101 Non-Refrigerated Meals: Food Ideas for Camping

If you’re looking for food ideas for camping that don’t need refrigeration, we’ve got you covered!

We’ve been camping in hundreds of locations across the USA and even in Mexico. In that time, we’ve eaten a lot of different camping meals.

If you don’t have a fridge or a cooler, there’s still plenty of food you can bring.

We share it all below—along with a few tips for camp cooking.

Let’s dive in!

Table of Contents

    Tips for Camping Without a Refrigerator

    Before we dive head first into this massive list, I wanted to share a few tips with you that I’ve learned while camping over the years.

    Tip #1: If you purchase something that needs to be refrigerated after opening, plan on using it ASAP. While this tip can seem a bit obvious, there are tons of things that you purchase on the shelf that have “Refrigerate after opening” in tiny letters. Be on the lookout for this and keep in mind that if you cut up fresh fruit (or vegetables), they’ll need to be eaten quickly!

    Bonus: Check out these awesome camping snacks if you want even more non-refrigerated, easy options!

    Tip #2: Plan meals that won’t spoil quickly. When traveling and camping without a cooler, you’ll need to plan meals that won’t spoil if you don’t eat them within a day or two. Pasta and soup is a great meal that won’t spoil super quick (as well as celery and carrots)!

    Tip #3: Don’t forget your cooking equipment! Mixing bowls, tongs, knives, whisks, cast iron pans… all of these things are important when camping! Not to mention, garbage bags, ziplock bags, dish towels, and silverware are all important to bring along with you as well!

    Now, let’s get into some non-refrigerated camping food ideas!

    Non-Refrigerated Camping Food Ideas

    So, what are you able to buy from the store that isn’t perishable camping food? I’m glad you asked!

    Let’s go over all the basics – from canned meat to fresh vegetables, we’ve got you covered!

    Meat

    Canned meats are a great way to get protein and you typically don’t have to refrigerate them while on a camping trip!

    With that said, however, most of these should be refrigerated after opening (so we suggest you use the entire can in one sitting). Here’s what I suggest bringing:

    • Canned chicken
    • Canned fish (such as canned tuna and canned sardines)
    • Canned chili
    • Canned roast beef
    • Canned ham
    • Chicken packets
    • Summer sausage
    • Pepperoni (another great alternative is turkey pepperoni)
    • Precooked bacon (these can sometimes be found near the croutons in the salad aisle)
    • Bacon crumbles
    • Beef jerky (slim jims are great, too)

    Alternative Sources of Protein

    If you’re not a huge meat eater, don’t worry! There are plenty of other alternative sources of protein you can bring with you on your next camping trip:

    • Canned beans (chickpeas, lentils, the list goes on and on)
    • Canned soup (tomato soup and canned beef stew are great choices!)
    • Nuts
    • Peanut butter
    • Nut butter

    Milk

    Did you know that there are plenty of ways to bring milk with you on your camping trip (without access to a cooler)? If not, now you do:

    • Powdered milk (you can add water to powdered milk)
    • Shelf stable cartons of almond,soy, or oat milk (you can find these in the baked goods aisles of most grocery stores- but keep in mind that these should be refrigerated shortly after opening so make sure to use them quickly!)
    • Can of evaporated milk (perfect to add to a pasta dish)
    • Creamer packets (like the ones you get at diners)
    • Powdered creamer (this is an awesome alternative to half and half or milk that you’d typically put in your morning coffee)

    Eggs

    Eggs are a staple breakfast dish. Whether you want them scrambled or in an omelet, these won’t let you down:

    • Fresh eggs (did you know that eggs don’t need to be refrigerated? In the USA, eggs are washed and cooled before they’re able to be sold in most grocery stores. When this happens, the protective outer layer gets washed away making them unsafe to sit out. However, you are able to purchase eggs from local farmers that haven’t been washed yet – meaning you’re able to keep them out of the fridge!)
    • Powdered Eggs (these eggs are a great non refrigerated way to have omelets or scrambled eggs! You can typically purchase “whole egg” or “scrambled” powdered eggs, too)

    Cheese

    Bet you didn’t think you could bring cheese along with you on a camping trip! Turns out, some cheeses are able to survive without being in a refrigerator! Here’s what I recommend bringing:

    • Blocks of cheese (gouda and cheddar cheese is best – especially when it comes to making pizza over the campfire)
    • Grated parmesan cheese (a delicious addition to pasta and other camping meals)

