Which ingredients to take camping

Making a meal using just a handful of ingredients you've carried along is one of the joys of camping – as long as the ingredients you've picked are light and versatile. We've chosen 15 staple 'foundation' ingredients around which to build smart dishes for campsite dining, whether you are using a camping stove or bringing pre-made meals.


See our collection of camping recipes and read on for the best ingredients to add to your camping food list. We also have a variety of vegetarian and vegan camping recipes for you to try.

For more ideas, see our guide to easy family camping recipes.

Best camping foods

1. Halloumi

Halloumi & quinoa fattoush on a white serving plate next to two silver spoons

This firm sheep's milk cheese travels really well in a cool bag as it holds its form and has a very high melting point. The robust nature of halloumi means it can be cooked in slices or chunks to an almost meat-like texture. Fry or griddle it and have with some salad leaves and dressing, skewer it to cook on a campfire or serve it in wraps.

Halloumi & quinoa fattoush
Halloumi burgers
Griddled halloumi with beetroot and orange
Halloumi kebabs with thyme and lemon baste
Roasted pepper and halloumi wraps

More like this

Check out our halloumi recipe collection and find more halloumi salads.

2. Flatbreads

Chicken skewers with lemon and vegetables in two wraps

Unlike an ample loaf, flatbreads pack down into a neat, flexible stack – ideal for packing in a rucksack or hamper. They can be made into a pizza, either served cold and spread with hummus, or baked with traditional cheese and tomato toppings. Or go Mexican and fold up some melty quesadillas, or use for a zingy chicken and lemon wrap.

Chicken & lemon skewers
Hot salami and courgette flatbread
Vegetarian wraps
Flatbread pizzas
Cheese and chilli melts
10-minute steak and blue cheese wrap

Find more flatbread recipes.

3. Chorizo

Wide pan of smoky beans, chorizo and egg stew with cup of tea

Find yourself a good-quality cured Spanish sausage, nestle it into your knapsack and you're away. Chorizo is the perfect camping sausage as it's ready-cured, so it can be sliced and eaten as a snack, crisped up in an omelette to be served with smoky beans and eggs for breakfast, or combined with potatoes in a hash.

Campfire smoky bean & chorizo brekkie
Chorizo & halloumi breakfast baguette
Chorizo, potato and cheese omelette
Chorizo & red pepper hummus
Chorizo and fried egg wraps
BBQ chorizo potato salad
Sweet potato, chickpea and chorizo hash

More chorizo recipes.

4. Sardines

Sardines and peppers on wholemeal toast

All tinned fish are great for camping, but as sardines usually come in chunky fillets, they feel more like a whole meal. Serve on sourdough toast for breakfast, with canned chickpeas and zesty lemon for lunch and with spaghetti, fennel and broccoli for supper (not necessarily on the same day!).

Sardines & peperonata on wholemeal toast
BBQ sardines with chermoula sauce
Spanish sardines on toast
Sardines with chickpeas, lemon and parsley
Pasta with pine nuts, broccoli, sardines and fennel

More sardine recipes

5. Rice pouches

Plate of wild rice with sweetcorn and other vegetables

As one of the most versatile grains, rice is the foundation for many great meals. Ready-cooked or boil-in-the-bag pouches are light and portable, and go from cooking stove to plastic plate in minutes. Keep your cooked rice fresh in a bean salad, make it into a spicy curried pilaf, use it as a burrito filling or whip it into Chinese-style egg fried rice.

Mixed bean and wild rice salad
Chicken burrito
One-pan spicy rice
Oriental egg-fried rice

6. Eggs

Tarragon, sausage and mushroom frittata in a pan

They may need to be perched atop your apparel and transported with relative care, but eggs are fine camping fodder. Omelettes can take all manner of fillings (it's a good way of using up your chorizo), but frittatas – bulked out with potatoes in the Spanish fashion – served in wedges stretch a lot further. Eggy bread also makes a classic campsite breakfast.

Tarragon, mushroom & sausage frittata
Feta and semi-dried tomato omelette
Chorizo, potato and cheese omelette
Potato frittata with pesto and goat's cheese
Ham and eggy bread with salsa

We've got plenty more egg recipes to choose from.

7. Pasta

Pesto pasta salad with tomatoes and basil on a plate

Whatever shape or size, pasta is a much-loved convenience ingredient that rules in a league of its own. Slender spaghetti is best for saving space, but penne and fusilli are more palatable once they've gone cold. Create a simple carbonara with sausage instead of bacon, throw together a fresh pesto pasta salad or melt creamy blue cheese into a mushroom sauce.

Pesto pasta salad
Sausage and broccoli carbonara
Storecupboard spaghetti puttanesca
Creamy mushroom spaghetti
Bacon, spinach and gorgonzola pasta

Get more easy pasta recipes.

8. Tinned fruit

Grapefruit, orange & apricot salad in a bowl

When it comes to camping desserts, it's often a case of assembling rather than cooking. Tinned fruit can be mixed into an instant salad, but if you want to add a special touch, melt some chocolate to drizzle over tinned pears, then sprinkle with hazelnuts. Sweet, shiny canned peaches with cream are a retro winner, too.

Pears with speedy chocolate sauce
Grapefruit, orange and apricot salad
Tropical fruits in lemongrass syrup

9. Chickpeas

Beans, chickpeas and feta on a plate

Ready-prepared canned chickpeas are far more convenient than the dried variety that requires soaking. Pour them directly into a bowl and dress with oil, vinegar and herbs for a versatile side dish. Alternatively, stir them into a spicy one-pot or use as the base for a salad.

