Why Bother with Camping Recipes?
Mother Nature. The Great Outdoors. Living Off the Land.
Okay, maybe that last one is a bit too far, but camping is one of the best vacations, adventures, or even just past times you can do with anyone. Of course, making sure that you stay fat, happy, and full can be challenging.
With resources and tools generally limited to only what you can carry, planning your camping meals is a big deal.
That is why we put together this comprehensive list of the best camping recipes. We also made sure to find recipes that cater to particular tastes and dietary restrictions.
Keep reading to find out how to make all of these tasty treats.
What Great Camping Food Should Be?
Unless you use an RV camper with a full kitchen, chances are you will not bring an entire kitchen with you. Because you are likely limited in terms of what cookware and tools you bring, it is a good idea to cook food that is inherently easier to cook.
Part of this can be accomplished by planning meals that do not even require you to cook at all. The fewer steps your meal requires the easier it will be to cook in most cases.
Quick to Cook
You do not want to spend more time cooking than you absolutely have to. That is why making sure that the food you bring cooks quickly is important. However, there are a lot of steps to cooking full meals, and not all of them can be skirted.
Instead, it is a good idea to pre-season whatever you can before going on your trip. Not only will this make prepping your food easier, but it will also allow the flavors to seep into your food making taste better.
Hearty and Filling
While this might be important for every meal, it might actually be more important for camping. Unless you plan on staying inside your tent or sitting under a shade tree all day, chances are you will be more active than normal.
To give you the energy for that activity, you should bring food that “sticks to the ribs.” At the same time, lunch and other snacks are best when they fill you up but do not weigh you down.
Healthy and Nutritious
Like the “hearty and filling” consideration, nutrition is especially important when camping. All of that extra activity not only uses energy, but it also uses your body’s nutrients too.
This factor becomes even more important if you have children whose growing bodies often proportionally need more nutrients than an adult’s.
One of the most important things to consider is weight. Probably the best way to cut down on food weight is to pick food that does not have a lot of water.
It may not seem like it at first, but water (and other liquids) is easily one of the heaviest things you consume. Most of the weight in your food actually comes from the water inside.
15 Camping Breakfast Ideas
Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, and this holds doubly true when you camp. With the expectation of fun, outdoor activities, you need to make sure your body has all the fuel it needs. These 15 camping breakfast ideas will help make sure you not only have the energy to go out and enjoy nature but also enjoy the first meal of the day.
This might seem a bit rich for breakfast, but the natural sugars in apples combined with a little cinnamon can wake even the deepest sleepers. Even better, the food necessary to prepare an apple crisp is not that heavy– especially if you use dehydrated apples, and you only need your camping skillet.
If an apple crisp seemed a bit rich, eating cinnamon buns for breakfast may be downright decadent. Usually relegated to an oversized pastry in an airport, cinnamon buns are a great option for breakfast camping. You can even throw in raisins or other dehydrated fruit to spice it up further.
Breakfast casseroles have a lot of advantages for camping breakfast food. For one, they are incredibly easy once you cook the meat. Just throw everything else in on top.
Breakfast casseroles are also a great idea if you are camping with a large group. This is also a hearty breakfast to fuel any planned activities.
Getting back to something a bit more traditional, pancakes might be one of the easiest camping breakfast ideas out there. You do not have to worry about any ingredients that need to be kept cold. Just add water to the mix and stir until you have a smooth batter.
One of the better things about breakfast burritos is just how many different ways you can spice it up. From just the meat alone, you can use ham, bacon, sausage or any combination of the three. You can also add a wide range of different vegetables which are nutritious and easy to carry.
Ham and Swiss
While this might seem like a bit more of brunch food, throw some ham and swiss cheese on a croissant, and you have a tasty breakfast sandwich. Add a little dijon mustard or sweet butter, maybe a few sliced vegetables, according to your taste for a little extra kick of flavor.
I am not going to lie here, french toast is probably one of the more involved camping breakfast ideas out there. Of course, pulling it off is a real accomplishment and will definitely delight any of your campmates. Be sure to use a bread that is high in fat content for the best results, and do not over-soak the bread in the batter.
