How to Plan a Menu for a Backpacking Trip

I love hiking. And as long as I can remember myself, I always wanted to discover new trails in every country I visit. Whether it is a short trip or multi-day hike, backpacking through the new city or even hanging out in a hostel, there is no way you can skip food intake. Here is a post revealing how to plan a menu for a backpacking trip.

Any backpacking trip is obviously a strenuous activity. Therefore, food taken on such a trip should provide adequate nutrition. At the same time, the preparation should be simple and less time-consuming. What is even more important, you must feel comfortable while carrying the backpack with food during the entire trip.


meal planning while hiking


While there is a list of food items that avid hikers usually take with them, it is crucial to pay attention to your energy requirements; backpacking meals should contain more energy than ordinary meals and may include dehydrated eggs, dried fruits, and instant noodles. In this post, I have put together some tips on how to make up an appropriate meal plan before you set off on an outdoor adventure.


Stick To a High-Value Nutrition

If you are planning to take a long-term backpacking trip, bringing food items that offer a high nutritional value is very important. Intake of nutrient-rich food becomes a necessity since you burn a lot of calories in vigorous physical activities such as walking, trekking, climbing and other adventurous activities. The food is the fuel to drive you forward and ensure that you stay healthy and fit.


Ready-To-Eat Meals

Backpacking can be an exhausting activity that takes a lot of energy too. This leaves one with no time to handle the stress of elaborate meal preparation. Backpacking meals and food preparation shouldn’t take much time because after a long day of activities I, personally, prefer soaking in the scenic beauty of the places I explore to various cooking activities. This is precisely why it is a good idea to pack ready-to-eat foods that require minimal preparation.


Things to Keep in Mind While Packing Food

It is quite easy to over or underestimate the quantity of food that you need to be carrying along with you during backcountry hiking. If you pack way too much than you require, you will end up adding an extra burden to carry all along. Packing too little will consume a considerable time of your backpacking trip rationing. It is wise to figure out the number of calories you require based on the activities that you are planning to indulge in.


hiking the US trails


Calculate your basal metabolic rate while planning meals. Since I can’t make up a meal plan that works for everyone, I still can name figures that cover needs of an average male on a day-trip. For a one-day trip, pack food offering at least 2500 calories per day (2000 for female). If you are on an intense backpacking trip, then feel free to pack meals that provide you with a minimum of 3000 calories per day. If you are on a long-term backpacking trip, then make sure to add more calorie in food items because you might have last minute changes on your adventure rolls. This will help to cope up with the loss of fat reserves in your body.


Backpacking Breakfast

Although you may be in a hurry to kick-start the hiking adventure soon after you wake up, you need to ensure that you have a fueling meal right in the morning. Make sure to have a high-calorie breakfast before you leave. This will keep you full until lunchtime. You can carry instant espresso, instant milk, instant oatmeal, powdered cheese, protein shake. Or anything else that will boost your energy before you hit the road. Repackage your meals into individual pouches. This will eliminate the fuss associated with unpacking the zip-locs later on. Try to get the meals planned for the next day and have everything ready in advance.



A stitch in time saves nine. Food should be right here when hunger calls. Hence, there is no point in delaying lunch until the regular mealtime or when you can find a good location to take a break. Mealtime rules no longer apply while you are backpacking. This is to ensure that your energy levels do not drop leading to exhaustion. Pack healthy snacks and bring adequate calorie-rich foods. Body fat burns faster during physical exercises. Your body will transform itself into a fat burning machine after a couple of weeks of hiking. This implies that you cannot survive without consuming calorie-rich foods. Take advantage of eating granola and energy bars.

Get a reserve of dried sausages, peanut butter, pita chips, wheat crackers, dried fruits, candies, avocado, cookies, chocolates and anything else that works best for you. I love dry food since it adds to the convenience while on a trip. Ready-to-eat noodles, instant rice, sauces, soups, tuna, instant potatoes, and a lot more can be considered in addition to your favorite edibles.


How to Plan a Menu for a Backpacking Trip



During a backpacking trip, you need to be sure that you can get extra energy for covering hiking trails. You should carry tasty and nutritious food that would motivate you to face the hiking challenges on the next day. You can purchase pre-packaged meals from a grocery store such as pasta, mac, and cheese. Or anything else that is filling and can satisfy your hunger in almost an instant. Try carrying homemade meals if you have proper food storage containers. Bringing food in vacuum-sealed pouches is a good idea to maintain the freshness. It will keep your meals last for a longer time during the backpacking escapade.


Create a Meal Plan

Undoubtedly, water and food requirements of your body are higher while hiking than on any other day. Pay extra attention to fluids when setting off on a trip to hot and humid climates. Take into account the duration of your trip, foods, beverages and the essential cooking gear. For multi-day hikes and backpacking trips, packing food can prove to be a challenging task. It would be useful to bring foods like canned fish, dehydrated foods, cereals, and marshmallows for trips of long duration. You can try powdered beverages too. In addition, it is essential to ensure the safety of food that you have packed for your adventure.

Since backpacking and hiking are essentially fun trips, make sure that you bring food items that not only provide you with the required energy but satisfy your taste buds as well.


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