Other Backpacking Meal Tips
Consider repackaging foods into resealable and reusable pouches or containers to minimize bulk and garbage. Be sure to clearly label everything and include cooking instructions.
Test out recipes at home: Just as its good practice to test out your stove or tent at home first, try new potential backpacking recipes at home. While trail food always magically tastes better on the trail, practice can give you an idea of how much effort it will be to make, cooking time, and adjustments you might want to make for taste. Invite some friends over, have a backpacking cooking competition and have fun with it.
Save a special treat: Its nice to have a dessert or a special treat to wrap up your day. A freeze-dried raspberry crumble or bar of good dark chocolate can keep you motivated.
Take a class: Learn the basics of backcountry cooking from the experts.
Instant Tea Bags And Coffee Packets
If a cup of coffee is more than enough for you in a day, then you need to bring along some coffee sachets on your trip.
These tea bags and coffee packets are very easy to use because you only need to add hot water.
You dont have to deal with any trash, and you dont have to carry much weight either.
Instant Noodles Pasta And Mac
Instant cup noodles and mac & cheese are some of the quickest items to cook.
They are indeed delicious that you can bring along on camping.
You need hot water to make both of these.
Simple yet very tasty, any pasta is a handy item in the food collection for camping.
You can always add seasoning and a few spices to your food for some extra flavor.
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What Is Cold Soaking
As its name implies, cold-soaking is a cooking technique that uses cold water and soak time to “cook” a meal. All you need is your food, some water, and a sealed container. You can use a peanut butter jar, gatorade powder mix jar or purchase a Vargo Bot. Our favorite container for cold-soaking though, is a Talenti ice cream jar. It is lightweight, fits a good amount of food, and does not leak.
“My kitchen and dishware consisted of a titanium spoon with an extra long handle and a Talenti Gelato container – these were my bowl, cup, plate, pots and pans, fork, knife, spoon, mug, etc. It’s incredible how versatile those two little things could be.Plus, every time the container got too gross to keep using, I HAD TO buy a new one and eat a pint of gelato :)” – Zellow
Cooking your meal is as easy as adding the water and food to the container and waiting. You should start soaking at least a half-hour before you are ready to eat. It’s even better to start soaking when you take your late afternoon break. Mix your meal before your break is over and your food will be ready as soon as you make it to your next campsite or shelter.
“I cant really think of anything I wouldnt recommend cold soaking… When you are out there in the woods for so long you begin to be more adventurous with what you are willing to try and more open to foods that fill you up even if the taste isnt spectacular.” – Zellow
Adding water to a Talenti jar to cold soak a meal
Make Ahead Slow Cooked Beef Stew
This beef stew is a hearty, nourishing dinner that can be frozen ahead of time and reheated at camp. Give it a try using this recipe by Six Sisters Stuff.
Great for: Families looking for a hot, filling dinner option.Campers in colder conditions.Make-ahead prep time: 10 minutes .Serves: 6
- 1 package onion soup mix
- Add beef cubes to the slow cooker crock pot. Layer with carrots, followed by potatoes and topping with the bay leaf.
- In a different bowl, combine remaining ingredients and pour mixture over the beef and veg.
- Cover and cook on low for around 8 hours.
- To freeze, either separate the stew into separate containers or place the whole thing in a large zip-lock bag. You can then reheat in a pan at camp.
Use-by: Allow stew to thaw for 24 hours and then consume within 3-4 days.
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Ready Wise Food Storage 60 Entree Bucket
One of the bigger names in emergency preparedness foods, Ready Wise Food Storage makes a pretty big array of shelf-stable meals and ingredients. You can find bulk cans, individually packed entrees, and a variety of emergency food buckets, which are good for 25 years.
We liberated one of my buckets from the corner of my garage for this experiment, and Im sad to report that this bucket will definitely have to wait for the next big California earthquake before I touch it again.
Neither of our tasters was a fan of the Creamy Pasta and Vegetable Rotini dish that Eric chose from the bucket. It might have been made with a little too much water, since it was soupy, and it probably could have used a little more time to rehydrate before we got to it.
Still-dehydrated peas aside, the flavor was bland. The texture was passable, but, as mentioned, some of the dehydrated ingredients werent fully softened.
One packet contains four servings, at 200 calories per serving. This dish is pretty carb- and sodium-heavy, though, so if youre aiming for a nutritious apocalypse dinner, this probably isnt it.
It will feed you though, and in the end, thats all that counts.
Peanut Butter And Banana Wraps
For peanut butter lovers, this simple make ahead lunch by Betty Crocker is the one for you. Not only are they super easy but they can be stored at room temperature rather than the cooler. This is how simple it is grab a tortilla, spread some peanut butter on it, add banana slices and roll it up. You can even add chocolate chips for an extra bit of sweetness. Cover in foil and youre all set.
