Figuring out what to cook on your camping trip is not always an easy task.
There are so many things to consider, and so many meals to prepare!
Plus, fixing lunch while camping is its own beast.
It’s not quite as big as a camp dinner, but you still want something substantial to help you make it until the evening.
In this article, I’ll share with you some of the best camping lunch ideas I’ve ever tried.
Not only are they delicious, but they are super quick, light, and easy to make when you’re at camp or on-the-go.
Alright, ready to start? Here are some of the best ideas for your next camping lunch.
Salads & Cold Dishes
Honey Mustard Chicken Salad
This is a great, crowd-pleasing meal to make for your camping crew. Refreshing and filling, this dish is both sweet and savory at the same time.
The star of the show? A honey mustard marinade that also serves as the dressing! Basically, use half of it to brine the chicken, then drizzle the rest once the salad is ready for eating.
The longer the chicken sits in the marinade, the better it will absorb all the juicy flavors.
But if you’re short on time, you can grill it right away and still get delicious results.
This particular recipe combines chicken with romaine lettuce, cherry tomatoes, avocado, red onion, and crispy bacon.
Of course, you can always add more veggies to make the meal more nutritious.
Greek Pasta Salad
What I love the most about Greek pasta salad are its simple ingredients.
Even if you didn’t plan on making it during your camping trip, there’s a pretty good chance you have most (if not all) of the ingredients packed anyway.
Aside from pasta, this recipe includes cucumbers, tomatoes, bell peppers, red onions, and olives. To put the dish together, you’ll need just one more thing – the dressing.
You can definitely use the store-bought version, as it’s convenient and actually pretty tasty. But I recommend making your own.
You only need a few ingredients for the dressing, and it’s super quick to make. Plus, you can always adjust the measurements to adjust it to your liking.
Chickpea Salad Sandwich
When I think of a hearty meal, a sandwich is typically not the first dish that comes to mind.
But this recipe is a sure game-changer. It’s vegetarian, easy to make, and will keep you full for hours.
How do chickpeas fit into the picture, you might ask? Well, you mash them with a fork, then mix them with oil, tahini, lemon juice, and garlic.
The chickpea dressing is easy to make on the spot, but if you want, you can also prepare it at home. Stored in your cooler, it can last for a couple of days.
This recipe combines the smashed chickpeas with celery and scallions, then dresses the sandwich with lettuce, avocado, and alfalfa!
I recommend adding tomato because it gives the sandwich a pop of color and a touch of sweetness.
Thai Quinoa Salad
I love making quinoa when camping, as it’s quick to prepare, and it’s very filling.
Quinoa takes roughly 15 minutes to cook, and that’s more than enough time to prepare the veggies you’ll add to the salad.
I love this Thai quinoa salad recipe as it uses just a few ingredients: seedless cucumber, red pepper, carrot, and scallions.
The recipe asks for seedless cucumbers because they have less moisture content than regular cucumbers.
If you cannot find any for this particular recipe, just scrape the seeds from the middle of a regular cucumber. If you don’t, it will make your salad soggy in no time.
Of course, the recipe wouldn’t be complete without a proper dressing. This one is made by combining oil, sugar, lime juice, red pepper flakes, and fish sauce!
Black Bean Salad
This is one of those recipes that tastes better the longer it sits in the fridge or – in the case of campers – in the cooler. In fact, it can last about four days, so you can make a larger batch and have leftovers tomorrow for lunch.
Technically, you can cook the beans from scratch. But why waste time and deal with more dirty dishes on a camping trip?
Canned black beans work perfectly fine for this meal. Just make sure to rinse and drain them before combining the ingredients, or else your salad will turn into a soup.
This recipe includes corn, cherry tomatoes, red onions, bell peppers, and carrots, but you can make your own take on it. Add whatever you have on-hand!
Southwest Couscous Salad
Couscous is yet another ingredient I love using on a camping trip, as it’s so quick and easy to cook.
Like rice, couscous barely has any flavor on its own, which makes it so versatile.
This particular recipe is full of flavors. It combines black beans, corn, tomatoes, bell peppers, and scallions.
And there’s a bit of everything in the seasoning, too: lemon juice for zestiness, cayenne for a tiny bit of heat, and garlic powder to round up the taste.
Don’t forget to fluff couscous with a fork before serving. If it seems to be sticking together, add a splash of olive oil before fluffing.
Asian Chopped Salad
Not going to lie, this salad first caught my eye because of its vibrant colors.
The greens with pops of purple, red, orange, and brown. It’s a beautiful looking salad that tastes just as good!
Once I had the first bite, I knew this would become a staple on my camping food menu. It’s healthy, easy to make, and simply delicious.
