This summer I decided to commit to a vegan diet. It has been an exciting journey of searching for fun recipes, but also a journey of making sure I am getting the right nutrients. As I prepared for my first backpacking trip of the summer, I came across the issue of what food to pack. Before my diet switch, mac and cheese and jerky were always quick options to chuck in my bag, but now I had to be more aware. The challenge was finding foods that would fit my diet but also wouldn’t go bad quickly and still fuel my body right. To anyone facing the same questions, this guide is for you.
Plan it out – Count how many meals you need to prepare for and whether you’ll have extra water to spare for a meal when you stop. Running out of food is never a fun thing. It’s always good to have some extra snacks in case of an emergency.
Count your calories – I know this is often frowned upon, but for backpacking, it’s a special case. Backpacking is no joke. It definitely takes a toll on the body and it is so important to make sure you are eating the right amount of food to ensure you have the energy to last the trip.
Snacks are important – Snacks are a key part of backpacking. Although it might be tempting to pack a couple big meals to save the back, it might not be the smartest way to eat. Snacks are easy to store and are also key in maintaining proper blood sugar throughout the trip.
Bring fresh food – Dehydrated foods are easy, long-lasting, and light to pack — that’s why they’re so popular, but they can be unsatisfying and unhealthy. In mild weather, fruit and veggies last for a surprisingly long time. They might get a bit beat up in the pack — but the juiciness of fresh foods always beats dehydrated meals after a long day of hiking.
Length of your trip – One thing to make sure you keep in mind while planning for a trip is how long it will be. If you are going on a short trip, you can often pre-cook most of the meals. This means you will be able to eat a greater assortment of foods.
Granola – Granola is a quick and easy option that is high in calories and flavorful. Most grocery stores now have a large assortment of different wonderful, nutrient packed granola that actually tastes good. You can also opt to make your own to cater to your favorite flavors. This vanilla almond granola recipe is one of my favorites.
Oatmeal – Oatmeal is a classic breakfast choice. Companies like Quaker Oats have created convenient instant to-go oatmeal in the shapes of cups and packets that are perfect for backpacking trips. Oatmeal is also a good source of carbs, protein, and fiber.
Bagels – Bagels are another easy-to-pack food for backpacking. Top it with your choice of nut butter and you are good to go. The combination of bread and nuts will fuel you with plenty of energy to start the day.
Breakfast Bars – I love breakfast bars for a quick on-the-run breakfast any day. These are a yummy, sweet treat that will also fill you up. There are so many different recipes that incorporate all sorts of seeds and nuts. You can customize it to fit your taste. One of my favorites is a banana quinoa breakfast bar, but a quick Pinterest search, and you’ll find yourself with a whole variety to choose from.
Lunch & Dinner
Wraps/Bread – Tortilla wraps and bread is a great thing to bring to top with all sorts of food. It’s perfect to eat with beans, peanut butter, anything you want if you just try it! They are very versatile and fill you up quickly.
Ramen & Noodles – Ramen isn’t the most calorie dense food, but it definitely is an easy and quick meal. Heat up some water, and you are good to go. Some ramen brands don’t even need to be cooked over heat, they can easily rehydrate with some water. Pasta and noodle dishes are a go-to meal for me on a weekly basis and it definitely still is when I am backpacking. You can pack the dish with all sorts of veggies and you are good to go.
Prepared Meals – Mountain House is a freeze dried food brand that is popular among many backpackers. Unfortunately, they don’t make any options for vegans. Outdoor Herbivore and Good-To-Go are two other dehydrated camp food brands that have vegan options.
Wheat Thins, Fritos, Oreos, Swedish Fish, crackers are all surprisingly vegan snacks. I get that not everyone wants to sustain off Oreos for an extensive backpacking trip, but when you need that little bit of sugar to bring up your energy, it’s good to have a stash in your bag. If you just look at the ingredients of the various snacks in your grocery store, you might be surprised at how many of them actually fit a vegan diet. Here is a list of some of my favorite snacks to bring backpacking:
- Hummus & veggies
- Trail mix
- Bars (Clif Bars and Larabars are my favorites!)
- Salty snacks
- Energy balls (a favorite of mine)
- Rice Cakes (perfect to top with nut butters)
I hope this guide is helpful in preparing for your next backpacking trip and hopefully make food prep less daunting. Just remember to always listen to your body, it knows best.