Man eating breakfast

Handy RV Meals that Don’t Require Refrigeration

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Man eating breakfast

No Fridge, No Problem

This article originally appeared on

Although having a functional kitchen along for the ride is one of the most attractive aspects of traveling by RV, there may still be times in your journeys when you can’t count on refrigeration. For instance, you might be in a tiny camper van or Class B sleeper, many of which are too small to include a refrigerator in their limited space. Or maybe you’ve got a big Class A motorhome with a full-sized fridge, but you’re heading out on an extended, off-grid boon-docking adventure and don’t want to rely on your LP gas supply or generator. Heck, maybe your RV’s refrigerator is simply broken. I mean, it happens, right?

Related: 25 Mistakes to Avoid When Buying an RV

Man cooks on portable barbecue outside his van, mountain view

Say Goodbye to Sack Lunches

No matter what’s separating you from twenty-first century food storage, you don’t have to resort to Slim Jims and potato chips for the duration of your stay (although you might have some junk food. It is a camping trip, after all!). You can actually whip up some surprisingly delicious, healthy, affordable and easy meals with no refrigeration, all from shelf-stable, nonperishable items. In fact, many no-refrigeration meals are even appropriate for various specialty diets, whether you’re vegetarian, vegan, or gluten-free. Here are some ideas and guidelines to help get you started crafting delicious camping meals with no refrigeration.

Related: The Different Types of RV Camping



Having these dried rolled oats on hand is a great option. Just add water and you've got breakfast! You can also kick it up a notch with some spices, like cinnamon and nutmeg, or tasty add-ins such as nuts, seeds, or fruit (fresh or dried).

Related: 30 Cheap, Easy Breakfast Ideas to Start the Day Right

Tinned Tuna Fish.

Canned Meat

Kick it old school with a good ol' tuna sandwich. Quick and easy meals with a canned tuna, chicken, or ham base give you that extra protein needed after a day of hiking. Minimum preparation, maximum enjoyment.

Related: 50 Easy Recipes You Can Make in 20 Minutes or Less

Beef Jerky


Beef or other jerkies and dehydrated meats are a great protein-packed option to bring along on adventures outside of the RV. Bring some jerky along for energy on that kayak trip, or just snack on it while on the road to the next destination.

Peanut Butter Granola Bars
srisakorn wonglakorn/shutterstock

Snack Bars

Homemade or store bought, you really can't go wrong with some sort of bar. Energy, protein, or granola bars are easy, tasty, and usually a family favorite. Pro tip: Make your own bars at home before you head out on your RV adventure so you can customize this treat to your liking (we suggest anything peanut butter-based).

Related: RVshare Makes Taking an RV Trip Easy

Food storage concept

Grains and Legumes

Pasta, lentils, beans, and other dry, boilable grains and legumes make for a simple meal when you're in a pinch. These dishes can be dressed up or down with sauces, veggies, or protein and only require a pot, stovetop, and a dash of salt.

Related: What’s the Best RV Battery for Boondocking or Dry Camping?

Beef broth in custard cup with fresh root vegetables

Broth in a Box

Keeping broth or bouillon cubes on hand is seriously underrated. Why cook your rice with regular water when you can add some extra flavor? Boxed chicken or vegetable broth is cheap, easy to store, and doesn't add any additional steps in meal preparation — only additional flavor. 

Related: Exotic Condiments to Add Zing to Meals

All Natural Homemade Trail Mix
Brent Hofacker/shutterstock

Hand Snack Mixes

Easy, non-refrigerated hand snacks like nuts, dried fruit, and trail mix are a no-brainer. This is another treat you can either buy along the road or make beforehand to your liking. Throw in your favorite nuts, fruits, or chocolatey bits to make your ideal concoction. Do you prefer sweet or salty?

Related: The Basics of Operating an RV for First Timers

canned corn

Canned Fruits and Vegetables

It's nice to have options when you're living the RV life. Stocking up on canned produce such as green beans, corn, or tomato sauce for pasta dishes does exactly that. Whether it's a chili, casserole, rice bowl, or pasta, there's always room to throw another can of something good for you in there.

Pouring Eating Oli in a Frying Pan

Cooking Oil

Because many of these suggestions are commonly used in dishes prepared on the stovetop, it's pretty important to keep cooking oil on hand. You don't want to plan out the whole meal and get to the cooking part only to find out you don't have anything to grease the pan with. Trust us — been there, done that.

