Exploring the great outdoors through camping and road trips is a fun way to break free from the daily routine and connect with your family and nature. But, camping isn’t always rainbows and roasted marshmallows… without a bit of caution, one simple camping trip can suddenly morph into a horribly stressful event.
But, have no fear! I’m here with some stress saving advice… and one big piece of advice is to make sure you plan easy meals… and lunch is the perfect time for easy lazy, easy camping food!
Below you’ll find all sorts of yummy and easy camping meals to try on your next camping trip! Whether you’re a beginner camper or an experienced outdoor chef, I’m sure you’ll find something here perfect for you and your family’s camping situation.
Want to know the best camping lunch ideas?
Here are our 3 main camping lunch go to’s:
- Peanut Butter! Peanut butter sandwiches, with jam, bananas, or honey; on bread, wraps, or bagels.
- Camping Charcuterie! Cheese, crackers, summer sausage, fresh veggies, hummus, and fruit… dig in!
- Hot dogs! Kids love roasting hotdogs over an open fire… and you can bring some specialty condiments to fancy them up too!
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Does less stress and less mess make a more enjoyable camping experience?
I’m all about lazy mom camping! And, I don’t use this term in a bad way… for me, lazy mom camping means I’ve worked my butt off BEFORE the trip so that I can relax and enjoy myself at the campground.
I do not enjoy making everyone’s meals when camping. I don’t enjoy washing the dishes after every meal. I don’t enjoy being the food gatekeeper.
I want our meals to be quick, simple recipes, easy to prepare, with minimal cleanup. I want the whole family to know what to eat if they need a snack, where those foods are, and what to do with their food and dishes after snacking.
And, so… I’ve created systems – places food is packed, easy meals to have, a dirty dish bin that everyone knows to use… those are just a few ways I make our family camping strips more enjoyable for me.
READ MORE: click here for even more tips on how I plan, prep, and prepare for family camping. And, read on below for many easy camping lunches that we’ve enjoyed in the past.
Easy Cleanup at the Campsite
I hate washing the dishes after every meal when we’re camping! My goal is one dish wash a day, after dinner. So, I like to plan for breakfast and lunch to use minimal kitchen equipment. We don’t always succeed, and dishes need washing before lunch, but it’s always nice when we make it all day!
To make meals easy cleanup, here are a few tips:
- Wash and cut any fresh fruit or vegetables for the next few days in one prep session
- You can also shred cheese, chop or portion ingredients for planned meals ahead of the trip
- Have some empty containers available for left-overs of meals you make at the campground
- There’s no harm in eating right out of the cooking dish or left-over container
- You don’t always need to eat a sandwich off a plate… eating outside means you needn’t be concerned about dropping crumbs!
- Have easily identifiable cups so every camper knows to reuse their cup throughout the day
Easy Cleanup favorite camping lunch recipes
- Cheese, sausage, and crackers
- Quick one-pot stove top mixes like KD or Ramen
- Pie-Iron Grilled Cheese and ham
- Hardboiled eggs
- Re-warming pre-made breakfast sandwiches or burritos that have been wrapped in aluminum foil at home
- Cooking single foil wrapped meal pouches prepared before arriving at the campsite
Sandwiches and wraps: the best camping lunch idea!
When it comes to camping, it’s important to have meals that are easy to prepare, easy to store, and also easy to eat – especially if you’re camping with busy little kids!
Sandwiches and wraps are the classic lunch! And, as easy as they are ate home, they can also be easy at the campsite. Endlessly customizable, you can plan to bring fixings for your family favorite, or a bunch of fixings so you can have an assortment of sandwiches during trip.
TIP: Make sandwiches ahead of time (or mix up the sandwich filling) and store the filling or the sandwiches in an airtight container in the cooler / refrigerator to keep them fresh.
Some yummy easy lunch sandwich ideas:
- Peanut butter and jam or banana
- Tuna, Chicken, or Turkey Salad on bread, buns, or wraps
- Egg salad on a croissant! Yummy!
- Deli meat, cheese, lettuce, and tomato
- Cucumber and cream cheese
- Grilled chicken, lettuce, and Caesar dressing
Quick stove top meals for camping lunch
In our very old, not very fancy camper, we have a propane stove. We don’t use this for much cooking. We tend to cook over the fire or cook outside on the camp stove. But, we will use it for boiling water and for making these quick stove top type meals. And, now that some of our kids are old enough to use the stove, they’ll even do some of this camp cooking themselves, which is a huge help!
Quick hot lunch ideas for the camping stove
- Ramen or instant noodle packs – add some beef Jerky or an egg for protein
- Macaroni and Cheese mix – we love to add broccoli!
