We all know that a little planning goes a long way when we talk camping. And while spending time in the great outdoors is clearly an exciting experience, it’s essential to have a game plan for keeping your energy levels up and your belly full.
Sometimes, you don’t want to spend too much time cooking, but boring hot dogs are not an option, either. That’s where make-ahead camping meals come in! In this blog post, we’ll dive into the world of delicious, convenient, and stress-free camping recipes you can prepare before hitting the trails.
Imagine waking up in your tent, surrounded by nature’s beauty, and knowing you’ve already sorted your breakfast headaches. Or, after a long day of hiking, fishing, or kayaking, you can sit back and relax by the campfire with a scrumptious make-ahead camping meal that’s ready to go.
Sounds like a dream? Well, let’s make it a reality! With a bit of creativity and forethought, you can enjoy a variety of tasty dishes that will make your camping adventure even more enjoyable.
Buckle up, and let’s get started on this culinary journey – we’ve got 50 mouthwatering make-ahead camping meal ideas that will give a nice spin to your next camping trip.
- Make-ahead breakfasts
- Make-ahead lunches
- Make-ahead dinners
- Make-ahead snacks and appetizers
- Make-ahead desserts
Starting your day with a hearty and filling breakfast is crucial, especially when a long active day outdoors awaits you.
With these pre-made camping meals, you won’t have to worry about cooking first thing in the morning, giving you more time to enjoy the sunrise or hit the trails early.
Here are some tasty and convenient pre-made options to kick off your day:
Overnight oats are the ultimate make-ahead breakfast for camping. Before you leave home, combine rolled oats with your choice of milk, yogurt, and sweetener in a mason jar or reusable container. Add your favorite mix-ins, like nuts, seeds, or dried fruit, and let the oats soak overnight in the fridge.
When you’re ready to enjoy them at the campsite, simply grab a spoon and dig in! Top with fresh fruit or a drizzle of honey for a little extra flavor.
This warm, satisfying breakfast burrito is a no-brainer to start your day on the right foot. Prepare your favorite burrito fillings at home, such as scrambled eggs, cooked bacon or sausage, diced veggies, and shredded cheese. Wrap everything up in a tortilla and then in foil.
Store your burritos in a cooler and reheat them over the campfire or on a camp stove when ready to eat.
Read more about food storage for camping to keep your meals fresh and tasty.
Whip up a batch of homemade granola bars before your camping trip, and you’ll have a quick, energy-boosting camping breakfast that’s perfect for on-the-go snacking.
Combine oats, nuts, seeds, and dried fruit with honey and nut butter to bind everything together. Press the mixture into a baking pan, chill, and cut into bars. Wrap each bar individually, and you’ll have a tasty, portable breakfast for your outdoor adventures.
If you’re a fan of pancakes, you’ll be happy to know that you can effortlessly enjoy them while camping! Before you leave, mix your favorite pancake batter ingredients, leaving out the wet components (like milk and eggs).
Store the dry mix in a ziplock bag or airtight container. When you’re ready to cook, add the required amount of liquid and cook your pancakes on a portable stove or camping griddle. Don’t forget to pack some syrup or fresh fruit for toppings.
Chia seed pudding
Chia seed pudding is a nutritious and delicious make-ahead breakfast option. Combine chia seeds, milk (dairy or non-dairy), sweetener, and any desired flavorings, like vanilla extract or cocoa powder in a mason jar or container.
Give the mixture a good shake, and let it sit in the fridge overnight. The chia seeds will expand and create a pudding-like consistency. Top with fresh fruit, nuts, or granola for a satisfying and healthy start to your day.
Fruit and yogurt parfaits
Fruit and yogurt parfaits are a refreshing and healthy breakfast option for camping mornings. Before you head out, prepare individual servings of your favorite yogurt, granola, and chopped fruit in mason jars or reusable containers. Seal the containers and store them in your cooler.
In the morning, just grab one, and you’re all set.
Make-ahead breakfast sandwiches are all-time classics. At home, assemble your sandwiches with ingredients like cooked eggs, cheese, and your choice of breakfast meat (such as bacon, sausage, or ham).