Aside from veggies like cabbage and carrots, what gives this salad its crunchy texture are nuts. This recipe uses cashews, but you can use whichever nuts you prefer.
One thing that’s an absolute must is the dressing. It’s made of sesame oil, rice vinegar, lime juice, honey, ginger, salt, and pepper.
Of course, to make it even easier, you can make it at home and bring it on your camping trip in a jar.
Easy Kale Salad
I love using kale for making cold camping dishes as it can last quite a while when stored in a cooler/fridge.
This means you can prepare it at home prior to your trip, or make a large batch and enjoy it two days in a row.
This recipe taught me one important trick, which is to massage the kale after washing it. I know it sounds odd, but trust the process.
You see, massaging kale leaves causes them to release some of the bitterness and become more tender, which is what you want in your salad.
When it comes to other ingredients, there’s no strict rule. While this recipe uses carrots, red onion, broccoli, almonds, and cranberries, you can always add or deduct whichever ingredients you want.
Sandwiches, Tacos, & Wraps
A BLT is a classic choice. Who doesn’t like the bacon, lettuce, and tomato combo? Not only is it delicious, but this sandwich is super simple and quick to make.
Personally, I like adding butter to the bread before grilling it to add some more flavor.
Of course, you can always make a vegetarian or vegan version of this sandwich by switching to plant-based ingredients.
Toasted Caprese Sandwich
A caprese sandwich is yet another quick and easy lunch to make when you’re out camping. It’s made with just a few ingredients: basil, tomato, and mozzarella.
Now, do you absolutely need balsamic vinegar for this recipe? No, but it does make a huge difference in terms of flavor.
A tiny drizzle of balsamic on tomatoes and basil gives your sandwich a sweet and tangy flavor that pairs well with the mildness of the mozzarella.
Toasting the sandwich on the grill shouldn’t take more than a few minutes and the grill marks really add to the overall taste of the dish.
Egg Salad Sandwiches
Who doesn’t like egg salad? It’s a perfect side dish, but did you know it also works amazingly in a sandwich?
This recipe takes a bit longer to make compared to other sandwiches, as it requires boiling eggs.
But, the salad can actually last for four to five days when refrigerated, so you can make it ahead at home.
What I love the most about this recipe is that it only requires five ingredients: hard-boiled eggs, mayo, yellow mustard, seasoning, and bread.
Of course, you can add more ingredients to your liking, but these five can make a whole dish.
Chicken Tikka Masala Tacos
I love fusion cuisine, especially when it has a burst of flavor like these chicken tikka masala tacos.
This dish is exactly what the name says it is: chicken tikka masala served on tortillas.
On their own, the tacos aren’t exactly spicy, but that can easily be changed. To make them hotter, adding jalapeno is always a good choice.
A squeeze of lime adds more tanginess to the dish and does a great job of rounding up the taste, too.
Grilled Chicken Street Tacos
Here’s yet another chicken taco recipe, but with a whole different flavor profile. This time, the chicken is grilled and served with pico de gallo, a salsa made of chopped onions, peppers, and tomatoes.
This recipe asks for corn tortillas, as they’re the best for mini tacos.
But if you can’t get hold of them, regular tortillas will work just fine. Just make sure to toss them on the grill or skillet for a few minutes on each side to warm them up.
Making this dish takes no more than 30 minutes. However, prep time is a bit longer, simply because you need to marinate the chicken for at least an hour.
This isn’t really an issue; you just have to remember to do so way before it’s lunchtime.
Vegan Lettuce Wraps
Essentially, this recipe involves wrapping stir fry in lettuce. And while that might sound weird, I definitely recommend trying this dish out before making a judgment.
It will blow your mind with how simple, tasty, and filling it is.
The original recipe asks for just a few main ingredients: lettuce, tofu, and rice noodles.
Then, the whole thing is topped with a Firecracker sauce, which provides an explosion of flavor.
The sauce is sweet, spicy, and slightly tangy, which makes it an ideal pairing with these lettuce wraps.
Chickpea Stuffed Flatbread
Flatbread is so easy to make on a camping trip, and it can even last for days when kept in a cooler.
With that being said, I don’t think there will be any leftovers to store.
This particular recipe involves stuffing flatbread with mashed chickpeas and shredded broccoli.
Alternatively, you can add the veggies directly into the dough while kneading.
Don’t have chickpeas on-hand? You can replace them with lentils or beans, if those ingredients are more up your alley.
Foil Packets & Grilled Dishes
I love foil packet recipes. They’re such an easy way to make a delicious meal that would otherwise require multiple pots and pans.
