Most people automatically think about packing the cooler when they start planning their camping trip and camping meals. Just think if you didn’t have to worry about lugging huge coolers or cramming one more item in your RV fridge? My solution – choose more camping foods that require no refrigeration! Read on for tons of camping food ideas that won’t need a refrigerator or cooler.
Okay, before you think I’m crazy, I am not saying that you should NOT take a cooler or any perishable camping food. I just know what a pain it is to take more than one cooler and keep if full of ice (or buy an expensive cooler to keep it from melting), Even if you have the luxury of a refrigerator in your camper, it can be hard to find enough room in it if you are camping for a long time and/or have a big family.
Taking these camping food items that don’t need to be refrigerated or kept cool will make your camping trip easier and easier means more fun! Some of these suggestions will be no brainers, but hopefully you’ll find some ideas for your camping meals.
I wasn’t sure if it would be easier for you if I listed foods by meals or by categories/type. Since many foods can be ate at different meals, I decided to try to list the foods together by type as best as I could. Plus I’ve added some camping meals ideas in my list!
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Table of Contents
Camping Foods That Don’t Need To Be Refrigerated
Tip: Want to do some grocery shopping at home for your camping trip? Some of these pictures and words are links to the items on Amazon. Start clicking and get your camping food delivered to your door!
1. Fresh fruit is an excellent and healthy choice for camping food and snacks. Apples, oranges, watermelons, pineapple, and cantaloupes all keep out of the refrigerator. I prefer fruit cold but many people don’t. One of our favorite local campgrounds is near a farmers’ market, and we love to get a watermelon or cantaloupe to have with our camping meals. It’s kinda one of those camping food traditions for us.
2. Canned fruit and fruit cups are another option. Canned fruit is quick and easy as there is no cutting or prep involved. Just open and eat! Canned fruit is also a good choice for making camping desserts like cobblers.
3. Dried and dehydrated fruit is almost like candy! It is healthy, lightweight and takes up hardly any room.
4. Fresh veggies are a great addition to your camping meals. They make a perfect side to your meat or main dish or have a veggie plate and go meatless for a meal. Potatoes, corn on the grill, veggies on kabobs, added to dutch oven stews and roasts, or in foil packs over hot coals all sound delicious! Raw carrots are a great, crunchy snack or side with lunch.
5. Canned vegetables like green beans, peas, carrots, potatoes, and corn are super easy to prepare and add to camping meals. Mix several different veggies – corn, diced potatoes, carrots, green beans, diced tomatoes and tomato sauce for soup in the dutch oven.
6. Dehydrated potatoes and hashbrowns make a great side dish with your camping meals. I usually take a pack of instant potatoes with us.
7. Canned chicken can be used on sandwiches, wraps, or in soups and casseroles in the dutch oven.
8. Canned tuna or tuna packs are another easy camping food idea. We love the tuna packs for lunch. The ones that are already seasoned and flavored are an added bonus.
9. Don’t forget canned salmon for salmon patties.
Speaking of fish… If you are camping where you can go fishing, you can have fresh fish. But don’t count on it just in case you don’t catch anything!
10. Is SPAM really a meat or something else???? My son and husband like SPAM, especially if it is fried. Me… not so much!
11. Cured ham is a delicious dinner or is great at breakfast.
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12. Summer sausage can be a main entree with some veggies or have it as a snack. You could slice it and saute it with some fresh peppers and onions for an easy skillet camping meal.
13. Most people consider jerky a snack, but I eat it as a meat for my meal too. Have you tried bacon jerky? It is good and would be tasty at breakfast with some fruit.
14. A loaf of sandwich bread is a staple for most people. Make sandwiches, toast, or eat a slice with your meal.
15. Muffins, either homemade or store bought, are great snacks or breakfast items.
16. Bagels are great by themselves or with fruit.
17. Rolls can be eaten with canned meat or as an addition to your meal.
18. Cornbread can be made at home and brought to the campground. It is great with soup, chili, beans or really any meal.
19. Tortillas make great wraps for the canned chicken. Add raw veggies or sauteed peppers and onions.
20. Pita bread, stuffed with chicken or tuna, is good and requires no cooking.
21. Canned soup and stews – I love soup, especially on those camping trips when the weather is cold.. There are tons of varieties of soup. These are my husband’s favorites! All you have to do is heat it over the fire or on your camping stove.
22. Canned Chili – I prefer homemade chili, but canned chili tastes pretty good after a long day of adventure. Add some fresh jalapenos and you’ll warm up on your cold weather camping trip.
23. Canned Pasta – Chef Boyardee may not be the best chef around, but canned pasta and spaghetti are popular with the kiddos.
