Planning Backpacking Meals: Tips for Delicious Yet Lightweight Food.

Planning backpacking meals requires careful consideration of nutritional needs, food weight, and storage limitations. In order to pack efficiently and sustain your energy during your trip, it’s essential to plan your meals in advance.

Backpacking can be an exciting and fulfilling outdoor experience. However, it can also be physically demanding, and it’s important to properly fuel your body for the journey ahead.

Whenever you are planning proper nutritious backpacking meals, it can seem daunting, but it doesn’t have to be. By taking a few things into consideration, you can create meals that are both nutritious and lightweight.

Some of the factors to consider when planning meals include nutritional value, weight, and storage space. A well-planned menu can make all the difference in your outdoor adventure and ultimately lead to a successful and enjoyable trip.

So, let’s take a closer look at some tips and tricks for planning health-giving backpacking meals.

Why Is Planning Backpacking Meals Important from the Begining

Planning nutritive meals is one of the most vital things you can do before going on a hiking trip. Backpacking is more than just lugging your gear up a mountain; it involves careful preparation and planning.

Let’s dive in and explore the benefits of planning healthful backpacking meals.

Saves Time And Money

One of the most significant advantages of planning meals is that it saves time and money. When you plan your meals, you avoid the hassle of stopping at a grocery store during your trip, which may be miles away from your campsite.

Additionally, buying prepared meals in outdoor stores can be costly. Knowing what you will consume will allow you to purchase the right items in advance. Not only will this save you time and money, but it will also ensure that you have nutritious meals to fuel your body during the trip.

  • Plan meals in advance saves you money and time.
  • Avoid hassle and expenses of buying prepared meals during the trip.
  • Purchase the right items and assure you have nutritious meals to fuel your body.

Reduces Waste

When backpacking, you must carry all your food and supplies in a backpack; this means that space-saving should be a priority. Considering backpacking meals allows you to pack the right amount of food, minimizing leftovers and, more importantly, reducing waste.

By carefully creating a meal plan, you can avoid carrying excess food that might weigh down your backpack and take up unnecessary space.

  • Carefully creating a meal plan will help pack the right amount of food.
  • Reduced leftovers.
  • Reduces waste.

Ensures Nutritional Balance

Planning proper backpacking foods in advance ensures that you have a balanced diet throughout the trip. Backpackers need the right amount of proteins, carbohydrates, and fats to support their demanding activities.

Having the right balance of nutrition ensures that you have the energy needed for strenuous hikes. With proper planning, you can ensure that you consume a diet rich in macronutrients and micronutrients.

  • Backpackers need a balanced diet.
  • Adequate nutrition for strenuous activities.
  • Ensures you consume a diet rich in macronutrients and micronutrients.

Keeps Hunger At Bay

Being hungry while backpacking can ruin a trip. Therefore, it’s crucial to plan meals that provide enough energy to keep hunger at bay. Staying nourished ensures that your body remains fueled, and your mind stays sharp throughout the trek. Planning breakfast, lunch, snacks, and dinner will help satiate your hunger throughout the day.

  • Hunger can ruin a trip.
  • Planning meals provide enough energy to keep hunger at bay.
  • Staying nourished ensures that your body remains fueled, and your mind stays sharp throughout the trek.

Planning backpacking healthful foods in advance is essential for a successful and enjoyable trip. It saves time and money, reduces waste, ensures nutritional balance, and keeps hunger at bay. With these benefits, preparing meals for a hiking trip is no longer a hassle.

Nutritional Considerations For Backpacking Meals

Planning healthy backpacking meals requires more than just throwing some snacks in your backpack. Nutritional considerations are crucial to ensure that your body is fueled properly during your adventure.

Here, we will consult caloric needs for backpacking, macronutrient ratios, hydration and electrolyte balance, as well as non-perishable food options.

Caloric Needs For Backpacking

Backpacking requires a significant amount of physical activity, and your body needs fuel to keep up. The number of calories you need depends on various factors, such as your body weight, age, gender, fitness level, and the difficulty of your backpacking trip.

  • On average, a backpacker burns between 2,500 and 4,500 calories per day.
  • For a moderate backpacking trip, aim for 2,500 to 3,000 calories per day.
  • For a strenuous backpacking trip, aim for 3,500 to 4,500 calories per day.

Macronutrient Ratios

Macronutrients, such as carbohydrates, proteins, and fats, are essential to keep your body functioning optimally during your backpacking trip.

  • Carbohydrates: 55-65% of total caloric intake
  • Proteins: 10-20% of total caloric intake
  • Fats: 20-30% of total caloric intake

Hydration And Electrolyte Balance

Staying hydrated and maintaining electrolyte balance are crucial to prevent dehydration and fatigue.

