Camping Lunch Ideas

Camping Lunch Ideas: Tasty and Easy Lunches

Lunch while camping can be surprisingly tricky! The active nature of a camping trip means everyone is usually ready for hearty meals, but lunch can also feel like an interruption of those activities. Below are some great lunch options for various types of camping outings.

When our family camps, we usually enjoy a big breakfast and opt for a quicker lunch, but occasionally like to linger around the campsite for a cooked lunch, especially if we have big afternoon hiking plans or are just visiting with friends and family. We also go backpacking and like to have some variety on the trail. Regardless of how you camp, we have some camping lunch ideas for you!

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Camping Lunch Ideas No Cook

After a morning hike or canoe trip, an at-the-ready filling meal can be just the ticket to getting everyone refueled for a fun afternoon. The following camping lunch ideas don’t require any cooking over a fire or a camping stove! They are not only simple and fast, but ideal for camping in warm weather when you can’t imagine heating things up even more than the sun already has.

Naan Make-Your-Own Pizza

This heartier homemade version of the childhood favorite lunchable is super easy, quick, and filling. The hands-on activity for kids to do themselves also means parents can put away gear from the morning or just take a few minutes to relax! Just pull out a package of naan, scoop on a couple of spoonfuls of marinara sauce, and let kids add simple toppings like pepperoni and cheese.

A young girl stirs a large pot of chicken noodle soup cooking over a fire.
My daughter Nora stirring our campfire chicken noodle soup lunch.

BLT with Precooked Bacon

Bacon has long been a staple of camping trips, and it doesn’t have to be relegated to breakfast! Save a few slices from your morning meal, or bring along some pre-cooked bacon, and whip up crowd-pleasing bacon, lettuce, and tomato sandwiches for lunch. Bacon with cheese is a great alternative if your kids haven’t grown into tomato love yet.

Uncrustable with Frozen Yogurt Tubes

This takes easy no-cook lunch to the next level! Keep these on ice overnight, and pull them out after breakfast for a ready-to-eat zero prep lunch. If your kids are fans of Nutella (who isn’t?!), there are hazelnut spread Uncrustables available, as well as the jam versions.

Frozen yogurt tubes also thaw just right for this easy lunch, in addition to providing a little punch of protein. Add some sugar snap peas to balance out the meal, which is a great one to toss into your hiking bag if you want to eat while away from your camping site!

Food to Take Camping Without Fridge

Not all camping trips include easy access to a cooler for lunch, but even without one, a quality meal is still possible! Whether you are saving your cooler space for other meals, or are just managing without one, below are some delicious camping lunch ideas!

Three children play on a picnic table with Uno cards, next to a bowl of cowboy caviar chip dip.
My kids playing cards and snacking on Cowboy Caviar at the Grand Canyon campground.

Cowboy Caviar

This quick to assemble chip dip is my personal favorite, and was our lunch three days in a row while we camped at the Grand Canyon. I slightly adapted the recipe to a simpler campground version by swapping frozen corn for canned, eliminating the cilantro, and replacing all the seasonings and oils with bottled Italian dressing. Cowboy caviar is a naturally hydrating and energizing meal, perfect to eat while we basked in the dry Arizona heat.

Note: If you have any leftovers, those will need to be refrigerated to keep fresh.

Chicken Salad

If you think this is just a boring and old-fashioned meal for your mother’s church group, you are wrong! Chicken salad is packed with nutrients perfect for camping, and the varieties of prepared chicken packets make it a fun one to put together. Each family member can even pick their preferred chicken flavor, making a great option for even picky eaters! Serve it on crackers or Hawaiian rolls, and add on easy-peel clementines.

A group of backpackers rests in a wooded area along a trail.
Relaxing for an easy lunch on a recent backpacking trip.

Peanut Butter-Nutella-Banana

Want to give your kids a meal that tastes like a candy bar, is a great energy boost, and has lots of protein, potassium, and carbs for energy? Enter the peanut butter-nutella-banana sandwich. Spread one of each butter on pieces of bread (or opposite halves of a tortilla), slice on a banana, and enjoy! This simple camping lunch is sure to get requested again and again.

