Going camping doesn’t have to mean lots of cooking in precarious conditions. In fact, it’s perfectly possible to go camping for days and heat up nothing but a cup of morning coffee. No-cook camping food is ideal for short trips, large families that would require lots of preparation, and people who would rather spend their time exploring rather than preparing meals over a fire.
One of the best ways to avoid cooking during a camping trip is to have lots of prepackaged, ready-to-eat food such as fruits, trail mix, and energy bars. Dried fruit is an even better choice than fresh fruit if you plan to stay out for a long period of time. Individual boxes of cereals or raisins are also great, both as a quick breakfast and as mid-afternoon snacks. Most of these snacks also pack a good energetic punch, so they will provide a quick pick-me-up when you’re on the go.
One of the best ways to avoid cooking during a camping trip is to do it at home, the day before you actually leave. Sandwiches, pies and mixed salads are all great foods for a camping trip, especially in cool weather, when the food will stay in good condition even if not refrigerated. If you are concerned that the bread in the sandwiches will get soggy, consider bringing all ingredients separately in small Ziploc bags and fixing up the final snack once it’s time to eat it.
Lots of meals can be prepared on the spot if you just bring along the right ingredients. A good example is burritos or wraps. Just pack corn or flour tortillas, some mayo or ketchup (small, individual packs are best, like the ones you can find in restaurants) and a few cans of corn or beans. If you have a cooler, bring some cheese. Then you can put all ingredients together, roll them up into a wrap and have instant burritos. You can warm them up over a fire if you want, but they’re also great just as they are.
If you want to avoid cooking but would still like to have some “regular” food, look in camping and outdoor shops for dried-freeze foods. The variety available is amazing: from ice cream to pasta with tomato sauce to chicken and beef, all of them packed into metallic bags that only require adding some hot water (or sometimes nothing at all) in order to be ready. Don’t expect gourmet flavors, of course, but these are still a great option for a taste of home without the need for cooking.
If your camping trip includes a car, then consider bringing canned food along (this is not such a good idea if you’re backpacking or if you have to take the train to get to your destination). Canned foods are great because they stay fresh and allow you to try a variety of flavors: corn, beans, peas, and even spinach. For extra flavor, choose canned foods that already contain salsa or sauces, so you don’t have to worry about bringing that separately.
Regardless of which foods you decide to try, remember that the best no-cook camping foods are portable, non-perishable, yet still delicious.