You can take plenty of food items on your camping trip when you have a cooler at hand. But then it’s not always practical to carry a cooler along, or you may not have access to the ice that will need refilling. Backpackers and hikers essentially have to give up this luxury, and car campers can choose to forego a cooler as well. Here are some camping food ideas that need no refrigeration. It’s likely that you already know some of these, and you may find some more ideas to tickle your palate!
14 No Cook Camping Meals For Your Trip
1. Coffee And Tea
Depending on your preference for either beverage, you can carry along small batches of coffee or tea. Tea bags and even loose leaf tea can fit in a ziplock bag and needs no refrigeration. The same goes for coffee. Carrying along packets of instant coffee is a good idea.
If you love your coffee too much to go instant, you can consider portable manual coffee grinders and stovetop coffee makers. That will increase the weight you carry, but hey, people have done far more things for decent coffee!
2. Dried Milk Powder
Milk won’t stay without refrigeration, but dried milk will last your entire trip. Just be sure to take enough. Dried milk is also useful and great for camping breakfast ideas, so this is something to include in your gear. Some people also suggest evaporated milk. It’s a good option, but it must be refrigerated as soon as the can is opened. Unless you plan to finish the can in a few hours, choose dried milk over evaporated milk.
3. Breakfast Cereal
Breakfast cereal goes along great for camping. Several of the cereals available can be eaten without additives. If you prefer to have cereal with milk, well, get that milk powder.
4. Energy Bars And Granola Bars
Energy bars and Granola bars make a good snack, they’re also decent for breakfast. It helps that they’re easy to pack – place them in your pocket or backpack’s snack pocket. That makes them easy to access for whenever you need a snack.
Chocolates are awesome. Carry them along and you have a delicious snack always available. A candy bar is great for this. Just be sure you aren’t in an area where the chocolate can melt. Oh… that reminds me, hot chocolate is pretty good too.
Cookies are lightweight, delicious, and easy to carry. Get store-bought cookies, or whip up a batch at home. Put some in a ziplock bag, and you can have them available for your hiking trip! Cookies are available in all kinds of flavors, so you have a lovely variety to choose from.
Jam can last for a long time, and all it asks of you is to store it somewhere cool, dry, and away from sunlight. It’s great for breakfast if you’re bringing along bread.
8. Peanut Butter Or Nut Butters
Who doesn’t like peanut butter? It is also very convenient to carry and easy to store. You can enjoy it with a variety of food items, or just go directly at the butter. If peanut butter isn’t your style, take your pick from any of the other butters available.
Almond butter is a delicious, protein-rich option that many people prefer and love. It certainly is effective and awesome. Plus, peanut butter and almond butter are also available in small packets, which make them convenient to take along to your camping trip.
Apart from being delicious and an excellent companion to many food items, honey has the distinction of not spoiling easily. You could use it simply as a sweetener for your beverages, or find more uses depending on your culinary interests.
Bread can go along with a variety of meals, or you can have it with some butter, jam, or whatever is at hand. It’s versatile, and there are a few things have been nearly as awesome since sliced bread became a thing! Bread will last several days, just be sure to pack it right and keep it away from sunlight.
The favored fruit of many, bananas are easy to carry and can be both fulfilling and delicious. Unless you’re in particularly hot weather, bananas can last a favorably long time for your trip. On the other hand, if you are looking at warm weather, do not expect bananas to last too long. Backpackers and hikers would need to make storage arrangements for bananas to ensure they don’t end up being squished. Bananas don’t respond well to any pressure or bruising, so backpackers may want to put some extra thought into carrying bananas with them.
12. Fresh Fruits
Here’s the problem with most fruits – they spoil. However, like the bananas I mentioned above, some fruits can last a fairly long time. You have a decent number of choices in this regard when you’re car camping, since you can conveniently pack and store the fruits. Hikers, on the other hand, would probably be better off avoiding fruits. Unless of course, if you can find a convenient way to carry them. Even so, hikers have to focus more on calories, so fruits may not necessarily make the cut for your trip.
13. Fresh Vegetables
Many vegetables can last a decent time out of the refrigerator. But they face the same problems as the fruits mentioned above. They spoil quickly. And again, hikers may choose to avoid them simply because they spoil quickly and are tougher to pack into a backpack.
14. Muesli And Oatmeal
Muesli and Oatmeal are both high-fiber, high-energy foods that make for an amazing breakfast for camping. They’re easy to carry and easy to prepare. All you need for oatmeal is hot water. Personally, I prefer the pre-sweetened and flavored oatmeal packages, but take your pick. If you have unsweetened oatmeal, you could always pour-in some honey. The same is true for muesli, although it goes better with milk. The powdered milk might come in handy in such situations.
