Backcountry meal planning isn’t something you can scrape together at the grocery store on your way up to the park. There’s a lot of prep involved that you won’t want to skip. First, create a meal plan. You will want to think about:
- How will you be cooking your meals? Will each person in your group have their own cooking system or will it be shared? If your group decides to each bring their own individual meals but you are sharing a stove, you might be waiting a long time to cook. There’s always the option of a campfire, but you risk dealing with rain or wet wood or even a fire ban preventing you from using the campfire all together.
- What are the dietary restrictions for you or the people in your group? This might influence whether you plan for group meals or individual meals.
- Weight and space. You will be carrying all of your food with you. If your group can all eat the same foods it will save a lot of space to pack group meals rather than individual items.
Once you’ve determined whether you will be making meals as a group or individually you can start to assemble your meal plan. Create an overview for every meal you need to bring on your trip. A sample 3-Day blank meal plan is below. Fill it in with meals that you enjoy with all of their ingredients listed below the meal name.
Here's some easy meal ideas
- Dehydrated meal packages designed for backcountry camping are great and easy if you have access to any.
- Soup in a can, bag or tupperware (if you use a can, be sure to bring/borrow a can opener and remember you must take the tin back out with you)
- Pita pizzas
- Pizza sauce
- Grated cheese
- Toppings: pepperoni, chopped veggies, etc.
- Dried pasta
- Cheese/toppings (pre-cooked chicken or sausage)
- Chicken Quesadillas
- Pre-cooked chicken
- Chopped veggies
- Optional: hot sauce
- Curry and rice
- Instant rice or packaged cooked rice
- Pre-made curry sauce
- Naan pitas
- Deli meat
- Sliced or shredded cheese
- Chopped veggies
- Tortilla wraps
- Condiment of choice
- Hot dogs or sausages
- Condiment of choice
- Hot dogs or sausages (pre-cooked is great so you can just re-heat over the fire)
- Instant ramen packages just add boiling water. (ideally use the small packages that don’t take up very much room in your pack)
(You can also use some of the dinner ideas for lunch)
- Pancake mix that only requires water
- Butter or oil
- Syrup or spread for toppings
- Instant Oatmeal
- instant oatmeal packages just add boiling water
- Bagels and cream cheese
- Cream cheese (or other spread of preference)
- Instant coffee or tea
- Trail mix
- Granola bars
- Dried fruit
- Beef jerky
- Crackers and dip
Prep your ingredients
So, you’ve figured out what you are going to eat, now you need to pack it. It might be tempting to just throw everything you bought into a bag and call it a day. Please don’t do this. You will end up carrying way more than you need and also end up with excessive waste. It will make your trip so much better to pre-portion and package everything properly.
For example, If you need butter, don’t bring a full stick wrapped in the flimsy tin foil it comes in. It could get squished or melt in the heat and get greasy butter all over all of your other food. It’s better to take just as much as you need and put it into a re-sealable container or bag.
Light weight Tupperware containers and ziplock bags are great for repackaging food!
If you plan to bring any meat, consider that there won’t be anywhere to refrigerate it. Here’s a couple options for you instead.
- Pre-cook the meat. If you pre-cook the meat at home you can season it with all your favourite spices that you likely wouldn’t bring with you and then at your campsite all you need to do is reheat it.
- Freeze it. If you freeze your meat, then it can act as an ice pack for the rest of your food throughout the day and by the time you reach your campsite it should be thawed and still cool. Please always use caution when cooking raw meat. We would advise doing this for meals on your first day only. tip: you can freeze other things too like sauces or pizza dough.
- Cured or dehydrated meat. Swap out an ingredient for cured meats or jerky.
Lastly, remember, in the backcountry you are carrying everything you brought in with you back out – this includes all of your garbage.