Great for: Kids whats not to love!People who want an easy fuss-free lunch.Hikers good source of energy and easy to carry.Make-ahead prep time: 5 minutes.Serves: As many as you need.
Here are some alternatives you can also try:
- Jam and banana .
- Peanut butter and jelly.
- Crunchy peanut butter and apple.
- Cream cheese, honey, cinnamon and banana.
Use-by: With banana, we recommend consuming these no later than a day after making.Top tip: To make these even better, throw the tinfoiled wraps on the camp fire for gooey, delicious goodness.
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We Know What You’re Craving
We meticulously select our ingredients so you’ll always get a high-quality, nutritious, and delicious meal. Energy matters. That’s why we build our meals around complex carbohydrates.
Protein matters, especially when our muscles need to recover quickly. That’s why our meals always contain high amounts of protein for optimal muscle recovery.
Our ready to eat meals are always made with wholesome ingredients.
Make Ahead Puff Pastry Pockets
An American food-truck favorite, these lunch time delights can still be enjoyed on your camping holiday. The recipe, taken from Cooking Divine, is easy to make at home and packed full of flavor. Give it a try!
Great for: Families and kids a simple, enjoyable lunch for the whole family.Couples an easy lunch time option that will last over 2 days.Make-ahead prep time: 30 minutes.Serves: 4
- Preheat the oven to 375°F .
- Heat some oil in a sauce pan on a medium heat.
- Once hot, add chopped pepper and onion and cook for 3-5 minutes until soft.
- Add the steak and cook until brown. You can add any seasoning/spices that you wish to include.
- Remove pan from the heat and set aside.
- Sprinkle some flour on a smooth surface, lay out the pastry and cut into 8 equal squares.
- Add 1/4 of the steak mix to 4 of the pastry squares, topping each with some grated cheese.
- Lay the remaining squares over the top, sealing together with a fork.
- Egg wash the outside of the pastry squares, slit the tops and sprinkle some salt on.
- Bake for 20 minutes.
- Once the pastries have cooled, you can wrap them in foil and put them in the freezer for up to 2 months.
- Re-heat over the campfire still wrapped in foil until meat is piping hot.
Use-by: Transferring the pastries from the freezer to the cooler will keep them fresh for 2-3 days.
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What Do Mres Taste Like
Thats a pretty subjective question and obviously depending on whom you speak with you will get a different answer. Just like canned goods, you either like them or you dont. Many people feel that MREs are just as good if not better than canned food. MREs are very convenient and there are people who enjoy them enough to eat them regularly when they need a quick meal for lunch or dinner. MREs are designed to be as home-style cooked meals. They are designed to last. Home cooked meal wont last more than a week, our MREs will last 5 years or more and we think they taste pretty good!
How To Plan Food For Backpacking
Even if its just a rough sketch, it helps to make a meal plan to know how much food you need. This could be as simple as writing it out on paper or as complex as creating a spreadsheet. Start with dinners, which generally are the biggest meals of the day and the ones youre likely to sit down for. Think of the activities youre going to be doing and when youre doing them. What is your day going to look like and how much energy will you have at the end of it? On your hardest day of hiking, you may want just a simple dehydrated meal. But if your trip includes time lounging around camp, youll have more time to prepare.
Some people like knowing what theyll eat each night out keeping ingredients for each meal together and labeling the meals by the day. This helps ensure theyll have enough food for each day out. Others just throw their food in one bag and decide on the go what to eat. If you want to include fresh food on the trail such as fruits and vegetables, eat it earlier in the trip . Include an easy freeze-dried or dehydrated meal that you just add water to for those days when you have a lot of mileage to cover and may be too tired to cook.
As youre planning your meal, also consider:
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Peanut Butter And Banana Rolls
These wraps are a classic, and easy to throw in your day pack if you spend lunch on the trail rather than at the campsite. They can be a premade camping meal at home, but are incredibly easy to prepare at the campsite as well.
Use a whole wheat tortilla and spread on peanut butter, other nut butter, on the tortilla and add sliced banana. Feel free to add chocolate chips or nutella or replace the banana with your favorite fruit jam.
If you and your party decide to eat them at the campsite, warm them up on the campfire grill in tin foil so they are toasty and extra tasty.
Bewell Expedition Food: Chicken Tikka Masala
Price: £6.49Meals Tested: Veg chilli con carne, strawberries with custard, chicken tikkaVital Stats: 180g / 700kcal / 3.9kcal per gram / 8 mins chicken tikka masalaBest for: Expeditions, backpacking, wild campingKey attributes: Big portion sizes, high calorie count, easy-to-use pouch
Used and endorsed by Sir Ranulph Fiennes, British-based company BeWell Expedition Food supplies a range of free-dried meals, ready-to-eat wet meals, 24-hour ration packs and energy products all emblazoned with a headshot of the legendary explorer looking suitably rugged and adventurous. The freeze-dried meals use the standard approach of rip open pouch, add water, stir, seal, wait, and eat and serve up a high-calorie content to fuel your adventures, although they are a tad heavier than ideal.
