No-Cook Backpacking Meals: No Hassle Meals

Great No-cook Backpacking Meals

When I go camping, I always bring a stove and meals to cook. But I also bring meals that I don’t have to cook because they are fast and easy. 

I typically eat no cook meals for a fast lunch so I can get back to the trail.

There are many great things you can eat that you don’t have to cook! Cooking meals takes extra time and sometimes you can’t spend the extra time because you have to get moving again. 

If you are going for more than an overnight trip I would recommend bringing a cooking stove and food to cook. If you are going for more than two days your are going to want a hot meal. If you don’t know what you can cook or you want ideas check out my article: Best Food For Backpacking!

Most things you can eat without cooking are more considered snacks but if you eat a variety and enough of them it turns into a meal! Here is a list of food options that you don’t have to cook:

  •  Trail Mix- I make my own! I use oats, M&M’s, raisins, and nuts. Great for Energy!
  • Beef Jerky
  • Summer Sausage
  • Fruit- You have to be careful packing fruit. I usually bring sturdy fruit like Apples, Bananas and oranges. Dried fruit is also great!
  • Peanut Butter- Goes great with apples and Bananas
  • Granola Bars

When you are backpacking you want to bring food that will give you energy! You want high calorie foods and some protein! Also I like to eat something sweat after my meals so I either eat fruit or bring a candy bar along with me. I personally love snickers!

Trail mix is a great source of some quick energy and will give you a pick-up. As I said above I make my own so I can put everything I want in there in the proportions I like. A bag of trial mix is great to bring not only for lunch, but also for quick breaks while you are hiking! 

I always bring beef jerky and summer sausage as a source of protein. It is important to have a source of protein because you will deplete your body after hiking for miles! 

Fruit is great to bring as another source of quick energy and to replenish your body. You have to make sure you bring sturdy fruits and pack them carefully. You don’t want to smash and bruise your fruit! Dried fruit is also excellent and easy to pack. 

Peanut butter is another great form of protein! I always put a bit on my pieces of apple and it’s delicious. Peanut butter also does a good job of making you feel full. 

Granola bars are great to bring! They are easy to pack and are great during meals and as quick snacks. They also give you a good burst of energy to keep you walking. 

I typically cook meals for breakfast and dinner, but most lunches I usually eat foods off of that list so lunch doesn’t take to much time and effort. You can just pop down and eat some Jerky and an apple. 

A sandwich can also be a great quick meal for the first day. I usually bring a ham sandwich for lunch the first day. But you have to eat it the first day because they won’t keep overnight. You have to be careful packing it though! You don’t want it to get smashed. 

If you like meal ideas for backpacking check out my article Best Food for Camping!

Comment below if you have any questions. Also let me know if you have any meal ideas, or things you would like me to cover!


29 thoughts on “No-Cook Backpacking Meals: No Hassle Meals”

  1. Thank you for giving this insightful tips. I love to backpack and I am in the nature every month for at least a weekend. I always carry fruit and a trail mix. I usually buy my trail mixes, because I have one package that contains all off my favorite healthy snacks. I do not carry meat with me, but I do enjoy preparing it as a meal in the evenings for a dinner.

    Lovely website.


  2. Hi, Beth

    Great article and very innovative.

    I get used to going camping with my family on weekends, your article has some great tips for cooking outdoor meals

    The list of food choices you mentioned and you do not need to cook is a solution you gave me and it puzzled me every time we made the picnic

    I have a stove that I can process for lunch and dinner

    The meals you mentioned have a high energy diet and I will definitely include them in my family diet

    Thanks for sharing!

  3. Wow, some great tips for camping and hiking. When doing these sorts of things, food is always such a mission to do and think about, and the easier the better. However, it is also nice to have something tasty to eat that also gives you loads of energy. It is very tempting to pack in junk like sweets, but fruit and nuts are a far better option.

    Peanut butter is a great idea too, as it is delicious with apples and also goes well with bread.

    • Yeah you wouldn’t want to eat to many sweets or junk food. I usually do bring a snickers bar to have something tasty but that’s about all you’ll want to eat like that!

  4. Hi Wilson, 

    I really enjoyed reading your article about no cook backpacking meals. As someone who used to be in the army, I have had more than my fair share of disgusting ready meals. Your tips will be very useful when I go hiking with my children. Thanks again for a really informative article, Regards, Andrew

  5. Thank you for this website. My family and I have just started getting out in nature and I do not know much about it. This site has helped me tremendously. I like your snack ideas because currently we are doing one night out. I will definitely be putting together some trail mix for snacking. Safe travels to you also


  6. Hey
    We also love hiking. We take risks for breakfast. Similar to biscotti. You can dunk it in your coffee. Lunch often has tinned fish, dried fruit and such, and dinner is cooked. Each kids smugglers a vegetable or two in their backpacks!
    Lovely article. Thanks!

  7. I just recently started researching different hiking trails to go on in my upcoming visit to Colorado and have been extremely concerned about meals throughout an overnight adventure! 

    I have been researching for quite some time now and have yet to find meals that appeared to be as appetizing and simple as yours. Maybe I was researching the wrong terms, but I love simple you made this! Trail mix and peanut butter are 2 of my favorites, I was thinking too complex!

    Thanks for sharing! 

