22 Backpacking Food Ideas

Backpacker Woman Cooking

There is much to be said about the gear that you choose to pack along for your backpacking journey, but food is equally important. Backpacking is a strenuous activity that can take a lot out of you during the day, regardless of the shape you’re in.

Because of this, it’s crucial that you pack easy-to-make food items that are as high in calories, filling, and light as possible. This helps you replenish the energy you need to get through that day and next. Here are 22 easy food ideas to consider for your next excursion.

Man Cooking on Campfire

Staples

These items are everyday foods that you can use in combination with other food choices, or as a simple snack while you’re still on the go.

  • Peanut Butter - This is perhaps the backpacker’s go-to food choice. High in calories, fat, and protein, and goes with everything. Combine it with other food, or eat it right out of the jar. The extra weight carried is worth it.
  • Olive Oil - This may seem a little extravagant, but olive oil has several uses, one of which is being high in fat and calories, which you need on the trail. Olive oil can be used to add flavor to many foods, and help moisten up rice and noodles.
  • Dried Fruit - Incredibly light, high in calories and sugar, easy to mix with, easy to eat on the go.
Various Dried Fruit on Pile
  • Nuts - Endless choices here. High in fat, calories, and energy, while also highly convenient.
  • Granola Bars - Another obvious staple, granola bars are nutritious, filling, and easy to eat.
  • Salt/Pepper - Why not? Salt and pepper don’t weigh much, and they can help liven up many of your dishes.
  • Spices - See above. Any of your choice.
  • Multi-Vitamins - While you may be consuming high calories foods for energy, many of them are lacking in essential vitamins and minerals. Bring a good multi-vitamin along to help fill the gap.

Breakfast Food Ideas

You probably won’t be in the mood to make some elaborate meal in the morning, so here are some easy, filling options that are also versatile.

Instant Oatmeal on Table
  • Instant Oatmeal - Just add water and you’re good to go. Mix and match flavors, add dried fruits and nuts, whatever works.
  • Instant Grits - Another just add water meal that’s just as filling.
  • Powdered Drink Mixes - Meal replacement powdered beverage mixes often contain a high amount of calories and vitamins, making this an easy choice if you are in a hurry.

Lunch Food Ideas

Lunch is another simple mealtime when backpacking, as it’s almost always midway through your day, which means you aren’t setting up camp. Keeping things simple is a good idea, saving you time and hassle.

  • Packaged/Dry Meats - Beef jerky, tuna pouches, hard salami, there are plenty of choices here. These meat choices give you something filling to eat with good flavor, and many of them can be used later at dinner with other foods for a more complete meal.
Different Hard Cheeses on Table
  • Hard Cheeses - If you're traveling in more mild conditions, hard cheeses are a great idea. They can keep throughout your journey, are high in calories and fat, and are easy additions to other meals. A can of spray cheese can be a quick and convenient meal addition if you don’t mind carrying it.
  • Tortillas - Tortillas make a great substitute for breads or bagels. They are light, keep well, and pack well. Fill them with peanut butter and dark chocolate for breakfast, or cheese at lunch.
  • Crackers - Great for snacks, and with other meals, whether you are eating them with tuna and cheese, or by themselves.

Dinner Food Ideas

Dinner is usually made after you’ve settles in for the day and made your camp, so you have a little extra time to prepare your food and relax, while getting a little more creative as well.

Opening Instant Rice
  • Instant Rice - You’ve got lots of options here. There are plenty of instant rice brands available, but there are also a ton of pre-made rice pouches out there as well. Many of them come in different flavors, so you can mix things up each night.
  • Instant Noodles - Another great just add water option. There are endless choices for instant noodles, so you can bring along any of your favorites in any genre. Easy to add other foods to as well.
  • Instant Potatoes - Instant potatoes are very filling, lightweight, and easy to mix it up with.
  • Soup Pouches - We’ve intentionally named pouches instead of cans, because cans weigh a lot more. Soup is one of the heavier items you can bring along, but if you are out for just a few days, the weight can be more than worth it. They are very filling, have lots of variety, and easy to heat up, which is optional as well.

Beverages

As much as you need water on your trip, it can get a little old at times. Fortunately, there are lots of easy options to bring along fro any time of the day..

Pouring Instant Coffee in Cup
  • Instant Coffee - Morning coffee is one of the better ways to kick off your morning during a trip. It gives you a little piece of home, and also gets you going.

Instant coffee has come a long way over the years, and there are tons of options from major brands that can cram an entire mug’s worth of quality, powdered coffee into a two-inch pouch. The pouches are also incredibly light, so you won’t even know you’re carrying them.

  • Tea Bags - Unwinding with a mug of chamomile tea at the end of a long day in the backcountry can be one the bigger luxuries when backpacking. Like powdered coffee, tea bags hardly weigh anything.

There are many tea flavors that can be used instead of coffee for your morning energy as well, such as black and green teas.

Pouring Kool Aid in Cup
  • Powdered Flavor Pouches - We aren’t talking Kool-Aide here. You can find several of your favorite drink flavors in handy instant-dissolve pouches, including many energy and sports drinks.

If you want something even easier, there are ultra-concentrated liquid beverage flavor concentrates that can turn your water into a whole different beverage with just a few small squirts.

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