Much like the casserole, the breakfast scramble provides a hearty meal that can feed a lot of people. However, the breakfast scramble is even easier than the casserole, though it can also be a bit messier to plate out. Still, cooking everything at the same time can save a lot of hassle.
While not necessarily that difficult, eggs benedict often present some issues for inexperienced cooks. But there is no need to make it more difficult than it has to be. Just remember to cook the egg at lower temperatures by keeping the pot higher above the fire– and do not forget the Hollandaise sauce.
So, breakfast pizza is not really that hard, but it will take a bit more time than most of the other breakfast ideas that we list. On the flip side, this is easily one of the most customizable breakfast foods, able to accommodate anything for savory to sweet and be just as good either way.
Even though you might be an omelet whiz in the kitchen, they can actually be a bit trickier when camping. This really depends on your skill as a cook and the tools you bring with you. If you are not careful, an omelet can turn into a scramble real quick– especially if you are using cast-iron.
Pie Iron Breakfast Sandwich
Even though we already covered a breakfast croissant, the pie iron offers an easy way to make toasted sandwiches. Part panini press and part waffle iron, the pie iron lets you quickly and easily toast your sandwich. Not only does this make delicious breakfast sandwiches, but it also makes it easy to eat on the go too.
Those of you comfortable with eggs benedict might want to try your hand at breakfast shakshuka. Basically, poached eggs in a tomato sauce make for a hearty and savory meal– even if it takes a little bit longer and will require a bit more cleanup than most of the other ideas.
Similar to a breakfast scramble, breakfast hash is both easy to prepare and feeds a lot of people. The main difference between the two is that you usually do not scramble the eggs before mixing them in and instead place the fried eggs on top once the hash is done cooking.
Breakfast quesadillas are a great way to make a tasty breakfast that is also easy to take on the go without having to worry about a mess. The most important thing to remember when making breakfast quesadillas is to not burn the tortilla while making sure it is cooked all the way.
15 Camping Lunch Ideas
It should be noted that when camping, lunch is not always a guarantee, especially depending on your activities. Sometimes, you might just opt for a snack on the go, but if you do decide to eat lunch, here are a few great ideas.
Aside from being an iconic lunch food that is sure to stir plenty of nostalgia, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches are also incredibly easy to make. Outside of a knife and napkin, there is really no need to get other cooking tools involved. Even better, they travel exceptionally well too.
Grilled cheese is another classic sandwich that likely inspires as much nostalgia as a PB&J. That said, grilled cheese sandwiches do require fire and cookware, but they also have more room for variety. American cheese may be the go-to, but grilled cheese is great with any high-moisture cheese.
In fairness, you are not likely going to make hummus on the spot as much as you will prepare it ahead of time or bring a pre-made batch. Either way, hummus makes a great lunch because it does not require you to cook. On top of that, it is easy to eat with either chips or bread and is filling too.
Rather than go with a sandwich and the potentially heavy bread, you can opt for a salad wrap instead. With a salad wrap, just add your choice of meat and cheese, drizzle on some condiments, and roll the whole thing up in a large leaf of romaine lettuce.
Hot dogs are a classic camping food, and while you can eat them for dinner, they might make an even better lunch. Stick that weiner to the end of a skewer and cook them over an open fire for a tasty lunch with minimal cleanup. And just like a sandwich, they travel easy too.
Panzanella actually takes a little bit more time to prepare and should probably be started before you leave. However, Panzanella travels well thanks to the vinegar base, so you do not have to worry about it spoiling. It also provides a good mix of nutrients without weighing you down.
Italians understood that breakfast and dinner are the biggest meals of the day and offer another great lunch option with the frittata. Similar to an omelet combined with a quiche, you can spice this dish up with anything from herbs to vegetables to cheese to meat or any combination in between.
Onion bombs are another lunch item that should probably be prepped at home, but they are so easy to cook and eat on the go. Even better, you can fill the stuffed onion with anything from meat to cheese to veggie blends. Spice it up a little bit more by wrapping them in bacon.
