by Diane Spicer
Looking for backpacking food ideas beginners can use instantly?
Doesn't sound very satisfying for backpacker food, now does it?
We can do better than that, with these beginner backpacking food ideas!
Let's go through all of the opportunities to eat delicious food on a backpacking trip, making recommendations and suggestions to keep you fueled up and satisfied on the trail.
Let's state the ground rules for packing up your backpacking food, just in case you haven't done it yet.
We'll begin with the things to leave behind.
You're going to have a love-hate relationship with water as a backpacker.
Water quenches your thirst.
Water makes your backpack heavy.
What to do?
Use surface water sources and a backpacking water purification system to get the water you need, when you need it, for drinking, cooking and cleaning up.
Leave watery, juicy, heavy foods at home.
Human beings have been drying out food to preserve and transport it for generations.
Backpackers have, too!
But where do you get this dehydrated and freeze dried backpacking food?
I'll spill the beans (hint) in a moment, but for now, a few words about the difference between these two approaches to backpacking food.
Read more here.
Now let's get serious about planning your backpacking meals menu.
If you purchase your backpacking food through the links on this website, you pay nothing extra while Hiking For Her receives a small percentage of your total cost.
Because you've got a lot going on for your first few backpacking trips, what with navigating to your campsite and then setting it up, we're going for extreme simplicity and nutrition for your breakfast options.
And because you'll be back on the trail shortly after eating, you want food that won't sit like a rock inside your stomach and make you yearn for your sleeping bag.
So try these fast, easy breakfast options for backpackers.
Yeah, let's start out with traditional options.
Oatmeal is loaded with carbohydrates, which is just another way to say energy. And it has fiber, which slows down absorption and keeps you full longer.
But plain oatmeal is boring, bland, unappealing, and just won't cut it, you say?
I hear you!
Try some flavor hacks and nutritional turbocharging, and then get on the trail.
My favorite brand of instant oatmeal for a backpacking breakfast, in a variety pack to perk up your taste buds.
Then add in these favorite flavor hacks that are nearly weightless but floaded with nutrition.
Beginner backpacker tip:
Always try at home first!
This will keep you full for a long time on the trail!
If you're looking for that morning hit of caffeine but don't want to fire up the stove, you can cold brew coffee or tea overnight or add water to the instant stuff.
Backpacking tea ideas here
Unique instant coffee ideas here:
Otherwise, just use this stuff with the hot water left over from your morning meal:
Eat a nutrient dense, calorie rich breakfast bar to give your body the carbohydrates it's going to need when you get on the trail.
And the fats to keep you satisfied, with a bit of protein to keep you going until lunch time.
Try these easy to eat bars:
When you work hard on a backpacking trail, your body is going to give you definite cues for a snack break.
Things like legs that feel like cement.
Or the beginning of a headache, which could also indicate that you need more hiking hydration.
So be sure you have some fast fuel (simple carbohydrate) snacks in an easy to access pocket on your backpack, or tucked into a convenient jacket pocket.
Great hiking snack options are covered here.
Keep it simple and uncrushable, that's your motto for hiking lunches.
If you're craving carbohydrates like slices of bread, switch your focus to crackers.
But not just any crackers.
These insanely delicious crackers, because they will stand up to the abuse of your backpack better than softer versions.
Just can't get past the idea of no bread for lunch?
These rye, sunflower and pumpernickel varieties of bread won't go all crummy on you, and will taste delicious when paired with soft spreadable cheeses:
Another cheese tip: Babybel makes lovely cheese, in small, round portions wrapped up tightly in red wax that just peels off.
Stands up to temperature changes, and will last a long time on a backpacking trip.
Your body is going to crave protein, too.
This KRAVE jerky is a delightful departure from oversalted rock hard stuff found at the mini-mart.
Now here's your chance to customize your carbohydrates, fats and proteins by choosing your favorite nuts, dried fruit, and sweets.
Not into the hiking nutrition angle?
You'll be craving crunchy, salty and sweet food after a few days on the trail, and this is a great way to get it.
Want some flavorful, toothsome and nutritiously dense cookies?
I thought so!
These are my favorites.
You can use them for after dinner treats, too.
They travel well and a variety pack like this one will keep your taste buds guessing for days.
End of the day? You're gonna be tired, maybe sore and stiff once you take off your boots or trail shoes.
Get right down to business by boiling water and eating a one pot meal.
There are two ways to go here.
Trade time for money by having the convenience of someone else doing all of the work ahead of time.
This takes some of the pressure off you at the end of the day, because you know you will reach into your backpack and come up with a filling meal high in calories to replenish your body.
Mountain House makes a huge variety of trailworthy backpacking meals, and you can read about them in this Hiking For Her review.
Another company that makes tasty meals for backpackers is GoodToGo. Here's a tasty option.
If you're certain that you can wait a bit longer for a hot, filling meal at the end of the day, stew up a one pot meal with basic ingredients.
Here's where your creativity can shine.
Choose a fast cooking grain like rice or quinoa.
Or stick with something even easier: pasta.
Pull out your favorite spices, a bit of olive oil, maybe some sun dried tomatoes.
Then add some protein.
Extra protein ideas: toss in some chopped nuts, or chunks of well aged salami.
You've earned a treat!
Brew up a hot mug of tea (backpacking tea recommendations here) and slowly nibble something delicious.
What kind of backpacking stove makes sense for your plans?
Basic backpacking kitchen cookware, utensils and dishes include which essentials?
Someone has to do the dishes, even when there aren't many of them.
Where are you going to store all of this food away from wildlife?
You might have just realized that you're just getting started with backpacking meal ideas.
Backpacking Food Ideas
Beginners Will Love
About the author
Diane is the founder of Hiking For Her.
She’s been on a hiking trail somewhere in the world for nearly five 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.
As an Amazon Associate, Hiking For Her earns from qualifying purchases.