24. Dry Pasta makes an easy camping meal of meatless spaghetti – just add a jar or can of spaghetti sauce after cooking and draining the noodles. You could add fresh chopped onions, peppers, and mushrooms.
25. Spaghetti sauce is needed for that meatless spaghetti.
26. Rice is a great filler to meals and casseroles. You can use dry rice or minute rice, just factor in prep time accordingly.
27. You can also buy flavored rice in pouches that are easier to prepare. Combine a red beans and rice with summer sausage for a camping meal that you didn’t have to refrigerate.
28. Dry beans are cheap and easy. They will need to be soaked and have to cook longer, which is no problem in a dutch oven.
Need a dutch oven for your camping trip? Check out this post – The Best Dutch Ovens for Camping.
29. Canned beans are even easier. Baked beans, chili beans, pinto beans…..
30. Mac and Cheese is a family favorite. Get the kind with the cheese pouches so all you have to do is boil and drain your noodles, add the cheese, and eat. Easy peasey!
31. Crackers – saltines, buttery rounds like Ritz, wheat crackers. cheese and peanut butter crackers in packs – pick your favorite. Dip them in your soup or chili, crumble them on top of canned chicken and rice casseroles, or eat them plain.
32. Peanut butter and nut butters make good sandwiches or spread it on crackers.
Individual packs of nut butters are really convenient.
33. Cereal is an easy breakfast. Healthy or sugary – the choice is yours. If you are camping as a family just take a full size box. Individual boxes stay fresh and don’t take up as much room if you are camping by yourself or as a couple. Do you think the individual boxes are expensive? Just fill up a zipper baggie or reuseable container with a serving of cereal at home.
34. Canned milk can be used in your cereal, but some may not think it tastes very good. It you also be used in recipes that call for milk.
35. Powered milk may be a better option for your family. Just add water. I think it tastes fine, just more like skim milk rather than whole milk.
36. Oatmeal is a tried and true camping favorite for a warm breakfast. Most are easy to prepare with just hot water. Add fresh or dried fruit for more flavor.
37. Pancake mix is available in varieties that only require water. Cook them in your skillet over hot coals, on a camping stove, or on a grill like this favorite. Add fruit or bacon jerky for a delicious breakfast.
38. Don’t forget the syrup for your pancakes. You can also add a little syrup to your baked beans to sweeten them up.
39. Biscuit mix is also available in varieties that only require water. Mix them and “bake” them in your dutch oven.
40. Honey is great on toast ,sandwiches, or biscuits. Local honey is our favorite. Our grandsons are picky about honey – they won’t eat certain ones and prefer one particular local honey best.
41. Jelly , like honey, is perfect on toast, sandwiches, or in some biscuits made in the dutch oven.
42. Chips scan be served with sandwiches or as a snack. Chips are my weakness!
43. Salsa and tortilla chips disappear with my gang around. The hotter, the better for me. Use salsa with canned chicken in tortilla wraps too.
44. Processed cheese like Cheez Whiz for nachos. Garnish them with fresh peppers, onions, and tomatoes.
45. Nuts are another crunchy favorite. At least they are healthier than chips! I always stash some in my day pack when hiking too.
47. Marshmallows toasted over the fire is a camping tradition. Do you like yours lightly toasted or black?
48. Graham crackers are a great snack and a necessary ingredient for traditional s’mores.
49. Speaking of s’mores….you’ve got to have chocolate! You may want to eat it the first day so it doesn’t melt.
50. Cookies are an easy sweet treat. They are food…junk food!
51. Granola bars and energy bars can be a good snack. Some are nutritious enough for a quick meal.
52. Pop Tarts are another kid favorite. I can’t believe how many flavors you can buy now!
53. Condiment packs are handy and don’t have to be refrigerated. (Umm, I wonder why they don’t) I save extra from restaurants to take camping. You can also buy them.
54. Dehydrated backpacking meals are super easy to prepare and taste pretty good. I do think it could be expensive buying them to feed a family when other, cheaper options exist.
Make Your Own Non Refrigerated Camping Food
Have you considered dehydrating your own food? You can make jerky and dried fruit at a fraction of the cost of store bought . You can even dehydrate meat like lean ground beef to take camping. You don’t have to get an expensive dehydrator. Mine is an old Mr. Coffee dehydrator and works fine. Check out this super affordable one.
Healthy Camping Food That Doesn’t Need to Be Refrigerated
If this list of non refrigerated camping foods is making you cringe with the addition of processed, packaged foods, don’t forget I included some healthier options. Opt for fruits and veggies, canned meat, homemade muffins, tortilla wraps, nuts etc. to create your camping meals and snacks.
Let me know some of your best ideas for creating camping meals with foods you don’t have to refrigerate. Have you ever camped and took only non refrigerated foods? It is possible – backpackers do it all the time!
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