10+ Insanely Easy Camping Meals To Make (Cooking Tools and Simple Recipes)

Post Summary: Ideas for easy camping meals and snacks to make on any road trip.

This post was originally published on June 4th, 2018


No matter where you go in the world, every single trip will have this one thing in common – FOOD.

It’s delicious, it’s fun, it’s energizing…but it can be expensive at times.

Berty and I are on the road a lot, and we’ve run into problems of eating out and buying gas station snacks, but these habits can really take a toll on our health AND our wallet.

Through some good old trial and error, we’ve come up with a list of easy camping meals that are cheap and healthy…ish.

Yes, Berty and I like to make quick camping meals that are simple and to the point so we have plenty of time to explore the world around us. Therefore, in this post, we’re sharing easy camping meals that we’ve made and loved!

These are quick enough to take on any road trip and fit into any kind of journey. Happy eating!

Joseph and Berty eating simple camping meals in Glacier NP

10+ Easy Camping Meals To Make On A Road Trip

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COOKING TOOLS FOR SIMPLE CAMPING MEALS

Let’s first start by talking about camping cooking tools. Camp cooking gear can be expensive, but worth the investment if you will be using it a lot. Read our tips for finding discounted outdoor gear if you want to save some money here!

These can be very customizable depending on your space, length of trip, desire to cook, etc.

Read through this list and figure out what fits for your journey! Whether you are looking for eco-friendly travel products like straws, utensils, and food storage, or lightweight tools for backpacking, what adventure you are taking depends on what kind of gear will fit your trip style.

Here are some examples below of the tools we’ve used for easy camping meals:

WATER!

As you read this post, you’ll find a lot of the meals we suggest are “instant” or the “just add water” type. This being said, having enough water is an essential part of making quick and easy camping meals. Water is also part of our essential camping hygiene toolkit – it’s important to stay healthy on the road!

One of the best purchases we ever did was buy this really affordable collapsible 5-gallon water jug from GSI. It folds down flat when you aren’t using it, and you can refill it over and over again.

We frequently found water fountains, sinks, or gas station water taps and filled up on the road – completely free!

We not only saved money not buying water but kept disposable plastics out of our trip. Sustainability!

5 Gallon Foldable Water Jug
5 Gallon Foldable Water Jug

5 Gallon Foldable Water Cube
5 Gallon Foldable Water Jug

Jet Boil

This is our most used cooking tool for making easy camping meals. The Jet Boil is a 1-liter carbon cup that can boil water in 2 minutes.

This little guy is ideal for morning coffee, adding water to freeze-dried meals, and heating up a soup. It’s compact, safe, and easy to use for minimal hassle and maximum time outside.

Best for: backpacking trips, ultra-light packing, meals that require simply heating up or just adding water.

Canyonland National Park - TheMandagies.com Making Easy Camping Meals with Jet Boil
Jet Boil Cooking Stove

A Camping Stove In An Easy Way To Prepare Easy Camping Meals

If you want to cook a full-size meal like a pasta dish or soup for friends, a single-burner camping stove is portable and easy to pack.

It’s a little bigger than a jet boil, so it’s not suited for backpacking, but can be ideal for road trips and car camping.

Best for: car camping, traditional campsite cooking, cooking for 3-4 people (or two very hungry ones!).

Coleman Single Burner Butane Stove
Coleman Single Burner Butane Stove

Easy Camping Meals - Single Burner Stove - TheMandagies.com

Reusable Mess Kits

There are tons of options for reusable mess kits to eat your easy camping meals! And if you don’t know what ‘mess kit’ means, it’s basically a set of bowls, utensils, cups – things you make a mess of! It’s also a fancy term for “camping dishes”.

From super-light backpacking sets for one to eco-friendly sets for two to a mess kit for four, you can find nearly any combination that fits your trip.

Just make sure to dispose of your gray water (waste-water) in a designated area or follow the LNT principle #3.

Pro Camping Food Tip: We lots many utensils in the abyss of the car, accidentally throwing them out, and just straight up losing them! We highly suggest getting an all-purpose spork like this one from Snow Peak in a BRIGHT color so you don’t lose it.

Best for: any and all trips. Everyone needs to eat food with something!

Read More: What It Was Like Taking A VW Westfalia On An Alaskan Road Trip

A Place To Sit + Be Cozy

Eating meals on a trip is one way to kick back, relax, and enjoy the moment. Make sure your mealtime is cozy, and that you are too.