    Fruit

    Keeping fruit in the fridge definitely extends its life, but that doesn’t mean you have to keep fruit cold! In fact, fresh fruits are a great snack to bring along while camping! I recommend you don’t cut your fruit beforehand, though! Here are some awesome fruit options:

    • Fruit cups
    • Dried fruit
    • Canned fruit
    • Fresh fruit (such as apples, kiwi, oranges, bananas, pineapple, etc)
    • Avocado
    • Black olives (these are great on campfire pizzas)

    Vegetables

    Similar to fruit, fresh veggies are often stored in the refrigerator. However, they don’t need to be put in the fridge to stay fresh! Here’s what I recommend bringing:

    • Dried beans (these are awesome when you’re looking for non refrigerated camping meals)
    • Canned veggies (things like corn, green beans, etc)
    • Fresh veggies (such as carrots, broccoli, celery, potatoes, cabbage, etc)
    • Onions
    • Corn on the cob
    • Canned vegetables (such as asparagus, artichokes, etc)

    Grains

    Some of the best camping food ideas include grains. From pancakes to quinoa, here’s what I recommend bringing along with you:

    • Quinoa
    • Pasta
    • Rice (flavored rice is great, too)
    • Couscous
    • Instant Potatoes (boxed scalloped potatoes are great, too)
    • Boxed mac and cheese
    • Corned beef hash
    • Cereal
    • Oatmeal
    • Pancake mix (and waffle mix)

    Bread

    While I typically don’t recommend bringing a loaf of bread with you while camping (they sweat inside the bag if they’re not cooled and get smashed more often than not), there are great bread alternatives that I do bring! Such as:

    • Dinner rolls
    • Premade pizza dough
    • Tortillas
    • Pita bread
    • Naan bread

    Snacks & Desserts

    Are you really camping if you don’t partake in the classic s’mores tradition? Finding awesome snacks to bring with you while hiking (and desserts to indulge in after a long day) is one of my favorite things. Here are a few of my go-to options:

    • Poptarts
    • Granola bars
    • Raisins (especially yogurt covered raisins)
    • Chips
    • Crackers
    • Pre-popped popcorn
    • Pudding
    • Applesauce
    • Trail mix
    • Graham crackers
    • Marshmallows
    • Chocolate bars
    • Pre-made brownies (and cookies)
    • Muffins
    • Waffle cones

    Condiments

    Condiments greatly contribute towards camping meals! They’re able to bring the most basic meals to an incredibly tasty meal! Some of my favorite condiments to bring are:

    • Butter
    • Olive oil
    • Honey
    • Maple syrup
    • BBQ sauce
    • Salsa
    • Pasta sauce
    • Condiment packets (you can get these from any drive thru – individual packets of ketchup, mustard, mayo, jelly, and more go a long way)
    • Salt, pepper, and other basic seasonings

    Drinks

    While water, beer, and soda are typically the go-to camping drinks, there are plenty of other options! If you don’t have a cooler with you, here are a few non perishable drink options:

    • Tea
    • Juice boxes
    • Water flavor packets
    • Hot chocolate
    • Coffee

    Now that you have a general idea of what camping foods to bring, let’s dive into some recipes!

    Non-Refrigerated Camping Meals

    5 Breakfast Inspired Camping Meals

    You know what they say – breakfast is the most important meal of the day! Whether you plan on hiking, kayaking, or just sight-seeing, here are five breakfast camping recipes that I absolutely love.

    1. French Toast

    I’m a huge fan of French toast. Whether it’s frozen, made with thick pieces of bread, or cut into sticks. This recipe from Fresh Off the Grid explains how to make perfect French toast in a cast iron! Top with strawberries, whipped cream, maple syrup, or whatever your heart desires.

    2. Pancakes

    Let’s face it – pancakes are one of the most delicious meals you could eat for breakfast (especially when paired with pre cooked bacon).

    Looking for a super simple pancake recipe? Check out this one from Paul Kirtley! If you don’t feel like following a recipe, you could always buy some pancake mix from the store and follow the directions on the package!

    3. Breakfast Pizza

    Why not start a new camping tradition and serve pizza for breakfast? With pre-made pizza dough, some cheddar cheese, powdered eggs, and toppings of your choice – you’ve got your new favorite campfire breakfast meal! Check out how to make perfect breakfast pizza in a cast iron everytime here.

    Bonus: Are you a pizza lover? Be sure to check out our article on 3 easy, mouthwatering campfire pizzas here!

