With a little planning you can eat well -- a 4-day meal plan for a trip without refrigeration

No Refrigeration Meals

Four days of great meals for a trip without refrigeration and only a two-burner camp stove — with a little planning you can eat surprisingly well!

While I’ve gone without refrigeration or even a cooler for four months on two different occasions, it was only after a number of shorter trial runs where I refined my techniques and recipes. Success on shorter trips convinced us that we could do longer trips.

To give you some ideas of meals and how I use the most perishable items first, here are our actual meals from a 4-day trip.


Cold cereal with milk or soy milk, juice and coffee.

Other options:

  • Oatmeal – add some dried fruit and nuts if desired

  • Fried, boiled or scrambled eggs

  • Pre-cooked bacon

  • Toast or bagels (peanut butter or jam optional)

  • Yogurt with dried fruit, nuts and/or granola

Storing Veggies without Refrigeration Quick Reference

Having a wide variety of fresh veggies really makes meals better. Many vegetables will last a surprising length of time without even a cooler — weeks to a month or more.

I made a cheat sheet for storing 12 veggies without refrigeration — a one-page set of reminders on how to store various things and how long they’ll last. It’s really just the tip of the iceberg as far as storing food without refrigeration goes, but it’s a great starting point. Yep, it’s free.


Couscous Salad – couscous, onion, cucumber, green pepper, tomato, oil, vinegar, salt, pepper and a touch of sugar (I make it pretty much the same way I do Pasta or Rice Salad — couscous just cooks a lot faster), individual cups of applesauce.

Ham Salad Wraps – a can of ham, diced onion, a sliced tomato, some Napa cabbage and some mayonnaise, all wrapped in tortillas. Tortillas are a good alternative to bread for “sandwiches” as they don’t get squashed and they’re far less likely to mold. Oranges.

Vegetable Salad a la Que Tal – can of green beans, some extra pasta that I cooked for dinner the night before, small can of corn (drained), onion, tomato, dried fruit, marinated artichoke hearts (use the oil from the jar instead of adding oil), dash of sugar and balsamic vinegar. 

Snack Lunch – A small jar of peanut butter and box of Wheat Thins, a bag of nuts, a bag of dried fruit, one of carrots (also good with the peanut butter) and a little bag of olives.


Tacos and a Tossed Salad – use a can of roast beef and drain/rinse the gravy off, shred the meat and heat it up with spices or a packet of taco seasoning. Serve with tortillas, salsa, diced onion, green pepper and sour cream made from non-refrigerated ingredients (note: you won’t need a full batch of sour cream, so reserve some for the tacos and use the rest with your favorite dip mix to make an appetizer). Tossed salad with tomatoes, cucumbers, red onion, black olives and a vinaigrette dressing.

Chicken, Apricots & Almonds over Couscous – a can of chicken breast, dried apricots, whole almonds, a little flour, honey and cinnamon, plus the couscous. Drain liquid from the chicken breast into a pan and mix in about 2 teaspoons of flour, a dash of cinnamon and a generous spoonful of honey. Bring it all to a boil and add the apricots. Simmer five minutes, then turn the burner off and add chicken and almonds, mixing very gently. Let sit 3 to 5 minutes to warm through. While this is cooking, make couscous according to package directions. Serve chicken mixture over couscous.

Optional extra: Pan-Roasted Veggies – use a tablespoon of oil or butter and saute a bunch of mixed vegetables with a dash of salt and pepper or Mrs. Dash. Our favorite veggies depend on what looks good at the market but will often include zucchini or summer squash, onion quarters, baby carrots and mushrooms.

Special Treat: Chocolate-Oatmeal No-Bake Cookies.

Pasta Supreme – Saute a can of shrimp or ham, onion chunks and a (drained) can of mushrooms (or fresh if you have them) with some garlic and Italian seasoning. Add a small jar of sun-dried tomatoes in olive oil and a small (drained) can of sliced black olives. At the same time, cook pasta. Toss it all together and serve.

Chili, Corn Bread and Coleslaw – Make the chili with one can each of (drained) roast beef, kidney beans and diced tomatoes, plus some diced onions and green peppers and a variety of spices. Make corn bread from a box mix. Coleslaw, made from chopped cabbage, a can of pineapple tidbits, a handful of peanuts and mayonnaise.