While a salad wrap might be a bit lighter, lettuce leaves are not necessarily the sturdiest base. If you want to throw something a little heavier into the mix, your best bet is to go with a tortilla. Grilled chicken or chopped steak makes a great filling, and you can still throw some lettuce in.
Nachos are a hit with most people and are pretty easy to make. Granted, you can go all out and make a multi-layer dip, but you should probably do that before you go on your camping trip. Still, requiring no plates (so long as no one double-dips), they also clean up well too.
Kabobs often require a little bit more in the prep department, specifically if you are using meat. Still, they are easy to cook, using the same approach as hotdogs, but are even easier to eat. You can actually eat the kabob right off of the skewer if you want or use a plate and fork.
If kabobs are a bit too basic, you can always throw the grilled meat and veggies into a pita wrap and make a gyro instead. While it might seem a bit more complicated, eating gyro kabobs means you do not need a fork and probably not a plate either.
While this might seem a bit more complicated, all you really need to do is build a fire. You might want to grill the corn for a bit, but most of the cooking will be done in tin foil. What makes this even better is that cleanup is a balled-up piece of foil away from finished.
Even though their names are similar, roasted potatoes are best when cooking in a dutch oven or covered skillet. While you can eat this for breakfast too, the hearty nature of roasted potatoes, as well as their common combination with ground beef and onions, make a great lunch as well.
Few things are able to satisfy for lunch like a salad. While you can add meat and cheese for a more complex flavor profile, even veggie salads offer a solid option for a light lunch. Even better, it is easy to prepare and store this ahead of time, so they are crisp and ready to go.
15 Camping Dinner Ideas
Once the day is done, you may not necessarily want to spend too much time cooking. However, this is when you are best-positioned to make some of the more decadent camping food ideas. Without the need to get up and rush, you can take your time and enjoy the meal next to the fire.
Empanadas are one of the more involved dinners we recommend, but your camping party will thank you. In fairness, the only part that makes this a bit more complicated is that you pan-fry empanadas. You can also just make a calzone if you do not want to fry the empanadas.
Probably one of the easier dinner ideas to make is a casserole, a favorite in homes across the world. With a casserole, you just need to put all of the ingredients in a dutch oven to cook. You can speed up the cooking time by prepping many of the ingredients beforehand.
It might seem a bit odd, but it is not actually that difficult to make lasagna while cooking. Granted, you need to prep the sauce and ricotta cheese blend, but a dutch oven will work nicely for cooking. Also, make sure to use lasagna noodles that do not need to be boiled.
Another carryover from breakfast, this time you might want to go the traditional route and use a red sauce– or maybe a pesto. Regardless of the sauce you choose, a dinner pizza will probably include different and heartier ingredients. Prep the ingredients ahead of time to make cooking quicker.
Surf & Turf
Unless you camp near a lake and catch the fish yourself, you will probably need to bring a cooler for surf & turf. Still, the combination of delicate fish with a heartier sirloin steak is just as good over and open fire as it is in a fancy restaurant.
If you are not looking to go all out for every dinner on your camping trip, soup offers a fairly no-hassle solution. Even better, you can throw pretty much whatever you want in there and it will probably end up tasting pretty good. Meat, mushrooms, veggies, and even something like eggs can all go in a big pot.
Just like with breakfast, you can make a quick and convenient quesadilla dinner, except this time you should probably use more savory ingredients. Some kind of meat seasoned or marinated in a heavier sauce combined with sharp queso will taste great.
Keeping with the Mexican food trend, fajitas are a great dinner that allows for some truly powerful flavors. On top of that, most of the ingredients are fairly easy to prepare, and you should have to worry about too much of a mess afterward.
There are probably few types of meat that are better suited for camping than steak. Granted, this means you probably need to bring a cooler to keep it cold and prevent spoilage. But there are still few foods which taste better when cooked over an open fire than pretty much any cut of steak.
