by Diane Spicer
Why make planning the best backpacking meals hard, when it can be as easy as learning your backpacking food ABCs!
Yup, plan your hiking menus with the alphabet in mind.
Enter a fun little method that brings us back to kindergarten and shows some secrets to great backpacking menus.
Backpackers all agree that taste and speedy preparation are important in the best backpacking food.
So is cost. Cheap backpacking food is highly sought out and you'll find stashes of top ramen and candy bars in a typical backpacker's food bag.
But what about the best hiking nutrition tips, to keep your stamina high and your muscle recovery time low, arranged according to the alphabet?
And who wants to be bored eating the same old thing day after day?
There are plenty of A-B-C ways to spice things up.
These backpacking food ABCs might show you something you've never heard of for hiking menus, or hadn't thought to include on your backpacking food list.
I certainly hope so!
Because bored or jaded taste buds are a bummer.
And if you're the one planning the backpacking menu, your disgruntled trail buddies will give you an earful!
So roll through and snag your favorite backpacking food ABCs.
And pin some on your Pinterest backpacking board for later :)
Chewy apricots, satisfying amaranth, unusual allspice, and a hit of aminos - wow, that's gonna be a great way to enjoy backpacking nutrition on the trail!
Dried grains and beans are staples in a backpacking menu, but there's no need to make them boring.
And the addition of bran to your grains and beans will not only bulk them up in your stomach and make you feel more full, but will soften your stool.
Mushrooms, dried fruit, couscous and so many spices to bring along on your next hike!
So many ways to please your taste buds!
And every suggestion is lightweight, easy to use, and highly customizable.
My favorite suggestion:
Never tried dulse?
Then you might also need these sea vegetable snack ideas.
(you can call dulse a seaweed, but that's not very polite, now is it?)
I learned to backpack in the dark ages (nearly 50 years ago), when dehydrated eggs were a necessity but certainly not a treat.
Things have changed, so give them another look.
Try something completely different: forage your F's.
But at least pack something a little different for your hiking food: farro, figs and flaxseed.
G is for great! That's how you're going to feel when you take the time to mix up a personalized batch of granola before you hit the trail.
And if you have trouble digesting beans, the fresh ginger will give you a digestive advantage as you sip your antioxidant rich green tea!
Yes, let's give a cheer for the sweetness of honey, an ancient source of nutrients and simple carbs to keep you going on the trail.
Add it to your hibiscus tea evening ritual, or switch to horseradish on your rice to wake up your taste buds!
Backpacking gives you permission to just enjoy yourself in terms of your taste buds.
And it wouldn't be backpacking without jerky, now would it?
You might find a new favorite to go along with your evening bowl of filling, delicious Jasmine rice.
If you've never considered bringing any of these foods along on a backpacking trip, it's time to reconsider.
Pair kidney beans with dried kelp called kombu and you'll have an easier time absorbing the nutrients.
Make kale chips and kasha at home in your oven and look forward to their nutrient packed flavor on those days when your taste buds are demanding something just a little different.
It's easy to get into a backpacking food rut.
Don't let it happen to you!
Choose lamb jerky instead of oversalted, weirdly flavored beef jerky.
Add strips of dehydrated citrus to your hot tea, and toss some into your water bottle before you set off in the morning. You'll be surprised what a nice little boost it gives you mid-day!
Please don't deprive yourself of lentils. They're available in a rainbow of colors, and every last one of them gives you a big boost of nutrition and fiber to fill you up.
Pasta is a backpacking food staple, but don't eat that skinny stringy stuff when you can have thick strips of linguine. Yum!
Lots to say about the M foods that backpackers love.
You can mix and match your muesli and mushrooms, not to mention your mints (peppermint, spearmint, catmint, and more).
You can savor your mangoes and macadamia nuts.
And I should mention how mighty good millet, marmite and miso can be when added to your backpacking dinner menu.
Here's a second round of Mighty Morsels for the backpacking food ABCs:
Lots to love about the N foods, like salty protein rich strips of nori (seaweed) that weighs nothing in your backpack.
Nuts and noodles are staples for backpackers, but make them count with flavorful additions of herbs and spices.
And don't forget navy beans, the humble little "baked beans" type that will plump up and give your evening meal a creaminess you'll come to love.
Oatmeal is an expected backpacking staple, and gluten free to boot. Its morning creaminess is a hot, satisfying breakfast to get you fueled up for the day.
Carry flavorful packets of olives for a nice break from the calmness of oats.
And be sure to add healthy oily fish into your backpacking menu for a healthy hit of oil: tuna, sardines, salmon.
Onion flakes re-hydrate nicely in soups and stews, so bring them along, too.
Good digestion is a big deal on a backpacking trip.
Bloating, constipation, and other discomforts can sometimes happen when you suddenly switch your diet to trail food.
So use the power of the P's.
But we haven't fully harnessed the Power yet.
Here are more ways to add fiber and fun to your backpacking menu, and avert digestive problems.
Have you met quinoa yet?
Have you tried it for backpacking?
Breakfast, lunch and dinner can be quite satisfying using quinoa in all its forms:
Be sure to try all 3 colors of quinoa, as they have different crunch factors and tastes.
Yup, you're in the thick of the alphabet puns! Plenty more where those came from ;)
Seriously, though, backpacking foods that start with R don't have to be dull.
Throw a little reishi fungal love into your food, enjoy the taste of crispy rye and rice crackers, and live a little by adding rosemary to your backpacking menu.
And now we come to the S section of our backpacking food ABCs.
There's a lot to love here.
Four great reasons to eat your S's, Part One shows you how including seeds in your backpacking meals, both sesame and sunflower, provides trace minerals and vitamins along with satisfying crunch and taste.
After all, seeds contain energy to get a plant started, so they will fuel you, right?
Carrying salmon as jerky or as pre-packaged portions give you delicious protein and satisfying good oils.
And soy sauce? A condiment you can use on your grains, rice, or even your salmon for a salty hit of flavor.
Part Two shows you 4 more ways to jazz up your backpacking menu.
If salmon doesn't float your boat, how about salty sardines?
Gluten free hikers will appreciate buckwheat/soba noodles for their mild flavor. They pair well with the soy sauce above, or with siracha and rehydrated shiitake mushrooms.
Kinda running out of steam on the alphabet puns, but definitely not on the backpacking food ABCs tips!
This one is for the vegetarian backpackers and vegan hikers in our hiking community.
Tofu and tempeh provide protein for hard working backpacking bodies, and because they accept whatever flavors they are paired with, make versatile meals on the trail.
Tahini and tamari are examples of big flavor boosts that can make your plant based backpacking meals delicious.
But we're not done with the T's yet in our backpacking food ABCs!
There are more great choices for vegetarian backpackers, but everyone can enjoy the nutrition packed into turtle beans.
And they don't have to be dull, bland beans.
A good gluten free grain choice is teff for a satisfying quick hot breakfast or the start of a nutritious backpacking dinner.
Turmeric is one of the spices included in curry, so toss some onto your beans and grains for anti inflammatory plant power.
So are we having too much fun yet?
Hiking For Her has lots more backpacking food ABCs to share with you, so bookmark this page and refer back to the ever evolving cornucopia of trail food tips.
While you're here, why not explore more backpacking food tips and information?
These links will get you started:
Backpacking Food ABCs
About the author
Diane is the founder of Hiking For Her.
She's been on a hiking trail somewhere in the world for 5+ decades & loves to share her best hiking tips right here.
All rights reserved.
Photo credits: All photos on this website were taken by David Midkiff or Diane Spicer except where noted.
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