Let’s be real … nobody wants to cook on their vacation. However, it isn’t economical to eat out every meal, and if you are off the grid camping, then you can’t anyway. Luckily, there are lots of great no-cook meals for traveling out there! They might take a bit of preparation beforehand, and you’ll definitely need a cooler or refrigerator of some sort, but it can be done!
While the options for minimal-cook or prepare-before-hand meals are endless, we are going to challenge ourselves today. For this guide, we will only use only recipes that you need absolutely no heat source for, once you’re on the road. That’s not to say, you couldn’t modify some of them to make even better meals cooked over a campfire or stove—like s’mores!
App-Guided Travel Adventures
While you’re traveling, don’t forget to download our app and search for nearby scavenger hunts! Each adventure is designed to help you get to know new places and learn fun facts. Search through hundreds of tours, pub crawls, art walks, and ghost hunts and find one perfect for you!
FIND A SCAVENGER HUNT
No-Cook Breakfast Meals for Traveling
Breakfast is the most important meal of the day right? It certainly is if you plan on taking a long hike or spending the day in one of the blazing hot national parks of the Western United States. While packaged doughnuts are totally an option, let’s what else we can find!
1. Overnight Oats
Overnight oats are a simple and nutritious way to start the day. All you need is something to keep them cold. There are a million ways to make overnight oats. Most recipes call for milk of some sort, your favorite nut butter, and then embellishments. For a banana bread flavor, try oats, almond butter, milk, cinnamon, and maple syrup. Mix, and allow to sit in the refrigerator or cooler overnight. You want your mixture to be fluid and runny, as the oats will absorb the milk overnight. Add cut bananas in the morning and enjoy! Many people choose to add flax seeds, yogurt, or chia seeds for extra protein. There’s no wrong way to do it, whatever ingredients you have on hand will do!
2. Peanut Butter Protein Balls
Chilled peanut butter balls are not only an amazing-tasting snack but they’re also packed with protein and all the sugar you need for a long hike. You can make them before you leave the house, and just throw them in the cooler. Five easy ingredients of chocolate chips, ground flaxseed, peanut butter or other nut butter, honey, and oats are all it takes for this perfect camping trip power breakfast.
3. British Bean Bites
Sounds weird to Americans, but the brits eat cold beans and bread for breakfast all the time. Open a can of baked beans and served atop crunchy french or focaccia bread! The British version would be more akin to Showboat Pork and Beans than saucy baked beans. They’re usually in a thin, tomato sauce, not a sweet, thick BBQ sauce.
4. Yogurt Parfaits
Low-sugar yogurt is packed with healthy protein. Add a little granola and fresh fruit for a complete breakfast. We love this one because the ingredients are available at pretty much any grocery store and can be used for other quick meals as well. A large can of rolled oats and a big tub of original Greek yogurt should be on everyone’s packing list for a road trip or camping trip.
5. Boiled Eggs
This is the one cheater on the list. You’ll have to cook them before you leave, but boiled eggs are valuable to have around. You can at them on their own, or use them in several of the recipes on our list. Boil a batch of 12 before you leave the house, and they will keep for a few days in the cooler. Eggs will keep you full for a while, have healthy protein, and pack easily. Just peel and eat! Plus, you can use them for several of the other recipes on our list.
6. Bagels and Cream Cheese
Don’t know about you, but there’s nothing much better than an “everything bagel.” Pack a brick of cream cheese or goat cheese in your cooler, and you are good to go. You can top with blueberries for some extra anti-oxidants, or sprinkle with un-salted sunflower seeds for a little extra belly-filling protein.
7. Banana and Peanut Butter
It’s simple, but it’s effective. Just beware with this one if you are sensitive to sugars. Bananas are a high sugar item, so you might consider pairing them with organic nut butter with no extra sugar added. Add a glass of your favorite milk, and you are good to go!
Better yet …
8. Banana Cereal
Nope, we don’t mean put bananas on your cereal, we mean make banana cereal. This was grandma’s specialty. We loved it, and your kids will love it, assuming they like bananas. Cut up the banana in thin slices, sprinkle with a bit of cinnamon and douse in milk. Eat up!
9. Avocado toast
There’s nothing you can’t do with the superfood avocado. Breakfast, lunch, or dinner, it will show up everywhere on this list. It’s easy to pack, easy to find in most stores, and works to eat by itself, as a garnish, or as a spread or dip. It truly is a superfood. Since you likely won’t have a toaster, and it’s not as good on untoasted bread, consider grabbing some English muffins from the store. Mash your avocado a bit, making it soft. Spread over your muffin. Shred some of your boiled egg over the top and add a few diced tomatoes or spicy salsa … breakfast of champs!
