Camping Food Ideas – No Refrigeration Required!

Camping without a fridge doesn't mean sacrificing delicious meals and snacks. This guide offers 41 camping food ideas with no refrigeration required!

Jolanda Lapegna Avatar
Written by: | Reviewed by: Kieran James Cunningham
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Since most camping excursions lack refrigeration, you might be concerned as to how to keep your food fresh and safe when you camp out. Even relying on a cooler has its constraints, but fear not, crafting straightforward and nutritious camping meals without refrigeration is more straightforward than you’d imagine!

To help you get started, we’ve created this handy suggestion guide full of camping trip meals and snacks that require no refrigeration! We’ve included everything from nourishing breakfasts, luscious lunches, delicious dinners, ensuring you stay full and energized throughout your camping adventure.

Ready to ditch your cooler for good? Then read on for our favorite non-perishable food for camping.

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What Are Non-Refrigerated Breakfast Ideas?

A hearty breakfast is essential for camping in the wilderness, so we’ve compiled the following list of delicious breakfast ideas that don’t rely on refrigeration.

  1. Fresh Fruit
  2. Canned Fruit
  3. Dehydrated Fruit
  4. Pancakes
  5. Grits
  6. Oatmeal
  7. Cereals
  8. Toast
  9. Preserves
  10. Bagels
  11. Pop-Tarts
  12. Muffins
  13. Protein Shakes
  14. Bacon and Powdered Eggs

1. Fresh Fruit

While many people store fresh fruit in the fridge, most fruits don’t actually require refrigeration. Apples, bananas, kiwis, watermelon, cantaloupe, and pineapple are excellent choices for an easy camping breakfast. Avoid cutting up your fruit beforehand, and store it in the shade to prevent spoilage accelerated by the sun.

Banana in foil filled with marshmallow and chocolate in front of a campfire
Not only are bananas the perfect food for the outdoors, but they are also versatile!

2. Canned Fruit

If cutting fruit feels like too much work (especially after hiking), consider bringing canned fruit or fruit cups. Canned fruit is pre-prepped, mess-free, and shelf-stable. Additionally, you can use canned fruits in various recipes, such as for pancake toppings or fruit cobbler.

canned fruit
After a long hike, canned fruit is a perfect no-prep vitamin booster.

3. Dehydrated Fruit

Lightweight, healthy, and delicious to boot, dehydrated fruit makes the ultimate non-perishable food for camping trips. Make sure to pack a variety of flavors to prevent boredom.

dehydrated fruits
A lightweight option ideal for hiking but remember variety is the spice of life!

4. Pancakes

Pack pre-made pancake mix (or make your own) for a convenient camping meal that doesn’t require any refrigeration. Choose a brand that only needs water or bring powdered milk, and don’t forget to pack maple syrup!

Making pancakes over a campfire
Pancakes are easy to make, just be sure to bring your pancake mix and water.

5. Grits

If you’re hungry and in a hurry, instant grits are a quick and satisfying option. Both delicious and filling, they can be prepared in under 5 minutes with just water. Consider adding optional toppings like mixed herbs or fresh veggies.

6. Oatmeal

Oatmeal is a classic and easy-to-make hot camping meal that only requires water to be added. To enhance the flavor, consider bringing along non-perishable toppings and mix-ins such as fruit, chocolate chips, or raisins.

Bowl of porridge with blackberries
The classic breakfast meal.

7. Cereals

Cereal is easily enjoyed at a no-fridge campsite with the addition of powdered milk. For group trips, you can use a carton of shelf-stable almond or soy milk, but make sure to use it all at once as it will require refrigeration after opening.

8. Toast

Toast bread over your stove and enjoy it with the topping of your choice. For a sweet treat, consider jam, honey, cinnamon, or banana. If you prefer savory options, pack avocados or nut butters.

toast
Eat your toast straight up or add some jam, bananas, or whatever you want!

