17 Best Backpacking Food Ideas and Meals

Backpacking is Love and every seasoned backpacker will agree to it. Backpacking is about living a minimalist yet fulfilling life while having fun, exploring wilderness and experiencing new things. Most of all, backpacking is about Living the Moment and that is the reason why backpacking is Love and that, in its purest form.

Nonetheless, backpacking is not easy is it appears, and one has to be strong, resilient and adaptable enough to take on the challenges that backpacking has to offer. Being a backpacker for 5 years, travel enthusiasts often ask me for tips and advice. One of the most important things is to take care of diet during travels and excursions.

The problem with backpackers is that they do not have the luxury to stuff their bags with meals and snacks. This would not only make the backpack unnecessarily heavy, but you will also run out of space to place your necessary possessions in the knapsack.

The solution is to play smart. Thankfully, there are dozens of smart foods that are extremely nutritious as well as handy and lightweight that you can comfortably place in your backpack without worrying about the space.

best backpacking food ideas

In this article, we are listing down the best backpacking foods and meals.

1. Nuts and Seeds

Lightweight, rich in calories and small in size, nuts and seeds are the best option for travelers and backpackers. Nuts and seeds are loaded with minerals, fibers, proteins, healthy fats and vitamins which makes them the perfect snack during excursions and long trips.

In a nutshell (pun intended), backpackers require extra calories especially when trekking on tough terrains, so it’s important that you consume calorie-dense foods. If you want to make it delicious, you can mix dry fruits with nuts, almonds, black seed and sunflower seeds for a tasty snack that you can enjoy on the go.

Walnuts are high-calorie nuts. A medium-sized walnut weighs about 10 to 12 grams and contains about 40 calories. In order to avoid gaining weight, do not eat too many walnuts, and do not eat walnuts in the afternoon or evening. Eating 2 to 3 walnuts every morning can provide energy for physical activity, brain function and operation of the organs.

Walnuts are rich in protein, fat, dietary fiber, vitamin E, polyphenols, and minerals such as calcium, magnesium, and potassium. It is worth mentioning that the fat content of walnuts is as high as 60% to 70%, most of which are omega-3 unsaturated fatty acids. The human body cannot synthesize Omega-3 and can only obtain it from food or supplements.

Omega-3 can promote blood circulation, regulate blood lipids, increase the elasticity and toughness of blood vessels, and is very beneficial to the health of cardiovascular and cerebrovascular.

Interesting Reads: Easy Camping Food

2. Dried Potato

Dried potatoes are best for instant energy. The best thing about dried potatoes is that they are fulfilling and even a few grams are enough to extinguish the appetite. There is no debate that fresh foods are always the best as they are free of additives and preservatives but again, during travels, you want something convenient, yet nutritional and dried potatoes can be the perfect choice.

Dried potatoes are loaded with vitamins, potassium and other essential minerals which can instantly boost your energy levels. In a pinch, dried potatoes deserve a place in your backpacking eating plan.

3. Dried Fruits

Well, that’s no brainer. When the fruits undergo the process of drying, the excess water is removed from them which suppresses the growth of bacteria and also makes them heat-stable, hence dried fruits have longer shelf lives. Dried fruits are a healthy source of minerals, antioxidants, fiber and minerals that can stimulate your energy levels.

Dried fruits are again, convenient, compactable and you can easily store place them in a backpack or travel bag as they won’t acquire much space. Moreover, when mixed with nuts and seeds, you will enjoy a high-energy trail mix.

4. Powdered Eggs

Egg is a powerhouse but obviously, it can get troublesome to take boiled eggs with you on long treks and travels. Thankfully, eggs are now also available in powdered form. Powdered eggs are not just convenient to store and easy to prepare but they also have an extended shelf life which makes them a lifesaver for travelers.

Powdered eggs are as rich as fresh eggs when it comes to nutritional value. However, if you have high blood pressure issues, it's not wise to consume too much of them because of the high sodium content.

5. Powdered Milk

Backpackers often avoid fresh dairy products as they not backpackers-friendly and are highly perishable. But during excursions and in rugged travel conditions, your body craves for calcium and powdered milk can be the best alternative option when refrigeration is not an option.

Powdered milk is rich in proteins, vitamins and potassium and its nutritional value is very close to that of fresh milk. You can boost your energy levels by adding powdered milk to instant oatmeal or other dehydrated meals.

Interesting Reads: Easy Travel Recipes for Road Trips

6. Hard Cheeses

Cheese lovers would love this. Cheeses are an excellent source of instant energy as they are loaded with healthy fats, vitamins, phosphorus, and calcium. But again, the normal cheese or the soft cheeses are perishable and need to be refrigerated all the time.

Hard/aged cheeses on the other end have extended shelf lives as they have low moisture content which makes them heat-stable, bacteria resistant and also increases their shelf life. You can enjoy parmesan, and pecorino romano over instant meals to enhance its nutritional value with a tasty pop of flavor.

7. Jerky

Jerky is arguably the best backpacking food out there and that for the right reasons. Jerky is tasty, satisfying and full of protein. Unlike fresh meats, jerky doesn’t require to be refrigerated and being a processed meat product, it is the best option for backpackers.

When on backpacking adventures, your body requires proteins and jerky can instantly raise your protein levels when fresh sources are unavailable. Though, jerky is available in chicken, beef, and turkey; beef jerky is the best and is also eaten by bodybuilders as it gives them the energy that they need to get through the rigorous exercises every day.

