Camping Food Checklist | 15+ Easy Meal and Snack Ideas

Whether you are backpacking or car camping, figuring out what you’re going to eat, how you’re going to pack it, and whether or not you need to keep it cold is always a challenge. Throw kids into the mix, and you’ve got even more to think about since they don’t always like what you try to feed them. Luckily, there are lots of straightforward food options for camping. Put together a personalized camping food checklist that meets your needs, and there will be way less stress the next time you’re trying to get out the door and into the outdoors.

camping food checklist
camping food checklist

Car Camping versus Backpacking

Backpack Weight – Heavy or Light

The type of food you pack will largely be determined by the kind of camping you’ll be doing. If you are going to backpack, weight is a significant consideration since you’ll be carrying everything you need on your back. If you’re car camping, you have many more options, and weight isn’t as much of a consideration.

Cooking Food and Heating Water

How you cook your food or heat your water will depend on the type of camping you plan to do.

If you are backpacking, you will likely take some sort of heating element that attaches to a fuel canister. There are several types, including a rapid boil kind best for freeze-dried meals and coffee. There are also kits with lightweight pots and pans designed specifically for backpacking and cooking on a small heating element. We recommend the Jetboil Flash Camping and Backpacking Stove Cooking System and discuss this Stove Cooking system further in our Essential Backpacking Gear For Camping and Hiking article.

If you are car camping, you can get away with a much heavier propane cooking grill. These come with one or two heating elements and use standard propane. Of course, you can get even fancier and heavier ones, depending on how much space you have. You’ll need some traditional pots and pans as well. Buying them from a thrift store is a great way to save money since you certainly don’t need anything fancy.

Do some research and figure out what will work best for the food you choose to cook. You will need a way to boil water and potentially heat something in pans.

Lastly, The final option is a good old-fashioned campfire. You’ll need pots or pans that can withstand some direct heat and flame and the know-how to build a fire.

Finally, you may choose all food options that require no cooking at all. We’ll throw in some options for your camping food checklist should you decide to go that route.

Camping Food List No Fridge

So, you’re wondering what food to bring camping. First, we’ll talk through some camping food list ideas, then give you a camping grocery list. Many of these ideas are also excellent camping food for kids, so it’s a win-win!

These ideas are all suitable for car camping, although a few you could adapt for backpacking. There is a separate section specific to backcountry camping food. The other takeaway is as long as you have a cooler, there is absolutely no need for a fridge. You can even adapt it to no cooler, but that’s not as fun!

Easy Camping Breakfast Ideas

Breakfast Burrito

One of the most tried and true camping breakfast foods is the breakfast burrito. The easiest way to do this is to make them at home, wrap them in foil, and reheat them when you’re camping. They can be heated in a pan, on a grate (as long as they are high enough over the direct flame to avoid burning through), or eaten cold.

If you choose to cook breakfast burritos while camping, here are a few tips to make things easy:

  • Bring your eggs in a container, already scrambled and pre-mixed with anything else you add to them. This is best if you have a way to keep them cold; otherwise, don’t bother since you’ll risk food poisoning.
  • Bring bacon bits, or pre-cook your bacon, sausage, or other meat of choice, so you don’t have to worry about dealing with grease (or attracting bears).
  • Don’t forget shredded cheese, tortillas, and hot sauce!

Bagels, Cream Cheese, and Jam

Another easy breakfast option is “everything” bagels with cream cheese and jam. You could choose to toast your bagel in a pan on low on the propane grill or just eat cold. It’s quick, easy, doesn’t require heat if you don’t want to hassle, and gives you a dose of carbs to fuel the day’s activities.

Easy Camping Lunch Ideas

Usually, lunch when camping should be easy and require little effort. You may be out on a hike or just coming back to camp for a brief interlude between other activities. Regardless, there are some tried and true camping lunch foods that don’t require cooking and are easy and convenient.

Cheese, Salami, and Crackers

A trendy option among hikers is cheese, salami, and crackers. They require little effort, and you get your carbs and protein. They’re satiating, and you can get as fancy or go as simple as you’d like. While it’s recommended you keep your cheese and salami chilled, it can last for a day or two if it’s not, as long as it’s not really hot outside.


This is another easy, no-cook option. Choose your bread and bring the cheese and meat of your choice. Add mustard, and you’re set. If you bring mayonnaise, make sure you keep it chilled as this is another culprit that can cause food poisoning if not kept adequately cooled.

Easy Camping Dinner Ideas

Dinner is one of the most fun meals of the day. You’re tired from your activities and probably starving for a hot meal. There are many options, so take these ideas and build on them.

Macaroni and Cheese and Hot Dogs

This option is one the kids will likely love, but many adults have enjoyed this meal around a campfire. It’s not as difficult to cook as you may think.

You’ll need a pot to boil water and your cookstove. Buy the box of mac and cheese with the packet of gooey cheese, so you don’t have to mess with butter or milk. Boil the water, cook the macaroni, and mix in the cheese.