Chili is an old campfire classic that brings up images of cowboys driving a herd. Of course, you can enjoy it without all the fuss, but it might not be a bad idea to actually prep the chili at home. If you are spending a lazy day outdoors, then cooking chili on the spot can work.
Kind of like a stir fry, pasta bowls involve you adding cooked pasta into a cast-iron skillet with other ingredients. You can cook meat or vegetables, and the pasta will absorb their flavors, enriching the meal. While you do not need to add a sauce, you certainly can.
The only reason tacos are in the dinner section is because they usually use a lot of different ingredients. If you prep all of the ingredients ahead of time, you can easily eat tacos for lunch. That said, be careful about what tacos you prep as some ingredients might need to be kept cold.
Just because you are not at home with all of your precise cooking tools does not mean you have to go basic. With just a little bit of water that you will also use for the gravy, you can make savory beef stroganoff in no time. You can also use pasta or mushrooms, but the cleanup takes a bit.
You can consider brats, or bratwurst, to be the hot dog’s more mature brother. With a hearty flavor and a larger size, brats are plenty of food to fill you up after a long day outdoors. They also taste great with a wide variety of toppings like sauerkraut, pickles, and many other ingredients.
There are a million ways to cook chicken and all of them taste delicious. Of course, the classic and healthiest way to cook chicken when camping is to simply grill it over and open fire. Aside from not having to worry about any fat or oil, you also get that hearty flame-kissed flavor.
15 Camping Food Ideas for Kids
Children are often notoriously picky eaters as many parents know all too well. And while they might be happy eating chicken tenders for every meal, that does not really work when camping. To help make your family camping trip a little bit easier, we made sure to collect kid-friendly camping recipes for every meal.
Pie Iron Savory Sandwich
While we already covered the pie iron sandwich in our general camping breakfast foods list, this time we add a particular caveat: try to avoid vegetables. We might find that a nice slice of onion adds a unique flavor balance, but kids often have an extreme aversion to this approach.
Biscuits and Gravy
This breakfast for kids has the advantage of being both fairly easy to make as well as extremely filling. You make everything in a single cast-iron skillet, though make sure to start with the biscuits before adding the gravy. And though it may not seem like it, it is also fairly easy to clean too.
This is definitely one of the breakfast options that kids are likely to enjoy the most if for nothing else other than the sweet flavors. However, it also has the advantage of keeping them interested and occupied as they cook. Just make sure to instruct the proper distance from the fire to prevent burning.
Pie Iron Sweet Sandwich
This is pretty much the same thing as before, except this time you use various sweet ingredients that are sure to excite your kids. Jellies and jams work well for sweet pie iron sandwiches, but make sure to throw in a base like marshmallow fluff or peanut butter to round it out.
If you are noticing a trend, it is that breakfast for kids is much easier when the food is at least a little sweet. If you do not want to use ingredients that are full of sugar, yogurt parfaits offer a healthier, but still delicious alternative. While fruit is an obvious addition, consider granola or graham cracks too.
Mac & Cheese
What kid does not like mac & cheese? The only potential difficulty with this meal comes from boiling the pasta. Of course, you can always boil the pasta ahead of time and not have to worry about it. Even better, you can cook this in a dutch oven and add crumbles on top for a delicious baked mac & cheese.
Nachos might be considered more of an appetizer or snack, but you can turn them into a complete meal with the right ingredients. Of course, you will want to remember the cheese, but you can also often slip in some veggies into the cheese without any complaints. Turn it into a family dip for easier prep.
Okay, so this one might depend on your kids, but we promise if they try it, they’ll like it. Just tell them that quiche is kind of like a baked omelet, and they are sure to love it. The light fluffy texture combined with a wide variety of flavor profiles makes this an incredibly versatile option.
A classic whether camping or home, most children enjoy the savory, yet semi-sweet, flavor of sloppy joes. This is an incredibly easy lunch to make that pretty much prepares itself once you brown the meat. Even better, the cleanup is pretty easy too– for the cookware, not necessarily your kids.