One of our favorite road trip treats is Otis Spunkmeyer Chocolate Chocolate Chip muffins. There is just something about them that screams wreckless vacation abandon!
11. Chia Pudding
Like overnight oats, chia pudding can be made beforehand and kept in the refrigerator. A good chia pudding base only needs 3 ingredients: Chia seeds, milk, and something sweet. For a little extra flair, combine chia seeds, your favorite milk, pureed strawberries, or another berry, and a bit of yogurt. Let it sit in the fridge overnight, and the chia seeds will suck up all the liquid, expand, and turn into a kind of gelatinous pudding. Top with almonds and coconut shreds or cacao nibs for the perfect treat! Add a bit of honey if you need some sweetness.
12. Just be gross, you’re on vacation
When all else fails, Poptarts are tasty. It’s not ideal on the health front, but there is no shame in having some easy, premade stuff on your vacation. While you certainly don’t want to eat 5 Little Debbies a day (well, you might want to, but you probably shouldn’t) it never hurts to have one. There’s nothing better to celebrate conquering that beast of a hike than a Cosmic Brownie. You earned it. If you are absolutely against big-brand packaged foods and all their harmful grossness, there are some stellar organic options out there for granola bars, breakfast bars, and even brownies.
No-Cook Lunchtime Meals for Traveling
Lunch on a trip needs to be quick, easy, and filling. If you are traveling alone, that’s super easy, but if you need to please a whole picky family, we don’t envy you. That job is much harder. Good luck to you! Hopefully, you’ll find something below that your clan will enjoy.
13. Charcuterie board
You’ll be the fanciest road-trippers at the RV park with this one. Cold cuts, salami, fresh cucumbers, cubed cheese, an assortment of nuts, grapes, and some tomato slices, and you have a lunch that not only fuels your body but looks super pretty! We love charcuterie boards because they’re easy to feed a lot of people with, and littles can come by and pick up a healthy bite as they play. It can be stuck in the fridge and pulled out later too, so it just works great.
14. Egg Salad Sandwiches
You still have those boiled eggs right? Turn them into yummy egg salad and slap it on a sandwich. Pair with some potato chips, and get back on the trail!
15. Good Old Peanut Butter and Jelly
Hey, don’t knock it. It’s an American classic, and it is tasty whether you are 3 or 93.
16. Tuna salad
Tuna salad is another protein-packed option that is easy to carry on the road. Buy some packets or cans, or better yet fresh tuna if you live somewhere you can get it. Add your favorite fixings. This tuna salad recipe with red onion, dijon mustard, and celery is super tasty! Serve with crackers or as a sandwich. It doesn’t get much easier. Tuna is handy to have around, as you can also add it to pre-bought pasta salads for a little extra protein or make tuna-stuffed avocados for dinner (later).
17. Chicken Caesar Wraps
Chicken Caesar wraps are one of the best backpacking recipes. Whether you choose to grab a rotisserie chicken at the store before you leave or go with canned chicken, either way, it makes for a delicious meal. This chicken Caesar recipe with whole wheat tortillas, parmesan cheese, and cherry tomatoes is simple and yummy!
18. Crab Salad
The grainy mustard and sharp cheddar in this creamy crab salad recipe make it extra delicious! However, like tuna or chicken salad, you can pretty much throw everything but the kitchen sink in a crab salad or put nothing but mayo, and it will be just fine in a pinch. Plop it in a pita bread pocket, and pair it with some fresh veggies, and you have the perfect lunch.
19. Berry Salad
Add a little extra beauty to your boring salad with some colorful berries. Romaine lettuce topped with strawberries, blueberries, shaved almonds, and feta cheese or goat cheese is a quick, healthy camper lunch. Throw on your favorite dressing, we love this Brianna’s blueberry balsamic vinaigrette.
20. Pimento Cheese Sandwiches
Pimento cheese is one of those things that we rarely eat unless we are traveling. Grab a tub at the store and use it on sandwiches, crackers, or as a spread for fresh veggies. It also makes a good addition to veggie tortilla wraps, lettuce wraps, or pinwheels.
