Food to Take Camping Without Fridge

The refrigerator is one of those modern conveniences that has become such a huge part of daily life it can be hard to imagine going without it. If you’re planning a camping trip you may be wondering what foods you can even take along if you won’t have access to a fridge.

Camping for a few days, or even a few weeks, without a fridge is easier than you think! Humans have long made do without refrigeration, as it wasn’t even common for households to have this handy appliance until the early 1940’s. 

This post will cover many different shelf stable foods you can bring along on your next camping trip, as well as some tips for making your food last longer without a fridge.

Family sitting by a fire pit making campfire pies

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Produce to Take Camping Without a Fridge

Fruits and veggies are a healthy and versatile addition to camping meals. They can also be a great option without a fridge as many of them stay good for quite awhile at room temperature. 

Some of the more thin-skinned or delicate fresh produce like lettuce, tomatoes, berries, peaches, and plums, may indeed last longer in a refrigerator. Plan on eating up these types of things first and save the more durable fruits and veggies for later in the trip.

You can also help your produce last longer by avoiding storing it in plastic bags. Breathable fabric produce bags, or even paper bags are much better options for storing fresh fruits and veggies in.

Fruit to Bring Camping

Many soft fruits spoil fairly quickly, especially when it’s warm outside. To help extend shelf life, bring fruits that are slightly underripe. This won’t be an option for all fruits, as some won’t continue to ripen after being picked. But, for things like apricots, bananas, pears, plums, peaches, etc. this can be a good way to give you a chance to use things up before they go bad.

Fresh Fruit for Camping Snacks & More

Many fresh fruits, like apples, berries, bananas, mandarins, peaches, grapes, and cherries, can be eaten as quick snacks with no preparation required. Other fruits, like watermelon, cantaloupe, and pineapple can be cut up and enjoyed without too much hassle. 

Fruit is also a nice addition to camping meals. Use it to top pancakes or oatmeal. Toss several kinds of fresh fruit together in a big bowl for an easy side dish. Fresh fruit also makes a tasty filling for campfire pies.

Child and her father eating cherries while their dogs look on
My daughter and partner enjoying fresh cherries while on a hike

Dried Fruit for Camping & Hiking

Dried fruits are a great choice for camping trips where you’ll be doing lots of hiking because they are lighter and can be tossed into a backpack without getting smashed. Fresh fruits tend to go bad pretty quickly in hot weather, so dried fruits may be preferable in this case too. 

A few tasty dried fruit options are raisins, cranberries, pineapple, mango, apricots, figs, apples, and bananas. They are delicious on their own or can be used to top oatmeal or paired with nuts for an easy snack.

Veggies to Bring Camping

A variety of veggies can be included in your camping cuisine. Soak corn on the cob in water (with the husk still on) and pop it directly in the coals to cook for a tasty accompaniment to any meal. 

Chop a mix of your favorite vegetables and sauté them in a skillet on a camp stove or over the fire (this is much easier when you have a grate) with some butter and seasonings. Bell peppers can be stuffed with cooked and seasoned rice and then baked in a lidded pot

Small onions are the perfect size for a single meal. Dice them and add them to stir fries, scrambled eggs, soups, pasta dishes, and much more. Many veggies are delicious when mixed into rice, quinoa, or pasta or used to fill tortillas. 

Baby carrots or sugar snap peas make a quick, no-prep snack. Cucumbers and bell peppers can be sliced up and enjoyed raw too. 

Harder, more durable veggies like potatoes, beets, and carrots last a long time without a fridge. They can be sautéed, or added to campfire soups and stews.

Camping Food Ideas No Refrigeration

Dry goods are a very shelf stable option to bring along for camping trips and can be the base of many different types of meals. There are endless possibilities for customizing these staples depending on how much effort you want to put into your camping cuisine and what flavors you and your family prefer.

Shelf Stable Grains to Bring Camping

Basics like oats, rice, quinoa, and barley, can be jazzed up in many different delicious dishes. Soak grains in water for a day before preparing them to help reduce cooking times.

