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47 Camping Food Ideas That Require No Refrigeration

Keeping a cooler cold while camping can be a hassle. And sometimes it’s just impossible to bring one along.

But what is the alternative?

Luckily, there are plenty of delicious camping meals that don’t require any refrigeration at all!

Here are 47 of our favorite no cooler camp meals to try on your next trip.

Camping Food Ingredients That Require No Refrigeration

camping beans in pot

Let’s start this no cooler camp food list with a selection of ingredients that don’t require any refrigeration.

1. Velveeta or Cheese Whiz 

If the term “cheese product” doesn’t bother you, these tasty cheese substitutes are great when a cooler or refrigerator isn’t available. Drizzle them on tortilla chips to make some campfire nachos or melt over pasta to make an easy campfire mac and cheese.

2. Honey

Both natural and sweet, squirt-bottle honey is a great camping ingredient for adding something sweet to tea, coffee, biscuits, toast, and so much more.

3. Bisquick

This floury mixture is the key ingredient to so many of our favorite camping breakfasts. Pancakes, waffles, biscuits and more. Bring along some baking powder and you’ll have no problem using Bisquick without eggs or milk.

4. Dried Herbs and Spices

Your food doesn’t have to lack flavor just because you are camping. And the best part is dried herbs and spices don’t need to be refrigerated. Bring cumin for your salsa, oregano for your spaghetti, and of course salt for, well…everything!

5. Canned Evaporated Milk

Canned evaporated milk has become one of my camping staples. While I might not use this to lighten my camp coffee, it’s a great substitute for recipes that require milk, even though it doesn’t taste exactly the same.

6. Powdered Milk or Soy

Another option for no refrigeration camping milk is to buy it in powdered form. You can use it as a substitute in coffee – or even in cereal. Just add some cold water until you get the taste just right. For all you vegan campers, powdered soy is also available!

7. Dry Lentils and Beans

Rice and beans – the camper’s go to food. But really, dry beans are a great addition to your camp kitchen that won’t take up a lot of space and don’t need any refrigeration. Remember for both beans and lentils, they can take a while to cook. Soak them in a pot of water overnight and you will have a much easier time getting them soft when you boil them the next day.

8. Bread

Taking its place next to milk as man’s ultimate staple, bread is a good filler when you are packing light and don’t want to take up room in the cooler. Toast, sandwiches, French toast, or a side for dinner.

9. Soy Sauce

Thinking of frying up some veggies and rice on your cook stove? Bring along some soy sauce. This Asian sauce is so salty, a little goes a long way, and it can go right back on the shelf after opening.

10. Butter

Some people don’t know that you actually don’t need to refrigerate butter at all. We keep ours out on the counter in a covered dish all the time so it is soft and spreadable. But be careful, it will be very soft and easily mushed – remember to keep it in a container with a lid that seals.

11. Bouillon

Bouillon is such a great seasoning. It comes in beef, vegetable, and chicken flavor. It is a good way to make broths for soup on the go.

12. Individual Mayonnaise, Mustard, Ketchup and Relish Packets

You know when you get take-out and they send you home with those little condiment packets? They work well perfectly for camping! While larger versions require refrigeration immediately after opening, the smaller single serve versions don’t require any refrigeration at all.

13. Potatoes

Potatoes make French fries. Enough said! But seriously, potatoes are incredibly versatile, easy to cook in a variety of ways, and stay good for a really long time. I love to make potatoes while camping.

14. Oil

How does anyone cook without oil? You can use it to fry up basically anything, dip bread in it, or grease a pan. Oil is a definite camping must-have ingredient that also doesn’t need to be refrigerated.

Make Ahead Camping Meals That Don’t Require Refrigeration

energy ball bites for camping

My family loves make ahead camping meals! While many of our favorites should be refrigerated, here are a few of our favorite make ahead meals that don’t need a cooler to stay fresh and tasty.

15. Muffins

Delicious for breakfast and snacks, muffins come in all shapes, sizes, and flavors. Add chocolate chips or blueberries. Or, make corn muffins to go with chili. Let them cool completely and put them in a plastic bag. They will stay good for up to 4 or 5 days.

16. Fruit Leather

Fruit leather is one of our favorite no refrigeration camping snacks. Buy it at the store or make your own fruit leather at home before your trip!

17. Energy Bites

Energy bites are little round, bite-sized snacks that you can easily make at home and pack a great protein and fiber punch. You can keep them in a bag or box. Since most are made from oats and nut butter, there is no need to refrigerate them.

