Backpacking Recipes

Cooking over a campfire is fun.

Whether you are an experienced camper or a novice, backpacking recipes are necessary for those times when you will be camping in primitive conditions.

What Foods to Take Backpacking

While camping may allow you to bring a cooler full of ice for the weekend to keep your food cold, a backpacking trip will not. Backpackers hike in to a wilderness area and maybe on their own for days or weeks. Canned foods and coolers would be much too heavy to carry, so backpackers rely on dried foods and items they can harvest from the wild when possible.

There are many good reasons for using recipes made primarily of dried foods:

  • Dried foods are light and don't take up much space in your pack.
  • They are nutritious.
  • They can contribute large amounts of calories when you need them most.
  • They last for long periods of time without refrigeration.
  • They are easy to make yourself with a little equipment.
  • They will save you money.

What You Will Need

In order to make the recipes that follow, and others that you may find, you will need:

  • A food dehydrator
  • Commercially dried foods if desired
  • A box of resealable bags
  • 3 by 5 cards for writing the directions for reconstituting your creations
  • Basic ingredients like:
    • Dried milk
    • Sugar
    • Flour
    • Salt

    Some Simple Backpacking Recipes

    When you are looking at recipes, consider where you will be backpacking and the season involved. An average adult will need about twice the calories during a winter trip, for example, and more calories will be required if there will be a lot of climbing involved.To keep things simple, follow these steps when making the recipes:
    1. Read the recipe.
    2. Dehydrate or buy the ingredients needed.
    3. Write the instructions for reconstituting them on the 3 by 5 card and slip it into the resealable bag with the ingredients.
    4. Store in a cool, dry place.

    Ground Beef

    Ground beef is one of the easiest meats to dehydrate and it a great ingredient in main dishes.

    Just season and brown a pound of ground beef. Drain the fat and blot with paper towels to remove as much fat as possible. Dry for eight hours, or until crispy all the way through.

    Shepherd's Pie

    Packet One:
  • 1 1/3 cups dried ground beef
  • ½ cup dried onion
  • ½ cup dried carrots

Packet Two:

  • 1 1/3 cups dehydrated potato flakes
  • 2 tablespoons dry milk
  • 1 tablespoon butter buds, optional
  • Pinch of salt

Instructions:

  1. Add 1 ¾ cups of water to the meat in a large pot over a medium fire.
  2. Cover and bring to a boil; simmer for 10 minutes.
  3. In another pot, bring 1 2/3 cups water to a boil.
  4. Add contents of the potato packet and stir until the water is absorbed.
  5. Serve the meat mixture with a spoonful of potatoes on top.

Serves four.

Stew

This is a fantastic backpacking recipe. You can add any wild foods that you may find, such as dandelion greens, wild garlic or onion.

  • 1 cup dried ground beef
  • ¼ cup dried onion
  • ¼ cup dried mushrooms
  • ½ cup dried carrots
  • 2 tablespoons dried tomato (you can dry tomato paste to create leather)
  • 1 ½ cups macaroni
  • ¼ cup dried green pepper

Instructions:

  1. Place macaroni in a separate bag.
  2. To cook, bring 2 cups of water to a boil in a large pot.
  3. Add the macaroni and cook five minutes.
  4. Add the package with the meat and vegetables in it.
  5. Simmer for 10 minutes. Cover and let stand for 10 to 15 minutes.

Serves four.

Side Dishes

Besides reconstituted vegetables, there are other food items that you can take. Rice, especially brown rice, is full of complex carbohydrates. Pasta cooks as easily over an open fire as it does on the stove at home.

Rice and Mushrooms

  • ½ cup dried mushrooms, more if desired
  • 2 tablespoons dried onion
  • 2 cups rice

Instructions:

  1. Bring four cups of water to a boil.
  2. Add rice packet.
  3. Cover and simmer for 30 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to stand for 15 minutes.

Serves four.

Lentils and Noodles

Packet one:

  • 1 cup lentils
  • ¼ cup dried onion
  • ¼ cup dried celery

Packet two:

  • 2 cups noodles

Instructions:

  1. Add contents of lentil packet to three cups of water. Cover.
  2. Bring to a boil and simmer for 30 minutes.
  3. Bring water to a boil in a second pot.
  4. Cook noodles until tender, drain.
  5. Serve lentils over the noodles.

Serves four.

Other Resources

There are many websites that have good backpacking recipes. Always check the ingredients to make sure that they are items that do not need to be refrigerated.


Backpacking is a great way to relax and experience nature. The lighter you can travel, the more you will be able to enjoy the trip. If you plan on hiking often, investing in a dehydrator and other equipment for preparing your backpacking recipes would be a good idea.Take the time to plan your menu carefully to meet all of your nutritional needs. Easy backpacking recipes will allow you to eat well no matter where you are.

Backpacking Recipes