If you’re looking for dry camping foods ideas that don’t require refrigeration, you’ve come to the right place! While it may seem challenging to find snacks and meals that don’t require refrigeration, there are a few options available. With a little creativity, you can quickly create a camping menu that everyone will love.
One option is to focus on food that you can be cooking quickly. Many pre-cooked options are available in most supermarkets, or you can opt for something that only requires heating in hot water. These quick meals are perfect for camping as they can be made with minimal effort and cleanup.
Another option is to pack a small portion of food that you can easily finish in one sitting. That way, you don’t have to worry about storing leftovers without a refrigerator or ice chest. Camping without a cooler can be challenging, but it’s doable with a little planning. By following tips, you can enjoy your camping trip without worrying about your food going bad.
This post will give you plenty of no-refrigeration camping food ideas and over a dozen recipes, you can make with these simple ingredients.
- Keep food in the shade! Seems obvious, right? But remember to check your (ideally) non-perishable camping food during the day as the sun changes position to make sure you stay in the shade.
- When shopping for no-fridge camping food ideas, always go for the no-fridge option at the grocery store! We were surprised by all the non-perishable options found in the center islands, while a very similar product can also be found in the refrigerated section of the store.
- Keep in mind that some of these camping food ideas do not require refrigeration until the package is opened. Then refrigeration is recommended. So buy smaller packs if they’re available and plan your meals accordingly. For example, if you open a package of precooked bacon for breakfast, consider using it in BLTs for lunch. If you break out pepperoni to “stack cookies” at lunch, plan to use the rest on pizza at night.
There are many ways to get protein from non-perishable foods while camping. But most of these camping foods come in cans or packets that need to be refrigerated after opening, so eat them soon!
- Canned chicken
- Tuna package
- Corned beef roast
- Chicken pack
- Summer sausage
- Fish (yes, even canned fish!)
- Canned pepper
- Bell Peppers / Turkey Bell Peppers
- Canned ham
- Precooked bacon
- Crumbled bacon
- Dried meat
Alternative Sources of Protein
Plus, more great ways to get protein through camping food without a fridge!
- Lentil Soup – We love Tasty Bites Madras Lentil Soup* and it makes a super easy camping meal because you can simply heat the packet in hot water.
- Canned soup
- Peanut butter
We love big breakfasts when camping, and in our minds, big breakfasts come with eggs!
- Use fresh eggs: Once eggs have been refrigerated, they should stay that way. In the United States, eggs are washed and cooled before being sold in supermarkets. An outer protective layer is washed away during this process, making it unsafe for them to be outside.
- However, most countries in the world and many owners never refrigerate their eggs and use other methods to keep them safe to eat. Here’s a great resource if you want to add fresh eggs to your no-fridge camping food list.
- Powdered Eggs: Powdered eggs* are a great non-refrigerated way to make omelets or scrambled eggs if you’re camping without a refrigerator or cooler. You can find “whole egg” powdered eggs or “scrambled” powdered eggs with a few extra additives.
If you’re buying in bulk to get the best deal, don’t bring your own large container if you’re camping in a warmer climate. Separate the amount you plan to use and leave the rest sealed in the pantry to extend its shelf life.
Bread gets a whole category of its own! We tend to avoid taking bread with us on camping trips because it sweats easily in the bag when it’s not cold and most of the time it gets squashed. So here are some great camping bread alternatives that don’t require refrigeration.
- Pizza Crust: Look for pre-packaged, sealed pizza crusts that come with individual sauce packets.
- Pita bread
- Rounds of sandwiches
Cheese is a camping staple, even for non-refrigerated meals! Just be sure to keep the cheese out of the sun, and don’t cut or grate the cheese block until you’re ready to use it. Wrap the blocks in cellophane and seal in a bag. (Don’t forget to add a small cheese grater* to your camp cook box!)
- Grated Parmesan cheese
- Blocks of hard cheese (such as cheddar or gouda)
Don’t cross milk off your list to take to camp without a cooler or Fridge! There are many ways to consume non-perishable milk while camping.