Quick oats make for an easy camping breakfast. Top with shredded coconut, fresh or dried fruit, seeds or nuts to boost flavor and nutrition. 

Rice simmered over the campfire with bouillon cubes and any other add-ins you desire, such as diced onion, herbs, spices, veggies, etc., makes for a simple campfire rice pilaf. Instant rice cooked with freeze dried vegetables stirred in is a quick and simple backpacking meal. 

Rice can also be used to make a porridge by cooking it down until it’s soft and creamy. Top with fresh or dried fruit and nuts. 

Quinoa packs more protein than other grain options, making it a good choice to help you refuel after a long day of camping adventures. Add canned black beans and tomatoes for a hearty one-pot dish that is reminiscent of chili. You can also stir-in sauteed veggies and curry spices for a flavorful camping dinner. 

Kids sitting at a table eating
Team member, Mary Burton’s, kids eating pasta and veggies while camping

Pasta for Easy Camping Meals

Pasta makes a quick and easy camping meal option that is also incredibly versatile. If you want to keep it super simple, add butter (which will last for many days outside of a fridge) and some salt and pepper. For a veggie pasta, add a jar of tomato sauce and stir-fried veggies. For a quick chicken alfredo, add a jar of your favorite alfredo sauce and a can of chicken.

Nuts for a Shelf Stable Camping Snack

Nuts make a great snack and can be used to top porridge or oatmeal. Nut butters are also a great option for camping trips and can be spread on bread or rice crackers for a quick pick-me-up.

Flour for Making Quick Breads While Camping

Flour is an incredibly versatile ingredient that can be nice to have on hand. Use self rising flour so that you don’t have to worry about bringing a leavening agent, like yeast, too. 

For campfire breads, make a quick dough by combining self-rising flour, water, and a pinch of salt. Then wrap the dough around sticks and bake it over a campfire. Roll the dough flat and cook it on a skillet or grill for an easy flatbread. 

Arepas are a wonderful camping meal that can be easily customized. Make a dough with corn flour, water, and a pinch of salt. Then form into small discs and cook on a skillet. Slice open and fill with veggies, cheese, cured meats, scrambled eggs, or whatever else you desire.

Meat & Cheese to Bring Camping Without a Fridge

While meat and cheese are often considered foods that have to be refrigerated, there are several ways to safely enjoy these foods while camping without a fridge. 

For a simple, yet satisfying “camping charcuterie,” pair slices of cured meats and hard cheeses with canned olives and crackers. This is one of my family’s favorite lunches to bring along on hikes as everything can be packed into a few silicone snack bags, tossed in a backpack, then easily enjoyed trailside throughout the day.

Hand holding stainless steel plate with cheese slices, olives, crackers, and cucumbers
Camping charcuterie

Cured Meats to Bring Camping

Cured meats like pepperoni and dry cured salami don’t need to be refrigerated. Slices can be enjoyed on their own or added to pasta, quinoa dishes, arepas, campfire pies, and more.

Canned Meats to Bring Camping

Canned chicken or tuna (or packets) are completely shelf stable and can be added to a variety of dishes for an extra boost of protein. Stir into pasta or rice dishes with veggies and spices for a hearty meal. For a no-cook option, mix canned chicken with mayo packets, dried cranberries, salt, and pepper, then spread on bread for chicken salad sandwiches. 

TMM Team Member Kara Swanson mentioned that her family once brought along canned chicken, shredded cheese, and barbeque sauce to make BBQ chicken quesadillas while camping. Since unrefrigerated shredded cheese is best if used within a day or so, this could be a great option for the first night at the campground. Bring a small container of BBQ sauce so you can use it up in a meal or two, it’ll be okay outside of the fridge for at least a few days.

Jerky for Camping & Hiking

Jerky is well-loved as a hearty camping snack, but did you know it can be added to meals too? Just slice it into small pieces and soak it in some hot water to plump and soften it. Then add it to rice, pasta, or quinoa dishes. You can also just toss the jerky pieces into a campfire stew.