Warm chickpea salad
Pumpkin curry with chickpeas
Spiced chickpeas with halloumi
Bean, chickpea & feta salad
Spinach & chickpea dhal
No-cook chickpea salad

Discover more recipes for chickpeas and chickpea salads.

10. Ready-made meals

Pile of spaghetti bolognese on a plate

And we're not talking a microwave lasagne. One of the best ways to cater for your campers is to make a one-pot dish at home that can be finished off onsite. A pre-made ragu or meatballs in tomato sauce can be heated and poured over spaghetti, a chilli can be served with bonfire-baked potatoes and stew can be served with couscous. Just make sure it has been cooled correctly, and store in a chilled environment.

Big-batch bolognese
Spaghetti and meatballs
Super-speedy chilli
Bonfire Night baked potatoes
Spicy chicken and bean stew

Check out more batch cooking recipes and read our meal prep ideas.

11. Cereal

Granola topped with orange and raspberries

Great any time of day, but undoubtedly worth starting your day right, especially if you’re planning a full day of activities. As a dry food, cereal has a long shelf life, making it a must-have on your camping food list. It’s also high in fibre and releases energy slowly so that you will feel content for longer in the day.

High-fibre muesli
Orange & raspberry granola
Crunchy granola with berries & cherries
Low-sugar granola
Maple granola crunch porridge topping

Check out more healthy cereal recipes and porridge recipes.

12. Tuna

Rigattoni with tuna, tomatoes and capers

Tuna is a highly versatile ingredient as it is a perfect sandwich filler, pasta topper and addition to any salad. Being tinned, it is easy to transport and has a shelf life of years, so you need not worry about it going off. It’s also high in protein, which boosts your metabolism.

Lemony tuna, tomato & caper one-pot pasta
Healthy tuna lettuce wraps
Tuna, avocado & quinoa salad
Tuna & butterbean salad

Discover more tasty tinned tuna recipes.

13. Soup

Cucumber soup in a bowl

Ready in minutes, soups come in all kinds of flavours, giving you plenty of variety. We have warming, hearty soups for cold nights and refreshing cold soups for hot summer days. Either whack the ingredients in a pan and cook on the fire or pre-pack your soups in a flask and warm up.

Cucumber soup
Black bean soup with chunky raita
Miso & butternut soup
One-pan carrot & cumin soup
Tomato & basil soup

Try out more flavourful soup recipes.

14. Hot chocolate

Mug of hot chocolate

Hot chocolate is the perfect evening drink when camping as you can prepare it by melting chocolate with milk in a pan. Make it as decadent as you wish. You are on holiday after all, and don’t forget to add a sprinkling of melty marshmallows!

Homemade hot chocolate
Hot chocolate stirrers
White hot chocolate
Deluxe hot chocolate with marshmallows
Triple-choc hot chocolate

Discover more delicious hot chocolate recipes.

15. Pasta sauces & salad dressings

Homemade pesto in a jar

Bring a homemade jar of sauce or a salad dressing to upgrade simple meals to the next level. A homemade pesto or tomato sauce can be added to pasta or rice to make a freestyle throw-together meal that everyone will love. Shop locally for your fruit and veg to create a beautifully fresh salad and cover with your dressing to elevate the flavours.

Pesto sauce
Tomato sauce
Roasted red pepper sauce
Easy salad dressing
Chipotle & lime dressing

Browse plenty more pasta sauce recipes and salad dressing recipes.

More camping food ideas


Canned beans are a camping saviour, given how inexpensive and transportable they are. They're also a good source of plant-based protein and are high in fibre. Try them in our campfire smoky bean & chorizo brekkie, this one-pan smoky beans & sausage meatballs or a smoky sausage & black bean chilli.

Granola bars

This easy recipe for homemade granola bars makes up to 12, so they'll keep you and the family going the whole trip. They're also great with a cup of coffee as a mid-morning snack.


Waking up to a cup of coffee in the great outdoors is pure bliss – not to mention the aroma of freshly brewed coffee. We like to pack our favourite ground coffee along with an AeroPress coffee maker: an inexpensive, portable and lightweight bit of kit which requires no washing-up. See our coffee gadgets for tools for making the perfect cuppa, from grinders and drippers to the ultimate kettle.

Camping meal prep tips

Prep your food before you leave

Prepping your food as much possible at home means there's less work to do once you're there, as well as less time washing up. Our make-ahead camping recipe collection features one-pots, salads and snacks which are perfect for making ahead to take on a camping trip.

Only pack what you need

While it's tempting to bring a whole bag of ground coffee, or a bulky box of cereal, a useful tip is to repackage your food so you're only taking what you need. Have a think about portion sizes and pack accordingly – the less air in your packaging, the better. This'll result in carrying a lighter load, plus it'll save bringing any leftovers back home.

Bring back-up meals

You might have plans for cooking lots of different meals from scratch, but after a long day spent outdoors, you may just want to kick back and relax for the evening. It's wise, therefore, to pack soup which you can whack into a pan and cook, or pre-pack your soups in a flask and warm up. A pre-cooked pesto pasta salad, which you can eat cold, is also a great option.

Food safety alert

Camping often means a lack of refrigeration, so make sure you go armed with a cool box and ice packs if you're taking perishables. Cooked food shouldn't be above fridge temperature for longer than 90 minutes, and when you're reheating anything, make sure it's piping hot the whole way through. Take a look at the NHS website for 10 tips to avoid food poisoning and how to store food safely.


Get more camping inspiration...

Top camping recipes for kids
The best camping stoves you can buy
Camping recipes
Family camping recipes
10 foods to cook when camping

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