- Powdered milk – simply add water to powdered milk*
- Almond or Soy Shelf* Milk Cartons: Sold in the center aisles of most supermarkets, usually in small cartons that look like boxes of chicken broth. They need to be refrigerated right after opening, so everyone should be eating their cereal the same morning!
- Jars of Evaporated Milk – Add to a pasta dish
- Creamer or Powdered Creamer Packets – If you’re used to half and half or milk at your camp coffee, this is a great alternative that doesn’t require refrigeration.
It’s common to refrigerate fruit to extend its shelf life, but that doesn’t mean it needs to be kept cold. Fruit is a great food to take on a camping trip without a refrigerator, especially if it hasn’t been refrigerated before you leave. I always push for camp food prep to be done before you head out, but if you’re camping without a refrigerator or cooler, don’t cut fruit ahead of time.
- Fresh apples and oranges
- Fresh kiwi, mango, banana
- Fresh watermelon, pineapple, melon
- Individual Black Olive Cups – We like little jars of black olives* to add to tuna or pizza or eat with crackers, and it’s good to have just opened a small amount.
- Dried Fruits – Create your own trail mix, add them to bulk oats, or enjoy them on their own.
- Canned fruit
- Fruit bowls
The same goes for fruits, just because we often refrigerate fresh vegetables at home doesn’t mean they always need them! Wait to cut the vegetables until you are ready to use them for camping.
- Fresh vegetables: carrots, cucumbers, cherry tomatoes, bell peppers, broccoli, celery
- Potatoes – They are so versatile: grate them to make chips, fry them with onions, slice and bake them in a bag, or roast them whole over an open fire.
- Cabbage – Lettuce won’t last in a camp without a fridge or cooler, but cabbage will. Kale may not make a great salad on its own, but it can be used in BLTs or as a wrap instead of tortillas.
- Fresh vegetables to sauté or grill: bell peppers, onions, zucchini, potatoes, squash.
- Canned vegetables: tomatoes, corn, mushrooms, green peppers, green beans, etc.
- Canned Beans – Baked beans, black beans, and refried beans are great staples for planning camp meals.
- Dried Beans – While the cooking time isn’t ideal, they make a great non-perishable camping staple.
Wheatfield food ideas that don’t need refrigeration aren’t too hard to find—just take a look in your pantry!
We learned that a quick cook version is available for most of these types of food if you search for a large enough supermarket chain. There are also plenty of pre-cooked options that just require heating in hot water, sometimes even in the packaging itself (which is great for camping because there’s no mess to clean up!).
They also usually come in smaller portion sizes, so you don’t have to try to store leftover camp meals without a refrigerator or cooler.
- Instant potatoes
- Packaged macaroni and cheese
- Tins of corned beef
- Instant Pot Fries*
- Oats – You can make overnight oats before camping, or buy packets of oats, or my personal favorite, make your own healthier packets of oats.
- Pancakes – Look for “Full” or “Just Add Water” pancake mix*.
Snacks and Desserts
Finding great camping desserts and snacks that don’t require refrigeration or an ice chest is a cinch! In addition to fresh fruits and vegetables, simply walk around the grocery store’s snack isles, as most of these snacks don’t need a refrigerator, even once opened. Here is some ideas to get started:
- Cereal bars
- Pop Art
- Covered raisins
- Potato chips
- Apple puree
- Mix track
- Cookies or Brownies
- Waffle cones
- Graham crackers
- Marshmallows and Mini Marshmallows
- Chocolate – chocolate chips, white chocolate chips, Hershey’s, candy bars,
- M & Ms: These don’t melt easily in the heat like most chocolates.
When looking for camping food ideas without a fridge or cooler, these few things can go a long way in preparing non-perishable camping meals for the day.
- Butter bar
- Olive Oil
- Seasoning packets: Always ask for extras at the fast food restaurant so you can stock up on individual packets of mayonnaise, jam, honey, ketchup, mustard, etc. – or buy your favorites *
- Barbecue sauce
- pasta sauce
- Salt, pepper and other basic seasonings
While soda and beer certainly don’t have the same appeal when you’re camping without a cooler or cooler, there are some great drinking options out there, especially if you plan on camping in colder weather!