You can use bagels, English muffins, or croissants as your bread base. Wrap each sandwich in foil, and store them in your cooler. When ready to eat, reheat the foil-wrapped sandwiches over the campfire or on a camping stove until warm and toasty.
Pre-cooked bacon or sausage
Pre-cooked bacon or sausage is a great time-saving hack for camping breakfasts. Cook your bacon or sausage at home, and store it in an airtight container or ziplock bag.
When you’re at the campsite, simply reheat the cooked meat in a pan or over the campfire. Enjoy it as a side dish, or add it to other breakfast items like scrambled eggs, sandwiches, or burritos.
Quiche cups are a versatile make-ahead breakfast option that you can customize to suit your preferences. Mix eggs, milk, cheese, and your favorite veggies, meats, or herbs at home.
Pour the mixture into greased muffin tins, and bake until set. Allow the quiche cups to cool, and store them in an airtight container. At the campsite, you can enjoy them cold or reheat them on a camping stove or over the campfire.
Hard-boiled eggs are a protein-packed and convenient breakfast choice for camping trips. Boil a batch of eggs at home, and once they cook, store them in their shells in an egg carton or airtight container.
You can enjoy hard-boiled eggs on their own or use them as a topping for avocado toast, a breakfast sandwich, or even a salad. They’re a versatile and easy-to-transport option for your morning meal.
You’ll need a satisfying and easy-to-prepare lunch to refuel when you’re out enjoying nature and engaging in camping activities like hiking or swimming.
Make-ahead meals are the perfect solution for lunch, providing a variety of flavors and ingredients that can be prepared at home and enjoyed on the go.
Let’s dive into some convenient make-ahead lunch ideas for your camping getaway.
Sandwiches and wraps
Sandwiches and wraps are classic lunchtime favorites you can easily prep before your camping adventure. Choose your favorite bread or wraps, and fill them with an assortment of deli meats, cheeses, veggies, and spreads.
Store condiments like mayo and mustard separately to prevent sogginess, and add them right before eating. Wrap each sandwich or wrap in foil or plastic wrap, and store them in your cooler until lunchtime.
A flavorful camping pasta salad is an excellent lunch option for camping trips. Cook your preferred pasta at home, and toss it with chopped vegetables, olives, cheese, and cooked meats or beans.
Add a tangy dressing, and let the flavors meld together in the fridge. Pack the pasta salad in airtight containers or mason jars, and store them in your cooler until you’re ready to enjoy a refreshing and satisfying lunch.
Grain-based salads, like quinoa, couscous, or farro salads, are hearty, nutritious, and delicious lunch options you can make in advance. Cook your desired grain at home, then mix it with your favorite veggies, nuts, seeds, and protein sources (such as cooked chicken or chickpeas).
Add a tasty dressing, and let the flavors blend in the fridge. Pack the salad in airtight containers or mason jars, and keep it in your cooler until it’s time for lunch.
Veggie sticks and hummus
Prepare veggie sticks and hummus before your camping trip for a lighter lunch option. Cut up various colorful vegetables, like carrots, bell peppers, and cucumbers, and pack them in airtight containers.
Make or buy your favorite hummus, and pack it in a separate container or mason jar. Keep the veggies and hummus chilled in your portable cooler, and enjoy a crunchy, healthy, and delicious lunch when hunger strikes.
Rice and beans
Rice and beans are another classic, comforting, and filling lunch option. Cook your favorite rice and beans recipe at home, and let it cool completely.
Pack the rice and beans in airtight containers, and store them in your cooler. Enjoy this dish cold or reheat it over the campfire or on a camping stove. Don’t forget to bring along some tortillas or crusty bread for a satisfying meal.
Salad in a jar
A salad in a jar is a clever and portable way to enjoy a fresh, healthy lunch while camping. Choose your favorite salad ingredients, such as mixed greens, chopped vegetables, nuts, seeds, and protein sources like grilled chicken or hard-boiled eggs.
