Whether at home or while camping, there are times you just don’t want to cook! I don’t blame you. Actually, I’ve been there myself (numerous times). So to help, let me share with you these easy camping food ideas – no cooking on-site required.
Camping is a great way to spend time with your family and friends. It doesn’t matter if you’re camping in the woods, by the beach, or on a mountain- it’s always fun. Of course, one of the best parts of camping is all that delicious food you can eat!
Camp cooking can be challenging for some without their creature comforts from their home kitchen. Others want easy meal options so they aren’t spending all their time cooking camp meals. That’s why we’ve put together this list for easy camping food ideas that don’t require any cooking on-site. It’s a bit like picnic food really just add a tent and ice cooler instead of a picnic basket. I find that vision imagine all kinds of picnic AND camp food ideas.
No Cook Camping Meals
When it comes to what food to take camping, no cooking ideas should be considered. Why? First, you don’t have to spend all your time cooking on site. Secondly, they make great back up meals for when you can’t start your fire (rain, burn ban, or whatever reason) and cook a meal the way you intended.
Want more camp trip planning tips and tricks? I offer 50 easy ideas here.
These are easy to prepare meal ideas for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and dessert. These will give you more time to focus on what really matters: having fun!
No-Cook Camping Breakfast Ideas
Breakfast Ideas: Breakfast is the most important meal of the day but it can be challenging if you’re camping in an environment with no amenities or where there’s not much space available. These no cook meals are high in protein and ideal for car camping or backpacking. Most require no refrigeration too! So if you want to get an early start and go hiking with the kids, throw food in your pack for a backpacking breakfast on the trail. What do I recommend?
- Yogurt Parfaits – Your favorite yogurt topped with fresh or dried fruit, nuts, granola, muesli, etc.
- Yogurt Cups or Tubes
- Hard-boiled eggs (made at home or store-bought and stored in the cooler)
- Overnight oatmeal – create jar or containers at home, then add liquid the night before.
- One serving of overnight oats: 1/2 cup rolled oats, 1 tablespoon ground flaxseed, 2 teaspoons brown sugar, a pinch each of salt, and a dash of cinnamon. Lastly add in 1-2 tablespoons of favorite mix-ins (dried fruit, fresh fruit, nuts, pomegranate seeds, etc.) The night before add in 2/3 cup milk and 1/3 cup plain yogurt.
- Protein or granola bars like Kind Bars (also try my recipe from Granola bars)
- Breakfast pastries/ Pop-Tarts
- Open-faced sandwich with smashed avocado and sliced hard-boiled egg
- Bagels with cream cheese and smoked salmon
- Apple and peanut butter wrap on a whole wheat tortilla
- Butter croissants with sliced ham and cheese or butter and jam
- Fruit salad with shredded coconut and chopped nuts
- Protein shake
- Almond butter and honey on a rice cake or pita
- Trail mix– dried fruits, nuts, granola bars/ energy bars!
- Cinnamon toast crunch ~~or~ any flavor of cereal with milk. If you have some leftover popcorn from the night before that would be even better!
- Made ahead waffles with Nutella or maple syrup (my kids love this cold!)
- Banana bread or banana muffins – sliced with a smear of nut butter
Related: Get My tips on how to keep food cold while camping – these are great for keeping perishable foods safe even in the summer heat.
No Cook Camping Lunch Ideas
Lunch Ideas: Many days we aren’t near our campsite at lunchtime. We are often out exploring the trails, on the water, or just out seeing the sites. Instead of packing cooking equipment, an easy-packed lunch is usually our go-to. Here are some of our favorite no cook camping meals for lunch.
- Cold cut sandwich with sliced cheese, pickles, lettuce, and sliced tomato on whole wheat bread
- Canned tuna with crackers and cheese cubes
- Hard-boiled eggs made into deviled eggs with a bit of mayo and sweet pickle relish
- Ham and swiss on rye or pumpernickel bread topped with some whole grain mustard. You can add a bit of sauerkraut too for extra flavor!
- Edamame or sliced tofu in a sandwich bag with Furikake seasoning and sesame seeds. This is a great one for vegetarians! Add hummus or other dressing for dipping if you like.
- Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwiches
- Pressed Italian Sandwich – I make this own at home and plan it as the 1st night’s dinner. It actually tests 10X better once all the flavors meld together.
- Hummus and sliced veggies
- Pita sandwich with hummus and sliced tomato, zucchini, olives, lettuce, and feta cheese.
- Pre-made fruit smoothies
- Charcuterie board or homemade Lunchable with deli meats, hard cheeses or cheese cubes, fruit.
- Tortilla chips with 7 layer dip
- Sandwich wraps with pita bread or tortillas
- Your favorite pasta salad
- Prepared entree-style salads – chicken salad, cobb salad, caesar salad, etc.
- Three bean salad with shredded chicken
- Chicken fajita salad with shredded chicken, beans, salsa, shredded cheese, lettuce, olive, sour cream, and guacamole
- Walking tacos (cold or with warmed-up pre-cooked taco meat) – Precooked hamburger or ground turkey with taco seasoning, diced tomato, lettuce, cheese, and sour cream over tortilla chips or corn chips.
- Sushi or cushi bowl – California Rolls have cucumber, avocado, and crab with sushi rice.
- Antipasto salad – Chopped salami, pepperoni, mozzarella cheese, pepperoncini peppers, tomatoes, red onion, artichoke hearts, and greek or Italian dressing.
