10 No-Cook Camping Meals
For many people, meal planning can be a very stressful part of preparing for a camping trip! Check out these ten ideas for camping meals that don't require a stove!
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Camping is a great way to spend quality time with friends and family. For me, nothing beats spending time outside by a fire telling stories and making memories; some of my favorite memories from my childhood are from family camping trips. But I am not unaware that organizing these trips can feel like a big task. Especially when you start to think about preparing food for a group in the elements—rain or shine.
Meal time on your next trip doesn’t have to be stressful. Over the years, I have dialed in my favorite, low-stress, low-effort camp meals. So if you’re more interested in spending quality time with your friends and family than worrying about making a three-course meal, here are my secrets. Included are some hassle-free meals that are guaranteed to make your next camping trip smooth and fun.
1. Peanut Butter + Chocolate Chips + Banana Wraps
This meal is easy, filling, and healthy. Start off with a flour tortilla (or corn for my gluten-free friends) and spread with peanut butter, sprinkle some chocolate chips, and then add some sliced bananas. This makes for the perfect on-the-go lunch that comes together in just minutes. It’s also great to take on a day hike.
Further, the ingredients can be switched around to please everyone or to accommodate allergies. Swap your peanut butter with almond butter—or any other nut butter of choice—change out bananas with strawberries, and maybe even add some honey or cinnamon. The variations are endless and can really be changed to one's liking. This meal is also a huge hit with the kids.
2. Tuna Salad Sandwiches / Tuna Salad + Crackers
Another great grab-and-go lunch. With some store-bought or even homemade tuna salad, this meal comes together with little effort. It’s as simple as it sounds: just throw some tuna salad on some bread. Alternatively, grab some crackers and your tuna salad, throw it in your daypack, and eat on your hike that way—even more low effort! Plus, if tuna salad isn’t your thing, try chicken salad or potato salad.
3. Rice Cakes with Avocado (or Really Any Topping You Love)
My love for rice cakes runs deep. They are truly such a versatile snack. Similar to the last two ideas, this would make a perfect on-the-go lunch idea when you’re leaving camp. I prefer to top my rice cakes with avocado since you’re not always eating lots of fresh foods while camping. But like I said, rice cakes are so versatile. You could instead top them with jam/jelly, hummus, or peanut/almond butter. I usually enjoy my avocado rice cakes paired with a protein bar and some fresh fruit.
4. Pasta Salad
This meal requires some leg work on the front end, but not much, and it’s always worth it. Everybody loves a big bowl of pasta salad to share. It’s also pretty easy to prepare, with dozens of recipes online to choose from. Make it the day before and store in a big Tupperware container; you’ll be thankful you put in the effort before the trip.
5. Yogurt + Fruit + Granola
This is a go-to breakfast for me. It’s filling, nutritious, and simply tasty. I usually go for vanilla greek yogurt, some sort of berries, and my favorite granola.
Again with the low effort, all you have to do here is assemble. Toppings can also be added or taken away for preference. Add some chocolate chips, nuts/seeds, or any other toppings you enjoy. This breakfast will start your day off right.
6. Veggie Wraps
Throw some carrots, bell peppers, cucumbers, spinach, and avocado (just to name a few) in a tortilla, and enjoy. This meal idea is really flexible and can be changed to your liking. But the concept is adding your favorite fresh veggies into a wrap.
I also recommend adding hummus, hot sauce, or any drizzle you like. You can make these before your trip, or just prep the veggies and assemble them at your campsite.
7. Hummus + Carrots / Crackers + Protein Bar
This idea is a go-to for me when I’m just not feeling creative. Simple hummus and carrots (or crackers/pretzels) are a match made in heaven. Sometimes simple is best, and this lunch never fails me. I usually pair it with a granola bar and an apple.
8. Overnight Oats: Oats, Milk, Sweetener + Any Topping of Choice
I’ve climbed my biggest mountains with overnight oats as my breakfast. I swear by this meal. It does take some meal prep, but I promise you won’t regret it. The base is rolled oats, milk (I usually go for almond), and sweetener (maple syrup is my choice). From there, just combine these things and store them overnight in the fridge. The perfect grab-and-go breakfast that's sure to give you the energy you need for the day.
9. Choice of Meat (Pepperoni, Deli Turkey, Etc.) + Cheese + Crackers
Camping charcuterie anyone? Yes, please. All you need is your choice of meat, cheese, and crackers. Pack all these in your bag and have the most scenic and rugged charcuterie board ever.
10. BLT Sandwich (Pre-cooked Bacon or Make Ahead)
I don’t think it’s possible to go wrong with a BLT. Either grab the store-bought, pre-cooked bacon or you can make bacon before your trip. From there it’s just assembling at the campsite! This meal is a crowd-pleaser and doesn’t require a lot of effort.
Prepping for Your Trip
It’s true that most of the recipes I shared can be put together at your campsite. However, the more you do before you go, the less you have to do once you’re there. For example, if you want to add strawberries to your yogurt, you can cut them ahead of time for one less step. Also, recipes such as pasta salad, BLT, and overnight oats do require some work on the front end.
On the other hand, the first step before a camping trip is figuring out how much food you need to bring and make. How many people are coming? Can your friends bring tortillas and you bring protein bars?
Additionally, it’s important to split who brings what cookware. If you have a group of six, you don’t need six stoves. So another part of prep work is designating who is bringing what and how you can divide the work and gear. This can also be very cost-effective.
I suggest allotting about two hours before your next camping trip to purchase the food you need, prep it, and pack it. Depending on space and how long you’re going for, I think a standard-size cooler usually does the trick.
Another thing I find really helpful is bringing a couple of extra Tupperware containers and zip-lock bags. This is helpful for any leftovers or opened food you might have. Further, an easy-to-forget item is a trash bag. It’s never fun when you’re in the backcountry and your trash is intertwined with all your other gear.
To tie it all together, figure out how much food you need and how many people you’re cooking for. After that, I like to plan out my meals. For breakfast, we’re having overnight oats; lunch is BLTS; and dinner is tuna sandwiches. This step helps me think through what ingredients I may have at home and what I need to grab from the store. Once you do this, communicate with your group who’s bringing what to make sure not one person is spending all the money at the grocery store.
Meal prepping and planning for your next camping trip doesn’t have to be a stressful experience. There are easy, nutritious, and low-effort meals you can put together. I hope these ideas allow you to spend more quality time with your loved ones and less time stressed about cooking. Don’t let the intimidation of making food in the backcountry prevent you from getting outside and creating memories.
If you have any more questions or need assistance in planning your next camping trip, there are many Camping and Hiking Experts here at Curated that would be so excited to help you plan and recommend the perfect gear for your needs.