Prep Ahead Lunch Ideas for Camping

Even cooked lunches don’t have to mean spending lots of time away from the fun to do the kitchen work. With a little bit of advance preparation before your trip, you can enjoy well-rounded delicious lunches that are just as good as at home–maybe even better because you get to eat them in the great outdoors!

A cast iron pan of peppers and onions and a griddle of sausages sit on a grill over a fire pit showing easy camping lunch ideas.
Sausages with peppers and onions cook over our campfire.

Fajitas, Camp Stove or Fire

We love to roast hot dogs on camping trips, but that is usually a dinner favorite, and I like to have something different at lunch, no offense to Oscar Meyer. Fajitas are so simple to cook for lunch at the campsite! Cook the chicken and slice the peppers and onions at home ahead of time, and you can have this lunch ready to serve while camping in well under a half hour.

If we have a midday fire, I love to roast the veggies in cast iron over the fire, but it’s also perfect to whip this up on a camp stove. Include your favorite fajita fixings, like sour cream, cheese, and guacamole, and don’t forget the tortillas!

Chicken Noodle Soup over the Fire

This is our go-to lunch for arrival day at our campsite when we go in chilly weather. We start a fire as soon as we pull into our site, and let the broth heat and cook the pasta and pre-cut veggies in our dutch oven while we get tents set up.

Two boys sit in camping chairs and eat bowls of soup next to a camping tent. One boy has a big smile on his face.
My sons happily eating chicken noodle soup at our campsite.

Nothing complicated here, just carrots, celery, onions, chicken broth (we do homemade, condensed bullion, or even those little bullion cubes), a little salt and pepper, and your pasta of choice. You can cook chicken at home or bring canned chicken, and you have a warm and delicious comfort food to eat fireside.

Hot Sub Sandwiches, Camp Stove or Fire

My husband and I worked for many years at our state fair, and the vendor next to our elephant ear stand sold Polish sausages with various toppings. Convert this easily to a camping lunch by cooking sausages (we love to warm pre-cooked ones to eliminate concerns about undercooking) over the fire and adding with peppers and onions, or other traditional fair offerings like chili and cheese, or even mustard and sauerkraut! We haven’t gone for the sauerkraut yet ourselves…

Campfire Lunch Ideas

There is just nothing like food cooked over an open fire. Everything just tastes better with that smoky flavor and eaten in fresh air under an open sky! Here are some tasty camping lunch ideas over the fire.

A girl roasts a dough-wrapped hot dog over an open fire.
My daughter Natalie roasting a hot dog wrapped in crescent dough.

Pigs in Blankets

Or should we call them pigs in sleeping bags? Add a fun twist to the traditional hot dog over the fire by wrapping your unroasted hot dog in crescent roll dough. Slice the crescent triangle in half first, then wrap around the hot dog in a single layer to help cook more evenly. Roast slowly and carefully to avoid charring the outside–although some of my kids think fire char is a key component!

Campfire Nachos

We tried this one after I saw another outdoorsy family suggest it on Instagram, and it was a huge success! Cook ground beef in cast iron or a foil casserole pan, and add taco seasoning and water according to the package directions.

Layer tortilla chips, cheese, and any other preferred nachos toppings on top. Eat as soon at the cheese melts! (Tip- Save time at the campsite and cook your meat at home!)

Several children hold hot dogs and roasting skewers near a fire pit, where a foil tray of nachos sits over the coals.
My kids roast hot dogs while campfire nachos warm over the fire.

Foil Packs

I remember making and loving foil packs as a kid, and they are still a staple around the campfire. A big perk of these for a family is that everyone can personalize theirs! Ours growing up were traditionally beef (steak tips or ground beef) with diced potatoes, carrots, and onion, but we have also made them with salmon as a family.

There are honestly so many varieties of foil packs! Keys to success are a well-sealed edge to keep moisture inside, and meat and veggies that cook in a similar amount of time–for example, salmon and corn, or beef and sweet potatoes. You can dine like camping royalty!

