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There are few things as important when you pack before a camping trip than the foods you choose to bring with you. Everything from meals to snacks needs to be ready to quickly and easily eat since your eating times can vary massively depending on your plans and any unexpected hungry campers you may be going with.
If you don’t wish to bring a portable stove or boil too much water, there are also tons of camping recipes that require no on-site preparation at all and only a little preparation at home beforehand. If you need no-cook camping food ideas, we have tons of ideas for every meal, from snacks to breakfasts to dinners and even desserts.
No discussion about easy camping food ideas is complete without trail mix, the absolute best camping food, and a fundamental snack for any campers or hikers. The reason trail mix is important is that you can fill it with nearly anything you want, and as a result making a homemade trail mix can easily satisfy everyone in your hiking group.
Many prefer to go with a more dessert-style approach by adding sweeter nuts and chocolates, but there are many recipes for styles with dried fruits and oats for a slightly less sugary snack. Whatever your ideal ingredients are, all you need is a great way to carry it and keep everything fresh, such as a GoStack BlenderBottle for easy packing and secure sealing.
With any camping adventure comes two important food types: breakfasts and snacks. These often go hand-in-hand, with both being extremely valuable to you when you don’t have time to sit down for a meal and as a quick way to start your day before a hike.
One of the best examples of both comes in the form of overnight oats, which are essentially a combination of breakfast parfaits and oatmeal wrapped in a simple package. Their base usually involves oats and any form of plain yogurt, and from there, you can add milk and any toppings that range from fruit to chocolate and peanut butter for a straightforward and nutritious breakfast.
Chips & Salsa
Chips and salsa hardly need to be saved for game days, as they can make an especially great camping food if you want something with as little preparation as possible. Packing a bag of tortilla chips and any mild or medium salsa is all you need, and even just bringing some shredded cheese can make a great cook-free snack with tons of flavor.
If you want to do a little cooking beforehand, you can also pre-cook some ground beef or pork to dress it with, but this isn’t recommended if you don’t have a cooler or aren’t as fond of the taste. By skipping the meat and cheese, you can make a great vegan and vegetarian option for hikers with dietary restrictions, too.
Another common snack for sports fans is popcorn, but this can be even more refreshing on a camping trip when sitting around a fire or comfortably inside your tent. There are tons of ways to cook it fresh from kernels over a portable stove, but there’s also nothing wrong with taking a pre-made bag from a corner store or grocery store.
That said, pre-cooking on your own can give you some much better quality, especially since you can potentially dress your popcorn in all sorts of other ways. One great example is a recipe from Taste of Home for Ranch Popcorn, which adds some light onion powder and salad dressing mix to give it a brighter taste that keeps well over time, and doesn’t require any melted butter to add flavor.
Many veteran hikers will live by jerky as a go-to meat snack on hiking and camping adventures, but this is very much an acquired taste for some. This common road trip food can provide a great tough snack, but the dried texture can sometimes make it unappealing to most people.
If you want something a little softer and easier to chew, thin pepperoni sticks (sometimes known as pepperettes) are a fantastic alternative that requires just as little storage consideration. You can usually find them in grocery stores and many delis, but corner stores will also have them in individual packaging if you want a smaller set of pepperoni sticks to try before filling up.
With the snacks out of the way, it’s time to start looking into your camping meals to keep you satisfied in the afternoon and evening. One of the most common approaches to an afternoon and early evening easy camping meal is usually sandwiches, but there’s far more you can do than just throwing some deli meat and veggies into some bread.
Wraps are a great way to make classic meals with a bit more variety, and because of the less-filling bread, you can often make room for far more selections of vegetables and cheeses. That said, these can also lose their structure through travel in large bags, so it’s strongly recommended you bring wraps premade in narrow containers like the Slideep Airtight Storage containers to make sure they stay both fresh and tightly wrapped.
Pasta salads are another incredibly traditional camping food, but they’re especially great for the level of variety you can take in what you put inside. For the most part, the only cooking you need to do is boiling the pasta before you leave, and you can then either prepare it in Tupperware bowls before leaving or just bring all the ingredients for people to mix their pasta themselves.
It’s plenty easy to make them using some tuna and creamy sauces for a bit more protein, but there are also other ways to go that involve adding veggies like red onions and broccoli for a nice summer salad with a more natural set of flavors. If you want one that’ll keep especially well over time, Yellow Bliss Road has a great recipe for an incredibly straightforward sweet veggie salad.
As mentioned with wraps, it’s impossible to go on a camping trip without considering a good sandwich meal, but cold sandwiches and wraps can sometimes be a little stagnant. Deli meats and veggies can be great, but there’s something about cooked meat that can stick with you more, and if you don’t mind doing a little preparation before you go, some bacon for a traditional BLT sandwich is a perfect solution of a kitchen-style food with zero preparation before eating.
