50+ Non-Refrigerated Meals: Food Ideas For Camping

50+ Non-Refrigerated Meals: Food Ideas For Camping

Have you ever been camping and lived off trail mix, cliff bars, and beef jerky? 

I sure have, and I can’t say my body thanked me for it. It’s easy to think that these are the only foods that are practical to bring along when you don’t have a camping fridge or want to carry an ice chest. 

We have done a deep dive to bring you some of the best non-refrigerated camping meals to help you stay energized and beat the processed-food comas that sometimes come along with camping.

So grab your grocery list and a pen and let’s dive in. 

Table of Contents (Click to Expand)

    Eating Well While Camping

    Cooking by the campfire

    Every balanced meal needs protein, fat, and carbs. Here are some healthy non-refrigerated options for each to bring on your next camping trip:


    There are tons of amazing protein sources that don’t need to be refrigerated. The top general places you can get protein are:

    Canned Meats

    Canned meats are known to have preservatives in them to help them stay flavorful, so it is recommended to keep these items to a minimum. We did list these items in order from most healthy to least healthy:

    • Canned salmon
    • Canned tuna
    • Canned chicken
    • Canned ham
    • Spam (which isn’t the healthiest but it’s actually quite versatile)
    • Corned beef hash
    • Cured meats like summer sausage and salami


    Beans are such an underrated protein source. They are full of great nutrients like fiber, iron, b-vitamins, folate, potassium, and zinc—to name a few. 

    Canned beans like black beans, pinto beans, chickpeas, green beans, cannellini beans, etc are the easiest to bring along on a camping trip. 

    Nuts and Grains

    Some other great protein sources are nuts and grains. They’re so easy to pack away and are full of great nutrients. 

    • Peanut butter and almond butter
    • Pistachios
    • Cashews
    • Brazil nuts
    • Pine nuts
    • Hemp hearts
    • Farro
    • Whole wheat pasta
    • Rolled oats
    • Wild rice

    You can also keep fresh, unpasteurized eggs unrefrigerated for up to two weeks. Regular budget eggs from the grocery store have been processed to remove the bacteria that help keep them fresh without refrigeration. 


    Carbohydrates are the easiest source of calories while you’re camping. Our favorite non-refrigerated complex carbohydrate sources are things like: 

    • Fruits 
    • Veggies
    • Quinoa
    • Fresh potatoes
    • Beans
    • Oats
    • Legumes 


    Fat is awesome for keeping you satiated between meals. It is the most calorie-dense macronutrient and does a wonderful job of staving off hunger and balancing your blood sugar. 

    The quality of your fat sources will matter though since consuming poor fat sources can increase your heart rate and put you at risk for tons of different cardiovascular diseases.  

    50+ Non-Refrigerated Camping Meals

    Now for what you came here for—here are our favorite non-refrigerated meals that you can enjoy on your next camping trip:

    Breakfast Ideas

    Here are some of our favorite breakfast camping recipes to keep you fueled up for your adventures:

    1. Oatmeal With Fresh Fruit

    Oatmeal is such a great source of energy and has been proven to keep people satiated for hours between meals. It provides plenty of carbohydrates and fiber that stick around to give you a constant flow of energy in the morning. 

    Pair it with some fresh fruit like strawberries or bananas to get tons of extra vitamins as well. 

    2. Protein Pancakes

    Berry pancake

    While yes, you could totally just have regular pancakes—I’ve found that protein pancakes do wonders to keep me from feeling sluggish. There are plenty of awesome protein pancake options on the market, or you could simply just add a scoop of protein powder to your batter. 

    Our favorite brands are Birch Benders and Kodiak Cake because they taste awesome and provide a well balanced breakfast. 

    Again, we recommend you pair it with some fresh fruit and a high-quality syrup to help balance out your meal and give even more nutrients.

    3. Avocado Toast

    Avocado toast and kiwi

    As a full-time traveler, avocado toast has quickly become a staple breakfast. It is incredibly versatile and there are plenty of ways to make it that require no refrigeration. 

    Our top tips are to start with high-quality bread like Dave’s Killer Bread or whatever is fresh at the bakery and load it full of whatever you have on hand like tomatoes, micro-greens, homemade hummus, chili flakes, hot sauce, fresh eggs, etc. 

    It’s a crowd favorite, super cheap to make, and there are endless variations you can try. 

    4. Breakfast Tacos

    Breakfast tacos

    One of my favorite things about tacos is that you can eat your favorite meals, but add eggs, and it’s a breakfast food!