Easy Camping Lunches on the Camp Stove

We love our camping stove. My husband and I got it with wedding gift money, and it’s still chugging along almost 18 years later, so if you are debating buying one, I would say it’s worth it! A camping stove makes it so easy to put together a fast hot lunch.

Madras Lentils, Rice Optional

Madras Lentils from Tasty Bite are an absolute favorite for us while camping, and at home for that matter. They don’t need to be stored in a cooler, and heat in a saucepan in just a few minutes. For extra easy cleanup, you can boil the bag in water and eat lunch straight out of the bag!

I love how lentils are healthy as well as providing the right kind of fuel for an outdoor adventure. These taste very similar to a mild chili and my kids love them! Sometimes I add cooked rice so the meal stretches farther, and of course we almost always sprinkle cheese on top.

Pasta with Velveeta-Style Cheese

Not quite as healthy as lentils ;), but we’ve found little that tastes better after a long exhausting morning on the trails than a lunch of shells or macaroni and cheese. We prefer the Velveeta-style variety since it doesn’t require adding milk or butter. This is also a go-to meal for us on backpacking trips.

A woman stands outside next to a campstove, holding a box of shells and cheese.

Mashed Potatoes with Add-Ins

Another favorite lunch on both camping and backpacking trips is instant mashed potatoes. This is another food item that has gotten a major dressing up in the last few years! There are several different seasoned flavors and they really do taste like the real thing (or perhaps if yours from scratch are like mine, these taste better). Toss in a few bacon crumbles or other fixings, and it’s a full meal!

Backpacking Lunch Ideas

We took a backpacking trip with my brother a few years ago, and his entire meal plan was a giant box of Uncrustables and a couple of cans of peaches. While we definitely enjoyed eating those peaches, when you are hiking all day and carrying 25+ pounds, less weight and more calories is important!

Dehydrated Meal, Taco Style

Let’s just admit it, backpacking meals are expensive! With a family, the costs can add up even more quickly. We like to buy just one, like Peak Refuel’s Sweet Pork and Rice, and share it between 2 adults and 3-4 kids, serving it spooned into a tortilla. Fewer dishes, fewer dollars spent, and a happy satisfied family of hikers!

Dried Pasta + Chicken or Tuna

Another great backpacking lunch option that won’t break the bank, even with a family, is ramen with a few mix-ins. The possible negatives of lots of carbs and lots of sodium actually can be benefits on a hike where you are sweating and working hard! Add in a packet of seasoned chicken or tuna for that needed protein, and enjoy!

A pot of pasta cooks on a backpacking stove with various dishware and macaroni packaging next to it.
Making mac and cheese for our family on a backpacking trip.

We also recently tried Snapdragon Vietnamese Pho from Costco and loved it! It’s super light, packaged individually, and simply needs to steam in boiling water for 3 minutes–perfect for a fast mid-hike meal. It’s a little light on calories, so consider adding chicken to this one if you are trekking a lot of miles, but the flavorful pasta and broth combo is a delicious contrast to stereotypically bland trail food!

Summer Sausage with Cheese and Crackers

This is a perfect mid-hike lunch when you want to skip the cook stove! Aldi sells a great summer sausage, and semi-hard cheeses like cheddar will actually keep for a few days without refrigeration. I even ate cheese for 3 days in the Grand Canyon where the temps were well over 100 degrees, although my husband skipped it.

Wheat Thins can provide the carb boost needed for hike energy, and sugar snap peas are a tasty fresh food side dish. I also like to include clementines or dried cranberries for a little sweet kick.

Camping Lunch is Fun Again!

With a little planning and occasionally a little advance prep, lunch is no longer an unwelcome interruption to your adventure day. Rather, lunch can be a fun and delicious part of your camping trip!

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Camping Lunch Ideas: Tasty and Easy Lunches

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1 thought on “Camping Lunch Ideas”

  1. Great article on camp lunches, Laura. Actually, I’m wanting to try some of these in my own kitchen, but will certainly miss the campfire.


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