    4. Shakshuka

    Shakshuka is a fairly common breakfast dish, but there are so many people out there that have never even heard of it! All you need to make this delicious breakfast is a cast iron skillet and an open flame.

    With poached eggs sitting on top of a harissa-spiced tomato sauce, this breakfast dish is perfect for any chilly morning camping! Be sure to check out this recipe by our friends over at Love and Lemons.

    5. Overnight Oats

    If you’re looking for some make ahead camping meals, overnight oats are one of the best! While you could pop them into a cooler the night before, you definitely don’t need to. Top your overnight oats with fresh fruit, dried fruit, granola, peanut butter, chocolate chips, or alone!

    Check out these peanut butter overnight oats by Minimalist Baker for some inspiration!

    5 Lunch Inspired Camping Meals

    Accidently skip breakfast and need something to fill you up before dinner? Looking for something to bring with you while adventuring? These lunch meals will be perfect for your camping trips!

    1. Pigs in a Blanket

    Pigs in a blanket are typically made with hot dogs (or cocktail wieners) and pre-made crescent dough. However, this recipe for campfire pigs in a blanket from Southern Kitchen is perfect for an easy camping lunch!

    Simply wrap your hot dog in a portion of the crescent dough and roast over the campfire! Top it off with your favorite condiment (spicy brown mustard or BBQ sauce is delicious on these hot dogs) and enjoy!

    2. Dutch Oven Mac and Cheese

    Mac and cheese is one of the easiest (and delicious) camping food ideas on this list (if I say so myself). This recipe requires a few more ingredients than most – macaroni, cheese, milk, butter, spices… But, it comes together in a dutch oven in just about 20 minutes and it’s one that’s sure to be a crowd pleaser (especially for kids)!

    Interested in making this one pot camping meal on your next trip? Check out the recipe from our friends over at Simple Bites!

    3. Grilled Cheese

    Looking for an easy to make lunch? Look no further than these campfire grilled cheese sandwiches! There are two ways you can go about making grilled cheese while camping.

    One method is with a pie iron. Line the pie iron with parchment paper, place the sandwich in between, and grill over the campfire for 4-5 minutes. Another way to make these sandwiches while camping is by placing your sandwich in a foil pack and cooking it over a grilling gate.

    The cook time should remain the same either way you go! Check out this recipe from Let’s Camp S’more to check out both camping methods!

    4. Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwiches

    This lunch brings me back to my childhood. Grilled peanut butter and jelly sandwiches are quick to make (and taste amazing). This recipe from Land O Lakes takes the average pb&j sandwich to the next level by grilling it (which can simply be done over a campfire)!

    5. Campfire Nachos

    This is one of the simplest camping food ideas on the list! Nachos are so freaking delicious as it is, but when you cook them over a campfire in a dutch oven? Can you say heaven?

    This recipe from our friends over at Fresh Off the Grid explains how to make the most delicious campfire nachos you’ll ever have. While they have a list of ingredients that they use, don’t be afraid to change it up a bit to fit your favorite toppings on top!

    10 Dinner Inspired Camping Meals

    The moment you might have been waiting for… dinner! There are so many camping food ideas when it comes to dinner, but these 10 are some of my favorites.

    1. Dutch Oven Lasagna

    When we first saw this recipe from Fresh Off the Grid we were impressed – it’s not everyday you see someone cooking lasagna at camp!

    This one pot recipe is sure to impress the whole family. It’s made in one pot with layers of pasta, cheese, spinach, and sauce – how could you not want this while camping!?

    2. Campfire Chili

    Have you ever made chili over a campfire in a cast iron? If not, you’re seriously missing out! This one pot wonder is incredibly versatile, so don’t feel like you need to follow a recipe!

    But, if you’re looking for one, we suggest checking out this one by our friends over at Quiche My Grits. You can add potatoes, black beans, corn, veggies, herbs… whatever your heart desires really! This recipe comes together in a little over an hour and requires very little attention.

    3. Pizza

    Does anything sound better than making a fresh pizza at camp? When we saw this recipe from Champagne Tastes, I knew I had to try it.

    All you really need for this recipe is some store-bought pizza dough, cheese, sauce, and any toppings you can think of (veggies are the best, if you ask me)!

    4. Soup with Dinner Rolls

    Canned soup might not be high on your list of camping foods to make, but it should be! It’s one of the best hot camping meals that takes minutes to come together. Use any canned soup you love (tomato, chicken noodle, you can even use canned chili) and grab a package of pre-made dinner rolls (or pita bread).