Fruit bowl

Fresh Produce

Believe it or not, many fruits and vegetables actually do better outside of the refrigerator, granted you use them up quickly enough. Consider squash, potatoes, onions, corn on the cob, apples, bananas, and oranges for a start. Throw something fresh in your cereal, pasta, stew, or backpack on your way out for a bike ride. To keep it out of the way and clear up counter space, you should store your fresh produce in a fruit hammock

Related: 25 Cool Items for Your Next Camping Trip

Man having breakfast in the door of his camper van

Get Creative, or Stick to the Classics

While these goods will do well to provide you a solid basis for your camping diet, you can get even more creative with your menu if you want to. For instance, if you bring along some shelf-stable powdered, nut, or soy milk, you can easily have good old cereal for breakfast. Otherwise, oatmeal or granola bars are great standbys. And unlike sliced bread, tortillas are impossible to crush, and they can make any set of ingredients into a (literally) handy snack or lunchtime nosh.

Related: RV Boondocking: What It Is and Tips You Need to Know

Man eating burger in camping in Swiss Alps

Quick 'n' Easy

If you’re not opposed to processed foods, you can also look into dry, packaged meals that require no refrigeration, or box mixed breads, cakes, and other goodies that come together on your stovetop. You can find tons of relatively healthy, well-constructed packaged meals that require you only to add water or pop them in the microwave. Not only are they convenient, but they can also be surprisingly delicious!

Related: RV Electrical: All the Basics You Need To Know

RV kitchen

Go Nuts

Many of the items on our checklist are super easy to whip into a meal — think one-pot pasta with some canned veggies and chicken, or maybe gourmet oatmeal with dried fruit, sliced nuts and a sprinkle of brown sugar. Plus, you can never go wrong with a simple handful or three of freshly roasted nuts or trail mix. See? You’re doing better than gas station goodies already.

Related: The Ultimate Guide to RV Gas Mileage

Stock Up Close to Home
Jessica Ruscello/istockphoto

No Refrigeration Meals for Camping

When it comes to camping, there are certain dishes that simply must be represented. I mean, if you don’t make s’mores around the fire, did you even go camping at all? But fortunately, most of the best food to bring camping doesn’t need a fridge. (After all, most tent- and car-campers don’t have one with them!) For instance, every single s’mores ingredient is 100% fridge-free, so long as you’re not camping somewhere hot enough to melt your chocolate!

Related: Dometic Refrigerator Parts And Troubleshooting

Cooler Stocked with Food

Keep Your Cool

Keep in mind that bringing a cooler is also an option, and that doing so can allow you to bring along some perishable or semi-perishable items to be used as early as possible in the journey. Or, you can snack solely on dry goods and microwave meals while using the ice chest to keep your beer supply chilly. Life is all about priorities, you know?

Related: 10 Essential Coolers for Your Camping Trip

Pouring a Morning Coffee
The cooking of soup on the fire

Healthy Meals

Just because you’re on vacation doesn’t mean you have to ditch your carefully-crafted eating plan. There are tons of healthy, non-refrigerated dinner ideas, no matter what diet you follow. For instance, consider a delicious, homemade lentil soup. It’ll pack a punch of protein while helping you get warm and cozy after a long day of hiking. As long as you use pre-packaged, cooked meat (or go vegetarian or vegan by skipping it entirely) and add relatively hardy vegetables, it’s simple to boil up, and totally fridge-free.

Related: 30 Easy Soup Recipes That Last for Days

Veggie skewers

Veg Out

You can also rely on your trusty grill to turn those sturdy veggies, like squash, corn, and potatoes, into scrumptious feasts. Just drizzle them with olive oil, sprinkle them with salt and pepper, and either slap them directly on the grill or wrap ’em up in tin foil. You’ll be shocked at how much flavor just a little bit of heat brings to the table!

Related: 20 Dirt-Cheap Vegetarian Meals

Cooking in RV Kitchen

Ready-to-Go Travel Meals

We hope this article has shown you that eating healthy without a refrigerator is totally possible. Meals that don’t need refrigeration — or even cooking — don’t have to be boring or unhealthily salt-laden. In fact, many meals that need no refrigeration are both completely yummy and body-friendly, not to mention easy to make. Some of these camping meals are so satisfying that you may find yourself making them even after you’re back home from your RV adventure

Related: RV Refrigerator Not Cooling? Here’s How to Troubleshoot