To cook the hot dogs, you can roast them over the campfire using a stick, or you can cut them in half and fry them in a pan on your stove. While you can eat them separately, the most delicious way to enjoy them is to cut them into pieces and mixed in the mac and cheese!

Stir Fry

The ingredients for stir fry can be prepared ahead of time. Cut up and mix together all the vegetables you want to include, as well as the sauce. Pre-cook your meat (chicken is a good option), and bring it in a separate container. When you’re ready to cook it, add your vegetables (carrots, mushrooms, corn for example) to the pan and cook until almost soft, then throw in the pre-cooked chicken until heated. It’s simple and tastes delicious under the stars.

Easy Camping Snack Ideas

When camping, you want snacks that are easy to pack if you go hiking and require zero preparation. A few excellent options include:

  • Jerky
  • Candy bars
  • S’more makings for around the campfire at night (marshmallows, graham crackers, Hershey’s chocolate)
  • Granola or protein bars
  • Oreos (although these are easily crushed in a backpack, they’re fantastic when in camp).
  • Salted, mixed nuts

Easy Camping Drink Ideas

Don’t forget the drinks. First, make sure you pack plenty of water because no matter what else you bring, you’ll need to stay hydrated. A 5-gallon cube of water should last 2-3 people an entire weekend.

Drink Packets

If you want a lightweight, packable option, bring flavored drink packets. You can get these in small boxes at any grocery store, and they come in many flavors. Fill up your water bottle, mix one in, and you’re good to go. In addition, there are a variety with added vitamins and minerals, which may be good if you’re doing a lot of strenuous hiking.

Anything Canned

If you are car camping and have cooler capacity, any canned beverage of choice is a good option. Bring the beer, soda, sparkling water, or even the canned wine! It’s best to avoid glass bottles when camping. If they break, they are a nightmare to pick up from the dirt and leave behind glass shards for the next campers, children, and pets to potentially get hurt on. Therefore, stay away from glass if possible.


If you need coffee while camping, the easiest option is to bring instant coffee packets. These are similar to the drink packets, are super light, and all you do is mix them in boiling water in your coffee cup. Starbucks Via’s are a great option, but several other companies also specialize in them. These are roasted and ground in a specific way, so it’s not like you’re just adding coffee grounds. You get a cup of coffee that’s probably even better than you make in your drip coffee pot.

Backcountry Camping Food

If you need easy backcountry food, the easiest and lightest weight option will be freeze-dried meals. These come in breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and the sky’s the limit when it comes to types of meals. Some people complain they are full of empty carbs and sodium. Still, recently there has been an influx of new brands on the market focused on keto options and better quality ingredients. They can be a little expensive, but when you’re trying to cut weight and not overpack, you can’t go wrong with these.

Ready-to-eat tuna or canned chicken is also a good option but can be a little heavy. You can find these with crackers, relish, a mayo packet, and a little cup for mixing it all together. The calorie bang for your buck and added weight may not be worth it, but it is an excellent alternative to freeze-dried meals.

Additionally, many of the snack options above are great for the backcountry, such as jerky, nuts, and protein bars. You may also want to throw in some quick carb options for when you’re on the trail, like energy gels or gummies. Peanut butter packets also make for some quick, easy, high-calorie protein.

Camping Grocery List – Camping Food Checklist

Without further adieu, here is your camping grocery list for the above meals:

Food Checklist For Camping

  • Eggs
  • Tortillas
  • Shredded cheese
  • Hot sauce
  • Sour cream
  • Bacon, sausage, or ham
  • Everything bagel
  • Cream cheese
  • Jam
  • Cheese
  • Salami
  • Crackers
  • Bread
  • Mustard
  • Boxed mac and cheese with cheese packet
  • Hot dogs or sausages
  • Pre-cooked chicken or chicken breasts
  • Vegetables
  • Stir-fry sauce
  • Jerky
  • Candy bars
  • Marshmallows
  • Hershey chocolate bars
  • Graham crackers
  • Granola or protein bars
  • Oreos
  • Salted, mixed nuts
  • Beer
  • Wine
  • Soda
  • Sparkling water
  • Water
  • Drink packets
  • Instant coffee

Here is an amended list for the backcountry:

Backcountry Camping Grocery List – Camping Food Checklist

  • Freeze-dried breakfasts
  • Tortillas
  • Hot sauce packets
  • Freeze-dried lunch and dinner
  • Tuna or canned chicken lunches
  • Peanut butter packets
  • Jerky
  • Candy bars
  • Granola or protein bars
  • Salted, mixed nuts
  • Water
  • Drink packets
  • Instant coffee
  • Beer (yes, for some people, packing a cold brew or two is worth it)

Camping Food Checklist Final Thoughts

As you can see, there are all kinds of easy camping food ideas. Hopefully, if you aren’t into all of these, they can serve as a starting point for coming up with your own camping food checklist.

As with so many things, play around with it and figure out what works for you. It can take some trial and error before perfecting your camping set-up and food choices. The important thing to keep in mind is it should always be fun. Don’t worry about anything too elaborate or perfect. It should be quick and easy, and cleanup should be minimal, so you can enjoy why you’re really out there.