Here are some of our favorite items to get cozy for our camping meal:

  • Therm-A-Rest Z Mat: This foldable accordion-style lightweight mat is perfect for laying out and getting cozy on any surface!
  • REI Trail Chair: A Foldable cushion for back support. It doubles as an extra comfy sitting pad when you don’t want to use the back part!
  • Rumpl Down-Filled Camping Blanket: This ultra-light blanket keeps you toasty warm on those chilly mornings or evenings.


Easy Camping Meals: BREAKFAST

Here are some camping breakfast ideas to kickstart your mornings the right way!

Coffee

Coming from Seattle, coffee is an absolute essential for us on the road!

We’ve pretty much packed and used everything from instant coffee to a complex Chemex setup (yes, scale and all!). For simple use and storage, we suggest a drip cone like this drip cone from GSI.

For the coffee lovers, we suggest a camping French press like this big Stanley French Press or this easy-clean steel one!

Can’t stand the mess of coffee grounds? Try this instant coffee packet with creamer already in it!

GSI Drip Coffee Cone

Read More: How We Prepare Coffee On The Road

Veggies That Can Be Cut

Easy and healthy snacking foods like carrots, celery, and bell peppers can be eaten fresh. 

Make sure to eat them fairly quickly so they don’t spoil. You can always find a grocery store and replenish on the way. Buying whole veggies instead of pre-cut ones can save money too.

There are also plenty of vegetarian camping recipes that include fresh veggies, for a more balanced and well-rounded diet on the road!

Bring this portable GSI cutting board/cook set on your next trip!

Egg Scrambles

During our two-week adventure in Alaska, we spent a lot of time cooking in the kitchen set up of a vintage VW Westfalia van.

Our favorite quick meal to make was scrambled eggs with any leftover veggies, and pre-cooked + cut sausage.

It was easy, filling, and fit into one pan. If you want to be extra fancy, you can add a tortilla to make a breakfast burrito!

Instant Oatmeal Packets

All you need is hot water and you’ve got a nutritious breakfast in these instant oatmeal packets!

You can also throw in a few berries and some peanut butter for an extra energy boost. Use a Jet Boil to heat up the water in no time to fuel up and get on with your adventures!

Pancakes

Pack some easy “just-add-water” pancake mix like this kind from Krusteaz for a mess-free breakfast.

Store dry mix in a container with a squeeze lid, and add water when you’re ready! Top with berries, syrup or peanut butter for some quick and easy camping meals.

Easy Camping Meals - Breakfast in Van - TheMandagies.com

Easy Camping Meals - Oatmeal in Car - TheMandagies.com

Easy Camping Meals - Morning Coffee - TheMandagies.com

Easy Camping Meals: LUNCH

Berty and I realized that while a camping lunch can easily be skipped, it was ESSENTIAL that we stopped and ate something during this time.

After a few days of passing over this meal, we ended up hangry and tired because of the lack of fuel. To save our bodies (and our marriage, LOL) we came up with some quick and easy lunchtime meals to give us that afternoon boost.

Hear are some crazy simple camping lunch ideas to get you back out and exploring!

PB&J Tortillas

This meal can be for those days you just want to eat and get on with your next adventure.

Swap out the bread for tortillas for easy packing and fewer chances of your carbs getting squished in the car. You can get creative with different recipes too – flavored jams and crunchy peanut butter is just the start of it!

Self-Cased Fruit (Oranges, Apples, Bananas..)

Fruit with its own casing (like oranges, bananas, etc) will last longer than soft-sided fruit like berries. It’s also easily packable if you’re planning a mid-day hike!

You can also pack some yogurt cups and cut fruits into them for a fancy dirt-bagging parfait. Ooh la la!

Home-Made Trail Mix

 Trail mix is the perfect energy-boosting snack mid-hike, or even as a snack around a crackling campfire. Be creative and add your favorite nuts, chocolate (lots and lots of it), dried fruit, and whatever else you want.

It’s your trail mix! These kinds of snacks are perfect to pack in a day pack for a pick me up on the trails as well. Click this link for a super healthy and easy recipe idea from Neighbor Food Blog!

Protein Bars

Make your own protein bars (like these delicious homemade ones from Fresh Off The Grid) ahead of time or buy them on the road, but these easy meal/snacks will keep your energy up mid-adventure. 

