Easy Backpacking Meal Ideas With Recipes

Eating well while backpacking can be a challenge. Use these easy recipes to spice up your usual camp menu while on the trail.

If you are planning a backpacking trip you must be careful not to pack too much because everything that you take, you literally must carry around on your back day-in and day-out. This means the amount and types of foods you take with you must be carefully planned out beforehand. Backpackers burn more calories per day than they usually would in their normal lives and, therefore, need to eat many more calories than they typically would. A general guideline to follow is to consume between 3,000 - 4,000 calories per day. With limited resources including mostly dehydrated food and one pot, eating well on the trail can be a challenge. The following recipes are nutritious, light to carry, and easy to make on backpacking trips.


For a change from the typical granola or oatmeal breakfast, try "Sunrise Spuds" - a high energy breakfast that is a staple in many backpacking cookbooks.

What you need to make one serving:

- 1 plastic sandwich bag

- 1 cup dehydrated potato flakes

- 2 tablespoons dry milk powder

- ¼ cup powdered cheese

- 1 teaspoon parsley

- 2 tablespoons of imitation/pre-cooked bacon bits

- 1 teaspoon powdered butter

- salt

- pepper

To prepare before your trip: measure 1 cup of dehydrated potato flakes into a plastic bag. Add in other ingredients.

To make while camping: Boil water. Add hot water to the mixture until desired consistency is achieved.

Lunch or Dinner Options

For a hot lunch or dinner, try the following:

Cranberry or Cherry Couscous

What you need to make one serving:

- 1 plastic sandwich bag

- ½ cup couscous

- slivered almonds

- dried cranberries or cherries

- dried onion flakes

- salt

- pepper

- 1 teaspoon olive oil (optional)

To prepare before your trip: measure couscous and other ingredients (not including olive oil) into plastic bag.

To make while camping: Boil water (add olive oil, if you have it). Add approximately ½ cup of water to the bag mixture. Let sit 5 - 10 minute or until water is absorbed into couscous and dried fruit.

Spinach pasta with tomato sauce

What you need to make one serving:

- 3 plastic sandwich bags

- 1/4 cup tomato powder

- 1/8 cup dried mushrooms

- 1/4 cup mixed dried vegetables

- 1/2 teaspoon Italian seasoning

- 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

- Salt and pepper

- 1/8 cup parmesan Cheese (optional)

- 6 ounces dried spinach pasta noodles (linguini or other)

To prepare before your trip: measure tomato powder, dried mushrooms, dried vegetables, Italian seasoning, garlic powder and salt and pepper into one sandwich bag. Place parmesan cheese into second sandwich bag. Place pasta into a third bag.

To make while camping: Boil a large pot of water. Put the sauce mix (first sandwich bag ingredients) in a separate container and add water until sauce is of the desired consistency; cover and place on top of pot to stay warm. Add more water to the pot and resume boil. Add the pasta to the boiling water and cook until desired firmness. Drain the water. Add the sauce and mix. Top with parmesan cheese and enjoy!

Of course an easy dessert is a great treat after a long day of backpacking. Instant pudding always is a good option out on the trail, but there are other options, too. The following is a favorite you can surprise and treat your backpacking friends with after a long hike.

One Pot Apple Dumpling

What you need:

- 3 plastic sandwich bags

- 1 cup biscuit mix

- 1 cup dried apples

- ½ cup sugar

- ¼ teaspoon salt

- ½ teaspoon cinnamon

- 2 tablespoons of butter (put in plastic bottle or bring along a squeeze bottle of liquid butter)

- 2 ¼ cups water

To prepare before your trip: Measure biscuit mix and put it in one bag. Put 1 cup of dried apples in a second bag. Put sugar, salt cinnamon in a third bag.

To make while camping: Place apples into pot with 2 cups of water. Cover the pot and let the apples soak for at least 1 hour. Then, place the pot on the stove and bring to a boil, lower to simmer while you make the dumpling. Then, make the dumpling by adding ¼ cup water to the biscuit mix and mixing into dough. Next, add the sugar-spice bag contents and butter to the simmering apples. Use a spoon to spread the dumpling dough over the apples. Replace pot cover and simmer for 15 or more minutes, until the dumpling is dry in the middle. Eat and enjoy.

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