  • Aim to drink 2-4 liters of water per day, depending on your activity level and the weather.
  • Carry water purification tablets or a water filter in case you need to refill your water supply from a natural source.
  • Incorporate electrolyte-rich foods and drinks such as sports drinks, coconut water, and electrolyte tablets.

Non-Perishable Food Options

Non-perishable food options are convenient and easy to pack for backpacking trips.

  • Nuts, seeds, and trail mix
  • Jerky and beef sticks
  • Energy bars and gels
  • Dried fruits and veggies
  • Instant oatmeal and pasta

With these nutritional considerations and non-perishable food options, you can plan successful backpacking meals that keep you fueled and energized during your adventure.


Menu Planning For Backpacking Meals

Research Food Regulations In The Area You’Ll Be Backpacking

Before you start planning your backpacking menu, it is essential to research food regulations in the area where you’ll be hiking.

  • Some national parks and wilderness areas have specific restrictions on what foods you can bring in to prevent attracting wildlife.
  • Certain regions may prohibit certain types of food or packaged items to reduce litter.
  • Seasonal climate changes might impact the availability of certain foods in the area, and it’s essential to pack accordingly.

Do thorough research on the rules and regulations of the place where you’ll be backpacking. It will help you avoid possible penalties and protect the local environment.

Plan A Daily Menu, Including Snacks

One of the essential elements of successful backpacking is maintaining a balanced diet. Creating a daily menu can help you ensure you are consuming enough food and nutrients throughout your trip.

Here’s how to plan a daily menu:

  • Start by considering the requirements of your body and the distance you’ll travel each day.
  • Consider the types of meals that will provide energy for sustained physical activity.
  • Plan for quick and easy breakfast items like oatmeal, trail mix, or breakfast bars.
  • Pack nutrition-dense snacks like jerky, nuts, and dried fruit to help you stay energized throughout the day.

Consider Portion Sizes And Calorie Count

When you’re backpacking, it’s crucial to keep track of portion sizes and calorie count.

  • Calculate the number of calories you need per day and bring food that meets your daily requirements.
  • Plan meals that are easy and quick to cook, which will help you conserve fuel and reduce weight in your backpack.
  • Use ready-to-eat packaged meals to avoid the hassle of cooking altogether.
  • Bring a variety of foods to prevent meal fatigue, and try swapping dehydrated ingredients with fresh ones to reduce the monotony and add to the nutrients.

Plan For Trail Mix Or Other Quick Snacks While On-The-Go

It’s imperative to carry trail mix or quick snacks while backpacking, so you can munch on them easily while on-the-go.

  • Pack snack items in small zip-lock bags that are easy to store in your backpack without taking much space.
  • Go for snacks that provide instant energy, such as granola bars, jerky, or gummies.
  • Include some sweet or salty treats to keep things interesting.
  • Keep your snack bag handy so that you can grab it and eat while trekking, without losing precious time.

Planning the right menu for your backpacking trip is crucial to ensure you remain healthy and stay energized throughout your journey. Keep the above guidelines in mind while preparing a menu, and remember to pack light, use leftovers in your meals, and keep your taste buds and nutrition requirements in balance.

Preparing Backpacking Meals

Decrease Pack Weight By Removing Excess Packaging

When you plan your backpacking meals, it’s crucial to keep in mind that every gram counts. One way to save weight is to remove excess packaging.

  • Remove bulky cardboard boxes or plastic containers before you pack your food. You can pack food items in smaller ziplock bags (as mentioned below), which take up less space.
  • Choose items that come in lightweight packaging, such as foil packets or pouches.
  • Use your cooking gear as containers. For example, if you are carrying a pot, use it to hold your rice or pasta instead of packing it in a separate bag.

Use Ziplock Bags For Food Storage

Ziplock bags are a lifesaver when it comes to packing food for a backpacking trip. They are lightweight, durable, and versatile.

  • Use them to store individual meals instead of bulky containers. This way, you can easily access one meal without having to unpack everything.
  • Use them to store snacks like nuts, dried fruit, or trail mix.
  • Use them to carry out trash or leftovers. Always make sure to pack out what you pack in, and ziplock bags make it easy.

Practice Cooking With Your Backpack Stove Before Your Trip

Before you hit the trail, it’s important to practice cooking with your backpack stove. This will help you make sure that you know how to properly set it up, light it, and extinguish it. It will also help you to estimate how long it takes to cook a meal.

  • Practice cooking with your backpack stove at home before your trip. This will give you the chance to troubleshoot any problems that you encounter.
  • Read the instructions that come with your stove carefully and follow them closely.
  • Use small pots and pans that fit on your stove to save weight.