Here are some of our favorite brands of protein bars:

Beef Jerky

Beef Jerky can get a little pricey so we only picked up a few packets on our trip. Great for snacking or adding to a trail mix (weird, but actually super good).

Other super easy camping meals (and snacks!) to pack for mess-free eating:

  • Nachos or Quesadillas
  • Scones or Cornbread in a cast-iron pan
  • Kebabs
  • Breakfast sandwiches (toast English muffins and melt some cheese!)
  • Sandwiches and wraps
  • Dried Fruit and Nuts

Easy Camping Meals - Cup o Noodles- TheMandagies.com

Easy Camping Meals: DINNER

One of our favorites meals to make while camping is dinner.

This is the time of day that we’re usually back at our “home base” (our favorite base is anywhere that has free camping!) so we can sit an enjoy a meal while relaxing for the evening.

Here are some of our favorite quick and easy camping dinners to make!

Mountain House Freeze-Dried Meals

Mountain House makes really good backpacking food, but who says it just has to be for backpacking?

We’ve been packing a few of these on adventures that require us to make quick food when sleeping in our car, especially when we’re backcountry camping in the wilderness.

Mountain House can get a little pricey, so if you’re not willing to empty your wallet on a whole box of meals (we don’t blame you) consider getting just a single packet or two of dinner and dessert for a special occasion.

Cup of Noodles

Can it get any easier than whipping up noodles in a cup?

When you’re finished, you can use the styrofoam cup as a cup/bowl for other foods too! Just rinse it out and re-use!

Pre-Packaged Meals

We used Pasta Roni boxes to make some meals because we had a working stove and a little bit more time on our hands.

I also found some from the same brand, but the easier “just add water” type if you want a simpler option. These cups can also stack together once you’re finished to minimize space waste.

Tin Foil Dinners

The pinnacle of easy camping meals is this simple food hack!

If you have a campfire for cooking, consider this easy and delicious trick. Wrap all ingredients in tin foil and throw it on a grill top over the campfire.

Easy ingredients are things like potatoes, peppers, cheese, steak, and onions. After about 30 minutes (when the potatoes and meat are fully cooked), pull it out of the fire, grab a fork and enjoy!

Going Tradition Camping? Read this camping checklist and bring a cast iron pan to cook!

FINAL THOUGHTS ON PREPARING EASY CAMPING MEALS

There are so many ways to eat meals on the road. Whether you’re finding free camping spots in the middle of the woods, or camping in a van for two weeks, you can easily create camping meals that work for you.

We hope our suggestions have given you a few ideas and inspired you to cook what you love!

What are some of your favorite easy camping meals to make on a trip/on the road? We’d love to hear more recipe suggestions in the comments below!

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Want some more easy camping meals to make on the road? Follow our Camping Board on Pinterest for more ideas and inspiration!

4 thoughts on “10+ Insanely Easy Camping Meals To Make (Cooking Tools and Simple Recipes)

  1. Our staple car-camping breakfast for about twenty years now has been a recipe that I found in a recipe book published by a ranger in Oregon. We call it a scone.
    It’s basically equal parts oatmeal, whole wheat flour and dry milk. For us, it’s three heaping spoons of the three ingredients along with some raisins, dried cranberries or any other fruit, put into plastic storage bags prior to the trip. Ten mornings, ten bags.
    In the morning, just grab a scone bag, dump the contents onto a skillet, add water and a little olive oil, and mix well. Add a powdering of cinnamon and flax. Then cook on low heat under a cover, flipping once. Presto — an easy-to-make nourishing breakfast that will get you up the hill and down again.

    1. This is amazing Don! I never thought about preparing pre-mixed bags before the trip. I’m definitely going to see how this works for our next adventure! Thanks so much for taking the time to write to us, I really appreciate it!

      1. Enjoy, it’s a winner. It’s nutritious, quick and easy, which is nice when we’re “out there.”
        And, I’ve only learned recently, first putting a light coating of oil on the pan before dumping the mix prevents sticking. Depends on the pan surface I suppose. (This is the only cooking I ever do.)

  2. We’re getting on in years so we don’t backpack much any more. But when we did, after some initial stove problems, we “went cold.” It was dehydrated food with some spices, and coffee added to a breakfast drink in the morning. It was fine, I guess because it’s so wonderful to be out there in nature the little things don’t matter so much. . . . Live like the locals do! . . .And save a little weight and hassle.

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