Backpacking meals are a tricky business. You want to bring food that is nutritious, tasty, easy to prepare, easy to clean-up, and lightweight all at the same time! Also, you probably don’t want to eat the same thing every day.
Our recent 5-night backpacking trip into Mt. Assiniboine had us puzzling through meals, as we sorted and prepared food for the trip. Here’s what we ended up bringing and what we thought!
We brought two types of breakfast with us:
- Hot breakfast
- Cold breakfast
Hot breakfast consisted of ‘Prot-meal’. This was a ziplock baggie containing: oatmeal, protein power, milk powder, brown sugar, raisins, cinnamon, cardamon, and hemp seeds. We simply poured out our protmeal mixture into cups and added boiling water. Yum!
Cold breakfast consistent of two Nutri-grain bars per person. We ate this on days when we needed an early start and didn’t want to mess around with the stove and clean-up. This was not an exciting breakfast, but it was quick and speedy and got us going.
Lunch was the same every day. We organized ‘lunch packs’ which the two of us shared:
Each lunch pack contained:
- Almonds and cashews
- Dried fruit
- Two Cliff bars
- Two Lindor chocolates!
These lunch packs were designed to be an easy no-cook meal that we could throw in our bags for day hikes or just munch along the trail. We also dipped into a bag of beef jerky for extra protein.
These lunches were good, but got a little tiresome after a while. I made the mistake of buying salted almonds and it is very easy to get over-salted on backpacking food, yuck!
We also brought two packages of chicken noodle soup mix, just incase we hit bad weather and wanted something hot with lunch to help warm up.
Supper was always cooked, and consisted of preparing a dried, packaged meal.
We had Mountain House ‘Spaghetti with Meat Sauce’ one night, but then shared Knorr’s Sidekicks for the other 4 nights. Both meals are prepped the same way: boiling water mixed with the package contents. Mountain House is a slightly faster prep and does have more calories per package, but we enjoyed both types of meals just the same.
And here’s the thing: cost. A Mountain House package costs about $8/meal (split between two people). Meanwhile, a Knorr’s Sidekick costs about $2/meal (split between two people). That’s a big difference over multiple dinners!
Snacks are exciting! Here are some of the things we brought along:
- Trail mix
- Fruit gummies and liquorice
- Fruit bars
- Chocolate bars
There are lots of ideas out there for backpacking meals! Do some research and talk to other people about what they bring. And hey, you can always test run a new backpacking meal by making it at home first!
Taking the time to organize homemade meals like protmeal or to find cheaper alternatives like Sidekicks can save a lot of money over buying prepackaged backpacking meals.
Can you ditch the stove and avoid cooking all together? Yes, you can, but preparing a trip that is 100% no-cook meals requires extra care and consideration. There is a great blog post on section hiker.com that goes into detail about no-cook backpacking.
Happy trails and bon appetite!