- Warm up a can of soup or chili
Pre-cooked meals or make ahead meals for camping lunches
A bit like eating left-overs, having pre-cooked foods at home like pasta, chili, soup, and rice dishes is a great idea for lunch when camping. These dishes can be reheated over a campfire or a portable camp stove. You can plan to use leftovers from your camping dinners or intentionally make the meals ahead of time at home.
TIP: If you make a larger batch of chili soup, you can freeze this and plan to eat it later in your camping trip. Put this frozen meal into your cooler and it will help keep everything cool, just as ice would.
Some pre-cooked lunch meal suggestions:
- Your family’s favourite soup or chili – bring along some buns for dipping
- Pasta or potato salads – add hardboiled egg and cheese for protein
- Any sort of pot-luck worthy salad: Such as quinoa or couscous, Greek pasta with feta cheese and olives, broccoli with grapes and cheese, etc.
CHECK OUT: This Lemony Lentil Soup is good! And this pasta salad is just like how my mom makes it!
Pre-packed snack / lunch options?
Packaged snacks like trail mix, chips, and granola bars are perfect for snacking on the go, or depending on the person, are often substituted for lunch. They’re easy to store and don’t take up too much space.
A few easy to grab snack ideas perfect for a quick camping lunch:
- tortilla chips and salsa or guacamole
- substantial granola bars or power bars, (Clif is our family favourite)
- Trail mix, dried fruit, or fruit cups
Campfire lunch ideas and a few recipes
When we’re camping our kids are always wanting to build fires. I love encouraging their learning and enthusiasm, but I also don’t want to burn wood needlessly. So, making a cooking fire is the perfect solution for both! Plus, food cooked over a wood flame always just tastes so much better!
First, Campfire Cooking Know How:
It is important to know that cooking over an open fire requires some essential tools and equipment to ensure that your meal turns out great.
First, you’ll need a sturdy grill grate (which many campgrounds will already have on their fire pits), a cast iron skillet or pot if you need to cook inside something, and long-handled utensils. And don’t forget to check your campsite’s fire regulations before starting your fire.
READ MORE: click for more info and tips on your camping cooking equipment set-up.
Campfire Pie Iron lunch time ideas
When it comes to making lunch at the campsite, pie irons are the ultimate game-changer. These nifty little contraptions are like magic wands that turn simple ingredients into mouth-watering creations. Whether you’re craving a gooey grilled cheese or a sweet fruit-filled pie, pie irons have got your back.
One of my family’s favourite use for pie irons is to put cheddar cheese into a folded tortilla wraps. Then, fold this into a pie iron and get it good and toasty over the fire! I love that my kids are able to manage making these all on their own because the ingredients are so easy and simple to assemble.
Quick pie iron lunch ideas:
- Grilled cheese – any cheese inside any bread product
- Toast a pre-made breakfast sandwich (fried egg and pre-cooked bacon with cheese on English muffins)
- Pizza pockets – shredded cheese, peperoni slices, and tomato sauce on wraps or bread
How to make lunch pie iron quesadillas over the campfire:
- Flour or corn tortillas
- Shredded cheese
- Can of refried beans
- Salsa (optional)
- Start by heating up your pie iron over the campfire.
- Open the pie iron and place a tortilla on one side.
- Spread a layer of refried beans on top of the tortilla, leaving a small gap around the edges.
- Sprinkle shredded cheese over the beans, then add another tortilla on top.
- Close the pie iron and place it over the campfire.
- Cook the quesadilla for about 3-5 minutes on each side, or until the cheese is melted and the tortillas are golden brown.
- Remove the quesadilla from the pie iron and let it cool for a minute or two before cutting it into slices.
- Serve with salsa or sour cream
Take your quesadillas up a notch by adding caramelized onions before cooking!
These are the pie irons we have. One is cast iron, one is aluminum. The kids prefer a pie iron with the longer handle and the littler ones find the cast iron pie iron quite heavy to hold over the fire, but it’s fine if there’s a grate to rest the pie iron on.
READ MORE: If you’re looking for more elaborate pie iron recipes, click over to this pie iron camping recipe article!
Campfire Foil packets for lunch
A note on prep and cooking times for the following campfire camping lunch ideas: These following suggestions are recipes requiring a good hour from fire starting to cooked food… it does take time to get the fire hot enough, plus the time to cook your foods. Potatoes always take longer to cook than I think they will!
One of the easiest and most delicious meals you can cook over an open fire is a foil packet meal. You can fill it with potatoes, veggies, and meat, and cook it all together in a foil packet. It’s a simple way to have a complete meal that requires little preparation and clean up.
