Category Archives: Backpacking Food

The best backpacking food recipes based on preparation time, ease, and fuel efficiency.

My favorite trail breakfasts – Backpacking food indulgences

There are mornings on the trail when you just want to boil water and then go. These recipes are not for those mornings. However, when we have the time to indulge a bit, these two meals really hit the spot. With the exception of the dehydrated eggs, all ingredients can be found in most grocery stores.

Behold the deliciousness!

Backpacking Breakfast Burrito
Breakfast burrito
Backpacking Biscuits and Gravy
Biscuits and gravy

Backpacking Biscuits and Gravy

Serves 2


1 package shelf-stable bacon (about 4 oz of salami works as well)

2-3 Tbs flour

2/3 C Powdered milk

2 English muffins

2-3 pepper packets

Hot sauce (optional)

Olive oil (sometimes needed)

At home:

Remove bacon from cardboard packaging. Measure flour and milk into separate plastic bags.

At camp:

Tear bacon or salami into small pieces. Cook until the fat has melted and the meat has some delicious crispy bits. Add in the flour and stir until all flour is coated in fat (If the meat you use is lean, you may need to add olive oil.) Stir for a minute or two, then add about a cup of water and the powdered milk. Stir to combine and bring to a boil. Continue boiling until the gravy thickens to desired consistency. Add pepper and hot sauce to taste.

We usually just tear the English muffins into bite-sized pieces and then layer muffin pieces and gravy in our larger pot, parfait-style. Alternatively, split each muffin in two pieces and top with gravy.

Backpacking Breakfast Burritos

Backpacking breakfast burrito ingredients
Breakfast burrito ingredients

Serves 2

8 oz per serving

530 calories per serving

1 package shelf-stable bacon

2/3 cup dried hashbrowns

5 Tbs Ova-easy eggs

Hot sauce/salsa/barbecue sauce (optional, but really tasty!)

At home:

Measure out egg crystals and hash browns into separate plastic bags. Be sure to write rehydrating/cooking instructions on a small card to include. Pack a measuring spoon to use when rehydrating the eggs! Remove cardboard packaging from bacon.

At camp:

This recipe works best if you have two pans.

Cover hash-browns with boiling water and set aside. The potatoes will need to sit for at 11 minutes to re-hydrate, so make sure to do this first!

Tear bacon strips in half (or whatever size fits your pan) and cook until crispy. Remove bacon from pan and set aside, leaving as much bacon grease in the pan as possible.

Backpacking Bacon!!!

Mix egg crystals and the appropriate amount of water (2 parts egg crystals to 3 parts water) in a small plastic bag until uniform. Scramble eggs in bacon grease (if you have enough grease, you can save some to crisp the hash-browns. We skip this step).

Backpacking scrambled eggs
Scrambled eggs

Check hash-browns to make sure the water has been absorbed. Heat through if they have gotten cold.

Backpacking breakfast Hashbrowns
Fluffy potatoes

Set out two wraps and layer each with half the potatoes, eggs, and bacon (or, realistically, whatever bacon is leftover from snacking). Top with a packet of salsa, hot sauce, or barbecue sauce (my favorite!). Fold burrito style and enjoy.

backpacking breakfast burrito
The acidity, heat, and sweetness of the sauce packet is essential here. I preferred bbq while hubs preferred salsa or hot sauce, but all three were delicious.

7 days of backpacking food-Prepping for a week in Olympic National Park

Rather than type out a long-winded introduction, let’s get straight to the food. This is what fueled us on a recent week-long backpacking trip in Olympic National Park – backpacking food for breakfast, lunch, dinner and two snacks per day for two people. I’m including weights and calorie counts where possible.

Backpacking Breakfasts:

Packed Breakfasts

  • Clif bars (Breakfast on the last morning is always bars of some sort so we can get on our way.)
  • Biscuits and gravy
  • Breakfast burritos (for 2 days) (8 oz/530 calories per serving)
  • Instant oatmeal (purchased and homemade, 3 days)

Backpacking Lunches:

Backpacking Lunches - Packed Lunches
I’m not especially creative when it comes to lunches. Simple and tasty is the way to go.
  • Trail PB & J (3 days)  (pita bread, squeezable apple sauce, and Justin’s nut butter singles)
  • Sausage/cheese/bread (4 days) (4 oz of summer sausage or salami, 4 Babybel cheese wheels, Wasa crackers or pita bread, and mustard)

Backpacking Dinners:

Backpacking Food - Packed Dinners

  • Sun-dried Tomato and Salami Mac N Cheese (4.8 oz/503 calories/serving)
  • Chicken and Vegetable Peanut Noodles* (5.3 oz per serving)
  • Falafel Wraps (8 oz/570 calories per serving)
  • Cheesy Rice and Sausage (7.7 oz/460 calories per serving) No real recipe for this one. It’s just a package of this with 4 oz. of summer sausage and 1.5 oz of cream cheese. Toss it in your cook pot, then heat, and eat.)
  • Cheese and Bacon Potatoes (4.3 oz/460 calories per serving)
  • Taco Potatoes* (instant mashed potatoes with half a package of instant taco filling and a package of powdered cheese sauce. It’s salty but so good!)
  • Cheese and Sausage Plate (Basically the same as the cheese and sausage lunch, but with the addition of a couple of single-serving boxes of wine)

*The spices used in these meals are crazy odoriferous. If you don’t want your tent, sleeping bag, clothes, and everything else in your bag to smell like tacos and curry for your next 3 trips, I strongly recommend carrying them in one of these.