- Pita or flatbread pizzas with marinara sauce or pesto, shredded mozzarella, spinach, pepperoni or salami, olives, etc. ( We like to make these ahead of time and then eat cold. It’s basically cold pizza but for lunch.)
- Trail mix
- Beef Jerky, Summer sausage, Beef sticks
- Fresh fruit
The best foods are those that are easy to prepare that you and your fellow campers will actually eat. When I go camping, I like to bring foods that are delicious and fill me up. After a day outside, all that fresh air makes one hungry. On my camping meal, you’ll often like easy no cook camping foods like baked goods for breakfast, sandwiches and wraps for lunch, etc. For dinner, I love a snacking board with summer sausage, soft cheese, fruit, nuts, and crackers to enjoy around a campfire.
No Cooking Dinner Ideas
Dinner Ideas: Many of the easy camping meals you’d serve for lunch are good for dinner too. Here I am going to add a few more no onsite cooking ideas, but also a few that require boiling water or reheating to serve. I like options and hope you are finding plenty of them here.
- Cold fried chicken – I think fried chicken tastes just as good cold as it does hot. I almost always add a hearty splash of Cholula or Frank’s Hot Sauce too. This is best to eat the 1st or 2nd night.
- Leftovers – Whatever you’d eat at home as a cold leftover can be enjoyed outdoors camping too. It’s also a good way to clean at the home fridge and prevent things from going bad. We’ve enjoyed leftover fried rice, chicken and soba noodles with peanut sauce, pizza, rotisserie chicken, etc.
- Ramen Noodles – My kids would live off of these if I let them. But seriously, ramen instant noodles are a super easy meal that just requires to boil water.
- Miso soup – There are some really good instant miso soup products available. My favorite for camping is Tsubi Soup because it comes in a dehydrated cube with freeze-dried vegetables. Spicy Red Miso is my favorite.
- Canned meals – These are pre-cooked foods that are canned for easy transport. You could eat these cold, but I don’t recommend it. Just reheat on a camp stove or over a fire.
- Canned soup is the classic go-to
- Corned beef hash
- Canned pasta
- Canned meat
- Canned beans – Anyone for Beanie Weenies?
- Pre-cooked pasta and sauce – I really dislike canned pasta but find that the fresh pasta (deli case at the store) that takes a few minutes to heat through are delicious. Tortellini and ravioli are my two favorites with pesto sauce.
- Dehydrated meals – There are some great companies serving dehydrated meals for camping. You can read about a few we tried from Trailtopia here. Others we like include Mountain House and Food for the Soul. You can read more about healthy dehydrated meals here.
When it comes to boiling water on the trail or at the campsite quickly, I highly recommend these three set-ups. These are what we use most often ourselves.
No-Cook Camping Dessert Ideas
Dessert Ideas: In the summer, sometimes it’s hot enough that we don’t want to cook anything. That doesn’t mean we still can’t eat dessert! There should always be dessert to satisfy your sweet tooth! Here are a few of our favorite camping desserts without any cooking on-site needed.
- Ice Cream – Yes, you can bring ice cream camping. We do it all the time! Make your favorite flavor or buy a pint or two and store in insulated, double-walled food storage containers. I use this Adventure Series 18oz Food Jar from Stanley (compare prices at Stanley || Amazon ) It stays cold enough for dessert the first night or up to 12 hours.
- Banana with peanut butter or other nut butter. You can also sprinkle granola over it for crunch! Add some chocolate chips if you want to be decadent too.
- Pudding cups – store-bought or homemade and made up ahead of time then stored in plastic containers (think Jell-O instant pudding and whipped cream). You can also make homemade fruit-flavored pudding with sugar, milk, and gelatin.
- Walking Banana Pudding Bowls – a reader mentioned this and I really want to try it. A small bag of Nilla wafers crushed and added to a bowl with a pudding cup, sliced banana, and whipped cream.
- Pudding shot glasses – Jell-O Instant Pudding mixed in a plastic container then poured into cups or shot glasses to solidify. Top with whipped cream (or use the pre-made cans of whipped topping) plus chocolate chips if desired for a more decadent camp dessert.
- Strawberry Shortcake – When I was younger we would make strawberry shortcakes with sponge cake and whipped cream to carry in our cooler for dessert on the go. The best part about this recipe is that it doesn’t need any cooking or baking so you can save time by preparing it ahead of time.
- M&Ms in a jar – Fill mason jars (or other small glasses) with M&Ms and top off the container with whipped cream for an easy dessert that is portable.
- Apple cider doughnuts dipped into a chocolate or vanilla sauce are always welcome at my campsite. We’ve also used shelf-stable pudding cups to dip doughnuts in.
- Old fashioned sugar cones with sliced fruit, whipped cream, and caramel syrup swirl.
- Cookies, Brownies, Pie, Cake, etc – make it at home and buy at a local grocery store along the way.
- Cottage cheese topped with dried fruit (raisins, apricots, dates)
- Protein-packed peanut butter balls (try my recipe for No Bake Protein Bites or Peanut Butter Pretzel Bites)
With 58 easy recipes for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and dessert- you’re guaranteed to find a dish that is perfect for your next camping trip. These delicious ideas will save you time cooking so you can enjoy every minute of being outdoors.
Now that you have no excuses for not having a delicious meal while camping, don’t forget to share your favorite recipe with us in the comments. We’re looking forward to hearing about some of your most delectable camping dishes! Happy (camp) cooking and eating!