5 Amazing Backpacking Meals

Before I started backpacking, I perceived the very act as self-sacrifice of all creature comforts. Setting the record straight: that’s not true! Backpacking is about connecting with nature and self-reliance. No one says it has to be uncomfortable. It took a little research, a dash of creativity, and a firm stance of “I don’t want to eat Cliff Bars for a week” to get to Top Chef of the Wilderness status.

Fast forward to present day, we love making our favorite foods while backpacking. Say it with me: you don’t have to subject yourself to dehydrated blandness every signal night. You’ll notice these are admittedly carb-heavy. So for each, we’ll add a protein, which is important when food is fuel. Try out these super-easy and extremely delicious recipes for yourself. Bonus points if you’re gluten free (hello, twin!) Regardless, these are delightful after a long day of wilderness trekking, dietary restriction or not.

Bibimbap

  • What to Pack: Rice noodles. Spice blend. Hot sauce. Egg
  • Prepare at Home: In a small container, mix nutritional yeast, sea salt, dried parsley, onion & garlic powder. This is your spice blend. Put your favorite hot sauce in a little squirt bottle. To transport eggs, I use a 6-Egg Holder.
  • What to Do in the Wild: Boil some water and add noodles. Cook until tender and strain. Add spice blend. Fry up an egg to sunny-side-up and add to the top. Sprinkle with hot sauce.

Mac & Cheese

  • What to pack: Amy’s Mac and Cheese (all content transferred from box to plastic bag). Individual packets of butter. Dehydrated vegetables.
  • What to Do in the Wild: Prepare noodles with boiling water. We love Amy’s because it doesn’t require milk. When your noodles are done, just add the dehydrated cheese packet and a pat of butter. To make this a more substantial meal, add vegetables.

Burritos

  • What to Pack: Tortillas. Dehydrated refried beans. Baby Bell cheese. Taco Bell sauce packets.
  • Prepare at Home: Put the tortillas in a large Zip Lock. I had a failed attempt at taking Mission Gluten Free Soft Shells. After a few days in the backpack, they all melted together—it was not good. So if you’re living the GF life, pack a wrap/tortilla that is hearty (usually a brand that has more seeds holds up well.) Baby Bells are amazing because they are self-contained in wax and very stable in your backpack.
  • What to Do in the Wild: Prepare your beans with boiling water. Add spice blend to beans for flavor. Layer tortilla, beans, Baby Bell cheese. Top with Taco Bell sauce.
Note: This is the only photo in this story that’s from a car camping (not backpacking) trip. If this were from the latter, there would be no paper plate!

Pancakes

  • What to pack: Birch Benders Pancake Mix (just add water!) Small container of olive oil. Individual packet of peanut butter.
  • What to Do in the Wild: This pancake mix is amazing because it doesn’t require dairy or egg. Add oil to ultra-light pan and pour pancake mix. When those are cooked, top with peanut butter. If it’s berry season, you can harvest a few while you’re hiking. Back at camp, mix a sugar packet with the berries over heat and you’ve got some homemade jam for your flapjacks!

Loaded Grits

  • What to pack: General Mills Grits packets. Pepperoni. Baby Bell cheese. Hot sauce. Egg.
  • What to Do in the Wild: Boil water and add grits packet. On the skillet, grill pepperoni until it’s crispy. Rip up the Baby Bell cheese. Throw all that on the cooked grits. Top with hot sauce. Fry an egg in the pepperoni oil. Literally THE BEST way to start the day.
Making burritos in nature—nothing better!

Real talk. Like I mentioned, protein is so important. We go easy on the meat for personal reasons, but if I feel like I need a protein power-up, I’ll reach for the tuna packet. Besides that, here are our favorite sources of protein that pack super well and are stable in the backpack: pepperoni, peanut butter (individual packets), precooked-bacon, Baby Bell cheese, protein bars, and nuts.

Packing List

How do we pack to achieve culinary bliss? We organize ingredients by categories: cold, breakfast, dinner, flavor, and bar. Here’s a look at our food packing for our most recent trip:

  • Left top: Breakfast bag contains grits, oatmeal, dehydrated hash browns
  • Middle top: Cold bag contains eggs, cheese, pre-cooked bacon, pepperoni
  • Right top: Bar bag contains Kind, Cliff, and protein bars
  • Left bottom: Flavor bag contains premixed spaces, hot sauce, peanut butter, and oil
  • Middle bottom: Coffee and tortillas
  • Right bottom: Dinner bag contains Ramen, rice Noodles, dehdryated potatoes/veg/beans and tuna
The joy of having a picnic table at a campsite! John finishing up breakfast at Isle Royale National Park.

What do you love to eat when you’re sitting by the campfire? Tell me your favorite foods to eat while backpacking.

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1 thought on “5 Amazing Backpacking Meals”

  1. Yes! Those egg holders are such an awesome option to have. We used one on our honeymoon road trip too. We only lost 2 eggs to cracks but we also weren’t the most careful with our cooler. The Bibimbap bowls are now on my to-try list!

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