    In all seriousness though, breakfast tacos are a delicious way to use up all of your miscellaneous vegetables you have lying around. J

    ust sautee up whatever ingredients you have like potatoes, zucchini, carrots, green beans, black beans, etc. Then crack a couple of eggs (or add some powdered eggs), and add taco seasoning. 

    I like to top my tacos with fresh guacamole, and my girlfriend adds an absurd amount of this Chinese spicy chili crisp sauce called Lao Gan Ma—but you can dress them up however you like.

    5. Shakshuka

    Shakshuka is a Tuisian breakfast food that is starting to gain popularity in Western brunch culture. It’s a tomato dish that is topped with fresh herbs and eggs. It is traditionally served with bread on the side to sop up the delicious sauce and eggs. 

    This breakfast comes together in just a few minutes and is superb in a Dutch oven over the fire

    I have to give credit where credit is due and point you to Food Wishes on Youtube for introducing me to the dish, but there are plenty of awesome authentic Shakshuka recipes out there.

    6. Fresh Corned Beef Hash

    Fresh Corned Beef Hash

    I love Hormel’s canned corned beef hash as much as the next guy, but it is definitely not the healthiest dish. 

    Fresh corned beef hash is absolutely delicious and super easy to make. I love the recipe by Chisel and Fork because it’s super simple and has just a few ingredients. All you need is:

    • Butter
    • Russet potatoes
    • Sweet onion, green bell pepper, garlic
    • Corned beef (he uses fresh made corned beef, but you can grab a high-quality can of corned beef of it as well)
    • Worcestershire sauce 
    • Salt and black pepper

    Be sure to go check out the full recipe on the Chisel and Fork blog

    7. Omelettes

    Omelets are one of those meals that is perfect for when you need to get rid of some veggies you have laying around, 

    They’re so easy to make and come together so quickly. I like to add veggies like zucchini, left over meat, tomatoes, salsa, and guacamole.

    8. Croissants with Honey 

    Pastries are a fun grab-and-go item you can bring camping. If it’s summertime and you’re looking to hit the trails early before it gets too hot, a croissant with some honey is a perfect choice. 

    9. Pastries From the Bakery

    Fresh bakery pasteries

    Just like the croissants mentioned above, be sure to check out the bakery at your grocery store to see what other pastries you can bring along with you on your camping trip.

    They will keep for several days out of the refrigerator and they make a great quick breakfast and a fun snack. Look for danishes, muffins, sweet rolls, or even a donut if you have a sweet tooth.

    10. French Toast

    French toast is such a fun and easy breakfast that you can easily make for a crowd. Everyone seems to have their own secret ingredient they add to make the best French toast, my secret ingredient is a splash of orange juice in the egg batter. 

    Orange juice gives it the perfect tangy brightness that compliments the heaviness of the dish so well. 

    But comment down below what your favorite French toast secret ingredient is!

    Lunch Ideas

    Here are some satisfying lunch ideas to keep you fueled during the day:

    1. Tuna Salad Sandwiches

    There are so many great ways to make a killer tuna sandwich. It could be as simple as adding a can of tuna to some bread with mayo, or you could get creative by adding things like chopped celery, lettuce, cheese, dried cranberries, etc. 

    2. Hummus and Veggie Plate

    Home made hummus

    Okay hummus and chopped veggies are perishable and can’t be left out of the fridge for more than a couple of hours. 

    However, fresh hummus is so easy to make, and chopping veggies only takes a few minutes. Check out this awesome hummus recipe by Love and Lemons for a quick and easy recipe, and pair it with whatever crackers, veggies, or breads you have on hand. 

    3. Spam Musubi

    Spam Musubi

    I first heard of Spam Musubi just a couple of months after I returned from Hawaii. I was quite distraught that I never got to try the Hawaiian sushi-style delicacy while I was there, but luckily, making it at home is easy. 

    It’s one of those delicious meals that come together quickly and is only perishable after it’s cooked!

    There are plenty of great recipes online, but we love the Musubi recipe by Plays Well With Butter

    Also, if you’re intimidated by the idea of rolling sushi—don’t fret! Musubi is the perfect introduction, and it’s actually much easier than you may think.

    4. Pasta Salad

    Bruschetta Pasta Salad

    If you’ve ever picked up pasta salad from your local grocery store’s deli, you probably have experienced just how hit-or-miss this meal can be. 