The Basic Campfire Foil Pack Recipe:
- Smokies or hotdogs chopped to bite-sized pieces
- Veggies in bite size-pieces: potatoes, broccoli, garlic, onion
- Optional: butter, herbs, additional vegetables
- Preheat the campfire or grill to medium-high heat.
- Cut potatoes, onions, broccoli, and smokies into bite-sized pieces.
- Tear off a large piece of heavy-duty aluminum foil and place it on a flat surface.
- Place the cut vegetables and smokies in the center of the foil.
- Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt, pepper, and garlic powder to taste.
- Fold the foil over the vegetables and smokies, then tightly seal the edges.
- Place the foil packet on the preheated grill or campfire.
- Cook for 20-25 minutes, or until the potatoes are tender and the smokies are cooked through.
- Remove the foil packet from the heat and carefully open it to release the steam.
- Serve hot and enjoy your delicious campfire meal!
- You can add some shredded cheese on top before sealing the foil for extra flavor.
- Add or substitute your favourite vegetables. Mushrooms, asparagus, sweet potatoes, and carrots also cook well in foil packs.
- You can also substitute the olive oil with butter for a richer taste.
READ MORE: Looking for more foil pack camping recipes, check this post out next!
Another fun meal idea is to make skewers and kabobs with meat, vegetables, and fruits. You can get creative with the ingredients you choose, and everyone can customize their own skewer to their liking. It’s a great way to get everyone, especially the kids, involved in the cooking process!
Here’s the basic kabob recipe we make when camping:
- Small chicken pieces
- Pineapple chunks
- Sweet bell peppers
- Summer squash
- Sweet BBQ sauce
- Soak skewers in water for at least 30 minutes to prevent them from burning.
- Cut the chicken into small bite-sized pieces.
- Cut the peppers, squash, and zucchini into similar-sized pieces.
- Thread the chicken, pineapple, peppers, mushrooms, squash, and zucchini onto skewers in any order you prefer.
- Spread the sweet BBQ sauce generously over the skewered ingredients.
- Cook the skewers over an open fire for about 8-10 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked through and the vegetables are tender.
- Serve hot and enjoy your delicious campfire kebabs!
A Note to Campfire Safety
Just remember to always keep a bucket of water nearby in case of emergencies, and never leave the fire unattended. Cooking over an open flame takes some extra effort, but the end result is definitely worth it.
The easy Camping food ideas perfect for Road Trips or a packed lunch
When embarking on an epic road trip, or just a simple day trip, the last thing you want to worry about is complicated meals. You need something quick, easy, and portable to keep you fueled as you cruise along the open road. That’s where these easy prep ideas for road trip lunches come to the rescue!
Years ago I decided it would be fun to take 3 kids under 10 on an extended car camping road trip… by myself! Looking back, I’m so happy I did this and we have tones of great memories… but it was stressful. One way to make the trip easier for us all were to plan super easy lunches, especially on travel days.
Our typical road trip lunch was one of these:
- Peanut butter and banana sandwiches with fresh cut fruit
- Yogurt with granola and fresh cut fruit
- Carrot and celery sticks to dip into hummus
- Cereal with milk and fresh cut fruit
Notice the trend there? Other than the addition of fresh vegetables, it’s fresh fruit! Having easy to prepare fruit on hand means you’ve always got access to a nutritious snack or meal builder. Apples and oranges were our typical fruit because they travel well, can handle some bumps, and don’t mind being stored in fluctuating temperatures.
MOM TIP #1: sprinkle cinnamon onto apple slices – one of my littles favorite ways to eat apples!
MOM TIP #2: you can often find celery sticks already washed and ready to eat at larger grocery stores… if you’re on a long road trip, getting the vegetables ready to eat is the best thing!
More simple camping lunch for road trip ideas
- Sandwiches made the morning of your road trip – sealed in airtight containers and kept cool until lunch
- The mason jar salad – layer fresh greens, protein, veggies, a sprinkling of seeds, and your favourite dressing into a portable container… then, just before eating, mix it all up!
- Cut up summer sausage and cheese into small air tight containers, eat with your favourite crackers
- Tuna salad with crackers snack box or Lunchables for the littler ones
To wrap this up…
Packing a delicious and satisfying lunch for your next camping trip doesn’t have to be a daunting task. With a little planning and some creativity, you can whip up easy camping recipes that will keep you fueled for all your outdoor activities.
From sandwiches and wraps to foil packet meals, kebabs, and pie iron treats, there are plenty of options to choose from. Don’t forget about the convenience of pre-cooked meals and snacks for those days when you’re on the go. With these best camping recipes in your arsenal, you’ll be all set for your next adventure. So start planning your menu and get ready to enjoy some delicious food on your next camping trip!