14 Camping Food Ideas For A Full Meal You Can Enjoy
Probably the world’s most popular grain, rice is an amazing companion for a camping trip. Rice is easy to store, it quicks easily, and goes along well with practically anything you’re eating. All you need for rice to be ready is boiling water. A few minutes, and it is good to go. Depending on your culinary skills, you can also add some food items and perhaps even some veggies to get your rice ready to go. I don’t conventionally recommend veggies to hikers, but rice is good for practically everyone.
2. Dried Lentils And Beans
Beans and lentils are also amazing foods, especially when you pair them with rice. Much like rice, they’re easy to carry and don’t take much space. Just remember, lentils and beans are a bit tougher to cook as compared to rice. A smart approach is to let your lentils/beans stay soaked in water overnight, where possible. That way, they will be easier to soften and prepare when you start cooking them next morning.
3. Canned Beans
Ah, stereotypical food of the camper! Canned beans are a great food when you need something quick. They’re easily available, easy to carry, and easy to cook. There’s no mess, all you have to do is open the can and heat up the ingredients.
4. Canned Tuna
Canned Tuna is a hot favorite amongst campers and hikers alike. They’re easy to carry and quick to prepare. Plus, you can carry along a few packets and have tuna complement every meal you have. If you choose to go with Tuna, make sure you also have a few packets of Mayonnaise for company!
5. Herbs And Spices
Carrying along some herbs and spices won’t add much to the weight you have. They will, however, make a significant impact on your food. Keep the spices flowing!
6. Mac And Cheese
Macaroni and Cheese is not glamorous, but it is a pretty good food item that can be prepared quickly. Given our general appreciation of Mac and Cheese, I’m sold on the idea.
7. Instant Noodles
Following in the same footsteps of Mac and Cheese, Instant Noodles too make a simple and good meal. They’re as easy to prepare and transport, so if you prefer to take the noodles way, you can enjoy these for a meal.
Cheese isn’t as useful a companion without refrigeration. However, hard cheese can manage to last a couple of days without being placed in a refrigerator. Cheddar is a good choice to take along for your no refrigeration trip. It is one of the better camping dinner ideas. I must add, carry only the amount you can use up on your first day. Enjoy a good meal, but don’t risk eating non-refrigerated cheese the second day.
9. Instant Potatoes
Packaged mashed potatoes or instant potatoes will give more flavor and taste to your meal. Carrying regular potatoes isn’t much trouble either, they don’t care about refrigeration. You get more choices for your meals. If you’re no cook, it’s still a good meal. If you know your way around food, you can do wonders with potatoes.
10. Bagels And Buns
Bagels and buns can last 3-4 days without refrigeration. Just be sure to get them fresh before you start your camping trip. There are plenty of things to do here, but the most popular option is to use those Tuna you have in your bag and make a nice sandwich. Don’t forget that mayonnaise either!
11. Dehydrated Meals
If you don’t put much stock in your capabilities as a chef but would still like to enjoy a good meal, dehydrated meals could come to your rescue. They’re available in a large variety of options and flavors. All you have to do is add hot water, and you could be enjoying a very decent meal.
Another similar item to consider are the MREs. Meals, Ready to Eat (MRE) were originally designed for military use and are available commercially as well. It’s a decent meal, and there is a good variety of foods available. MREs are nutritious and a lot less hassle than several other options. I wouldn’t mind taking these on a hiking trip.
Parboiled pasta is a joy and a treat while camping. It is a straightforward delicacy that’s one of the better camping lunch ideas. Any cook worth her/his salt has a ton of things and changes to make to pasta so it becomes an excellent meal. But yeah, even parboiled pasta isn’t too bad if all you want is a quick meal.
Couscous is easy to store, carry, and re-hydrates within a few minutes. It’s a worthy alternative if you don’t enjoy rice, and certainly one you should try. The added advantage is that you don’t need so much to cook couscous, as you need to re-hydrate it. Simply add boiling water, and it will be ready to eat in 15 minutes or so.
14. Canned Soups
Pre-made canned soup. A classic and dependable meal ready at the convenience of campers!
10 Non Perishable Foods And Snacks For Camping Fun
Jerky is available in a practically endless array of flavors, and is a worthy snack companion for any hiker and camper. Easy to store and easy to carry, it’s a favored snack amongst hikers and backpackers. Having something to chew on as you hike through the trail is both fun and enjoyable. As an understated benefit, jerky also replenishes some of the salt a hiker’s body may be losing to sweating.
2. Trail Mix
Trail mix is popular with camping and hiking enthusiasts alike. Again, there are tons of varieties, and you get something healthy and filling to chew as a snack. You could buy some right off the store shelf, or make your own trail mix. If you choose to make some at home, pay special attention to your grocery list and ensure you get everything right. Trail mix is a bit more complicated than it looks.
