71+ No Cook Camping Meals and Make-Ahead Ideas

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Not a fan of cooking? Me neither. One of the biggest obstacles I had when we started thinking about camping with our kids was the camp cooking. It overwhelmed me. No-cook camping meals were a lifesaver for me, allowing me to spend less time cooking and more time enjoying the camping trip!

Our family often picnics on road trips and while camping. This photo shows some of our favorite no cook camping meals and snacks spread on a concrete picnic table at Ecola State Park.
Our recent picnic at Ecola State Park – here’s some of our favorite no cook camping meals and snacks

I’ve assembled this list of our favorite easy camping meals and no-cook camping meals based on years of tent camping experience. We also use these easy prep meals on road trips as a great way to save money and time.

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A general note about our family’s eating habits

Open face sandwich with sliced salami on  one slice of bread, next to another slice of bread with a slice of cheddar cheese on top, and a mustard smiley face on the cheese, all on a blue and white paper plate. A favorite kid's sandwich that requires no cooking.

I’m increasingly thankful for the fact that no one in our household has any food sensitivities or allergies. I know that’s not the case for many families. Also, we don’t have any restricted foods or special diet requirements. 

When I plan our meals, I aim to have at least one of each of three main categories: protein (meat, fish, dairy, or legumes), carbohydrates (bread, pasta, grains, or starchy vegetables), and fruit or vegetables. Our no cook camping meals follow this same framework.

A balanced meal includes protein, carbohydrates, and fruit or vegetables. Sandwiches are easy no cook camping meals
Our preschooler’s plate after lunch: here we have protein, carbohydrates, and a fruit.

Kids need all of these food categories, and each of my kids eats some foods from each category. Of course not all my kids eat the same foods, but there’s a pretty good overlap. 

Meal planning and snacks at home

I try to vary the offerings for each meal based on what was served for the other meals. Ideally, each kid gets at least 2 meals in a day where something they eat is being served.

@dinkumtribe Camping menu 2022. Easy meals to make with a portable grill or over s campfire. We had a great week! #campingmenu #campingfood #campingfoodprep #campingfoods #campingfoodideas #campingfoodforbigfamily #tentcampingdoneright #tentcampingwithkids #tentcampinglife #campingforbeginners #beginnerscamping #tentcampingtrip #adhdfamilytravel #familytraveltips #familytravelblogger #familytravelcreator #familytravelideas #familytravelvlog #campingpreparation ♬ i would do it again kim kardashian – kardashianicon

I also offer snacks a couple of times per day as a way to make sure everyone is eating enough. ADHD medications can impact kids’ appetites, so I aim to be flexible with our meal planning and mealtimes.

Camping meals for a big family

Shopping cart with pita, sliced salami, hummus, sliced cheese and a box of assorted crackers.
Some of our Costco picnic and camping staples that don’t need cooking

As I mentioned in the beginner’s camping guide, we prefer to camp somewhere where there’s a grocery store within easy driving distance. Trying to pack food for eight people for more than 3 days (10 meals plus snacks) takes a lot of space, so you should plan to refill the groceries once or twice during the week.

I prefer to cook a few meals, mostly because there’s nothing quite as satisfying as a delicious meal cooked in the fresh air over an open fire or camp stove! However, it’s always useful to have a few meals that don’t require any cooking.

grocery cart with supplies for camping.
Mid-trip grocery run to refill supplies

If fire restrictions don’t allow for open fires, or for those times you arrive late to the campsite after a long day of driving, you want to be able to eat something more than meal bars! No-cook options and make-ahead meals are a lifesaver on days like that.

Here are our suggestions for no-cook camping meals, make-ahead dishes, and easy to cook camping meals. 

20+ no-cook breakfast meal ideas 

Cereal or Overnight Oats

Individual cereal cups and instant oatmeal packets make great no cook camping meals for breakfast.
Individual cereal cups and instant oatmeal packets

We got the individual cereal bowls for our recent trip so we could save on doing dishes. However, if you are limited on space, get some of the bulk bags/family-sized boxes instead and pack bowls. 