18. Coffee Cake

Make a sheet coffee cake and you have an easy breakfast option that everyone at the campsite will love. This is one of our favorite coffee cakes recipes.

19. Banana Bread

Use up those leftover bananas on the counter before you pack up your camping gear. Banana bread is an easy to make camping food that stores well without refrigeration. Cut off a slice and toss it on the fire grate to get it toasty before enjoying.

No Cook Camp Snacks With No Refrigeration

dry spice wasabi peas for camping

Don’t have a camp stove and can’t cook on the campfire? Then a no cook camp meal is the way to go. These ones don’t even require refrigeration!

20. Jarred Salsa and Queso

Jarred salsa and queso have come a long way. While they are no match for the homemade version, they are a great option at the picnic table. Put them out as a dip with tortilla chips or use them to season tacos and quesadillas.

21. Wasabi Peas

This little snack will separate the men from the boys with their super spicy bite. But once you get a taste for these crunchy little treats you won’t be able to stop snacking!

22. Snack and Energy Bars

Choose from Cliff Bars, Lara Bars, and so many more. These brands have made a killing off of the camping and hiking community. And for good reason. They are light, small, and packed with protein, fiber, and fat. These little snacks are a great option when you are away from home and aren’t able to prepare a meal. They’re an awesome backpacking snack.

23. Pop Tarts

Kids and college students have learned to live on these. They are a breakfast junk food, up there with cocoa puffs. But they are super simple, come in individual wrappers, and have a shelf life of a twinkie… well almost. Try the unfrosted ones if you are looking for something a little healthier.

24. Raisins

Raisins are packed with energy and fiber, along with other good stuff like vitamins and minerals. If you want to jazz them up a bit you can get them chocolate or yogurt dipped.

25. Fresh Fruits

Most fresh fruits can be kept on the counter or in a backpcak before being cut open. A few of the ones that travel well are berries, lemons, kiwi, bananas, mangoes, pears, avocado, oranges, and melons. We love to grab peaches and apples from the farm stand on the way to our campsite in the summer and fall. But remember, once cut open, they won’t last long.

26. Fresh Vegetables

Most vegetables hold well without being refrigerated too. Look for the veggies that your grocer keeps in bins rather than in the refrigerated section. Some good ones are corn on the cob, tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, onions, garlic, eggplant, and green beans. Same as the fruits, many of these veggies, like cucumbers and tomatoes, will need some chilling once you cut into them. Best to just eat them up.

27. Dry Cereal

What is simpler than a bowl of cereal? Some are even great to eat dry, without your powdered milk mixture, like Cheerios, Frosted Mini Wheats, Fruit Loops and Cocoa Puffs.

28. Fruit Cups

We used to open up a tin of fruit cocktail for lunches as a kid. But now these little fruits are available in individually portioned cups. Now most of them are in real fruit juice instead of heavy syrup too.

29. Applesauce

Sweet, light, and sometimes cinnamony. You can get individual cups of applesauce to take on your next camping trip and they won’t need any refrigeration.

30. Chocolate

It can easily make or break any camping trip. Be it in a candy bar, a warm cup of cocoa or between a graham and mallow, chocolate is essential. Eat it before it melts!

31. Nuts

The varieties and flavors of nuts seem endless. From habanero almonds to honey roasted peanuts. They are a delicious snack, a great source of fats and protein and will never see the inside of a fridge.

32. Dried Fruit

Dried fruits are great in a mix but they are also good just on their own. Sugared pineapples, banana chips, mango slices, yum!

33. Canned Meats and Fish

Canned meats get a bad wrap but you can get your protein and meat fix without having to refrigerate it. Deviled ham makes a great sandwich, as does tuna (break out those individual mayo packets!), canned chili is a great option to add to your campfire nachos, and Vienna sausages are a good replacement in your pork and beans campfire dinner. 

34. Canned Vegetables and Beans

Canned vegetables and beans are a great alternative when you are looking to avoid the mess and time it takes to prepare fresh veggies and dried beans. All you need is a can opener and a spork.

35. Jerky

Jerky is great for any camper, but especially for backpackers who are looking for something to chew on along the way, as well as a way to replenish their salts as they sweat down the trail. Jerky comes in so many flavors these days and if you have a dehydrator you can make jerky at home for a lot less.

36. Trail Mix

Trail mix (also known as GORP) is the quintessential camping and hiking snack. It will give you energy and fill up your belly. The best part is you can buy it for a no-fuss option, but you can also make your own custom mix with all your favorite ingredients.