Not only does foil save you the trouble of cleaning up, but it also helps you avoid bringing all your kitchen cookware on a camping trip.
Teriyaki Shrimp Foil Packets
My personal favorite foil packet dish has got to be teriyaki shrimp. It consists of veggies and shrimp served on a bed of rice, and it’s ready within minutes!
Of course, that means using pre-cooked or instant rice, which actually works really well for this dish.
While the recipe asks for pineapple, I know that ingredient is not everyone’s cup of tea. It’s entirely optional, but it gives a nice sweetness to the flavor profile.
Sausage, Potato, & Green Bean Foil Packets
Foil packets are my favorite way to prepare potatoes when I’m camping. They have a perfectly crispy exterior, but they’re so soft and fluffy on the inside.
To make a quick-but-filling lunch, combine the potatoes with sausage and green beans.
The recipe I’m using also includes mushrooms for some more protein and fiber.
When it comes to seasonings, there’s something about a Cajun seasoning and butter combo.
It gives the dish a hint of boldness and spiciness, but without overpowering the ingredients.
Shrimp Boil Foil Packs
I love shrimp, not just because they’re delicious, but also because they’re effortless to make on a grill. Especially when you’re using foil packs.
This recipe asks for potatoes and corn, both of which should be cooked for a bit before adding shrimp.
This is no surprise, given how fast shrimp cooks compared to the other two ingredients.
Now, the star of the show is seasoning. In this case, the food is topped with melted butter and lemon juice before grilling for a burst of flavor that activates all your taste buds.
Once the dish is cooked, drizzle some more lemon juice, melted butter and fresh parsley before serving.
Hot Dogs & Beans
Franks and beans, beanie weenies, or whatever you may call it is yet another great foil packet camping dish.
Just like mac and cheese, this meal has a nostalgic feel to it, which makes it even tastier.
Obviously, canned beans are the most convenient option for this dish.
Otherwise, you’ll spend unnecessarily too much time sitting by the fire cooking beans just to throw them in a foil packet later.
To bring out the flavor, this recipe uses brown sugar and Worcestershire sauce. Of course, you can always substitute the sauce with a similar condiment you already have with you on your camping trip.
Veggie Skewers With Chimichurri Sauce
In terms of meal preparation, it hardly gets any simpler than making skewers. Yet the final result is so delicious and the dish looks just as good as it tastes.
This recipe goes for a savory and sweet mix by using bell peppers, sweet potatoes, mushrooms, onions, and baby potatoes.
But the beauty of skewers lies in the fact that you can use whichever veggies you have.
Now, what has drawn me to this particular recipe isn’t the veggie combo, but the sauce – chimichurri.
It’s made of finely chopped parsley, oil, garlic, and a few other seasonings.
To be fair, the only traditional ingredient is parsley, while everything else is optional.
Fresh Spring Rolls
Spring rolls are yet another colorful and delicious dish that’s easy to make on a camping trip.
Putting them together takes roughly five minutes, yet they’ll keep you full for hours.
Again, this is one of those recipes that can easily be adjusted to your own taste by adding or omitting certain ingredients.
Aside from colorful veggies, these spring rolls also include vermicelli noodles and shrimp.
Oh, we can’t forget about the dipping sauce! In this case, it’s a simple peanut sweet chili sauce that you can make at home prior to your trip.
Chicken Fajita Stuffed Peppers
These stuffed peppers may seem like a snack, but they’re a full meal. They have veggies, whole grains, fruit, and two sources of protein!
When it comes to peppers, I prefer using red or yellow peppers for their sweet, fruity flavor.
If you prefer the tangy, slightly bitter taste of green peppers, then use them.
The stuffing of this particular recipe does include a bunch of ingredients, but you can adjust them to your preference.
Veggie Miso Soup
I don’t typically find soups very filling, but that’s not the case with veggie miso soup.
After all, this recipe includes rice, tofu, and a bunch of stir-fried veggies to keep you satiated for hours.
The best part is that this soup takes half an hour to make at most – including preparation.
And in case there are leftovers, you can transfer the soup to an airtight container and keep in the cooler for up to two days.
Tofu, rice, and plenty of vegetables transform miso soup into a dish that’s substantial enough to leave you feeling satisfied.
Light Camping Lunches
Ham Roll Ups
This recipe is great for anyone who is looking for some quick and easy sustenance while outdoors.
The ingredients are simply, yummy, and super easy to assemble. Just spread some ranch cream cheese on some tortillas and lay down some ham cold cuts.
You could also add any other flavors you might want (like chives). Then, just roll the tortillas up and cut them into half-inch circles!
You can customize these however you want. Don’t eat pork? Use turkey or chicken instead. Don’t want chives? Skip ’em!