Bagels with cream cheese and 10+ other fixings

Kirkland bagels are a staple for camping food. Camping lunch ideas.

I prefer my bagels toasted, but you can just serve them at room temperature. Cream cheese is the traditional spread, but we’ve also served bagels with:

  • lox (smoked salmon)
  • capers
  • red onion
  • tomato slices
  • peanut butter and jam
  • deli meat
  • cheese
  • eggs (hard-boiled egg slices or fried eggs)
  • bacon
  • sausage patties

Muffins, pastries, quick breads (store bought or homemade)

Muffin. Easy no cook camping meals breakfast idea.

We typically grab several of Costco’s muffin or pastry packs. To make them last longer and taste fresher, you can freeze them before the trip. Then allow them to thaw to room temperature overnight before serving.

Hard-boiled eggs, yogurt or yogurt parfaits

Yogurt cups.
Individual yogurt cups like this means less dishes on a camping trip.

For the eggs, you can make them yourself or buy them pre-cooked. For the yogurt, I bought the individual cups this time because I wanted less dishes to wash. However, you can also make yogurt parfaits in mason jars by layering Greek yogurt, then fruit, then granola. 

Fresh fruit

I usually bring a melon because it requires no refrigeration before cutting it. Dried fruit can be a good choice for camping for the same reason.

I love to buy seasonal fruit to enjoy, as long as it can be stored without getting smashed. If it’s a fruit that requires refrigeration, I serve it the first day.

Orange in a bowl.

More easy camping breakfast ideas

Instant oatmeal packets

Just boil water and pour into individual bowls for a hot and easy breakfast!

Waffles, pancakes, and French toast

@dinkumtribe This is my grandma’s waffle recipe that my family has been eating for years. Whips up and just minutes and you can use it right away. No overnight resting. Best served hot with maple syrup and butter or whipped cream and strawberry jam. @dinkumtribe @dinkumtribe @dinkumtribe #EasyBreakfast #EasyBreakfastRecipe #QuickBreakfastRecipe #newyearsdaybreakfast #EasyBreakfastRecipeForKids #FamilyRecipe ##WaffleRecipe##HomemadeWaffles##WafflesWafflesWaffles##FamilyBreakfast ♬ original sound – DinkumTribe ADHD family travel

Make these at home and freeze for the trip, then warm them up over the campfire and serve. We like to use jam, maple syrup, honey, Nutella, or peanut butter for toppings – and all of these can be stored at room temperature (yay for saving cooler space!).

Breakfast burritos

Scrambled eggs in a pan with a wooden spoon. Simple camping lunch ideas or camping breakfast ideas.

Cook up scrambled eggs, then add shredded cheese, premade guacamole, salsa, and sour cream for an easy meal.

Fresh pancakes

Pancakes cooking on a camp stove griddle.
Making pancakes on a camp griddle stove

You can buy pancake mix or bring pre-measured dry ingredients and then add the wet ingredients before cooking. I use our standard family recipe for this (recipe is listed in our Valentine’s Day breakfast ideas for kids post).

@dinkumtribe This recipe was passed down from my great-grandma. Absolutely the best pancakes, easy to make. Can add blueberries or chocolate chips. Any leftover cooked pancakes can be frozen for later. #pancakerecipe #pancakerecipes #deliciouspancakes #easybreakfast #sweetbreakfast #sweetbreakfastideas #easybreakfastideas #easybreakfastrecipes #pancakesrecipe #kidfriendlyrecipe #kidfriendlymeals @dinkumtribe @dinkumtribe @dinkumtribe ♬ Monkeys Spinning Monkeys – Kevin MacLeod & Kevin The Monkey

We love to make bacon first, then cook the pancakes in the bacon grease on the griddle– it adds so much flavor! We mixed in chocolate chips, but another great addition would be blueberries. My kids ate the leftover pancakes as snacks later that day, and they were delicious!

Easy camp breakfast is pancakes and sausage. No cook camping meals and easy camping meals.
Breakfast setup for sausage and pancakes with chocolate chips.

