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.

When I am preparing food for the trail, I like to package each meal in its own Ziplock bag along with “on trail” instructions written on a small piece of index card. Coffee supplies and snacks each get their own bag as well. It usually looks something like this:

backpacking recipes hiking food trail food
Food all laid out-please ignore the toes in the picture!


backpacking recipes, trail food, hiking food
Top right: Falefel Wraps, Top left: Sun-dried tomato and salami Mac N Cheese, Bottom right: Chicken and Vegetable Peanut Noodles, Bottom Left-Bacon and Cheese Potatoes

Falafel Wraps with Sun-dried Tomato Aioli

Serves 2

Weight per serving-8 oz

Calories per serving-570


  • 1 cup falafel mix (We used this)
  • 4 tortillas
  • 1/3 cup sun-dried tomatoes
  • 1 teaspoon dried parsley
  • 1 teaspoon dried dill
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 4 mayo packets*
  • 1 packet lemon juice*
  • 4 packets sriracha*
  • Oil for frying

*Packets can be purchased online here.

At home-Measure the falafel mix into a sandwich bag. In a separate bag (snack-size will work), combine sun-dried tomatoes, parsley, dill, and garlic powder.

On the trail- combine falafel mix with half a cup of water and let stand for ten minutes. Add the mayo and lemon juice to the tomato/herb mixture and massage bag to combine. Once the ten minutes are up, form into large patties and fry about 2 minutes per side or until heated through. Spread the tomato/herb/mayo blend on all four tortillas. Top with falafel patties. Add sriracha if desired.

Sun-dried Tomato and Salami Mac N Cheese

Serves 2

Weight per serving-4.8 oz

Calories per serving-503


  • I box Macaroni and Cheese of choice (We used this)
  • 3 oz (approximate) dry salami
  • 1/2 cup (approximate) sun-dried tomatoes

At home-repackage pasta and cheese mix in a ziplock. Place salami and tomatoes in a smaller bag.

On the trail-Prepare Mac N Cheese according to package directions. Chop salami (crisp it in a pan for bonus tasty-ness) and stir into pasta, along with tomatoes.

Chicken and Vegetable Peanut Noodles

Serves 2

Weight per serving- 5.5 oz

Calories per serving-unknown due to forgetting to measure ingredients prior to dehydrating. 


  • 6 oz spaghetti
  • an unknown quantity of dehydrated chicken (approximately equal to a pouch of chicken)
  • 1.5 cups (approximately) dehydrated vegetables (I used zucchini, cauliflower, and Chinese cabbage)
  • 2 Tablespoons chicken broth powder (I used this)
  • 2 Tablespoons PB2 peanut butter powder 
  • 1 Tablespoon coconut milk powder
  • 1 Tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon curry powder
  • several shakes crushed red pepper

At home-Combine italicized ingredients in a small ziplock. Chicken and vegetables can go together, but keep the pasta separate.

On the trail-Rehydrate chicken and vegetables in about a cup of boiling water, adding more water as needed. Boil spaghetti for about 8 minutes or until done. Combine pasta and chicken/vegetable mix. Stir in sauce mix, adding water if needed to achieve desired consistency.

Cheese and bacon potatoes

Serves 2

Weight per serving-4.3 oz

Calories per serving-460


  • 1 packet Idahoan instant mashed potatoes
  • 4 Laughing Cow wedges
  • 2 oz bacon jerky (or more. More is always better when it comes to bacon)

At home-Toss ingredients in a bag. I don’t bother repackaging these.

On the trail-Mix potatoes with 2 cups of boiling water and set aside. Tear bacon jerky into small pieces and crisp in pan (the crisping is optional, but highly recommended). Add cheese wedges to potatoes one at a time, stirring to encourage melting. Stir in the bacon pieces including any oil. Enjoy!

Find more backpacking recipes in our backpacking food section!

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