Best Food for Backpacking: Tasty and Easy to Make

When you are walking miles and carrying everything you need to live on your back, you are going to want food. You’re going to want food that is easy to pack and light so you don’t have to carry as much weight. I am going to let y’all know the best food for backpacking, or at least what has worked for me.

Qualifications for your food

  • Should go without saying but don’t bring food that will spoil (anything refrigerated)
  • You want your food to be light! Which means high calorie- anything grain, rice, grits
  • You will want protein along the way- beef jerky, peanut butter, summer sausage
  • You don’t want to bring foods that can get crushed- bread, eggs, pretty self-explanatory
  • Something you can actually prepare!

Preparing food

There isn’t much cooking equipment provided by the wilderness. So you will have to bring you own. For backpacking I bring a stove set. I will have another article talking about the best stoves to bring, but for the purpose of this article we can assume I am using a pocket rocket cooking stove.

Freeze Dried Meals

Freeze dried meals are very easy to make and taste pretty good if you follow the instructions correctly. To prepare them you just have to boil water and pout it into the food’s container. Because of the ease and the illusion of a real meal I usually have one a day when I’m backpacking. I will have an article in the future talking about Freeze Dried Meals as well!

High Energy Food

When you are walking in the woods for miles, you get tired. Especially if you are going on trips that are multiple days, you are going to need some fuel to keep you going! Obviously there TONS of food that fall into this category so I’m just going to say what I usually do and that can give you some ideas for what you would like to bring.

  • Breakfast: It is very important to eat a calorie rich meal for breakfast. What you eat at breakfast will give you energy for the day! However, you don’t want breakfast to take to long to make either because you’ve got to get going. So here is what my breakfast typically includes:
    • Grits/ oatmeal/ Dry cereal
    • Protein- peanut butter, jerky, summer sausage (my favorite)
    • Fruit- Dried fruit is great and easy to pack, oranges and bananas are great as long as you are careful packing them
    • Freeze Dried Breakfast meal (great once or twice, but don’t repeat in the same trip because they do not taste good the second time around!)
    • Instant coffee- I drink coffee in my normal life and if you do too, don’t worry you can on the trail too!
  • Lunch: Lunch is a meal where I could take a whole two hours and have a leisurely time or I could just pop down and snack. There’s nothing better than finding a spot with a good view and just taking a couple hours to charge up and enjoy yourself. So lunch is always a pretty variable meal for me. I will make two separate list based on the type of lunch.
    • Leisurely Lunch: I always try to take one day on the trip to just sit down and enjoy myself for lunch. I like to take in the view and enjoy nature and appreciate what I have been doing on the trip.
      • Fuel-
        • mac and cheese- light, easy to make, and very delicious in the woods
        • ramen- light, easy to make, and very tasty
        • freeze-dried meal
      • Protein-
        • The list for breakfast also applies here
        • Beans- you don’t really want to carry to many cans because they are heavy but one or two is alright and give you some variety
        • Soup or chowder- again you don’t want to carry many cans but it’s nice to change it up. Also, there are so many varieties you can bring what you like best.
      • Something sweet-
        • Fruit is perfect- dried fruit, sturdy fresh fruit (I love apples with lunch)
        • trail mix- I make my own. I love to make my own because it’s fun and cheaper
        • Cookies- I usually bring a couple of cookies to munch on just be careful packing them or you can just eat them smooshed like I have several times!
    • Fast/ Snack Lunch: Quick lunches also have their place when you’re hiking. If you’re on a roll or you are constrained for time it can be necessary to just have a quick lunch and get back to walking. For this list I usually eat a combination of the things on the list.
      • Trail Mix!- trail mix gives you a quick pick-me-up and is filling enough to get you to dinner.
      • Fruit- Sometimes an apple and banana is all you need. If I am just eating fruit I will also eat some peanut butter for some protein
      • Power bars/ energy bars- I always but some granola bars and some energy bars for some quick energy on the trail.
  • Dinner: After a long day of walking you are very tired. I always eat a big meal for dinner to replace everything I lost during the day. Dinner is also a meal that you can sit down and enjoy knowing that you had a productive and enjoyable day! Dinner is the meal you have the most time to prepare and enjoy, and I always take advantage of dinner to enjoy myself. There will be a lot of repeats from other meals. It’s good to bring things you can eat for several meals at different times to save effort. Anyway here is the list of options to help you prepare you own dinner:
    • Soups/ Chowders
    • Protein
    • Rice
    • Mac and Cheese/ Ramen
    • Fruit
    • Freeze Dried Meals
    • Fresh Veggies to cook- I bring some fresh veggies to cook on a pan over the fire or stove. This is nice to do so you eat some really good food. It is also best to do this within the first couple of days so you do not ruin your food. The veggies I bring are: onion, bell peppers, potato, spinach, carrot. This is not a complete list of things you can bring! have fun with it. Also, these go very well with rice and ramen!

Emergency food!

It is always important to bring some emergency food to prepare for worst case scenario. I alwasy bring emergency ration bars with me. They cost like $5 and they are HIGH calorie so you can survive for an extended amount of time off of them alone. I always bring two which is enough for around 6 unplanned days off of the two bars alone.

Have Fun With Your Food

This is a list of what I like to bring on my trips. You should look at this list as a list of ideas to help you decide what you would like to bring! I love to eat and cook so I always have fun with my meals and enjoy the process of planning and preparing then eating! When you are on a backpacking trip it is easy for eating to feel like something you have to do. I say relax and enjoy you are on the trip to have a good time!

If you have something you enjoy to eat on backpacking trips comment and let me know so I can update my page! If you have anything at all you would like to see in the future or let me know comment below!

6 thoughts on “Best Food for Backpacking: Tasty and Easy to Make”

  1. Hi great article and very informative. I love travelling and love trekking.
    Your article talks about all the meals in a day, would you suggest a suitable backpack that can carry everything?

  2. Great article! You know I’ve camped and hiked most of my life, and you make suggestions I never really considered, like rice and Ramen. Great suggestion! I really appreciate your 2-hour lunch. Perfect!

    Thanks for sharing!

  3. You’ve made me hungry. I didn’t realize there were so many food options available to backpackers. How do you prepare your veggies the first couple of days? Do you boil them or sautee them?

  4. Hey Wilson,

    I tend to hike 3 – 4 times a year while I’m out in LA. They have some great trails there which will see you out and moving for a fair few hours. Trail mix and raisins are a favourite of mine.

    Any thoughts on reasonably lightweight (ones I can carry on my back) cooking apparatus, as it would be cool to take the kids with me next time and cook them a meal at the end; before heading back.


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