Planning meals for a multi-day trek can feel like a daunting task. Of course, packing light on the trail is important. You don’t want to end up weighed down by stuff you won’t use.
So how do you pack enough food to sustain yourself for 2 – 3 days on the trail? You’ll probably want to eat a lot but how is that possible while still packing light?
The focus should be on creating simple, high calorie meals, with just a few ingredients.
I have listed 1 day worth of meal & snack ideas that are simple to prepare on the trail or at the campsite. I would eat these same 3 meals every day on a 2-3 day trip. The list of ingredients below should last for 3 days.
Small camp stove
Compact camp cook set set with pot, bowl & cup
Small container of gas
Rubber bands (I use hair ties) to secure leftover food
3 tortillas packed in foil
1 jar peanut butter (or nut butter of preference)
3 cans of tuna with pop top
1 package of pasta
1 package oatmeal
1 large package pasta sauce
Dried fruits (bananas, raisins, etc.) & nuts or trail mix
Tea bags &/or instant coffee (I pack coffee for breakfast & herbal tea for dinner)
Small plastic bags of spices: cinnamon, oregano, salt & pepper, brown sugar
Bottle of wine poured into a plastic bottle
1 small bottle of Dr. Bronner’s all purpose castile soap (or other environmentally friendly dish soap)
Following the directions on the back of the Quaker package, one gets the impression that cooking oatmeal is a complicated process that requires boiling oats for 10 minutes & cleaning up a sticky pot. However, one of my backpacking friends taught me that oatmeal is as simple as pouring boiled water over oats in a bowl. It takes less than 5 minutes & is a very rewarding & filling breakfast. Maybe I’m the only one who never knew this!
I simply use my camp stove & gas to boil water, fill my bowl with oats, & pour the boiled water over the oats. There is no science behind this. I add enough water to get the oats to a consistency that pleases me. If I accidentally add too much water, I simply pour more oats into the bowl. It’s ready instantly– no waiting for the oats to boil!
To add calories, healthy fat, protein, & flavor, I add 1 – 2 scoops of peanut butter. Again, there is no science to how much I add but I believe that the more peanut butter, the better. Then I top with my dried fruits or trail mix, a small amount of cinnamon, & brown sugar. Cinnamon is a diuretic so I caution adding too much, right before hitting the trail.
I then pour the leftover boiled water over instant coffee in my cup & wa-lah! I now have a beautiful & nutritious high calorie breakfast that will last in my tummy for hours.
To clean, I pour any remaining hot water into the bowl & add a drop of soap, then let sit for a few minutes until it scrubs right off. I seal the oats with a hair tie & pack it all away.
Lunch & snacks on the trail
Lunch is very easy: I open a can of tuna, roll into a tortilla, & enjoy. I love tuna & it is high in protein. I buy cans of tuna in oil instead of tuna in water, because of the higher calorie content.
I snack on trail mix & dried fruits along the way & I always pack one protein or granola bar per day of hiking. If I’m still not satisfied, I might eat scoops of peanut butter from the jar.
I have attempted making trail sandwiches but I am not a fan of mushy bread, which seems unavoidable when backpacking.
I boil a large amount of water & pour some over a tea bag. Then I add half of a bag of pasta — I am a hungry girl! — to the remaining water & continue boiling until al dente. I save the remaining pasta for the next night’s camp meal. I carefully drain, & add about half of a large package of pasta sauce. I like to add a bit of oregano & salt & pepper for increased flavor.
I once rented a camping pot with a collapsable handle. Not once, but TWICE, the handle broke while I was attempting to drain pasta & I lost all of my pasta to the dirt. When buying/renting a pot, I recommend making sure that the handles are sturdy!
Dessert: Next, I open a bottle of wine & enjoy the evening.
I clean the dishes & secure leftover pasta & sauce with hair ties.
If all else fails — or you spill your pasta like I did — I recommend befriending people at the campsite. I find that people are generally friendly & willing to share leftover food if you look hungry enough. Bringing wine & sharing with others also increases the chance of making friends who will help you out in a pinch.
Remember this blog post next time you’re preparing for a backpacking trip!
Finally, leave your backpacking meal ideas in the comment section below– I would love to hear them & use them!