Backpacking Food: Meal Planning Tips


When it comes to eating on a trip outdoors, you need a sufficient amount of nutrients in your food in order to stay healthy but also want it to be tasty and light to carry. So how do you do this? In this article, we will share with you, our meal planning tips.


How Much Food Should You Pack?

When deciding the quantity of food to pack, always consider carrying an extra meal and/or snack as you never know if you will need it. As a matter of fact, it is one of the top ten essentials to pack extra food for an overnight trip. As a rule of thumb, you need 1.5 to 2.5 lbs of food (or 2,500 to 4,500 calories) for an individual on a daily basis. This estimation is of course influenced by size, weight and your level of exertion as well.

Moreover, do not over pack as most often people make the mistake of packing way too much which makes your luggage heavier. The exact amount of food you need to pack will be something you learn through experience.


Meal Planning Considerations

Taste: Go for food that you consider tasty. Now is not the time to be experimenting with your taste buds.

Calories: Do not even consider any diet program when you are in the backcountry. You will want food with good amount of calories and water to fight off fatigue and dehydration.

Nutrition: nothing is wrong with snacking on the occasional candy bar during your trip but your body needs more essentials like proteins and carbohydrates. Hence it is important to choose the right snacks like nuts and dried fruits which provide the nutrient your body needs.

Weight and bulk: Trust me, you will want your backpack to be as light as possible so stick with portable and lightweight food. Consider taking the food out of its original packaging and packing it with plastic bags that make it portable and safe to handle. Don’t forget to put the necessary labels on the bags and also preparation instructions in case you mix it up and forget!

Ease of preparation: Use a cooking method that is easy unless you are an experienced chef. Always carry food that does not need cooking in case an emergency situation arises.

Availability of water: Water is extremely important. So make you have a reliable source or carry what you need.

Fuel: Different items require different amount of fuel for cooking. Be sure to know how much fuel you need to keep the fire going.

Cost: Buying portable food that can provide you with the needed energy can be expensive. But sometimes after a long hike, this convenience can be worth it.


Meal Options

Fresh foods: Fresh food doesn’t last for long so are only suitable to be eaten at the start or on short trips as they need to be consumed within a day or two.

Dry foods: Foods that fall into this category tends to be light weight such as pasta, noodles, instant rice, soup mixes, drink mixes. However, it is advisable you carry only what you need instead of the whole pack.

Freeze-dried/dehydrated foods: Best type of food for on the road. They are easy to carry and provides your body with the right nutrient.

Canned foods: Canned food is heavy so only bring it if your journey is a short one and only bring it as a bonus (or if you can’t live without it). If you must bring it, go for tuna or canned meat as they go well with carbs. Avoid the heavy traditional cans/bottles.

Spices: There are some spices that you should carry along to give your food the extra boost in taste such as pepper, garlic powder or salt, basil, cayenne pepper, lemon pepper, cumin, crushed red pepper, cinnamon (whatever you want!)

Flavored Beverages: Helps when you are sick of drinking water. So include a few different powdered drink mix to your backpack.

For winter camping: Make sure you carry extra meals because you will need it. Also during this period, it is important that you carry your next meal items close to you or they might be frozen when you try to eat them.

Recommended: PackFreshUSA Silver & Clear Stand Up Pouches

Backpacking Meal Ideas


Breakfast ranges from easy to cook and instant meals such as an energy bar to delicious hearty meals such as a full English breakfast with pancakes etc.

Breakfast is important so if you really need that extra boost to the day, please go for it.

Popular choices: Pancakes, dried fruits, juice, cereals, dry cereal, fresh fruit, dehydrated eggs, instant tea, breakfast bars, powdered milk, coffee, granola.


Midday meals are usually just quick bites since you are probably still traveling to your destination. So just find something you can easily take out and munch on and will provide you the energy you need to keep you going.

Popular choices: There some snack that works best in such situations like Jerky, dried fruit, fig bars, bagels (best for shorter trips), energy bars and nuts.


After a long day of hard work, this is the meal that you deserve so feel free to go all out. However, if you really think you will be too tired and not bothered then, of course, go for the easy instant dishes that you can easily make with some boiling water such as pasta.

Popular choices: Some preferred meals includes; Packaged meals, pasta, instant rice, ramen noodles, instant soups and sauces, instant stuffing, instant potatoes, and tuna. Don’t forget to carry with you some cooking spices.

Recommended: Gamiet Camping Cookware


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