How to Pack Food for Your Next Backpacking Trip

I love backpacking. Just out of college, my dear friend Erica and I decided we want to give it a try. We bought packs, pulled together our equipment, and made plans to take on the Smokeys. Though we didn’t finish the full distance we’d planned, we challenged ourselves and chalk it up to great experience.

Since then, Bob and I have backpacked in Virginia, Minnesota, and Michigan (here and here). Soon, we’re adding another destination to our list: Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore.

It wasn’t until Isle Royale (our most recent trip) I felt we hit our stride in packing food. We brought just the right amount, felt satiated the whole trip, and had enough left over at the end that we could have survived in an emergency situation, but not so much we were hauling unnecessary extra weight.

For our upcoming 3 day/2 night trip, here’s what we’ll bring along:


The most important meal of the day! For two of us, we pack 1 cup of oatmeal for each morning (in a ziploc), plus one extra cup in case we get stranded. We also pack brown sugar and cinnamon to add flavor. For longer trips, we’ll also bring along a jar of peanut butter and mix in a spoonful each morning.


High protein meals are good when you’re exerting as much effort as you do hiking. We bring 1 tuna packet and 1/2 a sleeve of crackers for each of us for each lunch on the trail. There are so many different flavors of tuna– change it up so you don’t get bored!


For this trip, we’re bringing two meals we love: chicken fettucini alfredo and broccoli cheddar rice with chicken. It doesn’t even sound like camping food!

For two people for two meals, you’ll need:

  • Two side dish packets of pasta
  • Two side dish packets of rice–any flavor of quick cooking rice will do
  • Two packets of chicken

To cut down on trash, transfer the pasta/rice packets into a ziploc bag, and use a permanent marker to write the cooking directions on the bag.

For longer trips, we like the Bear Creek soup mixes–each mix will easily feed four people, so we prepare half of it early in the trip, and half later in the trip.

Snacks and Drinks

This trip, we’re bringing dried fruit, trail mix, and drink mixes. For longer trips, we’ll also bring granola bars and peanut butter, and maybe some gummy bears or fruit chews.

All told for our 3 days and 2 nights….

Not too shabby!

Have you ever gone backpacking? 

If you’re interested….tips for a great (first?) camping trip and our favorite backpacking destination.

One thought on “How to Pack Food for Your Next Backpacking Trip

  1. Pingback: Visiting Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore | Balance and Blueberries

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