and children love.
45. Trail mix
Make your own version of trail mix and store in small sealed containers or sealed bags. Trail mix is easy to take with you when you’re hiking, boating, or biking. Use a combination of nuts, dried fruit, shaved coconut, and small pieces of dark or milk chocolate.
46. Pudding cups
Not quite as healthy as trail mix, but okay now and then when your kids need something quick to keep hunger from taking over. These little individual pudding cups can keep kids from asking when it’s dinner time. Bring a few different flavors – chocolate, vanilla, and butterscotch.
47. Crackers and oatcakes
Spread peanut or almond butter on crackers and oatcakes. For a special snack, bring along a jar of Nutella and spread on the crackers along with peanut butter.
As you can see, eating well on your camping trip when you don’t have refrigeration is entirely possible. By bringing just the right foods and being a little creative, you and your family will be able to enjoy satisfying and yummy meals with very little effort.
So…now that you’ve got a bunch of meal and camping food ideas that don’t require refrigeration, you’re all set to pack up and hit the road.