How To Plan and Organize Food For a Backpacking Trip

Considering “what you are going to eat” is an important part of preparing for a multi-day trip in the wilderness. Well-balanced, carefully planned food will allow you to enjoy quick, easy, great tasting and nutritious meals on the trail. This step-by-step guide will help you create your own backpacking menu and arrange food for your adventures in the great outdoors.

Step 1. Pick your favourite recipes
Flip through your favorite books or check out the Internet and pick some recipes you really like. Look at the nutrition facts, weight of the ingredients, the gear you’ll need and cooking skills required.

Step 2. Build a meal planning form
Figure out how many days you’ll be on the trail, and then count the number of meals you’ll need in each category (breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks). Create a meal planning form and write down recipes you’ve collected for each day of your trip.
Online Backpacking Meal Planner will allow to design your backpacking menu in minutes with  more than 160 recipes and more than 200 trail-ready food database.

Step 3.  Make your food list
Identify all ingredients needed for your backpacking menu. Write a food list that will make your grocery shopping easier and faster.

backpacking food planning tips

Step 4. Go shopping
When shopping at the grocery store, stick to your food list so that you don’t forget crucial ingredients or buy things you don’t need.

Step 5. Do all “at home” job
Follow “at home” directions for selected backpacking recipes. For dehydrated meals, do all the necessary pre-treatment, cooking and drying.

Step 6. Bag, seal and mark
Pack your dried meals, prepared ingredients and snacks in sealable plastic bags. Don’t forget to include “on the trail” cooking instructions for each bag. You can write these directly on the bags or tuck in printed instructions.

Step 7. Arrange your food
Group packed meals by day they should be consumed or by meal course. Pack and clearly label each group separately to make sure you know where everything is and can get to it when you need it.

5-day backpacking menu

Step 8. Pack your backpack
Put all your grouped meals in one waterproof bag, stuff sack or bear canister. Don’t forget to include your spices and condiments. Use a separate bag if you need to pack kitchen utensils for the trail.

Download backpacking food planning guide (inforgraphic)

How much food to take?

It’s very personal and depends on factors like your age, gender, body size and physical activity level. Usually 1 – 1,5 pounds (500-900g) of food per day is enough to meet the caloric needs of 2500-3000 calories for one person in moderate backpacking, ski touring or paddling trip.

For strenuous activities, recommended daily intake is 3000-3700 calories.

In extreme mountaineering and in colder weather trips, you’ll burn a lot of calories just to stay warm, so pack accordingly and increase calorie consumption up to 3700-4500 calories.

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