9. Preserves

Pack travel-sized preserves, such as jam or honey, for a convenient and delicious afternoon snack. Use preserves to sweeten toast, sandwiches, cookies, or even coffee and tea.

Strawberry jam spread on crackers
Simply adding honey or jam can transform the mundane into tasty!

10. Bagels

Bagels are an excellent no-refrigeration option for campers. Enjoy them on their own or pair them with some of the other items on our list like fruit, jams, honey, or peanut butter. Turn them into sandwiches or dip them into stews or chili for a versatile camping meal.

bagel
Pair with jam, honey, or peanut butter.

11. Pop-Tarts

If kids and college students can live on Pop-Tarts, so can you! These treats can easily be heated over a camping stove for a fun breakfast or afternoon snack. There are plenty of different flavors to choose from too. 

12. Muffins

Breakfast muffins are a classic, whether you are camping or not. Buy them pre-packaged or make your own, muffins serve as great snacks or a healthy breakfast.

Muffins
Best snacks ever!

13. Protein Shakes

Start your morning with a protein shake, providing a well-balanced snack or meal replacement to fuel your favorite outdoor activities.

protein shake
Your fuel for your outdoor activities.

14. Bacon and Powdered Eggs

Opt for pre-cooked bacon and powdered eggs as an excellent non-refrigerated breakfast meal. Pre-cooked bacon stays fresh for a day, while powdered eggs can be prepared whenever temptation strikes. Pair with toast or a bagel for a satisfying breakfast.

Pre-cooked Bacon and Powdered Eggs
Bring pre-cooked bacon and pair it with a powdered egg.

What Are Non-Refrigerated Lunch Ideas?

Whether you’re hiking, picnicking, or having a campsite lunch, the following list of no-fridge-needed lunch ideas will keep you energized and content.

  1. Tortillas
  2. Instant Potatoes
  3. Canned Beans
  4. Mac and Cheese
  5. Canned Soup
  6. Peanut Butter Roll-ups

1. Tortillas

Tortillas make a filling and versatile lunch that pairs well with many other non-refrigerated foods. Mix and match any of the meats and veggies on our list to turn your tortillas into a healthy and satisfying lunch.

tortillas
A versatile lunch with either meat, veggies or both!

2. Instant Potatoes

On their own, instant potatoes sound boring, but there are lots of ways to turn them into a flavorful and nutritious lunch or side dish. Add spices, olive oil, fresh veggies, or canned meats to transform potatoes into a complete meal. 

3. Canned Beans

Canned beans are an economical and filling option. Easily spice up a can by heating it on your camp stove and adding some spices or seasonings. For added convenience, opt for ready-to-go choices like baked beans.

Beans being cooked on a campfire
Canned beans are cheap and easily spiced up.

4. Mac and Cheese

On your next camping trip, you can have mac ‘n’ cheese on the table in under 10 minutes. Cook the noodles, drain them, add the cheese packet, and serve – no fridge required!

mac and cheese
So easy to do!

5. Canned Soup

Easy and warming, nothing beats a hot canned soup when cold-weather camping. Choose soups with a mix of protein and veggies to feel fuller. If you’re backpacking or traveling light, opt for soup packets instead of canned foods.

Soup heated up with a camp stove in the snow
This is a winner, especially in cold weather!

6. Peanut Butter Roll-ups

Turn peanut butter, jam, and bread into tasty roll-ups. You can use tortillas instead of sandwich bread and heat them up over your stove for a warm and filling meal.

What Are No Cooler Camping Meals For Dinner?

As the sun dips below the horizon, the prospect of a hearty dinner at camp can be downright euphoric. Find our favorite no-fuss, non-refrigerated dinner ideas in the following list.

  1. Instant Noodles
  2. Cornbread
  3. Rice
  4. Canned Pasta
  5. Canned Chili
  6. Summer Sausage
  7. Dehydrated Meals
  8. Fresh Vegetables
  9. Spaghetti
  10. Canned Chicken or Tuna

1. Instant Noodles

Instant noodles are affordable, tasty, and only require hot water. Choose varieties that come in their own cup to eliminate the need for a bowl. To enhance the flavor, consider adding canned veggies or meat to your noodles.