Layer the ingredients in a mason jar or similar container, starting with the heavier items at the bottom and the greens at the top. Store your salad dressing in a separate small container, and add it right before eating. Keep the jars in your cooler, and enjoy a crisp, refreshing salad for lunch.
Cold noodle salads
Cold noodle salads are a fantastic make-ahead option for camping lunches, as you can quickly customize them with your favorite flavors and ingredients. Cook your preferred noodles (like soba, rice, or pasta) at home, and then toss them with various veggies, proteins, and a tasty dressing.
Some great combinations include sesame peanut noodles with shredded chicken, Asian-inspired veggie noodle salads, or Mediterranean-inspired pasta salads. Pack the salads in airtight containers or mason jars, and store them in your cooler until lunchtime.
A charcuterie board or picnic-style lunch is a fun and casual way to enjoy a variety of flavors and textures while camping. Before your trip, gather an assortment of cured meats, cheeses, crackers, bread, olives, pickles, and other tasty bites.
Pack each item in separate containers or bags, and store them in your cooler. When it’s time for lunch, simply arrange your spread on a camping cutting board or picnic blanket, and enjoy a leisurely and delicious outdoor dining experience.
Chicken salad is one of those meals you can enjoy in multiple ways.
Prepare your favorite chicken salad recipe at home, and pack it in an airtight container.
Keep it chilled in your cooler, and enjoy it on a sandwich, with crackers, or over a bed of lettuce. For a lighter option, consider using Greek yogurt or mashed avocado instead of mayo as the base for your chicken salad.
Caprese skewers are a simple yet delicious and elegant make-ahead lunch idea. Thread cherry tomatoes, fresh mozzarella balls, and basil leaves onto wooden skewers.
Drizzle the skewers with a balsamic glaze or pack a small container of balsamic vinegar for dipping. Store the skewers in an airtight container, and keep them chilled in your cooler until it’s time to enjoy a tasty and refreshing lunch.
After a full day of exploring and enjoying the great outdoors, you’ll want a delicious and satisfying meal to look forward to. Make-ahead dinners are perfect for those camping nights when you’d instead relax around the campfire than spend time cooking.
Let’s look at some mouthwatering and convenient make-ahead dinner ideas that’ll make your whole family happy.
Foil packet meals
Foil packet meals are a classic camping favorite, as they’re easy to prepare ahead of time and cook directly over the campfire. At home, create your foil packets by layering your choice of protein (like chicken, fish, or tofu) with vegetables, seasonings, and a little oil or sauce.
Seal each packet tightly, and store them in your cooler. When it’s time for dinner, simply place the foil packets on a grill grate over the campfire and cook until everything is tender.
Pro tip: Foil packets are easy and quite mess-free to prepare on-site, too. Read our blog post on campfire foil meals to learn more.
A hearty chili is a comforting and filling make-ahead dinner option that you’ll quickly reheat at the campsite. Prepare your favorite chili recipe at home, and let it cool completely before transferring it to an airtight container.
Store the chili in your cooler, and reheat it over the campfire or on a camping stove when you’re ready for dinner. Serve with a side of cornbread or crusty bread for a satisfying meal.
Stuffed bell peppers
Stuffed bell peppers are a versatile option you can customize with your own ingredients. At home, prepare your desired filling, such as ground meat, rice, beans, and seasonings.
Hollow out bell peppers and stuff them with the filling. Wrap each pepper in foil, and store them in your cooler. To cook, place the foil-wrapped peppers on a grill or grate over the campfire until the peppers are tender and the filling heats through.
Pulled pork or chicken
Pulled pork or chicken is an easy-to-prepare make-ahead dinner you can reuse in other dishes. Cook your preferred pulled meat recipe at home, and store it in an airtight container in your cooler.
You can reheat the pulled meat at the campsite and enjoy it on sandwiches, over nachos, or as a topping for baked potatoes. The possibilities are endless!
Pre-made pizza dough and toppings
Who says you can’t enjoy pizza while camping? Prepare your pizza dough at home and store it in an airtight container or plastic bag in your cooler. Also, pack your favorite toppings, like sauce, cheese, and pre-cooked veggies or meats.
