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Home > Tips and Hints > Food and Cooking > No fridge foods and meals, meals without cooking
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What if you go camping without a fridge at all?  Baked bean jaffles will only keep the family happy for so long.  Here are a few suggestions to get you started on creating healthy and tasty meals without refrigerated fresh food. They can all be made on the top of a camp cooker, although some would be better using an oven or grill to brown the topping.  These do not give quantities of ingredients so they can be made to suit the size and appetite of your family. 


Eggs, margarine and some vegetables can be kept fresh for a week or two using an esky.  Onions, potatoes, sweet potatoes and pumpkin require no refrigeration.  Choose butternut pumpkins in a size to suit one or two meals, as larger pumpkins will not keep long without refrigeration once cut. 


Purchase small cans or packets.  UHF milk will last a day without refrigeration.  Cheese may last several days in an Esky, or purchase foil wrapped non refrigerated cheese in packets to be eaten within a couple of days of opening.  Mayonnaise can be purchased in small packages.  Chutneys, jam, honey, vegemite and peanut paste will last well without refrigeration. Purchase canned meats and fish in single meal sizes. 


Nuts are a healthy addition to meals savoury and sweet. 


Breakfast cereals not only make a good breakfast with or without milk, but they can be eaten at other times of the day, and biscuit types such as Weetbix are nice split and spread with jam or honey.   Porridge makes a good breakfast, particularly in cold weather and powered milk can be added when cooking instead of using fresh milk when served.   


Where possible, have fresh fruit for sweets.  Apples keep well without refrigeration.  When fresh fruit supplies have run out, use dried fruits such as apricots, sultanas or the dried fruit of your choice.   


If stopping for the night late after a long drive you donít need a big meal. For us instant packet soup and a damper (can make stove top in a Dutch oven or thick based fry pan covered with Alfoil if no lid if you have no oven).


Mix a cup of self raising flour with enough water to make a stiff paste, options to add a little mixed herbs, pepper and salt for a savoury' or a teaspoon of sugar and sultanas for a sweet damper. Dried milk powder can be added to the flour asan option when making a sweet damper. If are using cheese, add half a cup of grated cheese to the herb damper for a different meal.  Cook slowly for about half an hour or so until a toothpick comes clean with no sticky batter on it. Delicious when hot just sliced, or can be spread with vegemite, peanut paste or jam. Instant soup can be mixed in the cup by adding boiling water or tinned soup can be heated.  

Salmon or Tuna Rice Kedgeree

Use a can of salmon (or tuna). Boil rice in sufficient quantity for the meal.
Fry an onion in a large fry pan lightly oiled with spray can cooking oil.
Drain fluids from fish, and mix with a teaspoon of curry powder and a sprinkle of soy sauce, breaking up the larger chunks of fish. Add fish to pan with fried onion and heat, add cooked rice, mix and serve. Dehydrated vegetables such as peas, beans and/or corn can be cooked and added to the kedgeree.  If you have eggs, hard boil eggs, remove from shells and chop us to sprinkle on the kedgeree. 

Baked Beans


Baked Bean Jaffles: Sliced bread will keep without refrigeration for at least a week. Spray cooking oil onto inside surfaces of jaffles iron. Place slices of bread on each side, add a spoonful of baked beans and close, trimming off surplus bread. Cook over gas flame until outsides of jaffles are crisp and brown. Donít forget to disarm the fire alarm if cooking inside the caravan!

In addition to jaffles, baked beans can be served on boiled rice or pasta as a quick meal.  Bakes bean, rice and eggs is a favourite meal my husband often requests, but when there are no eggs, he still loves the baked beans and rice. Add a little chilli sauce or dried chilli powder to the beans for a bit of oomph. 

Chicken stir fry

Fry and onion in a lightly oil pan. Add any other vegetables available, including dried peas and corn. Cubed sweet potato is a good addition as sweet potatoes have a long shelf life when caravanning. Add sufficient water to simmer vegetables until tender (approx 15 minutes). Add a can of chicken meat, a sprinkle of chilli power and allow meat to heat through. Mix one packet of instant cream of chicken soup with half a cup of hot water and a drizzle of soy sauce. Pour over the cooked ingredients and bring to the boil. Serve with boiled rice or pasta, or add a packet of two minute noodles towards the end of the cooking, allowing enough liquid for the noodles to absorb.

Canned beans in cheesy sauce

Drain a can of nice beans such as Lima beans, and heat on stove top in a saucepan. Set aside in a casserole or heatproof serving dish. Make a white sauce using low fat milk powder at double the mixing strength and sufficient cornflour to thicken using the same saucepan the beans were heated in. Pour over beans and top with thinly sliced cheese (non refrigerated packet cheese such as Kraft Cheddar) and sprinkle with pepper and salt. This is nicer if the cheese can be browned under a grill or in oven, but is still tasty with just stovetop preparation. The rest of the cheese will keep for a limited period without refrigeration, but most likely it will all be used for lunch the next day.