- Juice boxes
- Hot chocolate packets
- Milk powder
- Almond Milk Shelf*
- Water aroma packs
- Essential Breakfast Blend*
- Coffee – Here are 7 ways to make great camping coffee!
- Powdered creamer, sugar, or sweetener packets – to spice up that coffee!
You now have LOTS of ideas for non-refrigerated or refrigerated dry camping foods, and you can mix and match these ingredients to create your own non-refrigerated camping meals.
Or keep reading, because we’re about to do it for you!
NON-REFRIGERATED CAMPING MEALS
Using the ingredients listed above, There are some great camping meals needing no refrigeration:
Non-Refrigerated Breakfast Camping Meals
- Oats: Add nuts and dried fruit to make this nonrefrigerated camping food go the extra mile.
- Granola bars or cereal
- Fresh fruit
- Pancakes – Don’t forget the syrup! Adding banana slices or mini chocolate chips will fix it.
- Omelette – With powdered egg, bacon bits, and vegetables.
- Bacon and powdered egg
- Breakfast potatoes: instant* (or homemade!) fricassee, diced seasoned potatoes, or maybe a can of corned beef hash
- A mix of essential drinks and fruits for breakfast
- Toast – We love camp toast made in our cast iron skillet! Top with peanut butter and maybe cinnamon or sliced banana.
- Naan – add peanut butter and honey or try Nutella with sliced fresh fruits
Non-Refrigerated Lunch Camping Meals
- BLT Sandwiches (maybe swap the L for kale or avocado)
- Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwiches
- Tuna sandwiches
- Avocado Barge – remove pit and replace with tuna and toppings
- Fresh Vegetables – Carrots, Cucumbers, Cherry Tomatoes, Bell Peppers, Broccoli
- Boxed Mac N Cheese – Use powdered milk and add some summer sausage
- Cookie Stackers – Place slices of summer sausage or pepperoni, cheddar cheese, and sliced vegetables on cookies, or go with peanut butter and jelly.
Non-Refrigerated Dinner Camping Meals
- Tasty lentil soup or canned soup and biscuits
- Fuego Roasted Potatoes With Chili – Add shredded cheese of course!
- Red Beans And Rice With Salpicão
- chicken tortillas
- Campfire Nachos – Using Canned Peppers
- Prepackaged backpack meals*
- Mix and match a dish – get creative! Choose an easy grain like pre-cooked pasta or rice, add shelf-stable meat from the protein section above, throw in some canned vegetables, grate some firm cheese, add a sauce or milk replacer, and top it all off with a little seasoning. Maybe you need a wrap: tortillas, kale leaves, flatbread. So many options!
Non Refrigerated Desserts for Camping
- Cookies or Brownies
- Apple Sandwiches: Peel an apple before slicing it, creating a “sandwich” for a sweet bun. Fill with peanut butter or Nutella and chocolate chips, nuts, or fruit.
- S’mores Nachos – Layer cookies and top with chocolate and marshmallows before heating over a campfire or camp stove
- Dessert Cones – Fill a waffle cone with chocolates, nuts, marshmallows, fruits, etc. Before wrapping it in aluminum foil and heating it on the fire
- Pizza Dessert – Spread Nutella on the bread before topping it with your favorite dessert options, from chocolate to fruit.
- Baked Apple Slices – Dust sliced apples with cinnamon and sugar before wrapping them in foil and heating them on the stove.
- Banana Boat: Slice a banana that still has the skin on. Fill the center with chocolate, peanut butter, nuts, marshmallows, etc. Before wrapping in foil and heating on fire.
- Tortilla Roll-Ups: Spread with peanut butter or Nutella before decorating with chocolates, nuts, fruit, etc. Roll up, wrap in aluminum foil, and heat on the fire.
That’s fine! We hope this master list of camping food ideas that don’t require refrigeration or a fridge helps you simplify your camping meals! If you think of something we missed, please share it in the comments below.