100 Lazy camping food ideas: no refrigeration required!

What are the first items you grab when you start packing and planning for a camping trip? I bet a cooler is in the top five? What if I told you to leave that cooler at home and enjoy a trip that doesn’t require refrigeration?

There’s nothing more relaxing than a no-frills camping trip, right? When I go camping, I want it to be as easy as possible. Whether you’re camping in an RV or a tent, a lot already goes into the trip. Why not make the food planning easier? Let’s check out these camping food ideas – no refrigeration required!

Keep reading for a huge list of what food to take camping without a fridge!

a table covered in foods that don't need refrigeration for a camping trip
what food to take camping without fridge? This is what we took!

What are our favourite lazy camping foods?

The ultimate lazy camping foods are those that require no cooking and no refrigeration. A few favourites of ours are:

  • Canned fruit topped with granola, nuts, and dried fruit
  • Variations of peanut butter, banana, and honey sandwiches or wraps

But I also tend to consider foods with minimal cooking and no refrigeration to also be lazy camping food and here are a few more favourites:

  • Instant oatmeal (with added fruit, nuts, and seeds)
  • Canned and packaged soups and pastas that can be cooked quickly on a stove or campfire

If you happen to have some refrigeration or an ability to use a cooler and are looking for other no cook meals for camping, here’s a great list to read through!

Breakfast camping food ideas: No fridge!

Breakfast is said to be the most important meal of the day. But who wants to have to get up and get a campfire or even the camp stove going in order to feed everyone? Go ahead, be lazy and sleep in, because many of these foods are easy to make, easy to eat, and even kids can handle them!

Pre-baked, boxed, and bready breakfast things:

  • Muffins – can either be made ahead or store bought.
  • Banana Bread – also either made ahead or store bought, banana bread is always a hit and can go a long way! (This is our favourite banana bread recipe!)
  • Bread – whether you use it for toast, sandwiches, or pudgie pies, bread is always handy to have while camping.
  • Cinnamon Raisin Bread – comes in a loaf at the grocery store, and you can even find whole wheat varieties – super yummy!
  • Bagels – top with jelly or honey and bagels are filling and tasty.
  • Rolls – also great with a topping like jelly or honey, rolls are also delicious with Nutella!
  • Doughnuts – these may need to be eaten within the first few days, but who says no to a slightly stale doughnut? Doughnuts can also double as dessert, if need-be. My kids love this no cook camping food option.
  • Pop Tarts – a simple breakfast treat that is fun for camping, pop tarts don’t have to be toasted or heated to be tasty!
  • Granola Bars – useful for hiking, snacks, and breakfast! You can’t go wrong throwing in some granola bars.
  • Power Balls – these are super easy to make and usually packed with calories that will fill up tummies and get you ready for a long day of adventure

Breakfast Protein without a cooler:

  • Jerky – Who says jerky isn’t just a snack? Grab a bit with your bagel for some added protein to get you through to lunch
  • Precooked Bacon – Save the mess of cooking bacon at the campsite and instead bring is along pre-cooked. You can head it up if you like (it’s great crumbled into scrambled eggs!) or add it to your morning toast with tomato.
  • Eggs – if you’re lucky enough to have connections for farm-fresh eggs, chat with them and they’ll tell you all about storing eggs without refrigeration. Or, grab some powdered eggs for a hearty breakfast of scrambled eggs! These can be surprisingly tasty!

Best-selling powdered eggs, perfect for camping:

How to enjoy Cereal and Milk without refrigeration?

Most kids won’t mind eating cereal dry, especially if it’s a sweet cereal! My preferred choices, because they have a bit more fiber than a standard kid cereal, are Honey Shreddies and Mini Wheats. But, if you (or your kids) don’t like plain cereal, consider using canned milk or powdered milk. Since you won’t be drinking it plain, these options are usually satisfactory substitutes.

Tip: You can thin canned milk with water if needed. I’ve also found small juice box size boxes of soy and almond milk which can also be poured over cereal and don’t need refrigeration before opening. But, the small size means they’ll use it all in one use.