Outdoors Magic Taste Test: The vegetarian chilli con carne is a hearty hot meal with a slightly spicy kick to it, an excellent helping of kidney beans and rice, and a large portion size that is guaranteed to fill a hole, while the 180g strawberries with custard provides a similarly massive portion of very sweet dessert with a whopping 784kcal. The chicken tikka masala provides a similarly big portion with a decent spicy flavour. Personally I didnt find the BeWell Expedition Food meals the tastiest on test, but if youve got a big appetite they might just be the right option for you.
Get the latest price at:
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Make Ahead Foil Packed Dinners
The main ingredient for these dinners is a trusty roll of king-sized tinfoil the ultimate necessity for make ahead camping meals. There are so many foil recipes available, not to mention variations you can make yourself. Heres a quick veggie one by Today’s Parent to get you started:
Great for: Healthy eaters who want a veggie dish to accompany their main meal.Make-ahead prep time: 15 minutes.Serves: 4
- Cut 4 square pieces of foil, around 12 inches.
- Prepare the vegetables and divide between foil squares. Drizzle oil over and add the garlic powder and a sprinkle of salt. Close the foil and crimp loosely over vegetables to create a packet.
- Store in the cooler until ready to cook.
- Throw the packets on the grill or barbecue set at a medium-high heat. Turn over after a couple of minutes and remove from heat when vegetables are tender . Allow to stand for 2 minutes before opening.
Use-by: Store in the cooler and eat within 2-3 days. Other foil packets may vary depending on the ingredients used.Top tip: These veggie packets would go great with enchiladas, mac n cheese or burgers.
Pad Thai With Chicken By Backpackers Pantry
Thick and creamy with just the right amount of salt, this Thai-inspired meal features peanut butter in the sauce and whole peanuts sprinkled on top. The noodles were chewy and held together unlike other pasta dishes Baird sampled that broke into small pieces when cooked. You could get a big bite, she says. Not like a spoon bite, but like a fork bite. Moreover, the chicken was generously portioned and had a nice texture. The one downside: the condiment packets were extremely difficult to openBaird eventually had to cut them open with a knife. If she were out on the trail, in the cold and dark, she says she would have just gone without them.
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Sos Emergency Ration Bars
The stark white vacuum pack with the crisp blue lettering may look like something FEMA distributes, but we were pleasantly surprised that these cookie-like S.O.S. Emergency Ration Bars were kind of cookie-like.
The flavor could be described as aggressively vanilla/graham cracker, but at least they were pleasantly sweet. We found them to be a lot on the dry and crumbly side, which doesnt make for neat eating.
In the apocalypse, maybe its not a big deal. For munching on because my car broke down and AAA Roadside Assistance will be here in a day or so it kinda is.
These packs are good for up to 5 years when theyre sealed, and each pack contains 3,600 calories worth of bars, which is intended to last for 72-hours.
Cake Or Brownies In Oranges
Cut the top off an orange, scoop the fruit out of the middle , and replace it with cake or brownie batter, prepared as the packaged directions say . Fill each orange about ¾ of the way with batter before replacing the top, wrapping it tightly with foil a couple times around, and placing it upright in the campfire for about 30 or so minutes. You might want to mark which end is the top!
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Best Survival And Camping Food Brands & Kits
Ready to dig in?
Weve tried our hand at preparing and taste-testing some of the more popular survival and camping food selections out there, and weve formed a few opinions on the matter.
Lets talk about it!
Now, when you think prepping, do you think MREor meals ready to eat?
After all, these ready-to-eat meals are quintessential features of any well-stocked fallout shelter or zombie apocalypse bunker.
Theyre self-heating, sealed, and pretty portable, though, as you can imagine, military rations are a bit lacking on quality and flavor.
No offense, warfighters, but seeing my choice for a last-resort food branded as Warfighter Recommended, Warfighter Tested, Warfighter Approved doesnt inspire confidence in its craveability.
However, MREs are pretty easy to find, pretty easy to use, and, if were being honest, have a pretty wide variety of high-calorie mealsnot too bad when food is fuel to survive.
We tried Menu 1: Chili with Beans, which was our assorted mystery MRE that we ordered from Amazon.
Included in the packet was said chili, as well as cornbread, cheddar cheese spread, vegetable crackers, Pepperoni Pizza Cheese Filled Crackers, Lemon Lime beverage powder , and Accessory Packet A, which contained wipes, cutlery, hot sauce, and the like.
Flavorwise, it wasnt that inspiring. It was on par with Dinty Moore canned chili, in our opinion. Definitely edible, but probably not going to win any cook-offs.
It generates a lot of trash for a single meal.