21. Chicken Salad Sandwiches
Here’s where those ten cans of shredded chicken you bought are going to come in handy. Chicken salad can be very plain or really fancy. We love this cranberry pecan chicken salad recipe! For a healthier option, omit the bread and serve as a lettuce wrap!
22. Smoked Salmon Stacks
A few packets of pre-cooked salmon are also nice to have around for fish tacos, to throw on your salad for a little extra filler, or to make this tasty lunch treat. This flatbread salmon stack is an easy option that requires just a bit of meal prep, so you might want to start the night before. If that is too much work, just load up some Ritz crackers with a bit of salmon, a slice of avocado, and a dash of salt and pepper for a quick and easy lunch.
No-Cook Dinnertime Meals for Traveling
Dinner is probably the hardest category on the list, at least for Americans. We tend to save our largest meal for the end of the day, and we generally want something warm. So, a completely no-cook dinner is out of the normal for many of us (though sandwich or cereal night is certainly not unheard of in our house)!
23. Greek Salad
A traditional Greek salad is not only healthy and tasty, but goodness it is pretty. While recipes vary all over the Mediterranean and the Balkans, they generally consist of fresh diced tomatoes, olives, feta cheese, and sometimes bell peppers, red onions, and cucumbers. You can make it any way you want, with whatever you have. Toss in a little olive oil or vinaigrette and a pinch of salt. Magnifique!
24. Stuffed Avocados
This is one of our favorite no-cook camping meals. Split an avocado, and remove the pit. Fill the center with a plop of your favorite meat salad. Sprinkle with salt and pepper or paprika. You can use any of the meat you have, salmon, chicken, tuna. Use the leftover tuna salad from yesterday’s lunch. Another option is to make taco-stuffed avocados. All you need is a taco-seasoning packet to add to the meat and veg you already have on hand!
25. Crab Ceviche
Ceviche is a cold seafood dish, popular all over Central America. It is traditionally made with fresh fish, lime juice, peppers, red onion, and whatever else you have on hand at the time! You can use any of the packaged or prebought fish you have to create “camping ceviche.” For a side dish, whip up some 7-layer dip and tortilla chips for a complete no-cook dinner!
26. Veggie Gyros
These vegetable gyros feature our favorite item-avocadoes, plus chickpeas and yummy tzatziki spread. Chickpeas are packed with protein and all these veggies will get you to your daily allotment of vitamins and fiber. For the meat lovers in the group, you can easily add chicken you have on hand!
27. Mexican 3-bean salad with guacamole
… Oh, sorry! Just dreaming about this Mexican 3-bean salad! It might be a favorite meal idea on this list. Hiking and exploring make you hungry, and all the beans in this baby give you the fiber you need for a good night’s sleep! Pair it with fresh guacamole for the ultimate easy camping meal.
28. Layered Taco Salad
Take some of that chicken you brought and mix in some taco seasoning. In a large bowl, layer it with cheese, beans, lettuce, and crushed Nacho Cheese Doritos. Alternate your layers of each until the bowl is full. Let everyone choose their own toppings of guacamole, sour cream, and salsa.
Mexican food is the easiest no-cook dinner to make. Layer nachos with shredded canned meat, beans, and all the veggies and toppings you like! If you can warm your meat and beans, that’s great, but it is just as good cold!
Snack Ideas or Side Dishes
You’ll likely be more active on your vacation than you are in normal daily life. It seems most of us need a vacation from our vacation by the time we get home. So, you are going to need more fuel than usual. Plus, if you have kids in tow, then snacks are a primary food group (maybe the only food group)! Make sure you have some good ones on board!
30. Veggies and Hummus
Nothing super inventive here, but it’s easy and effective. Plus, you might get your picky ones to eat a carrot or bell pepper stick if it is slathered in yummy hummus or guacamole. You could make a big batch of homemade hummus before your trip, or make it easy on yourself and buy some tasty flavors at the store.
31. Trail Mix
No surprise here, trail mix is a great idea to have on hand. It fits easily in the backpack for long hikes. You can throw the bag at a kid in the backseat when needed, and it is filled with tummy-filling protein. Make your own trail mix, or snag a giant premade bag from Amazon before your trip!
32. Fresh-Fruit Salad
Nothing screams summer like a bowl of fresh fruit. This fruit salad with citrus dressing is delightful and is the perfect anecdote for that summer heat! You might even convince your kids to eat something healthy today.
33. Beef Jerky
Beef jerky just belongs in a backpack. They go hand in hand.