Breakfast Sandwich

The classic breakfast sandwich is a fried egg with cheddar cheese on split English muffins. However you can also add in sausage patties, bacon, ham, or turkey slices, and swap out the English muffins for toasted bread instead. This is a great make-ahead option if you want to assemble the sandwiches at home first, then just warm them at the camp site.

16 + no-cook lunch or dinner ideas

Hummus, pita bread, and fresh veggies

We buy hummus ready-made, but it’s super easy to make at home with a food processor/ blender. You can even get it in single-serve packs that don’t need to be refrigerated. It’s one of our favorite easy camping meals.

Hummus topped with paprika and olives. Camping lunch ideas.

We serve the hummus and pita with cherry tomatoes, cucumbers, baby carrots, bell peppers, olives, or artichoke hearts. It’s a good way to get veggies into the kids who don’t like them.

We also serve Greek yogurt with a little olive oil on top for those who don’t like hummus. Sometimes we also include feta cheese to top the hummus.

21+ sandwiches and wraps- so many possibilities!

Sandwich on a hoagie roll with lettuce, pickles, pepperoncinis, tomato, Swiss cheese, olives and salami.
Sandwich on a hoagie roll with lettuce, pickles, pepperoncinis, tomato, Swiss cheese, olives and salami.

Choose your favorite bread/ rolls/ croissants, then have any of these combinations:

  • nut butter with jam/ honey/ Nutella
  • deli cold cuts: salami, pastrami, roast beef, ham, turkey…
  • cheese: Swiss, cheddar, provolone, feta…
  • chicken salad
  • tuna salad
  • egg salad
  • BLTs (use precooked bacon)
  • sliced avocado, lettuce, sliced tomatoes, sliced bell peppers
  • olives, peperoncini
  • mustard
BLT sandwich on a white roll with lettuce, bacon, cucumber, tomato, provolone and pastrami
BLT sandwich plus extras

Sandwiches are easy to take with you for outdoor activities, so we always have one or two packed lunches that are sandwiches. Tortilla wraps are another easy lunch to pack.

Crackers or crisps (instead of bread) with sandwich toppings are another fun variation for an easy camping lunch.

Charcuterie board

Charcuterie board. Easy no cook camping meals.
Charcuterie board at home for date night.

Who doesn’t love a variety of delicious food set out beautifully? Charcuterie boards don’t have to be complicated.

Sliced salami rounds lined up in three rows on a wooden board.

A few sliced types of meat (summer sausage, salami, or chorizo), some soft cheeses and hard cheeses, then add in some extras like nuts, dried fruits, and crackers, and you’re set! It’s the perfect way to use up little bits of things from previous meals too. 

Caprese salad and bread

A caprese sandwich made with focaccia, tomatoes, balsamic vinegar, arugula and mozzarella.
Caprese sandwich

We love Caprese salad, and it’s super easy to make. Make it in the summer when fresh tomatoes and basil are readily available.

All you need is sliced mozzarella cheese, tomatoes, fresh basil leaves, salt, pepper, and balsamic vinegar. Arrange the mozzarella, tomato slices, and basil leaves around a plate, alternating them. Then sprinkle with salt, pepper, and a dash of balsamic vinegar. Your taste buds will thank you!

Caprese salad is one of the great no cook camping meals.
Caprese Salad

Rotisserie chicken, rolls, bagged salad

Grab one (or two!) rotisserie chickens from the local grocery store on your way to the campsite, or chill and serve cold later. Add some rolls and a salad with leafy greens and you have a tasty dinner. (Bonus tip: we often have this as an easy dinner after making our massive Costco shopping trip).

11+ easy camping dinners that require minimal cooking

These camping meals can be made over an open fire (roasting sticks, Dutch oven, or foil wrapped) or with hot water. 

Ramen noodles / instant soups / canned soup / baked beans / chili

canned food. No cook camping meals.
Don’t forget a can opener like we did!

Foil packet meals

When you make lunch or dinner in foil packs, you get the added benefit of easy cleanup! Some of our favorite foil packet meals are potatoes and fish filets, or nachos.