Interesting Reads: How to Stay Fit While Traveling

8. Seaweed

We love it on our sushi or packed into our smoothies, but what is it about the nutrient-dense seaweed that our bodies can't get enough of? And what are some ways we can eat more of it?

9. Chocolate Salami

A chocolate salami is an Italian crunchy dessert that’s easy to make and extremely tasty. It is made of biscuits, butter, chocolate, milk, eggs and sugar. You can also decide to put alcohol (like rum or brandy), but it's optional. No bake needed, so you can prepare it in 15 minutes and then let it rest in the fridge for the whole night. But why this ambiguous name? Because it really looks like a salami.

10. Mac and cheese

Take a cup of pasta or macaroni add water to cup accordingly and add cheese over it. Heat for 5 minutes and Yes! You are no more hungry. Just add some herbs or chilli flakes.Your 5 minutes cheese pasta is ready.

11. Bread pizza

Take 2 slices of bread. Put some pizza-pasta sauce and mayonnaise to the bread slice. Now cut an onion and put on that slice. Add some cheese to it. After that, just heat it.

12. French fries

Take 2 potatoes and cut them into long slices. Wash it and put aside. Take flour or cornflour and add salt. Another side, place a heating pan on a fire and add oil into it. Just take those potatoes one by one and add layers of corn flour or flour on them and fry. And you’re done. If you like cheese, just grate some cheese over it.

13. Potato cutlet

Take boiled potatoes and mash them. Now, add salt, pepper and some spices over it. After that, add a chopped onion and mix. Make shapes of those mashed potatoes (circle, triangle, oval, etc). Now, take a pan and add oil to it. Fry those shapes and you’re done. Enjoy it with fresh yummy tomato ketchup.

14. Potato Chips

In fact, it is not difficult to make potato chips at home. Speaking of homemade potato chips, many people may think of simple steps: cleaning potatoes - peeling potatoes - cutting potatoes - frying - cooling and de-oiling - seasoning. Don't worry, this article will tell you some tips to improve the taste of potato chips.

Pick the big potatoes. Wash and cut them into thin slices. The thinner the crisper. If you want to make potato chips like Lays, the thickness of the cut should not exceed 2 mm. After the potato chips are cut, they need to be washed with water. Be sure to wash the starch in the potatoes as much as possible. At first, the water will be whitish, and by the end the water will become clear.

Then boil a pot of water and add a pinch of salt. Pour the potato chips into the boiling water and scald until the potatoes are translucent. Put the cooked potatoes in cold water and drain. The water must be drained out of the potato chips; otherwise, it will splash when fried. Pour the oil in the pan to ensure that the oil in the pan is slightly more.

When the oil temperature reaches about 150 degrees Celsius, slowly put the potato chips into the oil pan. You can pinch out when you see the edge begin to change color. The longer the fried, the crisper the taste. However, it should be noted that the color should not be too deep, otherwise it will be bitter. Place the prepared potato chips on the blotting paper and remove excess oil.

After cooling, add various seasonings according to your taste. You can add cumin powder, salt, and pepper, allspice powder, seaweed powder, barbecue powder, etc.

15. Stroopwafel

Traditionally, the stroopwafel has a job to do - to keep tea or coffee warm. It was served as a kind of lid on coffee and tea cups in bakeries and coffee houses.

Take 1/4 cup of warm water and drop a packet of yeast into it. Move that to the side. Sift together 4 cups of AP flour, 1/2 teaspoon of freshly ground cinnamon, and 1/2 cup of brown sugar. Cut 1 cup of unsalted butter into that, drop into yeast water, and fold in 2 large eggs (beaten). Move that mixture into a warm spot for at least an hour.

Make 12 small balls for the dough. If you have a pizzelle maker, use it now. Else you can use an old iron or a waffle maker with mini-waffle attachment or a pan in a pan. Bake for 30 seconds in maker or maker-replacement. And now for the filling mix one cup of butter, 1 1/2 cups of brown sugar, 1 tsp cinnamon, 6 tbsp dark corn syrup in a sauce pan.

Heat to dissolve sugar and until it's at 238-240 degrees (soft ball stage). Spread filling on pizzelle. Cool for 4 hours.

16. Gateau di patate

Gattò di patate is a traditional Neapolitan dish made with potatoes and assorted cheese and salami leftovers. It’s just mashed potatoes with any cured meat and cheese leftover you have lingering in the fridge. Dice everything up, place a layer of potato mash (with salt, pepper, a little milk) in the bottom of a buttered oven dish, distribute the cheese and cured meat, layer more mash, add some butter and dust with breadcrumbs, then bake until golden and gooey.

If you are lazy, you ca just stir the cheese and meats, all diced, in the mash and plop everything in the buttered baking dish.

17. Frittata

And what about a good frittata with leftover vegetables? You made some vegetables yesterday and you have leftovers? Whish up a few eggs, add a handful of freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano or Grana Padano, or pecorino, or whatever grated cheese you have on hand, or no cheese at all. Add salt, pepper, herbs, what you have laying around.

Heat the vegetables in a pan with a little extravirgin olive oil or another oil, as long as it tastes good, the add the eggs, stir a little to combine. You cna cook your frittata on the stovetop or bake it in the oven.

Like I mentioned earlier, backpacking is not easy. You have to stay strong during the toughest of times and in order for you to stay strong, fueled and energized, you must choose the right portable foods.
Kalyan Panja