At the camp, roll out the dough and assemble your pizza on a cast iron skillet or pizza stone. Cook your pizza over the campfire or on a camping stove until the crust is golden and the cheese melts.
Pre-cooked and marinated kebabs
Pre-cooked and marinated kebabs are a flavorful and fun make-ahead dinner option perfect for cooking over an open fire. Prepare your desired kebab ingredients at home, such as marinated chicken, beef, or vegetables.
Skewer the ingredients onto metal or wooden skewers (if using wooden skewers, be sure to soak them in water for at least 30 minutes before grilling). Cook the kebabs on a grill or in the oven until they’re almost done, then let them cool before storing them in an airtight container or ziplock bag in your cooler.
When you’re off camping, simply finish cooking the kebabs over the campfire for a delicious and interactive dinner.
Shepherd’s pie is a hearty meal perfect for cooler camping evenings. Prepare your favorite shepherd’s pie recipe at home, using either ground meat or a vegetarian substitute, along with vegetables and a mashed potato topping.
Cook the pie until it’s nearly finished, then let it cool completely before wrapping it in foil and storing it in your cooler.
To reheat, place the foil-wrapped pie on a grill or grate over the campfire and cook until heated and the potato topping is golden and crispy.
Lentil stew is a nourishing and satisfying make-ahead dinner perfect for vegetarians and meat-eaters alike. Cook your favorite lentil stew recipe at home, and let it cool completely before transferring it to an airtight container.
Store the stew in your cooler, and reheat it over the campfire or on a camping stove when it’s time for dinner. Serve with crusty bread or rice for a delicious and filling meal.
Get inspired with more vegetarian camping food ideas here.
Prepare your favorite meatball recipe at home (using either ground meat or a vegetarian substitute), and cook the meatballs until they’re almost done.
Let them cool, then store them in an airtight container or ziplock bag in your cooler. You can reheat the meatballs at the campsite and enjoy them with pasta and marinara sauce, in a meatball sub, or even over rice or mashed potatoes.
A pre-made curry is a warming and flavorful make-ahead dinner option that you can enjoy with rice or flatbread. Cook your favorite curry recipe at home, whether it’s a Thai-style curry, Indian curry, or any other variation you love.
Let the curry cool completely before transferring it to an airtight container. Store the curry in your cooler, and reheat it over the campfire or on a camping stove when it’s time for dinner. Pack some pre-cooked rice or flatbread, and you’ll have a comforting and delicious meal to enjoy at your campsite.
Find more camping lunch recipes here.
Make-ahead snacks and appetizers
Having a selection of make-ahead snacks and appetizers on hand is a great way to keep your energy levels up and satisfy those between-meal cravings during your camping trip.
These tasty bites are perfect for sharing around the campfire or enjoying during a midday break. Let’s explore some scrumptious and convenient make-ahead snack and appetizer ideas to keep your taste buds happy and your hunger at bay.
Trail mix is a classic and customizable snack perfect for taking on hikes or enjoying around the campsite. Create your own trail mix at home by combining your favorite nuts, seeds, dried fruits, and other tasty additions like chocolate chips or pretzels.
Store the mix in airtight containers or resealable bags, and you’ll have a delicious and energy-boosting snack ready whenever needed.
Energy bites are a wholesome make-ahead snack that you can tailor to your taste preferences. To make energy bites, combine ingredients like oats, nut butter, honey, and your choice of mix-ins (such as dried fruit, nuts, or chocolate chips).
Roll the mixture into bite-sized balls, and store them in an airtight container in your cooler. These nutrient-dense bites are perfect for keeping you energized during your outdoor adventures.
Veggie and dip cups
Prepare veggies and dip cups before your camping trip for a healthy and refreshing snack. Cut up various colorful vegetables, like carrots, bell peppers, and cucumbers, and portion them into small plastic cups or mason jars.
Add a dollop of your favorite dip, like hummus or ranch dressing, to the bottom of each cup. Keep the veggie and dip cups chilled in your cooler, and enjoy a crunchy and satisfying snack whenever hunger strikes.
