Mom Goes Camping

15+ Backpacking Meal Ideas

backpacking meal ideas

Not sure what to eat when backpacking? To start with, I’d recommend reading my detailed guide to backpacking food, which talks about types of backpacking food and what types of food to bring backpacking. Then check out these great examples of backpacking food below.


Backpacking Breakfast Ideas


Pack oatmeal in a plastic baggie with some dried fruits like dried bananas, apples, cranberries, or raisins. Add some brown sugar or cinnamon. You can also throw in some nuts from your trail mix.

For an extra boost, add some superfoods (like these backpacking superfoods) to your oatmeal.  It will help fuel you for a long day backpacking.

vegan blueberry backpacking breakfast

Blueberry chia oatmeal with coconut milk (from powder)

vegan backpacking breakfast

Oatmeal with dried apricots, coconut flakes, hazelnuts, and ginger!

pumpkin coffee oatmeal for backpacking

Pumpkin COFFEE oatmeal. See, oatmeal doesn’t have to be boring! 😮

*All of these oatmeal recipes (and more) are available in my dehydrator backpacking recipes ebook.  Learn more here.

dehydrator backpacking recipes


Dehydrated Eggs

Yes, you can eat eggs while backpacking! Scramble them up and then dehydrate them. Then just add water and cook them (you’ll need to bring a little bottle of oil so the rehydrated eggs don’t get stuck to your cook pan). The dehydrated eggs are a bit rubbery, but still taste good. You can add freeze-dried onions to them, garlic, and salami.

Alternatively, you can buy freeze-dried eggs here.

backpacking eggs



Pancakes while backpacking??? No, it isn’t crazy.  I would never go to the hassle of making them while at camp. However, you can dehydrate pancakes and then rehydrate them with warm milk (from powder).  The image below shows blueberry pancakes rehydrated. This recipe is also in my dehydrator recipes ebook.

vegan pancakes for backpacking


Backpacking Lunch and Dinner Ideas

Tabouli and Black Beans

You can find instant tabouli in a box in your supermarket. The black beans here were dehydrated and then rehydrated with hot water. Remember to add lots of seasonings so they don’t taste boring!

tabouli backpacking food


Dried Asian Soup

Put dried mushrooms, dried scallions, noodles, and miso paste in a bag. Viola! You’ve got Asian soup.

backpacking soup


Instant Potatoes with Veggies

You can find instant mashed potatoes in your supermarket. Make them heartier by adding freeze-dried veggies to the mix (read about how to assemble your own freeze-dried backpacking meals).

backpacking potatoes


Instant Potatoes with Gravy

Here’s another backpacking meal idea with instant mashed potatoes.  In this case, I’ve made white bean-mushroom gravy and dehydrated it.  The gravy gets rehydrated separately and poured onto the mashed potatoes to make them creamy and hearty.  You could also do it with one pan too, but everything gets mixed together.  This is yet another dehydrator recipe from my recipe ebook.


TVP Chili

TVP stands for Textured Vegetable Protein and can be found in the bulk section of health food stores. You just add water and get something resembling ground beef. It is rather flavorless, so you’ll need to add seasonings to it. One way to use TVP when backpacking is to add it to dry chili packets. Just boil it all together and you’ve got chili!

backpacking chili tvp


Dehydrator Barley Walnut Risotto 

This risotto is really hearty and delicious. It’s made with barley instead of rice (barley dehydrates well, rice doesn’t) and has walnuts in it for protein and healthy fats.  This image below shows what it looks like dehydrated.  It comes out to 170 calories per ounce dry weight! How’s that for ultralight backpacking meals?? 🙂  You can get the recipe in my ebook.

vegan backpacking risotto


Spanish Rice and Salami

If you bring rice backpacking, make sure it is the fast-cooking kind so you don’t waste all your fuel to cook it. You can add dried meats like salami to the rice for more flavor and protein.backpacking rice


Hearty Tomato Noodle Soup

I get packets of instant tomato soup from the supermarket, remove them from their packages, and add more noodles and dehydrated veggies. It makes for a hearty, tasty backpacking lunch.

backpacking tomato soup



Paneer is an Indian dish. You can find boxes of instant paneer in the ethnic section of supermarkets or in health food stores. It’s freeze dried, so lightweight and has a really long shelf life.


Couscous and Veggies

I always bring couscous backpacking because it cooks in just 2 minutes, and my daughter loves it.   Add dehydrated hummus to the couscous to make it heartier. Just remember to pack the dried veggies separately. They need to cook longer than the couscous, so you have to put them in the water first and add the couscous after a few minutes.

backpacking couscous


Couscous and Lentils

I love couscous so much as a backpacking food that I included two examples. This one has lentils. Lentils are a good choice for backpacking because they cook really quickly, and are loaded with protein and nutrients. Red lentils cook even faster!

*You can even dehydrate cooked lentils or beans.  Then just add water to rehydrate!

backpacking couscous lentils


Quinoa Chili with Pumpkin and Kidney Beans

No backpacking trip would be complete without chili.  The problem is that I hate chili.  However, this quinoa chili is an exception.  It has pumpkin and kidney beans in it, plus tons of spices for flavor.

Quinoa normally takes a really long time to cook. However, if you cook it first and then dehydrate it, you can rehydrate it in minutes with hot water.  Just make a few servings of chili and put the entire thing on your dehydrator trays.  The recipes in my ebook.

vegan backpacking chili


Need more backpacking meal ideas?

Get my eBook.  It has over 50 recipes for backpacking, all which are lightweight, healthy, and delicious.  Just add water on the trail to make!  Plus there’s tons of info on backpacking meal planning. backpacking dehydrator recipes ebook

Buy the ebook now.  I’ll even give you 50% off. 🙂


Hungry for more info? Read: 

Image credits (sourced from Flickr)
Bjorn Breakfast Some rights reserved
iris Camp Breakfast Some rights reserved
James Lavin grub Some rights reserved
George Wesley & Bonita Dannells Backpacking Soup Some rights reserved
Allison Wildman potatoes and veggies Some rights reserved
incommunicado The miracle of camping is this tasted good. Some rights reserved
Curtis Abert DSCN1499 Some rights reserved
oskar karlin _MG_3175.jpg CC BY SA 2.0
Dana camping recipe Some rights reserved
jon hayes P9140021 Some rights reserved
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About the author /

Diane Vukovic grew up camping and backpacking in upstate New York. Now, she takes her own daughters on wilderness adventures so they can connect with nature and learn resiliency. With dozens of trips under her belt, Diane is an expert in minimalist camping, going lightweight, planning, and keeping her kids entertained without screens.

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  1. Connie Adams

    Excellent presentation.
    Loved your pictures.
    Lot’s of Good information.
    Thank you for sharing your information & experience.
    I will be ordering her book on do you hydrating food andCamping and backpacking.

  2. Ben

    Whole eggs will last without refrigeration. I’ve been eating them on the trails for years. Store bought just coat them in mineral oil or buy farm fresh that haven’t had their natural coating washed off. Bulky to carry but beats dehydrated/freeze dried. Totally worth it. Add smoked, vacuum packed bacon and pancakes made from pancake mix (not dehydrated), you have a fresh breakfast every day. Bring maple syrup or even condensed milk for the pancakes. Mood booster!

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