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Camping Basics: Hiking Food Ideas (Not Knowing These Can Make You Regret!)

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Camping comprises various tiring and exhaustive activities, and after an eventful day, everyone looks forward to relishing delicacies on the menu to refuel their emaciated self. And it is needless to mention that preparing food outside the confines and comfort of your kitchen can be an unnerving experience.You have to make good with whatever resources you have, and yet the food on the menu should be able to satisfy everyone’s taste buds with enough nutrition to keep them active.That’s where our hiking food ideas and tips come in handy!

The first and foremost question that shall confront you is what and how much to pack. Well, the answer is simple; this depends on the number of meals you are planning to cook and how much raw material you will need to feed everyone—like for a weekend hike, 0.5 to 1 pound per person per day is sufficient, while on longer backpacking trips, you will be required to pack around 1.75 to 2 pounds per person per day.

Secondly and in contrast to the first point, do not over pack; there is a very fine line between sufficient and excess. This is a common mistake made by many people. Extra food means carrying extra weight. Decide the list and quantity wisely depending upon the nutritional value of the food and the activities planned during camping.

You must be wondering how it is possible to meet these contrasting challenges with so many restrictions.Don’t worry; you can prepare appetizing camping meals without straining yourself. Keep reading to know all the meal planning tips and hiking food ideas for camping.

Factors to Consider While Planning for Meals


Prepare a menu that consists of tasty food options, and a treat to both your taste buds and eyes. After a grueling hard day at the camp, campers will surely not like to have not-so-tasty food, which may ruin your entire camping experience. Mix up things a bit like roasted red potatoes with broccoli and cauliflower.

roasted red potatoes make for a tempting camping meal

A carefully selected menu with attention to taste will make campers go gaga over you.


Camping is an exhausting activity and it drains energy from your body at a very quick pace. To sustain such strenuous activity, fast replenishment is very important. For a 500 mile hike, 3500 calories are the baseline.

Hiking Food Calories

Pack foods that are rich in calories and have high nutritional value in order to refuel your fatigued body and give that extra punch to enjoy your camping.


You will be carrying your camping food along the trails. So, pack food which is lightweight and compact such as cereals, pancake mix, pasta, and rice. You can even opt for a no-cooking-just-add-boiling-water meal that will preclude carrying extra cookware.

Ease of preparation

After a laborious day, reluctance for cooking is a foregone conclusion. Other campers too would be unwilling to wait longer for the food. Plan your menu in such a manner that requires slight or moderate preparation, effort, and time. Therefore, the time required for preparing the camping meals and the time available should be considered while deciding the menu.


Water tops the chart in the list of essential items. It is required for drinking as well as for cooking. The quantity to be carried entirely depends on the location.

Water plays a vital role in meal planning

The location will also impact the filtration or purification system you need to bring.


While deciding the menu, keep in mind that it should be economical for all the campers. Although the freeze-dried meals and energy snacks are convenient choices, they may be expensive for other camp members.


Some places do not allow open fires and have restrictions on the types of stoves that can be used. Before selecting the food and cooking gears, check the local rules and regulations of the place.

Hiking Food Ideas & Meal Planning: Safe Bets!

Vegetables and Fruits

Fresh food is a healthy option but only for short trips. They, without refrigeration, will not last long. Invest in buying fruits and veggies which will not go bad on long backpacking trips.

fresh fruits and veggies for meal planning

Packaged Food

Meals like pasta, cereals, and rice come in easy-to-carry foil packs and can add variety to your meals. They are lightweight and you do not have to worry about their shelf-life. These are the must-haves in your hiking food ideas.

Packaged food for backpacking food ideas

Canned Foods

With or without fresh food in the menu, canned food can make a hearty and scrumptious meal and is a must for meal planning tips for camping. These are only suggested for a short camp or if you do not intend to cook in your camping trip. Their packaging comes in all sizes and weights. Before putting them in your shopping bag, check their weight and bulkiness.

select the right canned foods for meal planning


Often considered as “sidekicks,” Spices are the backbone of any meal. They not only add taste to the otherwise simple bland food but are always essential for versatile camping food. Pack essential Spices like salt, pepper, basil, and garlic powder.

spices are the essentials for camping food

Flavored Beverages

You cannot always munch on your favorite energy bars while you engage yourself in different activities as it might get monotonous; flavored energy drinks can bring a fresh change. These drinks are luscious and energizing. Wide-ranging varieties of energy drinks are available suiting each and everyone’s requirement.

essential enegry drinks for hiking

The best aspect of energy drink is its acceptance among a wide variety of people. It can be used to quench thirst in the case of water shortage.

Dehydrated Foods

The most convenient foods, they are easy to carry and cook and are a must have in your backpack. One of the essential hiking food ideas for camping – Dried foods add the much-needed variety to your meals. Their long shelf-life is the added advantage, which will make you consider their viability if you are planning a long trip away from the jungle of concretes. You can even prepare your own dried food packet at home.

meal planning: dried fruits help a lot

Backpacking Food Ideas for a Meal


Breakfast is the most important meal of the day and its importance needs no further explanation. A wholesome and healthy breakfast has to be rich in nutrients to provide the much-required boost in energy levels to prepare for the tough day ahead.

Hot cereals, pancake, scrambled eggs, baked potatoes, instant tea, coffee, juice, and fresh fruits are ideal for breakfast. They will save time and kickstart your day with your belly filled and the body loaded.


Any attempt at mid-day cooking extravaganza is bound to add to the labor and will certainly have time limitations. Also after a heavy lunch, you will find yourself ponderous with an aversion to any activity. Instead of a lavish spread, settle for a simple and quick snack. Popular choices for a mid-day meal are caramelized onions on the grill and sandwiches.


This is the time to manifest your culinary skills. Everybody is exhausted and wants to devour toothsome servings to satisfy the cravings of a depleted body. However, do not go for the lavish menu; instead opt for easy-to-cook meals like curly dogs, pasta, rice, noodles, and soup to save both time and labor.

Add spices to give your personal touch and garnish your food adequately to make the dinner appealing. Make easy desserts like roasted apples and cake in an orange to leave campers with a lasting taste on their taste buds.

Other Essential Hiking Food Ideas & Tips

  • Invest some time in learning some easy and quick recipes for a campfire.
  • Stock up packaged foods, just-add-boiling-water meals, or dehydrated meals in separate and properly labeled zip-lock bags.
 Hiking Food Ideas
  • Do not forget to carry cooking and other safety essentials.
  • Cooking pot, bowls, plates, compostable trash bags, portable water filter, disposable wipes, and biodegradable plates and spoons are a must in your backpack.

Cooking should not get into your way of enjoying your camping experience. Follow these hiking food ideas and meal planning tips for camping and enjoy mouth-watering meals while you take the much-required break from you monotonous life and revel in the lap of nature.

Related post: Tips for camping like a pro!

Do not forget to share, in the comments box, if you have any food and meal planning tips for camping and also your favorite easy meal recipes with other camping enthusiasts.