Cheese and crackers
One more simple yet satisfying make-ahead snack option is cheese and crackers. Before your trip, choose a variety of cheeses and slice or cube them as desired. Pack the cheese in an airtight container, and store it in your cooler.
Bring along your favorite crackers or crispbreads, and you’ll have a delicious and easy-to-assemble snack to enjoy during your camping adventure.
Guacamole and tortilla chips
Guacamole is a real crowd-pleaser, and it’s a versatile make-ahead appetizer that’s perfect for sharing around the campfire. Prepare your favorite guacamole recipe at home, and transfer it to an airtight container.
To prevent browning, press a piece of plastic wrap directly onto the surface of the guacamole before sealing the container. Store the guacamole in your cooler, and serve it with tortilla chips for a tasty and satisfying appetizer.
If you’re craving something crunchy, roasted chickpeas are here for the job. To prepare them, drain and rinse canned chickpeas, and toss them with a little bit of oil and your choice of seasonings, like salt, pepper, and spices.
Roast the chickpeas in the oven until they’re crispy and golden. Allow them to cool completely, and store them in an airtight container. Enjoy them by the handful or as a topping for salads and other dishes.
Aha, popcorn is something you can bring outside your house, too.
At home, pop a large batch of popcorn using an air popper or stovetop method, and season it with your favorite flavors, like salt, nutritional yeast, or cinnamon and sugar.
Store the popcorn in airtight bags or containers, and you’ll have a light and tasty snack ready to go when hunger strikes.
Pre-made guacamole and salsa
We’ve already covered guacamole, but pairing it with pre-made salsa adds even more variety to your snack options. Prepare your favorite salsa recipe at home, and transfer it to an airtight container.
Store the salsa in your cooler, and enjoy it with tortilla chips, on tacos, or over your favorite camping meals. Having both guacamole and salsa on hand ensures you’ll have a delicious and versatile selection of appetizers and toppings during your trip.
Pretzels and dip
Pretzels and dip are easy to transport and enjoy while camping. Choose your favorite pretzel variety, such as twists or sticks, and pack them in a resealable bag or container.
Prepare a tasty dip at home, like honey mustard, cheese dip, or even a sweet option like peanut butter or Nutella. Transfer the dip to an airtight container and store it in your cooler. Assemble your snack at the campsite by dipping pretzels into the dip, and enjoy a delightful and satisfying treat.
Prepare your favorite stuffed mushroom recipe at home, using a mixture of cheese, breadcrumbs, herbs, and other tasty ingredients.
Cook the mushrooms until they’re almost done, then let them cool before storing them in an airtight container in your cooler. To reheat, place the stuffed mushrooms on a grill or grate over the campfire and cook until heated through and the cheese is melted and bubbly.
No camping trip is complete without indulging in some mouthwatering desserts.
Preparing your sweet treats ahead of time saves you time at the campsite and ensures you have a delicious and satisfying way to end your meals.
Here are some awesome make-ahead dessert ideas that will make your camping trip even sweeter.
S’mores are a classic campfire dessert that you can easily prepare ahead of time. Create individual s’mores kits by packing graham crackers, marshmallows, and chocolate squares in separate ziplock backs or airtight containers.
When it’s time to enjoy your dessert, simply put the marshmallows on the roasting sticks and roast over the campfire. Then, assemble your s’mores for a gooey and delightful treat.
Fruit cobblers are a comforting make-ahead dessert that you can enjoy warm or at room temperature. Prepare your favorite fruit cobbler recipe at home, using fresh or canned fruit and a crumbly topping.
Bake the cobbler until it’s almost done, then let it cool completely before transferring it to an airtight container. You can reheat the cobbler at the campsite on a grill or grate over the campfire and serve it with a dollop of whipped cream or a scoop of ice cream.
Brownies or blondies
Brownies and blondies are a crowd-pleasing make-ahead dessert that won’t leave anyone indifferent. Bake a batch of your favorite brownies or blondies at home, and let them cool completely before cutting them into squares.