    Free yourself from the heartache of funky grocery store deli and questionable backyard potluck pasta salad and just make it yourself. There are plenty of different recipes with lots of different ingredients. 

    We love the bruschetta-style pasta salad by A Pretty Little Life.

    5. Peanut Butter & Jelly Sandwiches

    One time I got made fun of on a train in England for being an American eating a PB&J sandwich. 

    Apparently, it’s a cliché, but who can resist the perfect blend of peanut butter, jam, and your favorite bread? It is a great non-perishable camping food option for camping trips, hiking trails, and even long European train rides. It’s a truly versatile treat.  

    6. BLTA Sandwiches

    Did you know that Hormel makes pre-cooked bacon that doesn’t require refrigeration until after the pack is open? 

    This means you can make a great BLTA sandwich over your camp stove wherever you go. Just be wary about the lettuce. Leave that out if you can’t put it in a cooler. It’s the least exciting part of a BLTA anyway.

    7. Canned Soup

    This is definitely not the most glamorous meal on our list of camping food ideas, but there are tons of great canned soups on the shelves that are actually quite healthy. Throw a few in your food bag for a quick and easy meal. 

    8. Salami Wraps

    Summer sausage is an integral part of any cheese board or holiday party spread, but did you know it also can be used in plenty of great camping foods like wraps and sandwiches? 

    Cut up some slices of summer sausage or salami and throw it in a tortilla with your favorite hard cheese and some mustard and mayo for an easy meal. 

    9. Sloppy Joe

    For a fun throwback recipe from your childhood, grab a can of Manwich and enjoy a Sloppy Joe. If you haven’t had one since your childhood, I can assure you that they actually are as tasty as you may remember them being.

    10. Veggie & Rice Bowls

    Veggie and rice bowl

    Veggie and rice bowls are a staple for us while living on the road. It’s the perfect meal to use up all of your vegetables that may be starting to get mushy and is great for preventing food waste. 

    Just sauteé up whatever veggies you have on hand and put it over a bowl of rice with soy sauce, teriyaki sauce, or peanut sauce. 

    Be sure to add whatever protein you have on hand like beans, chicken, bacon, or tofu.

    Dinner Ideas

    Finish the day off right with some incredible camping food roasted over the fire, in a cast iron Dutch oven, or on your camping stove.

    1. Fire Baked Sweet Potatoes

    If you’ve never put sweet potatoes wrapped in foil in the fire, then you’ve probably never experienced the greatness of the beautiful caramelization that can come out of sweet potatoes.  

    There are plenty of awesome toppings you can put on them once they finish up, but I like to add hemp hearts, dried cranberries, walnuts, brown sugar, cinnamon, etc. 

    2. Spinach & Artichoke Pasta

    Spinach and artichoke pasta

    There are plenty of awesome ways you can make pasta shine. I am personally a huge fan of spinach artichoke dip, but it’s not the healthiest when paired with tortilla chips. 

    This spinach and artichoke pasta by Budget Bytes is both delicious and nutritious.

    For the sake of this being a meal that doesn’t need refrigeration, we do recommend you replace the fresh spinach with canned spinach—unless you can sneak some fresh stuff into a cooler somewhere!

    3. Homemade Chili


    Chili is one of the easiest and most comforting foods on a cold day. We love this super simple 5 ingredient chili recipe by Gimme Some Oven, and it’ll rock your socks compared to canned chili. 

    Ground beef is hard to bring along camping, but you can replace the meat with canned chicken or pork, or just omit the meat completely since there’s already plenty of protein in beans. 

    4. White Bean Chili and Garlic Bread

    If you’ve only tried traditional tomato-based chili—you’re missing out! White bean chili is so rich and creamy and is a perfect camping food. 

    Check out this chicken white bean chili recipe by Cooking Classy. Just replace the fresh chicken with canned chicken, and substitute the heavy cream for powdered heavy cream!

    5. Dutch Oven Pizza

    As full-time travelers with limited space, we are determined to still indulge in pizza while on the road. We’ve had tons of success with pizza dough starter mixes like this one.

    We can’t tell you what toppings are appropriate for your pizza preferences, but we’ll be the last ones to judge you for putting pineapple on your pie. 

    For more pizza inspo, check out our guide to making 3 mouthwatering campfire pizzas.

    6. Lentil Burgers & Fries

    Lentil burgers

    Lentils are a fantastic source of protein and fiber. They’re also easy to work with and make a mean plant-based burger. 