It’s easy to try a few of these camping meals at home first in your oven to see if you like them. Make sure you grab the heavy duty aluminum foil for the foil packets!

Baked potatoes with toppings (chili, green onions, cheese, bacon bits, salsa, butter, sour cream)

Hot dogs

Roasting hot dogs on sticks over an open fire is the best way to cook hot dogs, in my opinion! Bring more than you think you’ll need because someone always drops one or two in the fire. 

hot dog. Camping lunch ideas.

You can also cook hot dogs wrapped in crescent roll dough, or top classic hot dogs with chili, onions, shredded cheese and more for more variety.

Taco salad / taco night or nachos

Ground beef is easy to cook up in a frying pan with taco seasoning and water, making for easy camping lunches or dinners. You can also make the taco meat ahead of time, or go meatless with canned black beans or refried beans.

Pasta with marinara / meat sauce / Alfredo

Pasta Alfredo. No cook camping meals.

Here’s my simple marinara and meatballs recipe that I make in the crockpot at home. It would be a snap to make ahead and freeze to reheat while camping.

@dinkumtribe Easy crockpot meal for busy days! @dinkumtribe @dinkumtribe @dinkumtribe #crockpotrecipes #easycrockpotdinner #easycrockpotmeal #kidfriendlyrecipe #kidfriendlymeals #kidfriendlydinner #spaghettiandmeatballs #easyspaghettirecipe #recipesforbusymoms #recipesforbusypeople ♬ ALMOST HOME – Mad Adix, Marc Steinmeier

12+ easy no-cook camping snacks

-Trail mix, cookies, chips, energy bars

Any one of these makes a great snack for hiking or grabbing on the go.

Monster cookies. Easy make ahead camping snacks and no cook camping meals.
Monster cookies can be an easy make ahead camp snack.

-Tortilla chips and salsa

Variation: my family loves to stick a block of cream cheese in a bowl, dump salsa on top, and eat it with corn tortilla chips. It’s our standard poolside or creekside snack.

Chips and pico de Gallo on a paper plate. Camping lunch ideas

-Pudding cups or Jell-O cups

-Fresh vegetables with ranch dressing packets, or fresh fruits

This is also an easy way to help everyone stay hydrated since fresh produce usually contains a lot of water.

-Beef jerky, steak strips, or cheese and meat sticks

Kirkland steak strips. No cook camping meals.

High-protein snacks like beef jerky help to fuel the camping adventures without having to stop for a full meal.


S’mores aren’t a no-cook snack, but they are a necessary part of our camping trips! We only brought the standard marshmallows, graham crackers, and chocolate bars on our last trip.

S'mores. No cook camping meals, and easy camp snacks!
Classic s’mores are definitely a must while camping.

Next time, we’ll add in some variations like Reese’s peanut butter cups and Heath bars, or use different flavors of graham crackers. You can even get extra large square marshmallows that are just the right size for s’mores!

Again, bring lots of extras. Half of the fun is watching a dropped marshmallow melt or catch fire while it’s cooking! 

S'more made with a square marshmallow on a table.
S’more with a square marshmallow

Make-ahead camping meals

It’s easy to cook some meals ahead of time and bring them on your family camping trip. The most important thing about this will be keeping them appropriately cold so that there’s minimal risk of food-borne illness.

When I make things ahead of time that need to stay chilled, I freeze them (if possible) before the trip. Then I serve them early on in the trip, usually the first or second day.

Summer pasta salad. Pasta salad is a great make ahead camping meal. No cook camping meals.

Some make ahead meal ideas:

  • chicken salad or tuna salad for sandwiches. If you use canned meat / tuna you could even whip this up at the campsite. 
  • bean dip
  • pasta salad

Make-ahead easy breakfast options include:

  • pancakes
  • waffles
  • french toast
  • muffins
  • breakfast bars

Make-ahead snack ideas:

  • energy bars
  • fruit leather
  • popcorn

Final thoughts about no cook camping meals

Groceries on a belt at Costco. Vegetable tray, apples, dried mangoes, protein bars, Nutella and breadsticks snacks, saltwater taffy, Cuties, baby cucumbers and frozen pizza singles.
More Costco items that are great for no-cook meals and snacks (except the frozen pizzas, obviously)

My suggestion as you plan your family’s menu is to choose one or two great meal options that you know your whole family will enjoy, and plan to serve those multiple times. 