Hard Cheeses to Bring Camping

Hard cheeses, like cheddar, parmesan, and gouda, are fairly shelf stable and, depending on the outdoor temperature, can be fine without refrigeration for many days. Cheese is wonderful on its own (as you probably already know if you’re a cheese lover like I am!), but also can be added to pasta, quinoa, rice, scrambled eggs, arepas, quesadillas, sandwiches, and so much more.

Grain Products to Bring Camping Without a Fridge

Whether they are pre-packaged or homemade grain products are a really convenient camping food. Muffins, breads, tortillas, and crackers can be enjoyed as snacks or as part of a larger meal.

Bread for Versatile Camping Meals

Bread is a staple that can be used in countless camping meals. One of my favorites is campfire pies, which have countless options for fillings. A combination that is a hit with my family is pizza sauce, cheese, and cured meat. Another tasty option is peanut butter or Nutella with bananas. The possibilities are truly endless! 

Sandwiches are another easy and satisfying way to utilize bread while camping. Bread can also be toasted on a skillet and topped with nut butter or sliced cheese.

Crackers for Quick Camping Snacks

Crackers are a tasty, versatile, convenient, and shelf stable snack. Pair them with cheese, nut butter, canned tuna, beans, and more.

Tortillas for Camping Meals

Pre-made tortillas are typically fine outside of a refrigerator for a few days and are another wonderful option for easy camping meals. They can be filled with beans, scrambled eggs, cheese, veggies, and more.

Pre-Packaged Foods to Bring Camping Without a Fridge

Another incredibly convenient invention that makes our lives simpler in modern times is pre-packaged food. There are many options, some healthier than others, and most are meant to be very shelf stable, so they are perfect for fridge-free camping trips.

Canned & Jarred Foods to Bring Camping

If you’re driving into a campground and will be parked near your campsite, cans and jars can be a wonderful option for shelf stable meals. Though, if you’re hiking in to camp, lugging them along will not make much sense. 

There are many, many options for canned and jarred foods to bring camping. Beans can be added to stews, quinoa, or enjoyed as a side. Canned soup makes a quick and easy meal. Canned fruits are shelf stable and can be used as a filling for campfire pies or used as a topping for oatmeal. Corn can be stirred into beans or enjoyed as a side. 

Jarred sauces can be poured over rice or pasta for an easy and flavorful meal. Canned tomatoes or tomato paste can be used in campfire chili, pasta dishes, campfire pies, and more. 

Evaporated milk is a good option for when you want to bring milk along on a fridge-free trip. Canned coconut milk can be added to oatmeal, pancake batter, curries, soups, stews, rice or quinoa dishes, coffee, and more.

Kids sitting on a tree branch eating oatmeal packets
Team member, Mary Burton’s, kids eating oatmeal packets while camping

Packets & Pouches to Bring Camping

These days there are plenty of options for convenient, pre-packaged foods, if you should desire them. Oatmeal packets make a quick breakfast and come in a variety of flavors. Squeezable fruit pouches are another option that might come in handy for camping trips.

Energy bars or granola bars are a quick and easy snack that most kids love. Having some type of pre-packaged bar on hand at all times is a hack that many a seasoned mother employs and and this strategy can certainly come in handy on camping adventures.

Trail Mix for a Quick Camping Snack

Trail mix is a classic camping snack that is perfect for taking along on hikes or staving off hunger between meals. Buy a pre-made mix or make your own customized blend with your favorite dried fruits and nuts.

Freeze Dried Meals to Bring Camping

There are a number of packaged freeze dried meals available for hiking and backpacking trips. They are incredibly shelf stable, light-weight, and cook quickly. They can be pretty expensive, but may be worth it if you’re going on a long backpacking trip so you can save room (and weight!) in your backpack.

Camping Without a Fridge is Actually Quite Easy!

As you can see, there are many good options for food you can take camping without a fridge. With just a few considerations, you can enjoy a variety of delicious meals and snacks on your next outdoor adventure – no refrigerator required!

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Food to Take Camping Without Fridge

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