Just like for breakfast, fruit is also a great option for lunch. Aside from the fact that it has all kinds of nutrients, it also provides a slight boost of sugar for afternoon energy. In this case, we suggest using fruit slices as the “bread” with peanut butter or some other topping in between.
These are pretty much baked potatoes, but the fun name and unique appearance are more palatable to children. To be fair, these are actually twice baked potatoes, but that only means that they taste even better. Throw some bacon and cheese on top (and maybe sour cream) to really get them going.
You can make a stew at home and take it with you or even cook it on the spot if you have the time. One of the best things about stew is that you can throw in vegetables and any meat will season them as well as make them soft.
Considering how often kids want to fast food, this is pretty much a no-brainer. While you can grill them over an open fire, you might actually have better results sauteeing them. While it is not quite as healthy, it does come closer to the fast-food style. Remember to use thinner patties.
Pizza is a favorite of most people, including kids, but you will probably need to be a bit more careful when choosing toppings. As much as kids fight about eating vegetables, seeing the vegetables makes that battle all the more difficult. Stick with sauce, cheese, and maybe meat on this one.
This is another option where the name and the novelty will likely do as much, or more, for getting your kids to eat as the actual food. Basically, hobo packets are any ingredients cooked inside of a foil packet. Aside from the fact that they are easy to make, cleanup is as simple as throwing the foil away.
5 Camping Desserts
No camping meal would be complete without a sweet treat to end the night. That said, dessert might actually be one of the more difficult “meals” to plan for. This is because sweet foods do not hold up quite as well as some of the heartier ingredients the other meals use.
This camping dessert has the distinction of being both one of the easier options to make as well as being one of the healthier. If nothing else, this dessert helps ensure that you get one of your recommended daily servings of fruit. Of course, adding chocolate and other goodies always improves the taste.
Out of all the camping desserts, tarts can be one of the trickier to make. It helps if you prepare the fruit stuffing ahead of time, but this also requires better containment to prevent it from spoiling. Still, the ability to make it large or small in short order can compensate for the inconvenience.
Ah, the classic s’more is a camping favorite that is both fairly easy to make and just as easy to carry. While the original s’more graham cracker sandwich works, it can also be a bit messy. Make a s’mores dip with your skillet and dip the graham crackers in for an easier dessert– outside of the cleanup.
If you have ever gotten a giant cookie in the mall, then you know exactly where we are going with this one. Other than maybe a s’mores dip, the Oreo cookie might be the easiest camping dessert on our list. All of the ingredients are premade and it just requires a skillet to cook.
Donuts might seem like an odd camping dessert, but the multitude of options leaves everything open to your imagination for toppings or fillings. Even better, camping donuts are not that difficult to make either. Just keep in mind, you do not deep fry camping donuts but fry them in a skillet instead.
5 Camping Food Ideas for a Crowd
If you are part of a large camping group, usually 8 people or more, coming up with convenient ideas can be tougher. In fairness, you might just be overthinking it a bit in terms of portions and serving. To us, the best camping food for a crowd is usually something that comes in a big pot or whole.
Tips for Making Camping Food for a Crowd
Cooking in Bulk
Probably one of the biggest things to consider that might also be one of the most overlooked considerations is timing. Basically, you do not want to cook a meal where some people get to eat before others.
Instead, making food that comes out all at one time will keep all of your campers happy. Of course, this means that you need to choose ideas that are meant to be cooked in bulk.
Know the Group’s Dietary Restrictions
On top of that, different campers might have various dietary restrictions– some of which we cover farther down on our list. Keeping track of these is not only polite but, in the instance of allergies, can also prevent a medical emergency.
Get Ahead of the Crowd
Still, cooking for a crowd takes a lot more time and effort. That is why taking care of the prep work ahead of time is a great idea.
Cooking as much of the food before you actually go camping– so all you have to do is heat it up– can really help. Of course, not all of our ideas are as easy to prep, so make sure you have the necessary tools and cookware handy as well.
Make it a Pot-Luck
One good thing about cooking for a crowd is that you should not be expected to carry everything yourself. With so many other people to help, make sure that the group has a plan for who brings what.
