It’s true that part of the charm of camping is cooking a meal over the campfire. But not everyone has the luxury of space (for all the kitchen tools and accessories) or time (campfire cooking is time-consuming).
Cooking a hearty meal over a fire is a feat, but if your trip is packed with outdoor activities like exploring, hiking or fishing, you don’t want to spend your free time cooking – especially when you’re tired after a long day.
The good news is that you can still eat good food without the cooking. The keys here are home preparation and pre-packed meals. There are even pre-packaged meals and freeze-dried food specifically for outdoor consumption, both of which are available at most large chain grocery stores and camping outlets.
While you won’t need cooking gear such as pots, pans and a stove, you’d still need some tools. Be sure to pack these for your trip:
- Sealable plastic bags
- Tin foil
- Food containers
- Can opener
- Cutting board
- Cooler with ice
- Your choice of condiments (ketchup, mayonnaise, spices)
Here are 10 no-cook camping food ideas for breakfast, lunch and dinner that you can try on your next outdoor trip:
- Hearty Granola – Power up for a long day outdoors with a healthy breakfast! You can prepare your granola mix at home to save time – add some nuts or seeds like unsalted pumpkin seeds, almonds or walnuts and some dried fruit like cranberries and raisins. All you have to do is pour in shelf-stable packaged milk and you’re good to go! You can also opt to sprinkle your granola mix on top of your favorite yogurt.
- Breakfast Sandwich – Sandwiches are one of the easiest filling meals to put together without cooking. Start your day with your favorite bread and choice of spread. If you need an idea, you can try peanut butter and banana sandwich – a good mix of carbs, protein and potassium!
- Green salad – If you want to eat something fresh, a green salad will help boost your energy in the morning. Prepare and slice the produce and other ingredients at home and pack them in sealed containers before placing in your cooler with ice. Greens should be consumed right away, so it’s ideal to make this for breakfast on your first day. But there are longer-lasting veggies you can pack like cabbage, carrots, onion, winter squash and winter radishes. Canned beans and/or corn are great additions to greens for a healthy, filling breakfast salad. Don’t forget to pack your vinaigrette or dressing!
Hot beverages are especially ideal in the morning to help wake you up. Bring along individual packets of coffee, hot chocolate or tea – all you need is hot water to enjoy them!
Sandwich – Sandwiches are not only easy to prepare, but they’re most ideal for active campers. If you’re going to have a busy day outdoors, you’ll probably be eating lunch on the go. You can opt for a roll up or an open-faced sandwich for a light lunch – mozzarella, cherry tomatoes and fresh basil drizzled with olive oil is delicious. But if you’re looking for something more filling, go for a sub roll and add your choice of cold cuts like ham, chorizo, pepperoni or salami and vegetables.
- Pasta Salad – Another easy-to-prepare meal that will keep you full and provide you with much-needed energy in the middle of a hectic day – a pasta salad! The whole meal can be prepared at home (refrigerated overnight before your trip) or you can simply cook the pasta beforehand and assemble the pasta salad right before you eat it. Choose to use long-lasting ingredients like sun-dried tomatoes, hard cheese, herbs and olives. Add slices of cold cuts for a more delicious lunch!
- Smoked Meat – Smoked meat has a longer shelf-life and is a good choice for camping trips. For a delicious lunch, eat slices of smoked salmon or smoked chicken breast with whole-grain crackers, some hard cheese, capers and Dijon mustard.
- Freeze-Dried Meals – Freeze-dried and pre-packaged food require no refrigeration or even water, which makes them the perfect no-cook camping dinners (great for any time of the day, too!). They are packed in metallic bags and come in a diverse spread of dishes from pitas, wraps, chickpeas and chicken to soups, noodles, pastas and rice meals. Like mentioned above, they are available in large-chain grocery stores and camping outlets.
- Wraps and Burritos – Wraps and burritos are not only great comfort food, they’re convenient, too – a good choice for a no-cook camping meal. You can assemble your burritos at home and store in your cooler, or you can assemble them on site if you wish. Aside from the tortillas, opt for handy, no-cook ingredients like smoked meat, cold-roasted turkey, canned beans and canned fruits or veggies.
- Dinner Spread – Make night time at camp with family or friends more special by enjoying a no-cook, no-fuss dinner spread together. A spread of artisan cheeses is always a crowd favorite, even around a campfire. Go for hard cheeses like cheddar, parmesan, Swiss or asiago and add crackers, fruits, meat slices, hummus and pita bread for a filling dinner for a crowd.
Alternatively, you can also go for a “snack” spread for dinner – lay out chips, bread, vegetable slices, meat slices, pretzel sticks, tacos and the like and eat them with plenty of choices for dips like salsa and your favorite homemade sauce.
- Filling Snack Bites – There are plenty of delicious, filling snacks you can enjoy while camping. For easy eating, pack some energy bars, trail mix, whole-grain crackers, dried fruit, nuts and seeds and pickled fruit or veggies. Bring along hummus and low-fat dips, too!
With these no-cook camping food ideas, not only will you have healthy, satisfying meals when you’re outdoors, you’ll have more time to rest, relax and go on adventures, too!
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