You could call it the camper’s conundrum. When you’re enjoying the outdoors, away from typical creature comforts, you want to eat good food. But after all the hiking, biking, boating, or intentional laziness, it can be hard to stir up the energy to actually cook a meal. Plus, cooking can require a lot of extra gear and expense. Fortunately there are plenty of delicious no-cook meal options (breakfast, lunch, and dinner) that require only a little advance prep. Here are some of our favorite no-cook camping meals.
Layer yogurt, granola, and fruit in a bowl or jar. You can package these individually ahead of time or simply bring all the ingredients in a cooler. (If you prep them ahead of time, package the granola separately. Otherwise it’ll get soggy.)
Peanut Butter Bagel Sandwich
Top a whole-grain bagel with peanut butter, banana slices, and a tablespoon of trail mix for a quick high-protein breakfast.
Strawberries & Cream Bagel Sandwich
Spread cream cheese on a whole-grain bagel, then top with strawberry slices and sliced almonds.
Buy premade energy bites at the grocery store or follow this recipe to make your own ahead of time. Make sure to store them in a refrigerator or cooler.
- 1 cup rolled oats
- ½ cup ground flax seed
- ½ cup peanut butter
- ⅓ cup honey
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- ½ cup mini chocolate chips
- Pour all the ingredients in a mixing bowl and stir until combined.
- Line a baking sheet or cutting board with wax paper. Roll the mixture into 1-inch balls and place each one on the wax paper.
- Chill the energy bites in the refrigerator for about one hour. Then transfer them to a sealed container and keep refrigerated or in a cooler.
Blueberry Overnight Oats
Make this oatmeal at least one day before you plan to eat it. In a half-pint jar (or plastic food storage container), stir together the following ingredients: ¼ cup rolled oats, ⅓ cup milk, ¼ cup Greek yogurt, and 1-2 teaspoons maple syrup. Then stir in a couple tablespoons of fresh blueberries. Place the lid on the jar and refrigerate overnight or up to 2 days. When it’s time to eat, top with some granola for an added crunch.
Make-ahead muffins and breads are great for quick camp breakfasts and snacks. Here’s a recipe for banana bread. Let it cool completely after baking, then slice it and store it in a food container where it won’t get crushed.
- 3 ripe bananas (about 1 cup)
- ½ cup butter, softened
- ½ cup granulated sugar
- ½ cup brown sugar
- 1 egg, beaten
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1½ cups all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- pinch of salt
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a mixing bowl, mash the ripe bananas with a fork until smooth. Then add the softened butter, sugars, egg, and vanilla extract to the mashed bananas. Stir until combined.
- In a separate bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Add the flour mixture to the banana mixture and stir until combined.
- Pour the batter into the loaf pan. Bake the bread for about 50 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
- Remove the bread from the oven and let it cool in the pan for about 20 minutes. Then remove the banana bread from the pan and let it cool on a wire rack.
Lunch & Dinner
You can call it charcuterie or a cheese board. Either way, it’s a fast meal that can be as fancy or casual as you want it to be. Create your own assortment of crackers, cheese, meat, and other finger foods. You might also want to include: jam, pickled veggies, mustard, hummus, fruit, and nuts.
Pasta salad can be a great all-in-one meal with protein, carbs, and vegetables. For a Caesar salad version, try tossing together cooked (and cooled) pasta, diced chicken, diced tomatoes, Parmesan cheese, and a little Caesar dressing. Store in a sealed container in a cooler until you’re ready to eat.
Sandwiches are a camping and picnic staple, but sandwich bread doesn’t always hold up well. Try making your favorite sandwich using a wrap or tortilla instead. Make them before your trip and wrap them individually in plastic wrap or aluminum foil.
Another sandwich alternative is a pita pocket. Fill them with your favorite ingredients ahead of time or bring all the ingredients along in a cooler.
Tuna & White Bean Salad
Make a fresh salad for lunch or dinner by bringing along the following ingredients: canned tuna, canned white beans, prewashed lettuce, red onion slices, grated Parmesan cheese, and a vinaigrette dressing. When it’s time to eat, toss the ingredients together and serve.
Roast Beef & Bleu Cheese Salad
For another dinner salad with a side of protein, try this: sliced deli roast beef, crumbled bleu cheese, cherry tomatoes, and diced red onion. Finish with a bleu cheese dressing and croutons.
Make a few chicken and cheese or chicken and bean quesadillas before your trip. Once they cool, slice into wedges and store in a sealed container in a cooler. Eat them cold or warm them up over the fire before eating. Serve with guacamole, sour cream, and salsa.
On a hot summer day, a cold soup might be just the kind of meal you need. Try this recipe for this spicy tomato soup from Food Network’s Alton Brown.
Somewhere between a salad and a sandwich, you’ll find panzanella, which is essentially a Tuscan bread salad. The basic ingredients are vegetables, bread, and cheese tossed together with a vinaigrette dressing. Try making your own with the following ingredients: a few slices of fresh baguette or ciabatta cut into cubes, some quartered Roma tomatoes, some slices of fresh mozzarella, and fresh basil leaves. Toast the bread cubes in the oven and let cool. Then pack the bread cubes separately from the rest of the ingredients. Just before mealtime, toss all the ingredients together with a balsamic vinaigrette. For a couple variations, check out this recipe from the New York Times and this recipe (a Greek version) from Ina Garten.
Did We Miss Any Of Your Favorites?
Please feel free to share with other campers in the comments section below!