While this definitely includes the food you cook, it should also extend to the cookware as well. Cast-iron is extremely heavy, and you should not be saddled with a skillet, pot, and dutch-oven when there are so many other strong backs joining you.
Have a Plan
Finally, consider which meals you plan to make on which days. While making an impressive meal the final night might be a good send-off memory, it also might be a chore that you do not feel like doing right before you head back home.
This is definitely one of the easiest meals for a large group– especially if you make it ahead of time. Even better, using a vinegar-base sauce will help keep the pasta salad from turning longer. Though, you will still want to keep it reasonably cool, but you may not need to actually keep it on ice.
A classic in many homes, spaghetti holds the distinction for being fairly simple as well as incredibly filling. The sauce is likely something you should make ahead of time. Thankfully, the longer the sauce sits after cooking, the more flavorful it gets as the different spices further seep and mix.
Pot roast can be a bit difficult to make on the spot unless you bring a dutch-oven with you and watch the fire. However, it is also fairly hands-free and can include everything you need. Just throw some cut veggies into the pot with the roast and let it slow cook all day.
We do not recommend actually trying to cook this on the spot, as it can result in staggered cook times. Instead, you can prepare and cook all of the ingredients ahead of time and simply use a little oil and a cast-iron skillet to heat it up. You can also prepare the ingredients so that they easily keep.
This is another idea that can be prepared, but you should still cook on the spot. Make sure to marinate the cuts at home, so they can fully absorb the flavors. Thankfully, barbeque is pretty much the quintessential camping food and might be the best when cooked over an open fire.
5 Vegan Camping Food Ideas
Outside of fairly uncommon and extreme cases, “going vegan” is considered one of the more restrictive diets. Without the ability to use any foodstuff that comes from animals, it can be hard to cook in modern society. Thankfully, there are still plenty of great vegan camping food options.
For the first meal of the day, oatmeal provides a fairly safe bet. Aside from the fact that it is easy to make and pretty filling, you can also spice it up with a wide variety of different options. Whether you add different spices or fruit, oatmeal is sure to help you get your day started on the right foot.
Chickpeas are usually a classic staple of vegan diets because they provide a lot of nutrition without sacrificing a rich, robust flavor. While the “scramble” might seem a bit counterintuitive, you can just substitute the eggs with hummus to get a similar mouthfeel. And just like other scrambles, it is easy to make.
If you need a quick snack and do not want to stop to set up a cooking camp, granola bars are an excellent alternative. To be fair, you can always make these ahead of time to save the trouble, but with some oats and your choice of nut butter, you can make your own on the spot.
Omnivores are not the only people who can enjoy the classic favorite sloppy joes. Granted, you need to sub out the meat for red lentils, but you will not miss out on any of the flavor or protein. It does not hurt that they are actually easier to clean up than sloppy joes with meat either.
Sweet Potato Burger
Vegans are incredibly inventive when it comes to enjoying classic favorites in a humane way. Take the humble burger, instead of using a beef patty, you can just use shredded sweet potato and beans. And like with most vegan alternatives, they are much easier to clean up than greasy meat.
5 Camping Food Ideas No Cooking
While a variety of great camping meals that take advantage of cast-iron are delicious, they are also more difficult. Aside from the fact that you have to take the time to cook the food and clean the cookware, you also need to know what you are doing. These ideas eschew all of that.
Yogurt and Granola
Eggs and fresh bread are great for the morning, but they take time and can leave too full to truly enjoy the day. Yogurt, on the other hand, is not only nutritious and filling but incredibly easy too. Throw in some granola for some long-term energy and breakfast that takes no time at all.
Cold Cut Roll-Ups
While this section might focus on cook-free options, you can go even more minimal than that. Similar to the fruit roll-up, a cold cut roll-up sees you using meat as the “bread” of sorts. Throw in a piece of cheese, some lettuce, and your condiment of choice for a quick and easy lunch.
Cheese boards are most often associated with wine tasting events, but they make a great meal on their own too. With a variety of different meats, cheeses, and crackers, you can have lunch or dinner without cooking. Do not forget to include your specialty jellies either, like jalapeno jelly.