The best part about these ranch cream cheese ham roll ups is they can be made ahead of time and are then ready to pull out when you or anyone else gets hungry for a light lunch.
While there are tons of light meals you can make on a camping trip, a charcuterie board is a classic option no one can say no to.
Cheese, dips, processed meat, veggie bites… What more does one need?
Keep in mind that setting up a charcuterie board can take some time, so think about what you can prepare at home to make your job a bit easier.
And I’m not talking just about chopping and slicing, but also making any dips you may want.
Salami Dill Pickle Roll Ups
These salami and dill roll up bites are fantastic for an easy lunch. What is better than cheese spread over some Italian meat with the crisp, salty crunch of a dill pickle? Nothing.
And these are also very transportable, so they are easy to take with you while you and your camping partners are busy during the day, which makes them ideal for a light camping lunch idea.
Camping Meal Tips
So, we’ve covered the best recipes you can use for making lunch at the campsite. Now, let’s go over some tips that can make your job easier.
One thing I definitely recommend is planning your meals in advance. If you’re camping for three days, that means you’ll be eating three lunches for the duration of the trip.
Figuring out which dish you plan on making allows you to plan your groceries in advance.
Certain meals may use some of the same ingredients, which makes planning even easier.
For instance, if you’re making chicken tacos, you can use the leftover chicken to make nachos the day after.
Streamline Your Cooking Techniques
The best way to save yourself the time and trouble of making everything from scratch at the campsite is to start meal prepping at home.
Cut and chop any veggies that can last for a few days. For instance, both broccoli and cauliflower can last for several days when stored in the fridge.
I love prepping these two veggies at home, as they’re quite bulky and difficult to pack otherwise.
If you’ll be making meat dishes, you can also consider prepping and marinating before you hit the campsite.
Not only will the meat taste better, but it will also be easier to execute after being marinated for a day.
Keep Ingredients Fresh & Safe
Obviously, any perishable foods need to be stored in a cooler to prevent spoilage.
But keep in mind that everything inside the cooler should also be kept separate, whether in bags or in containers.
Wet and dry foods shouldn’t be stored together, as wet food will create condensation and add moisture to dry food.
Of course, it goes without saying that you should keep your non-perishables outside of the cooler to save more space for your foods that need refrigeration.
Know Your Camp Kitchen Essentials
You may use a dozen pots and pans when you’re cooking at home, but that’s not possible at the campsite due to your limited storage space and weight.
But you don’t need all those dishes to make lunch in the wilderness. You really only need these essentials:
- Frying pan
- Cooking board
- Sharp knife
Certain lunch dishes can be cooked in aluminum foil and tossed on the campfire, saving you the need to use a pot or a pan.
I recommend bringing at least one of each of these tools for meal variety during your trip.
But if you plan ahead properly, then you will know exactly what you will need for which recipes.
Wash Your Dishes Properly
After the meal is done, it’s time for cleaning.
First, scrape any sauce or food that’s left on plates and cookware into the trash – NOT the ground. For this, a pan scraper does an excellent job.
Then, it’s time for washing. If you have limited access to water, I recommend soaking your dishes in hot water and a bit of biodegradable soap before rinsing them with clean water.
Finally, either let the dishes air dry or use a clean cloth to hand-dry them.
How Can I Ensure The Food Stays Fresh & Safe During Camping?
Make sure to store your food properly. Perishable goods need to be stored in the cooler, while non-perishables can be stored in bags or containers.
In any case, it’s important that your food is sealed, so that it doesn’t attract hungry wildlife.
How Can Camping Meals Be Adapted For Dietary Restrictions Or Preferences?
Pretty much every lunch idea on our list can be modified to suit everyone’s dietary restrictions or preferences.
Simply omit the questionable ingredient and replace it with the one of your own choice.
What Are Some Make-Ahead Options For Camping Lunches?
Most salads and cold dishes from our list can be prepared ahead and enjoyed for lunch at the campsite.
If the recipe asks for sauce or marinade, those can also be made ahead.
How Can I Heat Or Cook These Dishes While Camping?
So whichever heat source you might have, you can make a bunch of meals on it.
Are There Any Specific Tips For Packing & Storing These Meals During Camping Trips?
Make sure to keep the meals stored in containers at all times.
In case they contain perishable ingredients, it’s crucial that you keep them in the cooler to prevent them from going bad.
To Sum Things Up
From salads to sandwiches to grilled dishes made on the stove or in a foil, this list has something for everyone.
The best part is you can modify any of these recipes to suit your preferences or dietary requirements.
That way, you can make your own take on a popular dish and make it even more delicious.