Bacon can keep surprisingly well after cooking, particularly if you don’t mind it being a little extra crispy. So long as you clean off the fat before putting it into any containers, it’ll often fit right into a sandwich and give a great amount of protein that often can be a bit too bland in other meats, and the simplicity of a BLT can also make a perfect comfortable sandwich after an exhausting day outside.
There are plenty of Mexican options you can go to for a filling meal. Take taco bowls, a much more fulfilling version of nachos and wraps that don’t require you to eat with your hands. It’s much easier to throw sauces and meat in since they’ll be held in more well-sealed containers like a Freshmage Salad Lunch Box.
Combine some crushed chips and lettuce for your base, and from there, it’ll be much easier to add some pre-cooked meats and any other spices and sauces you like in your tacos. Chicken is perhaps the best to cook up for this before your journey, though, since it’ll likely be the most palatable to serve while cool compared to many types of ground and sliced beef.
If you want to try something a little more classy to go with your evening or afternoon, there’s no rule against having a fancy cheese plate to bring out while you sit around a campfire. You can easily take a brick of cheese in a cooler to bring with some crackers, but it’s also plenty surprising for fellow campers to pre-cut various types and pull out a premade platter.
Cheese plates aren’t the most fulfilling meal, but they travel well and make a spectacular impression on anyone you’re traveling with. Even though many charcuterie boards seem formal when you look them up, most simpler cheese and cracker plates are astonishingly easy to put together with the right amount of variety and careful cutting before you leave.
Even though soups are easy to cook, there’s something to be said for just taking a Stainless Steel Thermos out of your bag to have a nice sip of something thick and savory. Many people would not be bothered by heating canned soup in a cast iron skillet before leaving for a hike, but if you don’t want to spend too much time sitting over a flame first, you can always try one of many cold soup recipes out there.
A tomato gazpacho soup can be an excellent choice, in this case, giving the hardiness of a tomato soup without the intense heat for those hiking on hot summer days. For something slightly tangier, Food & Wine also has an excellent cucumber and dill soup that makes a great afternoon snack as well and will give a much wider variety of flavors.
As mentioned earlier with BLTs, sandwiches often need a very particular style of meat to be good without cooking beforehand. Deli meats can be dull, while others require preparation beforehand. Perhaps the ideal meat to go with your entirely cook-free sandwiches is a few slices of salami.
This drier meat has an incredible amount of flavor, giving benefits similar to the pepperoni sticks while fitting into a wide variety of veggies and meats. Because it’s inherently flat, salami also makes for some of the most compact sandwiches you can get, meaning you won’t be struggling to get it in or out of your Ziploc bags.
The final type of food you should think about are great camping desserts, things to give a little extra sweetness to celebrate a long hike or lay back with after a delicious dinner. Many people will gravitate to desserts cooked over a fire, but if you want something sweet that doesn’t need a flame to cook, there are tons of things you can prepare before your trip or easily make on the go.
Perhaps the best example of a s’more-style treat that’s easy to pack is a fluffernutter, a unique sandwich that many people experience briefly in their childhoods. This simple sandwich uses peanut butter and marshmallow fluff, and it ends up being a spectacular chewy treat that fits great on sweeter white bread and swirl bread, but even options like whole-wheat can be great ways to make this treat even healthier.
If you have some small cups, such as these silicone coffee cups by SUNOZ, many portable drinks and puddings are great options. You could always go quite simple with a chilled or iced hot chocolate, but if you feel like something with more depth you could always try this recipe from Live Love Texas for S’more Parfaits.
These essentially involve chocolate pudding, graham cracker crumbs, and marshmallow fluff stacked in layers on top of each other and provide a sweet s’more experience you can eat with a spoon. It makes far less mess and is easy to prep before you go. Plus, it will keep in any cooler extremely well.
Hiking and camping may be especially attached to chocolate desserts, but there are certainly some fresh fruit options that you can consider for a camping snack without any packaging necessary. If you happen to have some bananas, the peel might be all you need, as a Banana Boat simply is meant to put several items directly into the peel to mix with a fresh banana.
You can cook these in foil over a fire if you wish, but even just mixing some other fruits like strawberries and even some nuts will give you a great and custom sweet treat that’s ready to eat within 2 minutes. If you want an idea of somethings to put in it, both uncooked and with some heat, Fresh Off The Grid has tons of ideas for all kinds of sweet and savory banana boats.
While most of these foods are great options for those who plan on a cook-free hiking trip, many of these are also great to do over a flame if you want a little extra flavourr. That said, your cooking meals don’t have to be held back by the lack of a flame, and given the personal and forest safety risks of portable stoves and campfires, it’s always great to have a ton of options that you can enjoy right out of your bags and containers.