Consider Pre-Cutting And Pre-Measuring Ingredients

Preparing backpacking meals can be time-consuming, especially after a long day on the trail. To save time and energy, consider pre-cutting and pre-measuring your ingredients. This will help you to cook more efficiently, and it will also reduce the amount of trash that you generate.

  • Pre-cut your vegetables at home and store them in ziplock bags.
  • Pre-measure your rice or pasta and store it in a ziplock bag.
  • Bring spices or seasonings in small containers to save space and weight.

Recipes For Easy & Quick Nutritious Backpacking Meals

Backpacking is an adventure that gives you the freedom to explore the natural environment while keeping your essentials with you. While planning for a backpacking trip, one of the crucial parts is deciding on what foods to take with you.

You cannot carry all your favorite dishes and kitchen appliances with you on your trip, so it’s important to pack meals that require minimal effort and can last through the journey.

Oatmeal With Dried Fruits And Nuts

Oatmeal is a great breakfast option while backpacking. It’s easy to cook, takes minimal effort, and provides you with the necessary energy to start the day.

  • Rolled oats
  • Dried fruits like apricots, raisins, and cranberries
  • Chopped nuts like almonds, cashews, and walnuts


  • Boil water in a pot.
  • Add the oats to the boiling water and cook it for 5-10 minutes.
  • Once the oats become creamy and slightly thick, add the dried fruits and nuts. Stir well.
  • Remove from heat and let it sit for a few minutes before enjoying.

Instant Soup Mixes With Added Grains

Soup is another great option for a hot meal while backpacking. Instant soup mixes are easy to carry and require minimal effort to prepare. To make it more fulfilling, you can add grains like quinoa, couscous, or rice to the soup.

  • Instant soup mix
  • Grains like quinoa, couscous or rice


  • Boil water in a pot.
  • Add the instant soup mix and stir well.
  • Add the grains of your choice and cook for 10-15 minutes.
  • Remove from heat and let it sit for a few minutes before enjoying.

Dehydrated Meals

Dehydrated meals are pre-packaged dried meals that can be easily rehydrated by adding boiling water. These meals are a great option for backpacking as they are lightweight, easy to prepare, and come in various flavors and options.


  • Boil water in a pot.
  • Add the dehydrated meal to the boiling water.
  • Stir well and let it sit for a few minutes to rehydrate the meal.
  • Enjoy your hot meal!

Trail Mix With Jerky And Dried Fruits

Trail mix is a quick and easy snack to carry while backpacking. It provides you with an energy boost to keep you going.

  • Jerky
  • Dried fruits like apricots, raisins, and cranberries
  • Nuts like almonds, cashews, and walnuts


  • Mix all the ingredients in a plastic bag.
  • Shake well to mix it up.
  • Keep the trail mix in your backpack for quick snacking.

These are just a few backpacking meal options that you can try on your next trip. Be creative and try new combinations to make your trip more enjoyable!


What Are Some Easy Meals To Make While Backpacking?

When backpacking, it’s important to pack lightweight, non-perishable foods. Instant ramen noodles, oatmeal, and trail mix are some easy meals you can make while camping. Don’t forget snacks like energy bars and fruit!

How Do You Pack Food For Backpacking?

To pack food for backpacking, choose lightweight, non-perishable items like freeze-dried meals, dehydrated fruits, and energy bars. Use airtight containers to keep food fresh and prevent pests.

Consider using a bear canister for storing food in bear country.

How Much Food Should I Bring Backpacking?

The amount of food you should bring backpacking depends on the length of your trip and your caloric needs. Plan on 2-3 pounds of food per day per person.

Consider high-calorie, nutrient-dense options like nuts, cheese, and dried fruits to help fuel your adventure.

How Do You Cook Food While Backpacking?

When backpacking, you can cook food using a portable stove, such as a camping stove or backpacking stove. Choose lightweight cookware like titanium or aluminum and pack a fuel canister. Don’t forget a utensil kit that includes a spork and knife.

How Do You Store Food While Backpacking?

When storing food while backpacking, use airtight containers to keep food fresh and prevent pests. Consider using a bear canister if you’re in a bear country.

You can also hang food using a bear bag and rope, making sure it’s at least 10 feet off the ground and 4 feet from the nearest tree trunk.


Planning backpacking meals is an essential part of any successful backpacking trip. It requires time and effort to ensure that the food you pack is healthy, lightweight, and easily portable.

With careful planning and consideration, however, preparing for your backpacking meals can be a fun and rewarding experience that adds to the overall enjoyment of your trip.

From selecting the right foods to cooking techniques and storage options, there are numerous factors to consider when planning your meals. By following the tips and suggestions, you can ensure that you create delicious and nutritious meals that will help you stay energized and focused on your adventure.

So, take the time to carefully plan your backpacking meals, and you’re sure to have a memorable and enjoyable trip.

Chloe Jeffreys


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