Fun Mom Tip: Use chocolate milk on top of cereal! It is sometimes easier to find shelf-stable chocolate milk in the juice box sized than regular milk or alternative milks.

non-refrigerated mini milk boxes

a breakfast of oatmeal and fruit on a picnic table
Instant oatmeal and fruit for breakfast at the campground

Some non refrigerated breakfast meal ideas:

Toasted bacon and tomato sandwiches: Precook the bacon at home, you can even slice up the tomato if you like… make some toast over the fire. And, if you search around I bet you can even find some small (ketchup-packet-sized packages of mayo to bring along. If not, just use butter. Yum!

Scrambled eggs with add-ins: Find yourself some powdered eggs. I prefer to scramble these. Some great no cooler necessary add-ins are dried herbs like basil, parsley, dill; crumbled jerky or pre-cooked bacon, chopped tomato and peppers, cubed cured salami, even some torn up corn tortillas would be great too!

Fresh Fruit and Granola: Open up a can of peaches and dump on some of your favourite granola. I prefer to make my own granola so I can pack it full of dried nuts, seeds, raisins, and leave out the sugar and excess oils.

Oatmeal: You have a variety of oatmeal options for camping. You could slow cook some regular oatmeal over the fire or boil yourself some water and make up some instant oatmeal. Again, I like to make my own camping instant oatmeal so I can add more nuts, seeds, and dried fruit.

Apple Campfire Pies: We love these on a cold slow camping morning! Our favourite breakfast combo is apple pie filling with cinnamon raisin bread in the pie iron. Here’s the recipe for ours here!

Pancakes: Bring along powdered pancake mix and add in the water and oil at the campground. If you plan ahead you could even bring along some berries or mash a few bananas into the mix before cooking.

Fruit: Easy, no refrigeration or cooler needed

Fruit is great to have on hand when camping. These can be added to any meal, have them for dessert, and they’re perfect for snacks throughout the day too!

  • Fresh Fruit – some great non-refrigerated options include apples, bananas, grapes, watermelon, oranges, pineapple, or cantaloupe.
  • Fresh Veggies too – pepper, cucumbers, and carrots may all last for a few days without refrigeration as well.
  • Canned Fruit – available in all sorts of variety, canned fruit is always a no cooler camping food winner!
  • Fruit Cups – much like canned fruit, these are already packaged into easy to open smaller servings
  • Dried or Dehydrated Fruit – useful for hiking as well as meals, dried or dehydrated fruit is perfect for camping since it can endure almost any weather. Think dried mango, apricot, dates, and raisins.
  • Applesauce – if you grab pouches, applesauce is great for on-the-go, but you can also do individual cups that won’t require refrigeration, either.

Camping tip: Go ahead and wash all your fresh fruit prior to packing. And, if you can, cut up your melons for easy eating at the campground.

Lazy camping foods:

When we’re camping we’ll often just mix and match from this list below… the meals aren’t as formal, so we’ll often put out a variety of foods and we’ll all just pick our favourites until we’re full. Many of these ideas are also great to take on a trail or for a picnic during your camping trip. 

  • Fruit (fresh, canned, dried, or dehydrated, or applesauce cups) – fruit is great for any and every meal or snack, so be sure to pack a lot of it! This is one of my favorite no cook camping meals.
  • Carrots – grab a bag of the full-sized carrots and peel them ahead of time for a healthy addition to lunch or dinner. Or, grab a bag of baby carrots, ready to eat!
  • Sweet Peas – same idea as the carrots, you can often find bags of washed and ready peas, perfect for bringing camping
  • Meats for sandwiches or to serve with crackers – canned tuna or tuna packs, canned chicken, cured meats such as ham, pepperoni, or salami, summer sausage, bacon jerky, and precooked bacon will all be fine without refrigeration.
  • Loaf of Bread – breads can be a good filler for kids, but bread is perfect for all sorts of sandwiches or pudgy pies (campfire pie iron treats).
  • Pita Bread – an option that can mix it up if you’re eating sandwiches every day.
  • Crackers – crackers pair well with any of the meats you may decide to bring. But they are also great with peanut butter or processed cheese, or just plain by the handful!
  • Processed Cheese – don’t forget Cheese Wiz or Velveeta for a nostalgic cheese alternative!
  • Chips – whether you bring flavored chips or tortilla chips, this is an obvious choice for camping.
  • Salsa, Queso, and Bean Dip – grab the tortilla chips and you’re set with a great addition to lunch or dinner or even a snack.
  • Peanut Butter, Jelly, Honey, and Nutella – for making a variety of sandwiches, no refrigeration required!
  • Pretzels – they come in all shapes and sizes, but also keep long-term, which is great for camping.
  • Nuts, Seeds, Dried Fruit – all that trail mix type stuff!