34. Pesto Pinwheels
Pinwheels are a classic party appetizer, but they also make a great one-bite snack. We love these pinwheels, but there are many great ones out there, so use what you have on hand! It does take a little bit of meal prep time as they need to sit in the refrigerator or cooler for several hours to set up.
35. Deli Rolls
Don’t know about you, but to us, there isn’t anything better than a slice of your favorite cheese, rolled up inside of a piece of deli meat. Admit it, you have done it. You can make it fancy with a hummus spread or olive-decorated toothpick! It’s quick, easy, filling, and budget-friendly. We love it!
No-Cook Snacks for Traveling
Okay, so the best s’mores require a little smoking on a campfire, but technically you can make them with uncooked marshmallows. They’re still super tasty!
37. To-Go Banana Pudding
The banana version is the best, but you can try this treat with any premade pudding cup of your liking. Crush a bag of Vanilla wafers. Add it to your pudding cup. Slice up a banana for garnish and plop a dollop of Cool Whip on top. Yummm.
38. No-Bake Lemon Tarts
Lemon pudding snack packs can easily be turned into a tart. Line a small bowl, or just make a pile of finely crushed Graham crackers. Slather on a healthy slab of cold lemon pudding, and top with your favorite whipped topping. Sprinkle on nuts or coconut shavings to taste!
39. Cottage Cheese and Dried Fruit
This one won’t please everyone, but if you love it, you love it! Cottage cheese has healthy fat and is a good source of protein. It will keep you full, and if you top it with some sweet dried pineapple, it’s pretty tasty!
40. Fresh Strawberries and Whipped Topping
Strawberries topped with a little sugar take on a totally different flavor! If you don’t use granulated sugar, honey works just as well. Slice them up, add your honey or sugar, and allow them to sit in a cold environment for at least 4 hours. If you want a lush dessert, stock up on some pre-made angel food cakes or make one at home before your trip. The decadent strawberry mixture on top of some food cake with whipped topping is a fantastic dessert any day of the week!
41. Fruit Pizza
Pizza! Create this delectable treat with granola, nut butter, cinnamon, and chopped almonds. Combine together to make a delicious crust. You can add honey if you use unsweetened nut butter. Press into a pie pan or dish, or just press flat on parchment paper. Let chill in the refrigerator or ice chest for at least an hour. Cover in yogurt or softened cream cheese, then sprinkle with your favorite fresh fruits, cacao nibs, or drizzle with chocolate syrup!
Other Staples To Keep On Hand
If you tried to make everything on this list, your entire camper would be full of food and ingredients. Instead, try to group your choices by recipes that use and reuse a smaller number of ingredients. Remember you can always repurpose your leftovers from day 1 lunch for day 2 dinner. Get creative. With this sample shopping list, you’ll be able to create several dishes.
- Canned or packed meats: tuna, salmon, and chicken
- Canned beans of several varieties
- Boiled eggs
- Lots of fresh fruit and veggies
- A tub of your favorite “crumbled” cheese – Feta or goat.
- A jar of nut butter
- A large bag of mixed nuts and seeds
- Your favorite multi-purpose bread
- Mayonnaise and brown mustard
- Granola or oats
- Deli Meat
- Olive oil and lemon juice or a vinaigrette dressing
- Salt, pepper, garlic powder
Just because you don’t want to cook doesn’t mean you can’t eat like a king on your vacation. With a little forethought, some smart shopping, and perhaps a small amount of meal planning before you leave, you can ensure that you have everything you need to whip up fast, easy meals on the go.
What are your go-to camping or travel meals? Let us know in the comments!
Going on a long hike? Here are a few more “Healthy Travel Snack Ideas To Keep Your Belly Full.”
If you want an epic camping adventure this summer, check out our list of the “20 Best National Parks In The USA.”
Frequently Asked Questions
What are some good no-cook meals for a camping trip?
No one wants to cook on vacation. Some of the best no-cook traveling meals are not only filling but healthy too. While camping, try stuffed avocados, crab salad, or camping ceviche.
What are the best foods to have while traveling?
Travel food should be easy, and the ingredients versatile. Some of the best no-cook traveling meals can be made with bread, nuts, seeds, fresh fruit, and vegetables. And don’t knock canned ingredients!
What is some good advice for traveling?
It’s always best to seek travel advice from experts! For starters, download travel apps to save on fares and an adventure app for fun. Also, plan some no-cook meals to fuel up between adventures.