To be clear, this does not refer to “salad” in the leafy green sense, though you could certainly add that as part of the sandwich if you wanted. Instead, we are talking about egg, tuna, or chicken salad sandwiches. While this does not require cooking, you will still want an ice chest for the mayo.
Despite the name, antipasto does not mean “anti pasta” and can very well include pasta as one of the ingredients. Of course, you have to cook pasta, so we recommend going with a mixture of your choice of cold cut meats, cubed cheese, and either fruit or some leafy greens.
5 Gluten-Free Camping Food Ideas
While not nearly as restrictive as the vegan diet, going gluten-free can be just as difficult. This is because grains are much cheaper to make and use and so find their way into pretty much everything. That said, the gluten-free diet does have some foods added to their list vegans do not.
By far one of the best things about curry for gluten-free diets is that it thrives on protein far more than anything else. You can always choose a vegetarian or vegan option like chickpeas or tofu, but curry works just as well with meat. The rich, complex flavors and hearty profile are excellent.
Steak and Eggs
This is perfect for a gluten-free diet because you can eat it for pretty much every meal (except dessert). Even better, you can cook the eggs with the steak for an extra flavor profile without having to add too many spices. The only potential issue is that it requires a bit more cleanup.
Seafood, in general, can be a bit tricky when camping primarily because they need to be kept at cold temperatures to prevent spoilage. However, the delicate umami of shrimp more than makes up for any absence of hearty breads. This option gets bonus points for having an incredibly easy cleanup too.
If you need a healthy breakfast with plenty of energy or even a nice dessert that will not leave you feeling fat, fruit salad is a good choice. Even better, fresh fruit is naturally gluten-free. In something that might be a bit of a surprise, Cool Whip is also gluten-free and is arguably the standard fruit salad topper.
Cucumber salad is a sneaky good gluten-free food because most people do not consider it that flavorful. However, since cucumbers are mostly water, that means they absorb flavors extremely well and quickly. They also pair well with other veggies as well as a wide variety of cheeses.
5 Camping Food Ideas No Refrigeration
Camping food that does not require refrigeration is arguably as restrictive as the vegan or gluten-free options we looked at. The main reason for this is that most meat and dairy products need to be kept in cool temperatures to prevent spoilage. That said, there are still a number of options available.
While we could have included this in a number of the other sections, trail mix might be the quintessential camping snack. What makes it even better is the sheer variety of different ingredients and flavor profiles you can make. Whether you want sweet, savory, or spicy, trail mix has you covered.
This might actually be part of your trail mix, but there are so many things you can do with granola, it deserves a spot on its own. Basically, if you have a sticky substance you can eat, just throw some granola in with it to get a satisfying crunch as well as a hearty flavor and full feeling.
This technically covers anything from coffee to hot cocoa, depending on the mix that you bring. Even something like kool-aid packets can be made on the spot and still satisfy without being cold. Most teas are not instant, but we think they deserve a mention here too.
If you don’t want to make your coffee concentrate, you can choose instant coffee packs. Waka Coffee would be a good choice. It’s a rich, balanced flavor but without the acidic tones of some instant coffees. Great option for backpackers or campers. You can even make smoothie with instant coffee.
For no refrigeration camping purposes, skip the grocery store and get your fresh veggies from your local farmer’s market. Most veggies that were never refrigerated to begin with hold for a week or more– except leafy greens. Just remember to eat veggies with a high water content in one sitting.
Whether you actually cook them over an open fire at any point or merely keep them wrapped in aluminum foil, grilled veggies are a great option. Also, starchy vegetables like corn, carrots, and potatoes travel and handle room temperature better than others.
Assorted Tips for Camp Chow Success
Cooking tools are the things you use to cook food with and include both the items you cook food in and the utensils you use to cook the food. For example, the most useful type of cookware to use for a wide variety of our camping food ideas is the cast-iron skillet.
Cast-iron is a great all-around cookware tool because it gets hot relatively fast and cooks the food evenly. The only real issue with a cast-iron skillet is its weight which gets to be a bigger issue the larger the skillet.
