There are so many different options for backpacking foods and meal plans – less so if you’re a vegetarian like me, but there are still a bunch of them out there!
I personally enjoy putting a meal plan together when backpacking or camping. It’s a challenge to get as much variation as possible without bringing a ton of stuff. It forces you to really think about what you’re eating. When you don’t have whatever you want available to you whenever you want, you really need to prioritize what foods are necessary based on calories and taste and what are optional items that you can leave at home.
Putting Together a Backpacking Meal Plan
The best advice I can give is to try out different options to figure out what you like and then stick to that brand. Be conscious of not bringing way too much food, but I also suggesting bringing at least 2 extra meals than you think you’ll need just to be safe.
Or if you don’t want to put together a meal plan yourself, check out our review of RightOnTrek, which does customized backpacking meal planning for you!
Since I’ll only recommend something I’ve tried personally, this meal plan will be vegetarian. If you’re not a vegetarian, this list can still be relevant to you! I encourage you to give it a try especially when backpacking since you won’t have access to fresh meat during your trip anyway and the vegetarian options will often be healthier. There are lots of great things on this list you can try (and will hopefully love!), but if not, most of the items I link to also have meat-options available on their websites.
Calculate how many calories you should consume each day here.
For a 3-Day Trip, Pick Three!
Strawberries and Banana Paleo Breakfast
Warm strawberries, bananas, walnuts, almonds, and cacao nibs. Just add water and yum! Get it here.
Bring the whole package or scoop some dehydrated hashbrowns into a bag, then heat up over the fire/stove with some water. Get ’em here
There are quite a few options when it comes to oatmeal. You can scoop the right amount of your favorite brand into a bag and bring it with you, maybe add some powdered peanut butter for extra protein and flavor. For premixed oatmeal, my favorites are:
- Backpacker’s Pantry Granola with Blueberries and “Milk” (Vegan)
- Steel cut oats with flaxseeds
- Mountain home oatmeal with blueberries – this was so good my husband will eat it at home.
Pick your favorite pancake mix and put the batter into a bottle or other container to make it easy to carry. Luckily dry pancake mix is very light! Then the morning of, add water and presto! You have pancakes. They’ll be a little small since you’re cooking them on your mess kit, but it’s a quick yummy breakfast option.
The directions say microwave, but it works just as well by adding hot water to the container. These Kodiak cups come in everything from muffins to flapjacks to oatmeal.
These protein smoothies are pre-packaged tubes that don’t require any refrigeration. Just open and slurp (and feel like a kid again)!
For those who like to do meal-prep and cooking. It’s really only good for your first breakfast since it won’t last long without being refrigerated, but it’s super yummy and filling and nice to have a non-bar or dehydrated food meal for day 1! Get the recipe here.
Not my favorite since I generally snack on a variety of bars throughout the day, but they’re quick and easy and don’t require additional water for rehydration. My favorites are:
Backpacking Lunches & Snacks
Pick and choose and nibble on along the trail or whenever you get hungry. For a 3-day trip choose at least 10 options.
Jam packed with all sorts of protein and nutrients. Not exactly the most satisfying, but will keep you moving.
Almonds or Trail Mix
Make it at home to include your favorite stuff or grab something pre-packaged. Great way to keep your sodium up!
Sweet Energy Pick-me-ups
Peanut/Almond/Sesame Butter Packets
Super tasty and creamy.
Yes! Vegan jerky! A tasty health and environmental conscious alternative to beef jerky.
Just Veggies Mix
Get your daily serving of veggies! Can be eaten plain or added in with some trail mix or to soup or noodles for dinner. Get them here.
Crisps, Chips & Dried Fruit
- Real apples, bananas and coconuts that have been baked until crispy. Bare fruit crisps
- Low fat, high fiber (which can be hard to get on the trail) and relatively high in protein (at least for a vegetable – mushrooms rank the highest among vegetables for protein content) Shiitake Mushroom Crisps
- Biena chickpea snacks
- Tasty and juicy Dried Turkish Apricots
- Chocolate quinoa crips
- Cheese Its, Goldfish, Ritz bites
Tuno is a plant-based “tuna” that’s great for many different things. You can eat it straight out of the can for lunch, or use add it to some pasta for a dinner.
For a 3-Day Trip, Pick Three!
Good To Go Meals
Love them because they offer Vegetarian, Vegan, and Pescatarian meal options! Some of my favorites:
- Mushroom Risotto
- Mexican Quinoa Bowl
- Marinara with Penne
- Smoked Three Bean Chili
- Indian Vegetable Korma
Lots of different vegetarian options that are super tasty. These tend to be a bit more traditional/ comfort food meals which are awesome for when you’ve been hiking for several days straight.
- Mac & Cheese
- Veggie Parmesan
- Pad Thai
- Cuban Coconut Rice & Beans
- Bac’n Cheddar Mashed Potatoes
- Chana Masala (Vegan)
- Three Amigas Stew (Vegan)
- Kathmandu Curry (Vegan)
Mountain House Meals
Popular among meat-eaters, but not too many veggie options unfortunately. The other negative is that their meals are generally high in carbs and low in protein when compared to other vegetarian backpacking meals, but there are some tasty options such as:
Wide variety of different types of foods- everything from smoothies to dinners to snacks & dips! Favorite dinner options:
- Quinoa Pilaf with Hemp Seeds
- Enchilada Ranchero
- Santa Fe Black Beans and Rice (Vegan)
- Himalayan Lentils
Pasta or Ramen
Who says you can’t have ice cream while camping? This freeze dried Ice Cream Sandwich tastes surprisingly like ice cream.
Dark Chocolate Cheesecake
New York Style Cheesecake Bites that are crumbly and taste like real cheese cake!
Oh so good, and won’t melt in your pack if you’re hiking somewhere warm! No refined sugars and no grains. So good you can eat them at home too!
Chocolate & Banana Monkey Mix
Monkey Mix could be a great snack or lunch item too if you’re looking for something sweet.
Mango Sticky Rice
A refreshing dessert that could be a great snack or lunch item too if you’re looking for something sweet.
It might not end up having the perfectly soft insides and slightly crisp top layer, but it certainly tastes like it! Get it here!
Instant Teas & Lemonades
Unfortunately often very high in sugar and artificial ingredients, but I personally get bored of drinking plain ol’ water. Also, if you’re looking for some libations while on the trail, you can mix this in with Vodka or other alcohol to create a mixed drink.
The possibilities are just about endless when it comes to trail food. Pretty much anything that’s “instant” or that you can just add water too will do the trick!