No cook camping lunch ideas, that don’t need to be refrigerated:

Muffins with a side of peanut butter apple slices: Bake your favourite hearty muffins before camping, then at the campsite serve these with apple sliced covered in peanut butter. You can even sprinkle a bit of granola onto that peanut butter for some variety and crunch.

Peanut Butter & Banana wraps: These are one of our favourite. Take a large flour wrap and place a whole peeled banana across the middle. Now, spread peanut butter on the wrap, drizzle some honey if you’d like. You can even sprinkle some granola or seed mix (chia, hemp, flax seeds) onto the wrap. When you’re done, roll it up carefully and slice into bite sized rounds.

Camping Charcuterie: This is the camping self-serve smorgasbord… whatever your family likes! Think crackers, hummus, chopped veggies, cured meats, open a can of olives, add some grapes or orange slices… and some dried fruit too?

Canned or Boxed Soup: Take a few minutes to peruse the soup aisle and see what you can find! One of our family’s favourite is Lipton Chicken Noodle (in the box) with way too many saltine crackers crumbled up into the soup! There are lots of great cup-a-soups (just add boiling water) available too.

Sandwiches that don’t need refrigeration:

Really, take a look at the canned meat aisle at the grocery store, but here are some other ideas to get you thinking:

  • Tuna salad (add-ins: green onion, apple, celery)
  • Canned ham and honey mustard
  • Canned chicken (great with bbq sauce on the bread)
  • Canned turkey (try a bit of cranberry jam for added sweetness)
  • Peanut butter and honey, jam, or banana
  • Cucumber and tomato (could add hummus, cheese, sprouts)
  • Cheese and tomato
  • Salami and aged cheese

Mayo Tip: Try finding some small individual service mayonaise packages if you like that on your sandwiches but don’t have refrigeration.

making peanut butter and banana sandwiches on a camping picnic table
Peanut Butter and Banana!

Non-refrigerated meals for camping

Cooking while camping is usually a bit of a hassle, especially when you have to time the use of your refrigerated perishables so nothing turns rancid (Tip: in this case, you should be using a meal plan!). But, what if you use non-refrigerated options so you don’t have to worry about spoiled food or maintaining the ice in your cooler?

What can you cook without a fridge?

If you have some time, hang out in the boxed and can aisles in the grocery store… sometimes I’m amazed at the great ideas I come up with there. But, if you don’t have time for that, here are some simple meal ideas that are sure to take the stress off of your meal planning:

Salami and hard cheese bagels with a side of fresh fruit and veggies:

Purchase some high quality cured salami and aged cheese. Bring along a small jar of mustard to add and these are so good! Serve these with carrot and apple slices for a full meal.

Macaroni and Cheese (with broccoli):

Make up a few boxes of KD Mac and Cheese. Yes, the instructions tell you to add milk, but it’s just fine with butter/margarine and skip the milk. Bulk up the KD and cook some broccoli with the pasta. Or, chop up some hotdogs to throw in too!

Pasta with Sauce and Garlic Bread:

This is so easy and can be very satisfying at the campground. Use your favourite pasta and canned pasta sauce. Add some veggies to the cooking pasta or a can of green beans as a side. If you bring a loaf of bread and put some butter in a sealable container, you can add some butter and garlic powder to the bread and toast it on a griddle or over the fire for some simple garlic bread!