I hope this snapshot of our family’s no-cook camp meals and easy food ideas helps make your next camping trip even more fun. Please add your favorite easy recipes in the comments – we’d love even more great ideas for no-cook meals!

© Copyright Jennifer D. Warren 2022-2023. Updated and expanded: June 1, 2023.

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About the author

I’m Jenn Warren, Co-Founder and Content Creator for Dinkum Tribe. I'm a Third Culture Kid (TCK) from Jamaica and California, married to my college sweetheart. I've been a missionary kid, pastor’s kid and (former) pastor’s wife. My husband and I traveled as pastors for 12 years throughout the United States and Canada before becoming travel content creators.

I love living in Oregon and exploring new places with my family. We’ve road tripped over 30,000 miles across the United States and Western Canada with our six children since their infancy. Prior to our marriage, I also lived in Spain for a summer and spent another summer in Mexico.

I’ve homeschooled our six children for over 10 years, and served on the board of a homeschool co-op for 4 years. Several members of our family are neurodivergent (gifted, ADHD, cPTSD), and I’ve spent 5+ years learning how to accommodate neurodivergent needs as well as supporting the resultant mental health challenges (anxiety, depression).

I’ve also served as a support group leader and co-director of Pure Life Alliance, a nonprofit organization that supports families struggling with sexual addiction.

I write about family travel and road trips, millennial marriage, general parenting, homeschooling, parenting neurodivergent children, grief, and abuse recovery.


  1. LOVE these ideas – I always feel exhausted after a long day of trekking, and sometimes I just don’t want to cook. These are 100% better than my go-to Poptarts 🙂

  2. Great ideas Jenn!

    We tend to go for no-cook meals for breakfast (fruit) and lunch (dips/ charcuterie/ wraps/ sarnies) but I LOVE cooking on the campfire in the evening…so we tend to go all out for dinner. Still when it’s raining or there is a campfire ban, these are great ideas to have up your sleeve for those moments!

    Do you ever try dehydrating meals so you can just heat them up with hot water? We make those for backcountry camping…so they are always on hand if we need them car camping…

    1. We haven’t tried dehydrating meals yet, but I’m excited to get into more ideas like that.

  3. I have to learn to dehydrate and stuff as I travel for a long time.

    Also, overnight oats topped with fresh-cut seasonal fruits are the best start to mornings while traveling.

  4. Great ideas here to make camping with kids less stressful! I can’t imagine trying to travel with enough food to feed multiple young people (I only have one!) so I totally get why the no cook meals are so important!

  5. Love this compilation! I don’t camp much but can imagine what a great resource this is!

  6. Two words: Dump. Cake.

    Get a box of cake mix, fruit pie filling, and a can of Sprite. Pour it in a Dutch oven and cook over the fire. Topping it with whipped cream makes it even better! Use a slow cooker liner for crazy-easy cleanup.

  7. Thanks so much for the wonderful ideas! I do have a couple of questions. I typically make overnight oats in a jar here at home. What is a good way to prepare them so that there are no dishes to wash up afterwards? And what is the preferred liquid to add to the camping version? I would think that milk wouldn’t taste so good after sitting out all night, so I was wondering what you use while camping.

    1. I’m a fan of using paper or bamboo products when I don’t want to do dishes at a campsite, because they can just go into the fire if you’ve got one going and they’re biodegradable. As for the camping version of overnight oats, I’ve seen recipes online for overnight oats made with greek yogurt, and you could also use long-life shelf milk if you want something that will taste the same the next day. Most of the places we’ve gone camping get pretty cold at night (slightly above freezing) so it hasn’t been an issue. You can make the overnight oats with water and then add in milk the next morning too.

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