Salted, plain, roasted, or something else… nuts are another healthy and high-energy snack to munch on. Take your pick from individual nuts available, or get a pack of various nuts combined. Personally, I prefer to mix the nuts and trail mix. One less bag to carry, and more of healthy snacks to enjoy.
4. Dried Fruits
Dried fruits are another set of amazing snacks with excellent variety available. Dried apricots, cranberries, and apples are pretty common. Raisins are practically synonymous to this genre. One thing all of them have in common is that they taste delicious. This is another thing I’ll often add to the trail mix, though not always. I prefer dried fruits on their own, though that’s really a personal preference and there shouldn’t be any inhibition to adding them to the trail mix.
Can’t talk about camping snacks without talking about s’mores! For many, these are practically a tradition, and continue to be loved for their deliciousness. S’mores couldn’t care less about the absence of a fridge, and that works perfectly in our favor!
6. Crackers / Graham Crackers
Crackers make for wonderful snacks. Pair them with spreads or peanut butter, and you have one of the most beloved snacks in your hand. Enjoy and savor that deliciousness.
Car campers can take popcorns along easily. However, hikers can’t really carry a bag simply because of the volume that popcorns have. It isn’t that tough to make popcorn over an open fire. This recipe details how to make popcorn, and it works beautifully. By carrying just a few grains with them, hikers can enjoy popcorn whenever the mood strikes.
8. Pudding Cups
Pudding Cups may not be exactly healthy, but who said you couldn’t pamper yourself a bit! Also, they’re great if you have kids along with you while camping. They certainly will appreciate the “thoughtfulness” in letting them enjoy pudding cups!
9. Pop Tarts
A little treat for your breakfast and snacks, Pop Tarts are amazing no cook camping meals to carry along. They are lightweight and have a good shelf life.
Muffins you say? On a camping trip? Well, why not! They won’t go along for hikers, but those on a car camping trip certainly can avail this little privilege.
Miscellaneous But Useful Items To Carry For Your Food
There are some popular food items that I didn’t include in the selection above. These are mostly common ingredients. There’s a good chance you will need at least one of these with you when it is time to prepare your meal.
- Sugar packets: You are likely to need sugar for your tea/coffee or other preparations. Don’t forget to take these packets along.
- Salt: This one’s pretty much self-explanatory. You need salt if you intend to do any cooking.
- Oil: Cooking oil will make preparing your meals better, and you’ll have the option to consider a wider variety of meals to enjoy. You could even whip up some pancakes!
- Sauce(s) And Ketchups: Depending on your taste preference, carrying small packets of sauce and/or ketchup can greatly enhance the taste of several dishes. Another product worthy of consideration is soy sauce.
- Mayonnaise: A condiment that is practically necessary for salads, chips, and sandwiches. If you’re carrying tuna along for a meal, show extra love to your mayonnaise packets.
- Butter: Regular butter doesn’t necessarily need refrigeration. However, if the outside temperature is high enough, it can get all greasy and melt. Even if the ambient temperature is suitable enough to carry butter, make it a point to put it in an airtight Tupperware box.
A Few Things To Remember About Food And Camping
There are a handful of rules to keep in mind about food and camping. Without going into too much detail, here’s a few pointers to always keep in mind.
- Keep Your Food Away From Your Tent: In most circumstances, you don’t want your food inside your tent. It isn’t easy to odor proof it, and there’s a chance some animal will come sniffing for your food. While people usually think of bears in this scenario, rodents and raccoons are as much of a problem. These smaller animals are more likely to try to gnaw through your tent to reach for food.
- Storing Food Near The Campsite: Most people will suggest that you keep your food at a safe distance from your tent/campsite. Hanging food is the most popular thing to do. Also consider other options like Bear Canisters to better store your food.
- Plastic Boxes vs Ziploc Bags For Camping: Most people will intuitively reach for plastic or Tupperware boxes to carry their food items. When you’re hiking or backpacking, think of Ziploc bags first. If an item or product can be as conveniently stored in the Ziploc bag, skip the Tupperware.
Enjoying Your Food Without Worrying About Refrigeration
Having a cooler at hand makes things easier, but refrigeration isn’t necessary for good meals while camping. As Pink Floyd once said, we don’t need no refrigeration (or something to that effect). It isn’t that difficult to enjoy good camping food ideas and using non perishable foods to get great meals out of the camping experience. All without using a cooler. I’ll miss my beer, but if push comes to shove, at least there’s a decent chance of enjoying camping and meals without depending on refrigeration. Also, there’s bourbon.