    If you’re looking for a homemade soup recipe to make at camp, check out this one from Guiding Stars.  

    5. Baked Potatoes

    These baked potatoes from Happy Foods Tube are seriously making my mouth water… Not only are they soft and smoky on the inside, they come together in no time and are one of those food ideas that require no supervision!

    Serve them up with some canned green beans, baked beans, or top them with canned chili and some tortilla chips! Regardless of how you top these, this is one of my favorite camping meal ideas.

    6. Chicken Enchilada Roll Ups

    Looking for a way to utilize that canned chicken you brought with you? Canned foods sometimes get a bad rep, but these chicken enchilada roll ups might make you think differently!

    This recipe by Sugar Apron is simple enough to replicate by using canned chicken – and it’s one of those recipes that you have to try while camping. It’s an easy, delicious camping meal!

    7. Peak Refuel Chicken Coconut Curry

    Have you ever had a freeze dried meal before? Chances are, probably not! These meals never require refrigeration and they’re great to bring along on camping trips.

    This coconut chicken curry is calling my name and knowing that I don’t even need to dirty my cast iron pan to make this saves a few minutes when cleaning up!

    8. Canned Pasta

    When was the last time you had canned pasta? We’re talking Beefaroni, SpaghettiOs, Ravioli… all the childhood classics!

    Canned pasta is a great way to get some food in you while camping. Dump it out in your camp stove, add some hot water to make it a bit more “soupy” (if you’d like), and you’ve found a new favorite camping food.

    9. Canned Tuna Sandwiches

    While canned tuna can be a delicious snack with crackers, these grilled tuna sandwiches from Leite’s Culinaria might be your new favorite meal to eat around the campfire!

    I don’t know about you, but when I ate these growing up I always thought tuna salad was a bit bland. Thankfully, I no longer have to eat bland food and can season these sandwiches up however I see fit!

    10. Beans & Weenies

    I grew up eating baked beans and weenies. It was pretty much a staple in my household! It’s simple to make, absolutely delicious, and is one of my favorite camping food recipes to make.

    You don’t really need to follow a recipe for this one (as there are canned beans and weenies you can buy), but if you want to, check out this one by Busy in Brooklyn!

    5 Dessert Inspired Camping Meals

    Let’s get to the best part… dessert!

    1. S’mores

    Nothing says “We’re going camping!” quite like s’mores! Our friends over at GudGear know how to make a good s’more. They have 7 recipe variations (all of which are family favorites).

    Their caramel s’mores are a personal favorite of mine (your average s’more but with some caramel sauce… to die for). Traditional s’mores are great and all, but sometimes you need a change (you can even spread peanut butter on graham crackers for a Reese’s inspired s’more)!

    2. Campfire Banana Boats

    Our friends over at Fresh Off the Grid have done it again… These campfire banana boats are a family favorite (especially with kids) and are incredibly easy to make.

    With tons of variations on how to make these, there’s no question in our mind that these banana boats will be a must-have every camping trip! Chocolate chips, dried fruit, crushed granola bars, peanut butter… the list goes on and on!

    3. Pineapple Upside-down Skewers

    Pineapple upside-down cake is amazing on its own… but on a skewer over the campfire? We’re hooked! Karrie from Happy Money Saver has crafted the most perfect camping recipe for one of our favorite cakes.

    Premade pound cake, pineapple chunks, and cherries are the perfect trio in our mind – we really hope you check this recipe out!

    4. Dessert Pizza

    Sick of the pizza recipes yet? How could you be when they look this good? This dessert pizza from our friends at Spaceships and Laser Beams are seriously tempting us to make our own dessert pizza immediately!

    Add canned fruit, chocolate, marshmallows, nutella, or whatever you’d like and your sweet tooth craving will be satisfied!

    5. Campfire Strawberries

    Getting sick of the same old s’mores? You’ll love these campfire strawberries from Delish! All you’ll need to make these are some strawberries and marshmallow fluff.

    Simply pierce the strawberries with a sewer, dip in marshmallow fluff, and roast over the fire!These are sure to be a crowd pleaser (and they’re perfect for kids!).

    Final Thoughts

    We hope this list has helped you realize that it doesn’t take much time (or energy) to cook camping meals. It can be tough to find food ideas that require no refrigeration, but we’re happy to help in any way we can!

    What’s your favorite camping food to make when you’re on a camping trip? Leave a comment down below to let us know!

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