    For a super simple 6-ingredient recipe, check out this burger recipe by Cooking For Peanuts. Just pair it with your favorite fresh french fry recipe and enjoy!

    7. Tuna Mac

    One secret to Mac n’ Cheese is that you can skip the milk and butter and it still tastes great! Just grab your favorite kind of Mac n’ Cheese and dump a can of tuna in it when you add your cheese packet!

    8. Tempeh Tacos

    Tempeh is a kind of fermented soybean that holds onto flavor well. Use it in place of ground beef in your favorite taco recipe! 

    Though word of advice—since it is fermented it is safe to leave it at room temperature if it’s vacuum sealed, but it will continue to ferment and the flavor will get stronger. It is best to use it within a few days.

    9. Burrito Bowls

    Burrito bowls are a great way to jam-pack your meal with nutrients! There are so many great things you can add like canned pork, avocado, onion, tomato, rice, beans, etc. 

    Check out Morsel’s burrito bowl recipe for an easy step-by-step guide.

    10. Hot Dogs

    Hot dogs are a classic camping food for so many reasons! They’re so easy to make, they hardly take up any space to store, and every

    Snack Options

    Here is a rapid-fire of all of our favorite snack options you can pack along on your next camping trip:

    • Chips & fresh salsa
    • Fruit platter
    • Spring rolls
    • Spicy tuna sushi rolls
    • Fresh vegetables & homemade hummus
    • Granola bars
    • Fruit & nut butter
    • Pizza pitas
    • Summer sausage charcuterie
    • Fruit cups
    • Dried fruit and nuts

    Dessert Ideas

    Lastly, here are some of our favorite sweet treats to top off your night:

    Blueberry cobbler

    Photo Courtesy of Fresh off The Grid

    What Non-Refrigerated Fruits and Veggies Can You Bring Camping?

    Fresh Fruit

    If you’reThe number one rule to keep in mind when bringing along fresh fruits and veggies, remember: is that once your produce is cut or peeled, it will need to be refrigerated. 

    That said, here are some fresh veggies and fruits that you can just toss in a bag and bring camping along are:

    • Mango
    • Banana
    • Tomato
    • Kiwi
    • Peaches
    • Oranges
    • Dragonfruit
    • Papaya
    • Melons
    • Squash (zucchini, butternut, spaghetti, acorn, etc)
    • Green beans
    • Mushrooms
    • Avocados
    • Potatoes

    Other veggies like broccoli, cauliflower, brussels sprouts, leafy greens, celery, and asparagus should be refrigerated or they’ll spoil in a day or two. 

    What Condiments are Non-Perishable?

    One of the most important parts of a meal is making sure it tastes great, and condiments are an excellent way to do that!

    But Condiments can be tricky when camping since common items like mayonnaise and barbecue sauce need to be refrigerated. 

    To avoid that, try finding a nice stockpile of the single-serve packets like they have at fast food places—, this is they’re the best way to bring along otherwise perishable condiments. 

    Beyond single-serve packets, there are a few regular household condiments that don’t need to be kept cold (mostly vinegar-based condiments). But here’s a list of non-perishable condiments to enhance your camping meals:

    • Ketchup
    • Hot sauces like Franks, Sriracha, Cholula, etc. 
    • Honey
    • Butter
    • Olive oil
    • Soy sauce
    • Fish sauce
    • Vinegar

    Frequently Asked Questions

    Here are some commonly asked questions you may have about non-refrigerated camping meals:

    What meats don’t need refrigeration?

    The best rule of thumb to follow is to look for meats in the grocery store that are outside of the fridge section. This will include canned meat and cured meats. 

    Are dehydrated meals healthy?

    While there are tons of decent dehydrated meals you can bring camping, the biggest concern most dietitians have with dehydrated meals and MREs is their excessive sodium content. They are great in moderation, but can easily be overdone. 

    How to properly store camping food

    It is always a good idea to store your food, waste, and smelly camp items properly. Bears are obviously something you need to look out for in some regions, but you should also store them properly so marmots, bugs, deer, and other wildlife stay away. 

    REI has a great article on how to properly store your camp food

    Final Thoughts

    Meal planning for your camping trip can be exciting, but it can be tough when you can’t bring along normal perishable camping foods. 

    If you do plan on upping your camping kitchen setup to include a fridge, we have a guide to some other amazing camping meal ideas as well. 

    We hope you’ve found plenty of camping snacks and meal inspiration for your next camping trip.

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