Lazy Camping Food Rocks – 12 Favorites to Enjoy on Your Next Trip
Some people love to be extravagant, but I’m pretty sure all of us want “easy” some of the time. There’s no shame in wanting lazy camping food on your adventure menu!
Here are 12 options to consider. Some require prep work at home, but you can make the camp part of these meals just about as lazy as you want.
Lazy camping food for backpackers
When you’re going to be hiking into your camp spot, there’s a lot to think about. Having your entire kitchen on your back means a cast iron dutch oven or a flat top griddle won’t be handy. You also have to remember that all your ingredients need to be in a bear-proof canister. Plus, the weight of the food itself can add up quickly!
That’s why weight is a major factor in backpacking meals. Check out 4 of my favorite meals to pack into camp for easy, but yummy, meals.
1. Yogurt Parfaits
You don’t HAVE to stick with munching dry cereal for breakfast if you don’t want to. For a real pick-me-up that keeps your camp stove free to make coffee, try using freeze dried yogurt cubes to make a parfait!
- 1 serving freeze-dried yogurt cubes
- 4 TBSP cold water (filtered if collected from a natural source)
- Granola crumbles, freeze dried fruit, dried coconut flakes
Reconstitute your yogurt in a small cup. Adjust the amounts to reach your desired consistency, and top with your preferred garnishes. Enjoy!
2. Meal Bars
Having a meal bar or three in your stash can keep you piling on the miles during those long days. It can be a great option for fuel when you’re on a roll and don’t want to stop. All you have to do is type “Meal Bar” in your search engine and you’ll be inundated with options.
You can also make your own if you’re a DIY foodie! That may not keep it in the ‘lazy camping food’ category, unless you consider that it’s just as easy to EAT on the trail. That’s really what you’re going for, right?
Making your own meal replacement bars has become more and more accessible with the wide variety of recipes available online. If you’re tired of sweet bars, you can try something like this Cheesy Sundried Tomato Bar for a change.
Tortillas don’t smash like bread and they take up less room. Pack the right ingredients and you can enjoy a quick and easy lunch that doesn’t require breaking out the camp stove! And in the heat of the day, something cool often hits the spot. The options for wrap fillings are endless, but here are a few of my favorites.
Tuna or chicken packets may not be the most weight-efficient, but if used early in your trip they won’t weigh you down for long. They have the advantage of not needing to be rehydrated so you don’t have to wait around to eat. Paired with simple seasoning like salt, pepper and garlic powder, or even your favorite mixes packed in small plastic containers, and you’ve got a protein rich lunch in a jiffy.
Chickpeas can be brought along cooked and ready to use on the first day or cooked, then dehydrated for cold soaking later in your trip. If you choose dried, you’ll cover them with water at meal time and let them soak for around 20 minutes. Then drain, season as desired, and enjoy!
Forage for greens to pair with your protein as you hike. Just be sure of what you’re putting in your body, so don’t forage unless you’ve done your research. Dandelions are a great addition to any wrap!
4. One Pot Meals
The peak of lazy camp food for backpackers is pre-packaged dehydrated meals. If you can boil water at camp, you can enjoy curry, green chili macaroni and cheese, 3-bean chili and cornbread… Just to name a few. You can find gluten-free, vegan, and even low carb options.
Of course, the trade off for this simplicity is expense. Most pre-made dinners ring in around $5 – $9 dollars per serving and, frankly, I know a lot of backpackers will consume 2 servings when they’re putting in a lot of miles. That can add up quickly.
If you’re willing to trade a little bit of ease to save your bank account, try taking grocery store basics and amplifying them. A package of ramen is around $0.50 in my part of the world. Throwing in some dehydrated veggies and chili paste ups the flavor profile and only adds a few pennies to the overall cost.
Lazy camping food for car campers
1. Skillet Scramble
Preparation is key for easy on-site assembly. That can mean everything from selecting pre-chopped and frozen veggies to cooking your meat at home to speed things up. This meal is completely customizable! My personal favorite is to follow this step-by-step process.
- Dice potatoes, onion, and bell peppers. Seal in a food storage bag with oil, salt, and pepper.
- Chop bacon and seal in a food storage bag.
- Crack eggs into a storage container and whisk with cream, salt, and pepper.
- Cook bacon in a cast iron skillet and remove, leaving the drippings.
- Add veggies and cook until tender.
- Add eggs and stir constantly.
- Add bacon and top with shredded cheese.
Is that lazy enough to make this list? If it’s not, just do the ‘At Camp’ steps at home too and pack in foil packets to reheat for an even quicker breakfast!
2. Pasta Salad
Access to perishables means fresher food with ease. Slice up cherry tomatoes, olives, and fresh herbs to toss with cold pasta and some vinaigrette. Add cold cuts like pepperoni, salami, or summer sausage to up your protein intake.