37. Nut Butter

Peanut butter, hazelnut spread, almond butter – the list goes on. They are all packed with protein and good fats and are a great way to satiate hunger at the campsite without a lot of fuss. Spread some on crackers, bread or fruit, like apples and bananas. If you don’t want to bring along a whole jar, you can pick up some individual packets.

Hot Camping Meals That Don’t Require a Cooler

Outdoor oatmeal in bowel with coffee

Here are a few of our favorite hot snacks, meals, and desserts that don’t require a cooler or refrigerator to bring camping.

38. Campfire Cherry Pies

This is the campfire dessert you remember making as a kid and it is still just as yummy, and easy! All you need is white bread, a can of cherry pie filling and a campfire pie iron. Best of all, none of these require refrigeration.

39. Oatmeal or Grits

Overnight oats are all the rage right now, but if you want the warm belly feeling of hot oatmeal in the morning, you’re in luck. All you need for this tasty breakfast is water. The same goes for oatmeal’s southern cousin. Grits are a delicious, lightweight, and easily storable addition to any breakfast.

40. Popcorn

What’s better than a bag of freshly popped corn over a campfire? In my opinion, this is a serious camping staple.

41. Boxed Mac and Cheese

Box mac and cheese is not just for kids. Our tip: stay away from the instant mac and cheese. The idea is clever, but the reality is sub-par. Stick to the regular box and substitute evaporated milk.

42. Pancakes

But even Bisquick requires eggs and milk, you say? Not so, when you use this genius recipe for pancakes with no eggs or milk, which uses only non-perishable items. And don’t forget your maple syrup (which doesn’t need a refrigerator either!)

43. Rice, Couscous and Quinoa

Mix them with anything and you have a meal. These grains are great options for any camper because they are easy to store and carry, and are quick to cook up. Plus they are versatile. Some canned veggies or beans, maybe some olive oil and salt, or just plain butter.

44. Instant Noodles

Instant noodles are cheap, easy, and all you need is water. Plus they are pretty yummy in their multiple flavors. The pasta will give you energy if you’ve been hiking and the broth will help to replenish salts. Best part, you just toss the cup. No need for dishwashing.

45. Canned Soup

Similar to instant noodles, canned soups are a great option when you are trying to cut down on the number of things you bring camping. Creamy, hearty or alphabet filled, there is a canned soup for you. Pour, heat and enjoy.

46. Pasta and Sauce

It seems basic but add a little parmesan cheese or some canned vegetables and you have an (almost) gourmet meal. It’s quick to cook up over a fire or on a stove and can feed a lot of people. If you want to try going a little fancier, try a pasta sauce dry packet and substitute evaporated milk.

47. Dehydrated Meals and MREs

A lot of backpackers carry around at least a few of these. They are hearty, calorie heavy, and actually taste pretty good. Dehydrated meals require you to add hot water, while MREs are standalone meals. An MRE (or Meal, Ready to Eat) is a military ration meal packaged to withstand combat conditions and is heated with a flameless heater that is provided within the MRE.

What Are Your Favorite No Refrigeration Meals for Camping?

As you can see, there are literally hundreds of camping meal ideas that require no refrigeration – our suggestions here are just the tip of the iceberg.

What about you? What are your favorite no refrigeration meals or snacks for camping? Let us know in the comments below!

And, if you do want to cook meals with ingredients that require refrigeration, our guide to the best camp coolers will help get you started.

Learn More About Camping Food!

Happy Camping!

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David

Wednesday 16th of December 2020

Wraps (flat bread) keep for up to 3 months until opened, and doesn't get squashed like bread does. Put tinned salmon, grated carrot, cheese and some cabbage and mayo, (coleslaw), and you're good to go

Ingrid

Monday 10th of August 2020

Bisquick and soy sauce both needs to be refrigerated after opening.

Twila Hobbs

Friday 18th of October 2019

We took a 4 month trip to Alaska and used mainly Emergrncy Essential dehydrated foods to save on the weight of canned foods. They mostly are delicious and convenient to use. Eating out and/or groceries are expensive in Alaska so this was a huge savings.

David

Saturday 22nd of June 2019

Most excellent! I'm planning a motorcycle camping trip this month, and these suggestions are really going to help out a lot.

Much appreciated! -David

Cindy Meinecke

Saturday 15th of June 2019

excellent suggestions! thanks. We are traveling for 4 days on a car ferry and needed some meal ideas that require no electricity.

Tina

Sunday 2nd of August 2020

Very good Ideas