Backpacking Snacks:

Backpacking Food - daily snacks

  • Trader Joe’s chocolate trek mix
  • Hershey’s nuggets
  • Beef jerky
  • Maple sriracha chex mix (This recipe with 3 Tbs maple syrup added. 232 calories per 2/3 cup)
  • Logan bread (This recipe with dried cranberries in place of the raisins and some vanilla extract and cinnamon added. 271 calories for 1/18th of the recipe)

I was initially concerned that there wasn’t enough variety, especially in the lunches and snacks, but it turned out not to be a problem. The logan bread and chex mix were both big hits, even on day six!


What 4 days worth of trail food looks like plus backpacking recipes

Meal planning for the trail can be as simple or as complicated as you want it to be. Some hikers subsist completely on Pop-tarts and pre-packaged meals, while some make elaborate three-course meals. While we here at Nerds probably fall somewhere in the middle, the thought of a delicious meal at camp has more than once kept my feet going.

Continue reading What 4 days worth of trail food looks like plus backpacking recipes

Backpacking Food – Tuna Cakes

Backpacking Food – Tuna Cakes with Remoulade 

There are days on the trail when you get to camp and all you want is to put something in your mouth as quickly as possible. This recipe is not for those days. Although a little fussier (and messier for the cook) than most recipes we use, these tuna cakes are amazing for an evening at camp when you have the time and energy! Adapted from here.

Fuel effeciency – 2 sporks

Ease – 3 sporks

Prep time – 3 sporks

Serves 2

½ package Stovetop Stuffing

1 pouch tuna

5 packets mayo

3 packets relish

1 packet ketchup

1 packet hot sauce (optional)

1 T* vegetable oil, plus more for frying

3 T* water

*These are approximate measurements. I am not hardcore enough to carry measuring spoons in my pack.

At home:

Dump stuffing mix and all unopened packets/pouches in a quart-sized ziploc. Be sure to include a small squeeze bottle of oil and a snack-sized ziploc for mixing the remoulade. 

At camp:

Add tuna, 1 packet relish, 3 packets mayo, 1 T of vegetable oil, and the water to the stuffing mix in the ziploc bag. Seal bag and massage until the contents are all mixed.

Combine remaining 2 mayo packets with the ketchup, hot sauce, and relish in the smaller ziplock bag.

Coat the bottom of your cookpot with oil. Take about a quarter of the stuffing mixture and form it into a patty. Fry until golden brown. Serve with a good dollop of remoulade.

backpacking food - tuna cake
Cake of awesomeness with generous smear of remoulade.


Notes: Your hands will get really messy when forming the patties. Have some wet-wipes or a bandana handy! Make sure to give each cake plenty of time to set up in the pan before you attempt to turn it. My first couple turned into a hash rather than a cake. Give it at least 3-5 minutes before you flip.


Backpacking Food – Butternut Squash Soup and Spicy Cheddar Shortbread Biscuits

Fuel efficiency – 4 sporks

Ease – 5 sporks

Prep Time – 4 sporks

When I first got bitten by the hiking bug, I would spend hours combing grocery store aisles for trail-friendly products. These little vacuum-sealed baby food squeeze packs caught my eye several times. I’ve been using the fruit packets to make a pretty kickass trailside PB & J for a while now, but I just knew there had to be a use for the vegetable variety as well.


Having trail-tested this soup on our most recent backpacking adventure, I can say for sure that this soup gives no hints to its baby-food roots. While the soup is probably not hearty enough to stand on its own, with the addition of these spicy cheddar shortbreads it was quite satisfying. It could also be bulked up with the addition of dehydrated chicken, dried mushrooms, or some form of grain.


Backpacking Food – Butternut Squash Soup

Serves 2

¼ cup Knorr Leek Soup mix

1 T  (heaping) Coconut cream powder

1 packet crushed red pepper

1 packet soy sauce

3 4 oz butternut squash squeeze packs

2 cups water

 At home:

Combine soup mix, coconut powder, and crushed red pepper in a small ziplock.

 On the trail:
Bring 2 cups water to a boil. Add contents of the ziplock to the pot and stir until dissolved. Stir in the butternut squash and heat until bubbly. Taste, add soy sauce as needed.

Backpacking Food - Butternut Squash Soup Fixins
Butternut Squash Soup
Backpacking Food - Spicy Cheddar Biscuits
Spicy Cheddar Shortbread Biscuits

A note on the shortbreads:

I baked these on a Thursday night and served them on a Saturday. They were still tasty, but any longer than that and they probably would not have worked. We carried them in a container that originally held Crystal Light 2 QT packets, which protected them from crushing and didn’t add too much weight.