Tuna chicken casserole

Cook your choice of vegetables such as sweet potato, potato, onions, dehydrated corn beans or peas, dehydrated mushrooms. Drain. Add drained and flaked tinned tuna plus a can of cream of chicken soup (undiluted) and mix. Top with slices of cheese (non refrigerated packet cheese such as Kraft Cheddar) and sprinkle with pepper and salt. Heat through and serve. This is nicer if the cheese can be browned under a grill or in oven, but is still tasty with just stove top preparation.

Ten Minute Noodles Casserole

Cook vegetables available (eg choice of onion, potato, sweet potato, dehydrated vegetables) for five minutes in two cups of water. Add the Noodle packet of your choice of flavour and cook for a further ten minutes. Top with grated or sliced cheese (non refrigerated packet cheese such as Kraft Cheddar) and sprinkle with pepper and salt. This is nicer if the cheese can be browned under a grill or in oven, but is still tasty with just stove top preparation.


Salmon Patties


Peel, boil and mash potatoes or prepare some dried instant potato. Drain a can of salmon, break up the lumps and mix well with the mashed potato.  Stir in a little curry powder or pepper.   Canned tuna can be subsituted.  Canned salmon usually does not require any added salt.  If eggs are available, beat one of eggs and mix together with the potato and salmon.  The egg will bind the patties and help hold them from breaking up when cooking.  Powered egg or egg substitute can be used.  Heat a flat based fry pan, add a little oil, and place large spoonfuls of mixture into the fry pan.  Turn once only when the down side is well browned.  Serve with canned peas or what ever greens are available. . 


Potato Cakes


Finely dice one or two onions and grate a few peeled potatoes.  Mix together and squeeze out any surplus moisture.  Stir on one or two beaten eggs if available and add a sprinkle of pepper and salt to taste. Fry on a lightly oiled flat frypan, turning once when browned. 


Vegetable Fritters


See recipes in vegetarian section on previous page



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Back to Food and Cooking Index ^

Tuna Mornay

One can tuna, drain and stir in a teaspoon of curry powder and if not too salty, a few dribbles of soy sauce

Make up a cheesy sauce with non fat powdered milk (adding extra for cheesiness) and cornflour. I made one litre by mixing the milk powder and cornflour to a soft paste with cold water, then adding boiling water while stirring as it thickens - no further cooking necessary. Stir in tuna and grated cheese.   Boil rice and heat canned peas or substitute what ever green vegetables you have available. 


Canned meat


Canned meat such as ham, corned beef, chicken meat or even spam types of products if your family will eat them, can be used to prepare fritters (slices of meat dipped in batter and fried), or as the meat for sweet and sour or curried dishes. 




Like rice, easy to carry dried and easy to cook.  Add what ever vegetables you have and flavour with a pasta sauce or tomato sauce.  Add grated cheese.  Nice with a cheese topping browned in the oven if you have one. 




These are great family favourite and can be served hot or cold.  The prepared meal can be heated in a microwave if available, or the sauce heated stove top.  On a bed of corn crisps such as Doritos or CCs, add salsa sauce and top with grated tasty cheese. This can be topped with sliced capsicum, mushrooms and/or sliced olives.  For variations you can add to or substitute for the salsa sauce with baked beans or canned Chili Con Carne.  Nachos served with side salad makes a filling and balanced meal. Satisfying, quick and easy to prepare, and creates minimal washing up. 


Dehydrated hiking meals can also be used and these come in a variety of flavours.  See also here




With careful use of an esky, selected salad vegetables can be kept fresh for quite some days.  Canned products such as sliced beetroot can be included.  Do not wash the vegetables until you are ready to use them so they last longer.  Potato, pasta or rice salads can be prepared in the evening and cooled overnight ready for the next day.  Cubes of unrefrigerated packet cheese or canned flavoured tuna with salad make a wholesome and easy meal. 


Leave your esky open outside during the cool of the night and close it just after the dawn.  For vegetables that travel well see here


Many of the above meals can be adapted to suit vegetarians or see specific recipes on the previous page.   

Back to Food and Cooking Index ^

Back to Food and Cooking Index ^

What about no cooking? 

Travellers sometimes ask about making a healthy meal when they are travelling without a caravan in out of the way places and need to provide meals when camping out between towns.  This may require no refrigeration and no heat.  However a small butane canister and a single burner plus all purpose pot could be considered. 


The simplest filling meal would be Nachos as on the Meal Ideas When Travelling without a Fridge food suggestions. 


Salads with cheese, nuts, canned beans or canned meat or flavoured sandwich tuna can be rolled in Wraps type flat bread. Salad vegetables can be kept cool in an Esky or insulated box. Spreadable cheese or mayonnaise can be used instead of butter or margarine. 


Even the camping staple Baked Beans are palatable cold and can be enjoyed straight from the can or in Wraps with salad.


Meals in cans such as stew with vegetables, while nicer heated, can be eaten cold. 


For desert, fresh fruit, canned fruit and long life custard again in meal sized packaging or sufficient to be eaten within a day, or dried fruit. 

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