Cast-iron can also be a bit difficult to clean if you did not “season the pan.” Despite what it might sound like, seasoning a cast-iron skillet is really just baking a layer of oil on it to prevent rust.
For cooking on a cast-iron skillet, a spatula is easily one of the most important cooking tools. This allows you to easily flip most foods and does not weigh much either.
A big pot, whether cast-iron or not, is also a good idea. Aside from the soups and stews on our list, a pot is also great for various food prep as well.
Probably the most important pot utensil is a large wooden spoon without straining holes, though a wooden spork can work too. Depending on the food you intend to make, you might also want to bring a ladle for serving.
This is probably one of the more overlooked aspects of camping food because it is not actually used for cooking. That said, a lot of our camping food ideas necessarily involve the ability to keep the foodstuffs cold before you prepare them.
While there are a couple of ways to do this, one of the most common is to bring a cooler full of ice. A large, well-insulated cooler full of ice can last for multiple days before you need to refill it and keeps your perishables nice and cold.
Depending on how quickly your perishables will go bad, you can also use an insulated food box that does not have ice. This is convenient because a cooler full of ice will eventually become a cooler full of water.
If you do not vacuum seal your food, there is always a chance that the water can get in the food and cross-contaminate it. However, insulated food boxes or bags are not the best containers for hot climate camping.
Regardless of what containers you use to carry your food, make sure that they can be easily transported from one place to another. This means that the containers should come with large wheels, so you do not have to carry them by hand, over your shoulder, or on your back.
Of course, the terrain where you camp will definitely impact this. Rocky or inclined terrain is not likely to be as rolled container friendly as flat, grassy land.
Not all camping food should be cooked at the same temperature, and how you build your fire will play a huge role in this. For example, most of the time you will want to put your cookware on a grate that sits over the fire.
However, it is a good idea to bring a couple of different grates that sit at different heights to best control the cooking heat. To be fair, you can technically control the size of the fire, but this takes a little bit of practice and experience.
Another thing to consider about the fire is whether you will be cooking over an open flame or using coals. Just like with outdoor grilling, using coals, whether charcoal or from smoldering logs, lets you better control the cooking temperature.
Of course, an open flame can provide an excellent flavor in its own right for meats and other grilled foods. Just make sure you know how the different types of wood will flavor the food as not all of them taste the same.
While this is not necessarily one of the things you bring with you, Sterno cans do provide a good alternative to open fire. Basically, Sterno cans provide an easily controlled fire that is easy to light and keeps burning even when exposed to light rain.
Much in the same way that the water in your food will often determine how heavy the food is to carry, the weight of your drinks will often weigh as much, if not more, than your food.
In this case, you will want to make sure that you carry enough clean drinking water for the trip. If you camp near a water source, you might be able to use it to supplement your drinking water.
However, you need to make sure that the source provides moving water like a river or stream. You will also need to clean the water with both sterilization and filtration.
Sterilization is fairly easy since boiling the water takes care of most issues, though you can also get sterilization tablets to add for better certainty. Filtration can be a bit trickier unless you bring a water filter with you.
Keep in mind, a lot of camping foods require water for cooking, so make sure to bring enough for that too if you plan on using those ideas.
Beyond water, there is a whole range of drinks that go great with camping like tea, lemonade, and adult beverages. One thing to remember, though, is that fruit or vegetable drinks usually need to be kept cold which will take up more space in an insulated box/bag or cooler.
Dishes and Utensils
This is actually a pretty easy one: disposable. Whether forks, spoons, plates, or bowls, you should generally go for disposable dishes and utensils.
One of the few exceptions to this might be knives since plastic knives do not cut meat that well. Depending on what you plan to cook, you might want to bring some other utensils as well.
For example, while sticking marshmallows on the end of a stick might seem quaint and nostalgic, bringing a stainless steel skewer is a better idea. Aside from the fact that it is generally easier to use, a stainless steel skewer does not carry the risk of parasites or other diseases.