    • There are so many easy and tasty options for meals camping! One thing that I really enjoy to cook is Mac and Cheese. It is easy to make with a stove and pot and it is so delicious in the woods.

  8. Thanks for the great ideas for some quality meals that don’t require cooking while backpacking. I love having almonds on hand for a great protein-rich snack, but it’s not quite the same as having something as substantial as a meal. I find that just about any nuts are great for traveling as they are great fuel, hold up well in a backpack, and aren’t going to be sensitive to extreme heat, cold, or humidity changes. 

  9. How about bringing in some instant noodles? They are easy to prepare in a camp, you just bring with you some pan, some water and make some fire to boil the noodles. What’s good about the idea is that a hot noodle meal can keep you warm when the temperature drops.

    I learned something new today, the trail mix. And I agree with you that it is okay to bring a ham sandwich but it must be eaten on the first day. It doesn’t have a long shelf life. Eat that first and reserve the rest of the trail mix for the following days.

    • I bring noodles with me on backpacking trips! Some ramen is very easy to cook and fills you up. I’ll make the ramen then throw some summer sausage and veggies in there to give it some substance too.

  10. Honestly, during backpacking, I feel one of the most important things is making your backpack to be as light as you possibly can while also carrying items that are very important. By so doing, I do feel it is best to take meals that don’t require cooking. Having said that, as you suggested it would be wise to take meals that can be cooked if your trip would take more than one day. That is just common sense. I do have some favorites that are really good and quick but your options are also a really good consideration.

    • Yeah if you are going on a trip for more than two days you’re going to want some cooked meals. There are plenty of options for lightweight stoves that you can cook them on! I will be doing an article soon on cooking on a campout.

  11. I love to go out in nature. I have a 15-year-old son and if it happens we don’t go out in nature for two months I don’t get along with him. This article is the type of article that I should read more often. I think it’s perfect to make a quick meal so you don’t waste time with it. After all, go out into the green grass, do not cook.

  12. Hello Wilson,
    I would have liked to be a backpacker, I think of two skills I should have. Good physical condition to be able to walk long distances, be in good weight.

    The other is to have skills if I need to cook. I think it’s perfect to bring nuts, fruits, grain and dried meats. Everyone who brings enough energy that we will need on our incredible journey. 

    Long live all backpackers!

  13. I am a big fan of trail mix as well, it’s something you can enjoy on the hike without slowing you down too much, and I am a big fan of sweets too. Throw some M&Ms; in there with some raisins and nuts, I am a happy man! I never thought about a little jerky to bring too, it is something that will give you that full feeling without taking up too much of your time so you can enjoy more of the hike! Thank you for sharing, I am going to try some of these things the next time we go!

  14. awesome post! I’m not so much of a bag packer myself but I do a lot of fitness and prepping meals can be a hassle too sometimes. When I work at the office I can at least warm up my meals in the microwave but when I’m travelling I tend to be a bit lazy and just buy something on the way.

    What would you recommend to me as a no-cook meal which is high in protein and fibres for on the road?

  15. Thank you for the awesome post!! I love taking peanut butter on my camping trips!! It is cheap and it goes with so much! I can even eat peanut butter by itself it’s that good!! Actually, goober is my favorite, it’s peanut butter and jelly and it doesn’t need refrigerated!!

  16. Hi Wilson, this article is so valuable. Whenever I go for day long hiking I am always undecided on what is the best food to carry with me. I want it to be light weight but at the same time healthy and with enough protein. 

    I have never considered taking summer sausage and it is a good idea. Here there´s the famous ´salchichon´ in Spain that I can take with me next time round. 

    I usually pack bananas, a sandwich, chocolate and mixed nuts. 

    Thank you for the information. Marisa

    • I love to bring summer sausage with me because it doesn’t spoil. It’s also a great source of protein to help rebuild your muscles after hiking for miles!

  17. Hi Wilson,

    Thanks for this helpful post. I do a lot of hiking in the French alps and it is always good to have enough food to eat before getting to the refuge for the night. We have enough to carry without having to take cooking equipment too. We always take local sausage with us, in true French style. We also take jelly sweets, such as Haribo for a little energy boost along the way.

  18. Thank you for this post.

    I’ve been having troubles as of late because I’m in a low-carb diet and that limits my food choices.  On the plus side, there are tons of higher protein bars but I’d like to mix things up a bit as I can only eat the same/similar things over and over again do so long…

    Eggs are great but not necessarily hiking-friendly.  Still, I can sneak a few in while hiking but, obviously these are something to cook or bring pre-cooked, as in hard boiled eggs, etc.

    Variety and flavor are really my stocking points right now, especially when going low-carb.

    Thanks again for this post.  I’m going to scour your best food for backpacking post to cross reference what I can and can’t have while confirming to my diet.


    • I wouldn’t recommend low-carb if you are going backpacking. When you walk for miles a day you burn everything you eat anyway! You will need a lot of energy to replenish you body and energy. 

  19. As I am trying to be the “cool Grandma” and able to spend time doing what the grandkids are doing, I am in the learning phase of this subject.

    The snack ideas sound like good ones and will give me some ideas to work with.

    Do you find it better to bring small packages of the snacks or one big one?  My hikes are for only one day, so not quite the question of a long period of time.  My backpack is a smaller one, so limited space to consider.  I usually make smaller packages to share, I am Grandma after all.  So multipacks of whatever I bring.  What do others do?


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