Cooking noodles over a camp stove
Add veggies or meat for more taste!

2. Cornbread

Cornbread is one of the best make-ahead camping meals because it’s lightweight, versatile, and easy to make. Opt for a sweet version for a wholesome breakfast or go savory, and enjoy it with other camp dinners like baked beans, chili, or pasta. 

cornbread
Cornbread is versatile and super easy to make.

3. Rice 

Rice is a great base to plan a healthy dinner around. Choose dry rice and let it cook slowly to draw flavor from your favorite ingredients, or choose instant rice as a time-saving option. Make sure not to leave any leftovers as rice must be refrigerated after cooking! 

Rice
Cook rice slowly for the best taste.

4. Canned Pasta

If you require a quick refuel after a day of hiking or campsite activities, nothing beats the convenience of a bowl of canned pasta. While canned pasta might not match the flavor of homemade varieties, reliable favorites like canned spaghetti with tomato sauce work well in a pinch.

canned spaghetti
Go instant with instant spaghetti.

5. Canned Chili 

Chili is a stick-to-your-ribs favorite that’s perfect for chilly nights, even in its canned form. Adding small touches like fresh jalapenos or extra spices will make a world of difference in terms of taste. 

Chilli cooking over a campfire
Warm your insides with a bowl of campfire-cooked chili.

6. Summer Sausage

Summer sausage is a shelf-stable meat that pairs well with rice and beans, serves as a sandwich filler, or can be enjoyed on its own as a snack. Keep in mind that it fares better in lower temperatures and should be consumed within a week of being opened.

Summer sausage
A great camping meat for adding to rice or pasta, or as a snack on its own.

7. Dehydrated Meals 

Dehydrated meals are popular amongst backpackers for their easy preparation and lightweight nature. Many of them are surprisingly good too, although you may need to experiment with different brands to find your favorite.

Backpacking stove and backpacking meals outside tent
A few of the brands and flavors we’ve taste-tested over the last couple of years © MyOpenCountry 2021

8. Fresh Vegetables

Fresh or canned vegetables make excellent snacks or additions to various meals. Remember and choose vegetables from the shelves rather than the refrigerated sections at your local grocery store.

Vegetables frying in a pan over coals at the seaside
Choose your veg fresh from the shelves and not from the store refrigerators.

9. Spaghetti

Whipping up a pasta dish on your next trip is as simple as boiling some pasta and opening a jar of pre-made pasta sauce. Enhance your dish by adding extras like canned veggies or meat for added depth.

Camping pan with spaghetti cooked inside of it
Boil some pasta, add pasta sauce and some meat, and there you have it.

10. Canned Chicken or Tuna

Canned chicken or tuna can be added to casseroles, sandwiches, soups, or salads for a boost of much-needed protein. If the weight of the can is a concern, opt for tuna or chicken packets instead. 

canned tuna
A convenient source of protein when out camping.

What Non-Perishiable Camping Food To Take For Snacking?

Whether by the campfire or on the trails, be sure to pack some of our favorite non-perishable camping snacks from the following list.

  1. Marshmallows
  2. S’mores
  3. Hot Chocolate
  4. Nachos & Cheese
  5. Nuts
  6. Dried Fruit
  7. Trail Mix
  8. Cookies
  9. Popcorn
  10. Banana Bread
  11. Granola Bars

1. Marshmallows

Roasting marshmallows over an open fire is a classic camping tradition. Regular marshmallows are best for roasting, while mini marshmallows can be added to desserts and hot chocolate.

marshmallows over open fire
Nothing is more quintessentially camping than roasting marshmallows over an open fire.

