Favorite Backpacking Meals

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Post your favorite backcountry cookin' here!

Hot Meals

Backcountry Quesadillas

These require active cooking and will burn a bit of fuel (and possibly your hands). However, these little guys are a proven moral booster!


  • Tortillas (small enough to fit in whatever pan/pot lid you have)
  • String Cheese


Shred string cheese finely. Place between two tortillas and heat in pan over stove. There is a lot of skill involved here, especially if you're using a stove like a whisperlite. Keep the tortilla moving to keep it from adhering to the pan. Don't let the pan get too hot or the cheese won't melt - you may have to pick the pan up to move it away from the heat a bit. Flip with care - using a utensil helps.

Ramen and Veggies

This might sound like a no-brainer, but dried veggies and Ichiban (aka "Ramen") noodles make a super cheap, quick, light meal, that is undeniably delicious on any cold/cramped overnight trip. Dry your veggies once a year in bulk (or have your grandmother do it), I find that any mix with tomatoes in it tastes awesome - just use whatever is in your garden/store. It is so simple and easy, and can't go wrong. What else do you need?


Ridiculously easy to make and eat, delicious, and doesn't require much water. A no-brainer!


Pratyush's Nutella Surprise

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  • Nutella


Scoop out one spoonful of Nutella. Eat. Repeat until satisfied. Metal spoon recommended, since plastic spoons break easily.

Stephen's advice for poor grad students

Dried fruits are one of the best snacks since they have simple carbohydrates that get into your blood stream quickly. If you have an unlimited budget, then it is very easy to choose tasty dried fruits. In this case, I also recommend energy gels, such as Gu, Cliffshots and HammerGel (there are also many internet recipes on how to make your own). You can find gels at REI (they often have them for 80 cents each as their gel-of-the-month, which is a steal) or at bike stores like Performance.

If you are trying to save money, here are suggestions:

  • Lake Produce Center, which is on Lake Ave a few blocks North of the 210, has very cheap dried fruit. As of 2011, they might be permanently closed?
  • At a normal supermarket, the dates and figs are one of the cheaper dried fruits.
  • Chocolate always works, but it won't digest as quickly
  • Trader joes has many pre-made trail mixes
  • Honey works well and is cheap (you can also buy it in packets, e.g. from Honey Stinger). The main difficulty is storing it and not getting everything sticky
  • I ate Big Sur bars on a trip, and they don't digest very quickly, but they are surprisingly tasty, and are a quick substitute for a full lunch.


Sun Dried Tomatoes

Smoked sun dried tomatoes (e.g. California Sun Dry brand) are very tasty and add a lot of flavor to whatever meal you put them in. They're also pretty light. These are a good option to flavor any regular meal.

Suggestions from the Club's Winter Mountaineering trips

Taken from http://groups.google.com/group/AlpineClubTrip2010/web/food-suggestions.

Favorite foods


  • Dried fruit (from bulk bins at Whole foods, or the cheap stuff from Lake Produce, don't eat *too* much :D)
  • Thin chocolate (so that you can still eat it when it's frozen)
  • trail mix -- either buy premixed or make your own (e.g. peanuts, raisins, chocolate chips)
  • energy gels -- these provide 30 to 60 min of energy usually, and can be very helpful for when you feel more tired than usual. Keep them in an inside pocket of your jacket so they don't freeze.
  • Energy bars -- try to get ones that won't get too hard in the cold. I'm a fan of the oatmeal Clif bars in that regard.
  • Pre-made nutella sandwiches on any dense bread (squished or relatively unleavened)
  • Chocolate covered honeycomb (very light and the chocolate coating is thin so it doesn't freeze, available at Sprouts on Colorado and Rosemead, Sprouts also has lots of other bulk foods at a reasonable price).
  • Peanut butter filled pretzels


  • oatmeal or granola bars
  • miso soup
  • dry cereal (e.g. take some powdered milk)


  • sandwiches
  • salami
  • hard cheese (like asiago)
  • for bread/bagel foods, you might try pita bread or naan, since bagels are thick and can be hard to eat when frozen


  • quick cook rice & pre-cooked chicken w/ or w/out tortillas & cooked veg
  • quick-cook noodle packets & pre-cooked chicken, or tunafish, cooked veg
  • instant mashed potatoes (not super nutritious, but easy to cook and very cheap)
  • they now sell tuna fish (and salmon) packets in plastic, instead of metal tins, so it's a lightweight source of protein that you can add into almost any meal.
  • Coucous (Whole Wheat): super light, easy to cook, tons of flavor when mixed with a boullion cube.
  • Trader Joes Indian Fare packages

Drink mixes

Drinks with protein may absorb a bit faster, but are also harder to clean out of your water bottle

  • Gatorade (just sugar, no protein)
  • Endurox (contains protein)
  • Accelerade (contains protein)
  • Hydralyte/Vitalyte/Gookinaid (not quite as sugary as gatorade, but great for electrolyte replacement if you're sweating)

Gatorade has new versions, and Gu has a new product called "Electroylte Brew" and also a "GU recovery brew".

Cooking tricks

  • When using the stove inside your tent vestibule, use some kind of platform to insulate it from the snow
  • Melt enough water in the evening for the next day -- you don't want to melt it in the morning
  • For early morning starts, do not make a breakfast that uses the stove. The stove adds a lot of time
  • Bring a small piece of closed cell foam to sit on if you will be cooking outside.
  • When melting snow on the stove, add a bit of water to the pot; this speeds up the melting of the snow (probably because it provides a better thermal bond between the pot and the snow, so less heat is wasted)