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Backpacking Meal Ideas for Families

Embarking on a backpacking adventure with your little explorers? Ensuring they stay energized and satisfied on the trail is key to a successful and enjoyable journey. Here's a guide to backpacking meal and snack ideas that will keep both kids and adults fuelled up for the adventure ahead.

Here are my favourite backpacking meal & snack ideas for families:

Breakfast: Trailhead Delights
  1. Overnight Oats: Prepare individual jars of overnight oats by combining rolled oats, milk (or a non-dairy alternative), and a sweetener of choice. Add in dried fruits and nuts for a tasty and nutritious morning treat.

  2. Trail Mix Pancakes: Create pancake mix at home and pack it in a resealable bag. On the trail, mix with water and cook on a backpacking stove & pan. Add trail mix (nuts, seeds, and dried fruits) into the batter for an extra crunch.

  3. Backcountry Omelettes: Pre-chop veggies and pack them in a sealed container. Crack eggs into a spill-proof container. Combine in a portable pan for a hearty and customizable breakfast.

  4. Granola Parfait: Layer granola, yogurt (pack in a collapsible container), and fresh berries in a reusable pouch. A quick and nutritious start to the day.

Lunch: Easy Pack-and-Go Options
  1. DIY Wraps: Bring tortillas and a variety of fillings such as cheese, hummus, deli meats, and veggies. Let the kids assemble their own wraps for a customizable and interactive lunch.

  2. Peanut Butter & Banana Sandwiches: A classic favorite! Opt for whole-grain bread, spread with peanut butter, and add banana slices. This combination provides a good balance of carbohydrates, protein, and energy.

  3. DIY Lunchables: Pack sliced cheese, crackers, and a variety of deli meats in a bento-style container. Kids can assemble their own mini sandwiches for a fun and interactive lunch.

  4. Quinoa Salad Jars: Pre-cook quinoa and pack in jars with diced vegetables, feta cheese, and a vinaigrette dressing. Shake it up for a refreshing and filling salad.

Snacks: Power-Packed Munchies
  1. Energy Bites: Mix rolled oats, nut butter, honey, and add-ins like chocolate chips or dried fruits. Roll into bite-sized balls for a convenient and energy-boosting snack.

  2. Dehydrated Fruit Chips: Dehydrate apple or banana slices at home and pack them in airtight containers. These lightweight snacks are both delicious and full of natural sugars for a quick energy boost.

  3. Homemade Trail Mix: Create a custom trail mix with a variety of nuts, seeds, dried fruits, and chocolate chips. Let the kids personalize their own mix for a tasty and energy-boosting snack.

  4. Apple Slices with Nut Butter: Slice apples and pack them with individual servings of nut butter. A simple and nutritious snack that provides a good balance of carbs and protein.

Dinner: One-Pot Wonders
  1. Campfire Quesadillas: Fill tortillas with cheese, beans, and veggies, then cook them in a pan over a camp stove. A simple and tasty dinner that kids will love.

  2. Instant Noodle Bowls: Pack pre-cooked or instant ramen noodles and a flavourful broth or boullion in separate containers. Combine them in a pot for a quick and satisfying noodle soup on the trail. You can bring dehydrated vegetables and beef jerky for an added kick.

  3. One-Pot Pasta: Combine pre-cut vegetables, pasta, and a flavourful sauce in a single pot. Cook over a portable stove for a quick and hearty dinner.

  4. Pre-packaged Backcountry Meals: Head into an outdoor retailer like MEC or REI to pick up a "just add water" meal. Some of my favourite brands are Mountain House and Peak Refuel.

Dessert: Sweet Treats Under the Stars
  1. S'mores with a Twist: Upgrade the classic s'mores by adding banana slices or a layer of nut butter. Kids will love experimenting with different combinations. These can be cooked in a backcountry pan if you wrap in tin foil.

  2. Backcountry Apple Crisp: Bring along Dried apple slices, Instant oatmeal packets, brown sugar and cinnamon. Rehydrate dried apple slices in warm water, mix instant oatmeal, brown sugar, and a dash of cinnamon. Layer the rehydrated apples with the oatmeal mixture in a pot. Heat on the backcountry stove until the oats are cooked and the apples are warm.

Hydration: Stay Refreshed
  1. Homemade Electrolyte Drinks: Mix water, a pinch of salt, and a splash of fruit juice for a homemade electrolyte drink to keep everyone hydrated during the adventure.

  2. Infused Water Bottles: Enhance hydration with infused water. Add slices of citrus fruits, cucumber, or berries to water bottles for a refreshing sip.

  3. Hot Cocoa Packets: Prepare individual hot cocoa packets with powdered cocoa, sugar, and powdered milk. Just add hot water for a cozy evening treat.

With these creative and nutritious backpacking meal and snack ideas, your family can conquer the trails with full hearts and satisfied stomachs. Happy hiking and happy eating!

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