2. S’mores

What would evenings outside the tent be without classic camping s’mores? These are made by sandwiching marshmallows and chocolate between two graham crackers and then roasting them over a fire. Just make sure to store the chocolate and marshmallows out of direct sunlight beforehand!

s'mores
Melt marshmallows and chocolate between graham crackers by roasting over the camp fire.

3. Hot Chocolate

If you’re camping in cooler weather, nothing beats a cup of hot chocolate. All you need is your stove, cocoa powder, hot water, or even powdered milk. Don’t forget to pack some mini marshmallows!

pouring hot chocolate
A good cup of hot chocolate for the cold weather.

4. Nachos & Cheese

Unlike regular cheese, processed cheese is shelf-stable and can be drizzled over meals like nachos or chili. If you’re making nachos, be sure to add fresh toppings for extra flavor, such as veggies, meat, or fresh chilis.

Nachos with Processed Cheese
Be sure to add some toppings for extra flavor.

5. Nuts

Nuts are a high-protein snack that will boost your energy levels after a long day of outdoor fun. If you enjoy crunchy snacks, they’re a far healthier alternative to potato chips.

Various nuts
A more nutritious option than potato chips.

6. Dried Fruit

Campers with a sweet tooth will enjoy snacking on dried fruit. Although tasty, dried fruit tends to be high in sugar, so snack in moderation to avoid crashing later. Consider dehydrating your own fruit to reduce costs.

7. Trail Mix

Trail mix is the ultimate hiking and camping food. Lightweight and portable, it offers an ideal source of energy for strenuous activities. You can buy pre-packaged mixes for convenience or create your own to control the ingredients.

Packed lunch containers of trail mix
You can purchase it pre-packaged from a store or make up your own.

8. Cookies

Cookies serve as a delicious and non-perishable dessert or snack for camping. Just make sure to store the package out of direct sunlight, some cookies will melt!

Chocolate chipped cookies
Keep cookies away from the sunlight!

9. Popcorn

What could be better than enjoying a bag of freshly popped popcorn? You can find popcorn extension handles that allow you to safely make your popcorn over an open fire from a distance. Chips are another great option for campers craving salty snacks. 

Popcorn cooking over a campfire in a popper with extended handle
With a popcorn popper with an extended handle making campfire popcorn is a cinch.

10. Banana Bread

When it comes to simple camping food, banana bread is a top choice. It’s easy to prepare and stays fresh for several days without refrigeration. Consider pairing with almond or peanut butter for added protein to keep you fuller, longer!

banana bread and coffee sitting on tree trunk
Pair your banana bread with some peanut butter… or maybe just a coffee.

11. Granola Bars

Granola or energy bars make great camping desserts or snacks. Since oats are digested more slowly than other forms of carbohydrate, granola bars are an ideal pre-exercise snack for activities like hiking. Oats also contain potassium and magnesium, which help you to recover faster too. 

hikers eating muesli bars
Don’t forget to eat your granola bars before your hike.

Camping Food Ideas (No Refrigeration Required) Bon Apetit!

There you have it. You can survive your trip to the sticks without a fridge after all! 

We hope this guide to the best camping snacks and meals that don’t require refrigeration has given you food for thought for what to make on your next camping trip. 

If we missed any of your favorite no-fridge-required camping dishes, be sure to share them with us below. Don’t forget to check back regularly for more food ideas and guides! 

Last update on 2024-06-20 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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Jolanda Lapegna Avatar

Jolanda is a full-time writer and life-long outdoor enthusiast. Growing up on a small island off the Eastern Canadian coast, she spent most of her childhood hiking, swimming and fishing in the Atlantic ocean.

After a short stint in the corporate world, Jolanda quit her day job to write full-time and check out what lies beyond the Canadian shores. Ever since, she’s been hiking, biking and kayaking her way across 11 European countries and counting.

Jolanda currently lives in the beautiful, Tuscan countryside. When she isn’t hanging out in the woods or at the beach, you’ll catch her foraging for mushrooms and truffles with her truffle-dog, Red.

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