Backpacking Menus That Will Keep You Satisfied

Backpacking menus rank pretty high on the list of things you need to think about as you head into the hills. Keeping stomachs full with tasty, nutritious fare will do wonders for everyone's morale on the trail, so effectively planning meals ahead of time is critical to a trip's success. Here are some tips to help you cook like a pro in the backcountry.

Create Distinct Meals

Don't just throw random ingredients into your pack and hope for the best. Instead, take things one meal at a time. First, figure out how long you'll be in the woods for. This will give you a concrete number of breakfasts, lunches, and dinners to create backpacking menus for.

  • Breakfast: You'll want to keep your breakfast backpacking menu pretty light. Remember that the day will start with breaking down camp, which can take fumbling hands a significant amount of time. For this reason, try to keep things relatively simple. Think granola bar, instead of granola.
  • Lunch: Your mid-day meal should also be fairly simple. The key is minimizing the time spent on cooking and cleaning, because after a long morning of hiking, you want ample time for relaxation. It will also be the hottest part of the day which may have a significant impact, depending on where your hiking. Think about something prepared beforehand, like a sandwich or salami and cheese, for the main course. If you want to cook something, make it basic, like soup or Ramen noodles.
  • Dinner: Dinner is the meal for which you can create your most impressive backpacking meal. Start with the entrĂ©e, and work your way out with sides that compliment the main course. Try to get to the campsite relatively early, so you can have an hour or two to hang out before starting to cook. Of course, it's definitely preferable to get started before nighttime. Cooking in the dark makes easy processes into chores.
  • Dessert: Your backpacking menu isn't complete without dessert. You have no idea how far a bit of chocolate can go in keeping your kids smiling after a long, hard day on the trail.
  • Beverages: Kids love to have something other than water to drink while on the trail. Pack some alternatives, like Gatorade powder or Koolaid. Keep in mind that these are pretty sugary, so you probably don't want to use them with every meal (or at random points during the day). That said, they really do make a fun treat and your kids will be burning loads of calories while hiking and setting up camp.

Easy Cleaning

When possible, the items on your backpacking menu should make for easy clean up. This is one of the most critical backpacking tips for me, since I don't much like washing dishes at home, much less in the outdoors! Consider whether you'll be close to a water source to wash up when planning your backpacking menus. Also take into account how much you'll be hiking each day and plan your more complicated meals and clean-up on easier hiking days.


You don't eat the same thing over and over when you're at home, do you? Then why would you do it in the woods? Pack enough variety to keep things exciting. This is especially important when backpacking with kids, as you want to avoid anything that will make the trip seem boring.

Use our tips to come up with some great backpacking meals and menus. With a bit of creativity and planning, you can keep everyone's stomach full and happy while in the backcountry.

Backpacking Food
Backpacking Food Ideas

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