Noodles (Ramen):

I think my kids could eat this for every meal! It’s so simple to make when camping. Just boil some water, add in your noodles and wait a bit. If you’d like to take your ramen up a notch you could bring along green onions to chop in, a few mushrooms, even some crumbled bacon or jerky is great!

a cup of noodles beside a map on a picnic table
Our favourite backpack camping meal – noodles and jerky!

Salmon Patties and Corn:

Using canned salmon, you can make salmon patties fairly easily. Pair them with some flavored rice from a pouch and maybe some corn on the cob (or canned veggies) and you have a tasty meal.

Breakfast for Dinner:

I don’t ever want to bother making a big breakfast, but I love the traditional breakfast foods. So, we often eat it for dinner. I’ll scramble up some eggs (use powdered if you don’t have a cooler) and add in some chopped tomato and pepper; a bit of dried basil, salt, and pepper; some cubed cured sausage or crumbled pre-cooked bacon. Serve this with corn tortillas or toast. You could even make yourself a side of dehydrated hashbrowns (look for these in small milk carton containers at your big box grocery store or Costco).

Canned Stew / Soup / Chili and biscuits:

There are so many varieties of canned good these days. Pair this with buns, premade corn bread for a hearty hot meal. Or, if you’re feeling ambitious, bring some biscuit mix and make some up with your dutch oven over the campfire!

Vegetarian Sloppy Joes:

Grab a can of sloppy joe mix from the grocery store and a can of kidney beans or lentils. Then, at the campground, mix these together and scoop it over your favourite buns. I promise that it’ll be super messy, but should be super yummy!

Dehydrated Camping Meals:

Spend a few minutes looking through all the varieties, you’ll be amazed! You can get vegetarian lasagna and beef stroganoff, curries and cobblers! While dehydrated camping meals are usually a bit on the pricey side, they are also usually very tasty and super easy to cook up!

Sweets and Desserts without a fridge

My family just loves sweets! It’s really not hard to find something they’ll enjoy when we don’t have refrigeration. But, if you’re looking for some ideas, here they are:

  • Marshmallows, Graham Crackers, and Chocolate – whether you use them in s’mores or eat them without cooking, each of these items are a yummy and a simple sweet classic option for camping.
  • Fruit Snacks – you can buy them in bulk or purchase individual packs which can be very handy.
  • Doughnuts – don’t these work in just about every category? Doughnut holes are especially handy for small treats that go a long way.
  • Cookies – if you bring chocolate chip cookies, just be sure to keep them out of the sun. Otherwise just about any type of cookie is perfect for camping.
  • Brownies – again, be sure to keep them out of the sun!
  • Cake – you may have to eat this within the first day or two, but even slightly stale cake tastes amazing when you’re camping.

What’s the perfect non-refrigerated camping dessert?

Campfire pies! Easy, yummy, and so much variety. The simplest way to use these is this:

  1. Grab your bread and butter one side
  2. Put the buttered side against the pie iron
  3. Scoop on some canned pie filling (apple, cherry, blueberry)
  4. Close up the pie iron and cook over the fire
  5. And voila, dessert is served!

Here is a whole list of all sorts of pie iron recipes.

the inside of a toast apple pie
easy, non-refrigerated camping dessert: campfire pies!

Other Non-Refrigerated Items to Bring Camping

Here are some other items you may want to throw into your camping bins and just always have on hand. Remember, if anything comes in a paper package, put those into a water-tight container or you may have a mess on your hand if anything gets wet!

  • Instant coffee and tea bags
  • Hot chocolate mix
  • Iced tea or drink crystals
  • Salt, pepper, sugar, ketchup, mustard, vinegar packets (you know all those extra ones you get from take outs)
  • A small bottle of cooking oil

I hope you like these lazy camping food ideas and got some ideas of what foods to take camping without a fridge. If you have other great food ideas that don’t need to be in cooler or fridge, please share in the comments below.

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