Healthy, easy and cheap backpacking food recipes

backpacking food recipes

You finally found a friend or two to tag along with you on your dream adventure: backpacking through the beautiful landscape of your choice (your friends don’t care where, they just want to hang out with you, right?)

That’s great!

Now you just have to figure out the most important part of your trip:

What are you going to eat?

Pro tip: Find a sturdy aluminum pot to boil water for just-add-water meals.

Simple Backpacking Food Recipes

Camper’s Charcuterie

You can find really good options at any supermarket.

This is just a fancy way to say cheese, summer sausage and crackers. This combination of foods has been around since as long as anyone can remember. These three products are delicious when they stand alone, but when you throw them together in one little bite-sized sandwich, it takes you to a whole new flavor realm.

Ingredients:

  • Your favorite cracker (Ritz, Keebler Club),
  • any type of hard cheese (sharp cheddar, pepper jack)
  • summer sausage or salami, if you like.

Honey Coconut Granola Crunch

They look yummy don’t they?

Granola is a simple, nutritious and flavorful snack to have. Much like trail mix, it is a symphony of different healthy ingredients that combine in perfect harmony. Unlike trail mix, granola is more of an oat-based snack which needs to be lightly toasted, whereas trail mix is more of a free-for-all, no cooking, no nonsense type of mix.

Ingredients:

  • Uncooked oats,
  • almond slivers,
  • coconut powder
  • sunflower seeds (without shell),
  • honey,
  • butter,
  • cinnamon,
  • ground cloves,
  • vanilla extract,
  • pinch of salt.

Preparation:

Mix everything together in a bowl and lightly toast in 350-degree oven until golden. While hot, place coconut powder over entire pan.

Trail Mix

Don’t be afraid to sneak couple of treats inside the mix.

Trail mix is a beautiful thing. It’s literally a food made for people doing this exact activity. It’s full of nutrients that your body needs and you can easily shovel it into your mouth while you’re on the go.

Ingredients:

Trail mix is really user’s choice. Mix and match any of the following ingredients: almonds, walnuts, pecans, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, raisins, dried cranberries, dried bananas, dried apples, pretzels, M&M’s, chocolate chips.

Ideas for Beginners

First time backpacking?

It’s important to plan your meals/snacks before you head out. Over-packing your bag will cause it to be too heavy and will make your trip a lot more difficult.

As you’re hiking along, you are going to be burning an insane number of calories so it is important to bring calorie-rich foods with you. If you do have your mind set on bringing heavy ingredients to make your favorite campfire meal, you can eat it on the first night of your trek.

That way, you get those heavy items out of your pack to lose that weight as soon as possible so you don’t turn into a hunchback and ruin your trip.

Let’s look at some easy to prepare meals.

Ultralight Options

When looking for lightweight foods to bring along, dehydrated is the way to go. Dehydrated food is a great way to get necessary nutrients while you’re out soul searching on the ol’ dusty trail. 

Dehydrated Meals

Enjoying a zucchini mushroom risotto on the top of a mountain peak isn’t bad at all.

Dehydrated meals are the ultimate convenience for any backpacker. There is such a wide variety available. You can find anything from minestrone soup to Thai curry. A couple of good brands available now are Good To-Go and Mountain House. Just add boiling water and you’ll be feeling like you’re under dressed at a mildly fancy family restaurant in no time.

Beef Jerky (or any jerky, really)

Beef jerky in a cup

Jerky is a delicious and sometimes frustrating food. You have to fight with it a little to get the right sized chew-able piece off, but in the end, it’s a great energy source and it has a long shelf life. There are many types of jerky. Everything from beef to turkey to vegan! A little something for everyone.

Pro Tip: You can use a meat dehydrator if you’re going camping often and combine any type of meat. Good idea is to get a general food dryer, so you can use it for fruits and vegetables as well.

Cheap Options

One of backpacking’s biggest perks is that it is a fun, cheap way to see beautiful scenery up close and personal. As you plan your meals and snacks, think of these great, cheap options.

Instant Oatmeal (or old-fashioned oatmeal, if you’re feeling adventurous)

Creative way of cooking an instant oatmeal.

Oatmeal is one of those foods that just sticks to your ribs. It’s also very versatile as far as preparation goes. You can choose to eat it plain, although why would you when you can add so many fun things to it to give it life? Another upside is that it’s virtually weightless until you add water to it.

Ingredients: Instant or old-fashioned oatmeal, boiling water. 

Optional (but recommended) ingredients: Dehydrated bananas, dehydrated apples, raisins, brown sugar, chocolate chips, cinnamon.

Peanuts/Peanut Butter

Combine peanut butter with any type of fruit (not only banana).

If you buy in bulk, peanuts are very cheap. They are full of protein and let’s be honest, they’re the best nuts, better said, legume, for snacking (unless you’re allergic, then you should probably skip this option.) Peanut butter is also a great way to get energy on-the-go. Eat a spoonful to top off your body’s fuel tank.

Healthy Options

One of the most important things you can do while planning your meals and snacks is to look for healthy options. We all know that eating M&M’s and beef jerky every day is easier (and delicious), but eating an unbalanced or unhealthy diet while you are hiking around can cause you to feel less up to the task; a little bit sluggish and lazy. 

If you are following a strict regime, here are a few diet friendly options to help you get started:

Vegan – Fruit Leather

Gluten Free – Roasted Chickpeas

Paleo – Powdered Eggs (just add water)

Keto – Sardines (defamed by the media, actually great on a cracker)

Storage/Bag 

There are many products on the market to help campers, backpackers and hikers save space in their bags and store things without hassle. Some examples are:

  • Ziploc Bags.
  • Insulated Mugs (for hot soup or coffee on-the-go)
  • Collapsible Cups.
  • Collapsible Tea Kettle.
  • Silverware combination tools (fork on one end, spoon on the other.)
  • Utility tools.

There are three main types of backpacks to look into while choosing the perfect one for you. 

  • Frameless Very light and flexible. Good for light cargo.
  • Internal Frame– Stiffer, light/mid-weight. Light to heavy cargo
  • External Frame– Stiffest, heavy. Heavy duty for large loads.

Different routes/programs

After you’ve decided what kind of food you’re going to bring, you can decide which landscape will be the canvas of your adventure. There are so many amazing options to choose from, no matter what country or continent you may be in.

Whether you want to hike through the Grand Canyon on the Royal Arch Loop, attempt the Fitz Roy Trek on the Argentine side of Patagonia or even go check out Dracula’s Castle on the Transylvanian Mountain Trail.

There is a backpacking trail out there for everyone.

With every trail you have different weather conditions and challenges you’ll face, so having a meal plan is crucial.

Share your tips and snack ideas with us in our comment section.

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