Store the squares in an airtight container or plastic wrap, and enjoy a decadent treat anytime you like during your trip.
Rice crispy treats
Rice crispy treats are a no-bake dessert option that you’ll quickly whip up before your trip. Prepare your favorite rice crispy treat recipe at home using marshmallows, butter, and crispy rice cereal.
Press the mixture into a pan and let it set before cutting it into squares. Store the squares in an airtight container or ziplock bag, and enjoy a sweet and crunchy treat during your camping adventure.
Pre-made cookie dough
Pre-made cookie dough allows you to enjoy freshly baked cookies right at your campsite. Prepare your favorite cookie dough recipe at home, and portion it into individual cookies or store it in a log shape.
Keep the dough in an airtight container or plastic wrap, and store it in your cooler. When you’re ready for dessert, simply bake the cookies on a cast iron skillet or cookie sheet over the campfire or a camping stove, and enjoy warm, gooey cookies that taste like home.
Pre-made fruit cobblers
While we already discussed fruit cobblers, let’s explore a variation: individual fruit cobblers in mason jars. Prepare your favorite fruit cobbler recipe at home, using fresh or canned fruit and a crumbly topping. Instead of using a large baking dish, portion the fruit mixture and topping into individual mason jars.
Bake the cobblers until they’re almost done, then let them cool completely before sealing the jars. You can reheat the cobblers at the campsite on a grill or grate over the campfire and serve them with a dollop of whipped cream or a scoop of ice cream.
Chocolate-dipped fruit is a simple yet elegant make-ahead dessert. At home, melt your favorite chocolate, and dip a variety of fresh fruits, such as strawberries, bananas, or apple slices, into the chocolate.
Place the dipped fruit on a parchment-lined baking sheet, and allow the chocolate to set. Store the chocolate-dipped fruit in an airtight container in your cooler, and enjoy a refreshing and delicious treat whenever you crave something sweet.
A pre-made trifle is a delicious and visually appealing dessert for a special camping occasion. Prepare your favorite trifle recipe at home, layering cake, fruit, custard, and whipped cream in a large trifle dish or individual mason jars.
Cover the trifle and store it in your cooler. When ready to enjoy this delightful dessert, simply serve it chilled, straight from the cooler.
If you’re up to something lighter and more refreshing, go for fruit salad. At home, prepare a fruit salad using a mix of your favorite fresh fruits, such as melon, berries, pineapple, and grapes.
Optionally, toss the fruit with light honey, lime juice, and fresh mint dressing. Store the fruit salad in an airtight container in your cooler, and enjoy a revitalizing and naturally sweet treat during your camping trip.
No-churn ice cream
No-churn ice cream is a creamy and indulgent make-ahead dessert that’s surprisingly easy to make. Prepare your favorite no-churn ice cream recipe at home, using ingredients like sweetened condensed milk, heavy cream, and your choice of mix-ins, such as chocolate chips, nuts, or fruit.
Transfer the mixture to an airtight container, and freeze it until solid. Keep the ice cream in your cooler, surrounded by ice packs, until you’re ready to serve it.
Enjoy a scoop of homemade ice cream around the campfire or as a cool and satisfying treat after a day of outdoor activities.
Campfire banana boats
Prepare fillings like chocolate chips, mini marshmallows, peanut butter, or chopped nuts.
Make a lengthwise slit in each unpeeled banana at home, cutting just deep enough to open the banana without slicing it all the way through. Stuff the slit with your chosen fillings, pressing them gently into the banana.
Wrap each filled banana in aluminum foil, sealing the edges tightly to prevent leakage. Store the wrapped bananas in a cooler, surrounded by ice packs, until you’re ready to cook them.
Place the foil-wrapped bananas on the campfire’s hot coals or a grill grate over the fire when out in the wild. Cook for 5-10 minutes, occasionally turning, until the bananas are soft and the fillings have melted. Carefully remove the bananas from the fire, let them cool for a moment, and unwrap!
Find more camping dessert recipes here.