Packaged food has a distinct advantage over fresh and refrigerated foods when camping, as they tend to last longer in these types of conditions.
So, it’s a good idea to stock up on these types of foods for quick and easy snacks and meals when camping.
With that in mind, let’s look at the best packaged food for camping to make your next camping trip a breeze. From breakfast to dinner, we have you covered!
Best Packaged Food for Camping
The best packaged food for camping is food that will go well with the type of camping you are doing (tent, camper, backpacking, etc.) since you have to take storage and preparation into account.
For example, if you’re camping in an RV with a refrigerator, stove, and microwave, you have a lot more food options to choose from. On the other hand, your options are more limited if you’re hiking in the wilderness with limited space and no cookware.
With that said, packaged foods are the most versatile of all and come in handy no matter what type of camping you plan on doing.
Types of Packaged Food for Camping
Packaged foods come in many different types, and some make more sense than others when it comes to camping.
Here are a few of the main types, along with their pros and cons.
The gold standard! Canned goods are a staple of just about any camping trip. The packaging is durable, they require no refrigeration, they can be a whole meal (chili, beef stew, etc.), and you can cook the contents right in the can! The downside? They can be heavy when backpacking long distances.
Check out our 48 best canned foods for camping, complete with meal ideas for some inspiration.
Jarred foods can really come in handy on a camping trip. They have similarities to canned foods as they are an easy way to transport food and keep it fresh. But, as opposed to canned foods, they aren’t as durable, and you can’t cook the food right in them.
Most pantry-type items come in boxes. Think mac n’ cheese, instant oatmeal, crackers, cereal, etc. Boxed foods are lighter than canned and jarred foods, but they can get crushed easily, aren’t moisture-proof, and take up a lot of space.
On the plus side, many boxed foods have wrapped foods on the inside (i.e., granola bars, protein bars, etc., that come in a box) that you can take out and pack individually for a quick backpacking trip.
The holy grail of backpacking foods, wrapped and bagged foods are extremely portable, lightweight, and won’t take up much space. These are great for quick snacks and even food that requires cooking.
Processed foods, dehydrated food, freeze-dried meals and foods, just-add-water mixes, etc., are all good examples of wrapped or bagged foods.
If they require heating to consume, keep in mind that you’ll need cookware, which might not be ideal when backpacking.
Important: You’ll find foods in other packaging types like cartons, plastic bottles, etc. But these are the four main types you’ll most often deal with and should plan around.
Packaged Food List for Camping
Now that we understand the main types of food packaging and their pros and cons when it comes to the different types of camping let’s look at some packaged food ideas that are great options no matter what type of camping you do.
Tip: Some of these foods are available in multiple types of packaging. For example, wild rice comes in a can or a bag. Choose the type of packaging that makes the most sense for your style of camping.
Meat & Protein
- Bacon crumbles
- Beef biltong
- Beef jerky
- Beef sticks
- Canned chicken/Chicken packets
- Canned chili
- Canned fish (salmon, tuna, shellfish, anchovies, sardines)
- Canned ham
- Canned roast beef
- Canned tuna
- Almond butter
- Peanut butter
- Freeze-dried fruits (apples, etc.)
- Dried Fruits
- Banana chips
- Shredded coconut
- Canned mandarin oranges
- Canned peaches
- Canned pineapple
- Canned black olives
- Tropical fruit mix
- Frozen or fresh cut veggies (broccoli, carrots, etc.)
- Corn on the Cob
- Potatoes (fresh and instant)
- Canned beans
- Canned carrots
- Canned corn
- Canned green beans
- Canned mushrooms
- Canned peas
- Canned refried beans
- Canned tomatoes
- Canned tomato sauce
- Dinner rolls
- Instant hashbrowns
- Mac n’ cheese (boxed or cups)
- Pita bread
- Pizza crusts
- Ramen noodles
- Pancake mix (look for “just add water” varieties to save time)
Snacks and Desserts
- Chocolate bars
- Granola bars
- Nut mix
- Trail mix
- Graham crackers
- Ice cream cones
Tip: This is not an all-inclusive list. It’s more to help get your creative juices flowing and give you some food ideas to take on your next camping trip.
What Kind of Food Should I Bring for Camping?
The kind of food you should bring camping will depend on the type of camping you do – backpacking, tent, or RV camping – and the type of amenities you’ll have at your disposal.
For example, you’ll have more food options if you are camping in an RV with a fridge and a stove. Whereas if you’re backpacking, you’ll have limited food and food prep options.
In other words, pack foods that fit your camping style.
What Food Should I Bring for 3 Days Camping?
For 3-days camping, you’ll want to pack easy-to-make meals and on-the-go snacks. Canned foods, boxed meals, bread, and pre-packaged snacks are all great choices for a multi-day camping trip.
Check out our camping food list for 3 days that comes with a meal plan and grocery list. You can easily modify the plan for two days of camping, 7 days of camping, or however many days fit your needs.
What Food Can I Take Camping Without a Fridge?
You can take most pre-packaged foods – canned, boxed, and bagged foods – and even some fresh fruit and vegetables camping without a fridge or cooler. The more perishable items should be used up first while the longer shelf-life items are better for the end of the camping trip, especially on longer (3 days plus) trips.
Check out our 101 food ideas to take camping without a fridge for tons of food and meal ideas!