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  • Mid-Life Cruising!
    Posted at 24 July 2012 Reply

    These are some great meal ideas … thanks!

  • Stephanie Donaton Weber on Facebook
    Posted at 24 March 2013 Reply

    This is good for hut trips too!

  • Mike Lewis on Facebook
    Posted at 24 March 2013 Reply

    Isn’t thunder snow great? !!!

  • Mike Lewis on Facebook
    Posted at 24 March 2013 Reply

    I thought you guys were down south.

  • The Boat Galley on Facebook
    Posted at 24 March 2013 Reply

    Unfortunately, I’m in Illinois right now . . . no thunder right now, but it’s forecast for later today. Right now, we’re in the “gap” between the first (minor) wave and the second (nasty) one coming this afternoon. Hoping we don’t lose power and internet!

  • The Boat Galley on Facebook
    Posted at 24 March 2013 Reply

    Got the thundersnow now!! Just had a HUGE boom right nearby. No subtle start to this . . .

  • Mike Lewis on Facebook
    Posted at 24 March 2013 Reply

    We are just east of St. Louis in Illinois. The scary thing is we didn’t get the break yet.It started snowing this morning and hasn’t stopped yet!!!

  • The Boat Galley on Facebook
    Posted at 24 March 2013 Reply

    My husband spent most of his life in the St. Louis and Granite City area, sailed at Alton then at Carlyle . . . we’re just north of Effingham now.

  • Mike Lewis on Facebook
    Posted at 24 March 2013 Reply

    No kidding! Was at Carlyle for years before moving to Alton Marina (about 3 years ago) to get our boat ready for the great escape. btw: Ordered and received “The Boat Galley” a couple of weeks ago (bought through your link to Amazon, of course).

  • The Boat Galley on Facebook
    Posted at 24 March 2013 Reply

    Small world! Hope you enjoy the book and thanks for using the link!

  • Jules
    Posted at 25 July 2013 Reply

    Some friends and I are headed up to a rustic cabin with no refrigerator for a very long weekend and I was totally stuck on how to have anything other than peanut butter and banana sandwiches. Thanks for the tips!

  • Mick
    Posted at 08 November 2013 Reply

    Great info. What a good start for the tent camping foray to the Austin Formula One race in a tent for 6 days on the 10th turn with NO electricity. Your ideas will make life considerably easier. THANKS!!

  • Marcie Trantham
    Posted at 04 February 2014 Reply

    Hash, topped with egg, clam linguine. Canned chix do lots, tuna …pasta salads, pasta with capers etc. etc etc. go on line and google recipes.

  • lynn
    Posted at 26 July 2014 Reply

    Awesome ideas to keep some stuff on hand when the power goes out too!

  • Anne Ellingsen
    Posted at 25 July 2015 Reply

    I love your creativity when it comes to meals

  • Barbara Garter
    Posted at 25 July 2015 Reply

    Love this. Thank you!

  • Carol Strong
    Posted at 25 July 2015 Reply

    Thank you-so helpful! I like to prep extra food while cooking and use for next meals.

  • Albert J K III
    Posted at 06 February 2016 Reply

    The soy milk for cereal….. I use apple juice.
    (Capt Krunch, Cinnamon Life…..)

  • Byn Always
    Posted at 08 February 2016 Reply

    We just did a provisioning run for three months and we have no refrigeration. I hope we did well. I’m almost afraid to read your post for great kick myself for missing important stuff! :/

    • The Boat Galley
      Posted at 08 February 2016 Reply

      You’ll be fine. Whatever you forget, you can get along the way — or get creative without.

  • Jodie deling
    Posted at 19 July 2017 Reply

    Your article says with out refrigeration but yogurt, milk, both need refrigerators or coolers. So. Thank you but let’s try to be less misleading

    • Carolyn Shearlock
      Posted at 19 July 2017 Reply

      Don’t really think I was being misleading. First, the trip I described had a cooler. But it would all be possible without one — believe me, I’ve done it many times.

      Boxed milk does not need to be refrigerated until opened — so if you have a cooler, great. Otherwise, you can get it in single-serve boxes. Yogurt can be made each day with a bit from the previous day’s batch if you don’t have a cooler to put a larger batch in. I do both with and without coolers. Take a look at these posts:
      Boxed milk
      Milk with No Refrigeration
      Make Your Own Yogurt

      and, of course, you can check out Storing Food without Refrigeration

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