This salad keeps for days in your cooler, so build in advance and do nothing but enjoy it at camp!
3. Paninis & Melts
Cast iron is the rock star of camp equipment as long as you don’t have to carry it very far. Use a plain skillet to turn your simple ham and cheese sandwich into a melt. Bring a double-sided griddle to have access to both a smooth and a ridged cooking surface.
The combinations are endless, but my favorite stacks italian flavors for what I consider the ultimate panini.
- A crusty bread, like ciabatta or sourdough
- Assortment of cured meats like pepperoni and prosciutto
- A melty cheese, like mozzarella or gouda
- Acidic additions, like pepperoncinis or pickled red onions
- Greens, like arugula or spinach
- Butter or olive oil for cooking
No chopping. No dicing. Just a hot griddle, the right ingredients, and a few minutes of assembly.
Camping in the fall is probably my favorite. That may just be because it’s my favorite season, but it’s also because I love the foods associated with crisp evenings. Namely, soup!
This meal can be as lazy as rehydrating a dried soup mix in hot water or popping open a can. If you don’t mind some work at home though, freezing individual portions is a great way to maximize the space in your cooler.
Lazy camping food for families
Cooking for a family can be daunting even in a full-blown commercial kitchen. You just never know what’s going to miss the mark when kids are involved! It’s no surprise that hotdogs are a popular lazy camp food for families.
But if you’re tired of them, there are plenty of other meals that will feed a crowd with minimal fuss.
1. Frito Chili Pies
Planning on this meal for a second or third night lets me use the chili like an ice pack. I can make a big pot of it at home and then freeze it in a gallon storage bag. It keeps my other perishables cold while it slowly thaws.
When it’s time to serve, all I have to do is warm it up and spoon over corn chips. If you want to go the easiest route possible you can get individual serving sized bags of chips and eat right out of the bag. Fewer dishes! There is more waste though, of course. So take that into consideration.
2. Personal Pizzas
The first time we tried this meal at camp my kids were skeptical. How was Mom going to make PIZZA at camp? You’re probably skeptical too. PIZZA can’t possibly be a lazy camp food, right?
Well, when you don’t have to mess with dough, it gets a lot easier. You can go crazy with toppings or stick to the basics. It’s only a matter of assembling and heating each pizza, so that’s pretty simple! Here’s a step-by-step to make your own.
- Assemble pizza in a skillet using a Naan or flatbread as the crust.
- Cover with foil.
- Place the pan in hot coals and put a few coals on top of the foil.
- Peek under the foil to know when the cheese is melted.
I will say that this meal doesn’t do as well in a camp stove scenario. Being able to heat from the top ensures the cheese melts before the bottom burns!
3. Breakfast Burritos
Having an on-the-go breakfast is a great way to jump start an adventurous day. And, while I have made these fireside, I have to admit that pre-assembling them at home was a LOT easier. It also allowed me to personalize things more, making sure each person got what they wanted in their breakfast.
They also freeze well and double as ice packs. Just wrap them in foil before you freeze. After thawing they’ll be ready to go straight into hot coals for a warm up. Here’s a list of some filling options.
- Cooked meat, like bacon, sausage, or ham
- Cooked veggies, like potatoes, onions, bell peppers, jalapenos, or even broccoli
- Cheese, like cheddar, pepper jack, or smoked gouda
- Hot sauce, or pack cold salsa to add after heating
The perfect coals will have the cheese melted on the inside and the tortilla just starting to crisp on the outside. With all the work done at home, camp breakfast is a breeze with made-to-order breakfast burritos.
4. Chicken Quesadillas
To cook quesadillas, you’ll need a skillet or griddle over a fire or camp stove. You’ll also need a spatula to flip them over and cook both sides.
Quesadillas can be a 2-ingredient meal since a lot of kids will want to stick to a plain cheese filling. But if the adults want more, just bring prepared filling ingredients to toss between your tortillas as you cook them.
For the perfectly crispy outside, put a slice of butter down in your pan before dropping the first tortilla in. Sprinkle on the cheese (and other fillings) and top with a second tortilla. Wait until the cheese has started to melt, then flip it over to brown on the other side.
Lazy camp food leaves more time on the table
Whether you’re trying to squeeze more miles into your day or want to chill with your feet in an icy river, having some easy options on the menu will give you more time for what feeds your soul. That’s a nice trade-off if you ask me.
Whatever you decide to pack, practice proper food storage. That will protect not only your stash, but also yourself!
Jess merges her passion for words and an insatiable longing for adventure as an outdoor freelance content writer and marketer. When she’s not busy stringing words together you’ll probably find her planning another camping trip for her crew of kids or taking care of the homestead. You can find her on LinkedIn and Instagram, as well as on her own website.