Easy Backpacking Meals for Cold-Weather Hiking Family Weekends
You’ve heard it before: Backpackers love to cook their food. Unfortunately, cooking takes time and energy, which makes packing meals even harder.
Luckily, there are some great options out there that don’t require much effort or skill.
Cooking is often considered essential for backpackers because it allows them to prepare nutritious and delicious meals without having to rely on restaurants or other sources of food.
In addition, it helps save precious space in your pack.
“No cooking” means that you’ll only need a little bit of prep work before you head out into the wilderness.
For example, you might boil water for tea or coffee, or heat some instant noodles.
Also, a food delivery company, which gives plenty of healthy and fast choices, can make meal planning easy.
This way, you won’t have to worry about carrying around pots and pans, and you can focus on enjoying your trip instead of worrying about where to put things.
In this article, we’re going to take a look at some of our favorite minimum-to-no-cooking backpacking meals and recipes.
These backpacking meals will be easy to make, light in weight, and full of flavor.
So whether you want to spend an afternoon relaxing by the fire, or you just want something quick and convenient for lunch, these recipes should fit the bill.
1. Instant Oatmeal
If you just want a fast breakfast option, here’s one of the best: Instant oatmeal. You simply add hot water to dry oats until they’re soft enough to eat (usually between 5 and 10 minutes). Then, top with optional ingredients like fruit or honey.
2. Peanut Butter Cookies
These peanut butter cookies are so simple, yet they taste amazing! Simply mix two parts flour (brown rice or quinoa works well), one part rolled oats, one part ground flaxseed, and one part powdered sugar.
Once everything is combined, add ½ cup natural peanut butter and blend again.
The batter will stick together when it cools. Bake in the oven at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 15 to 20 minutes.
3. Baked Quinoa and Black Beans
This recipe is perfect if you aren’t too keen on eating grains in the morning but still want some protein and fiber.
Cook 1 cup of white quinoa according to package directions, then drain and set aside.
Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium-low heat. Add 3 cloves garlic, sliced, and sauté for 6 to 8 minutes, or until lightly browned.
Stir in ¼ teaspoon cumin, black pepper, salt, fresh thyme, and chopped spinach leaves. Remove from heat. Mix cooked quinoa with beans, salsa, and cilantro in a bowl; serve warm.
4. Granola Bars
A granola bar is another great choice if you want to avoid the hassle of making breakfast. It’s also portable, filling, and tastes good alone — not to mention, it comes in many different flavors. Try using raisins as an alternative to dried fruits for added sweetness.
5. Breakfast Sausage Balls
Here’s a fun twist on sausage balls, which are an excellent source of protein. Combine three parts cornmeal, four parts whole wheat bread crumbs, and one part finely chopped onion.
Season with salt, pepper, garlic powder, Italian seasoning, oregano, basil, and rosemary.
Add ½ pound of bulk pork sausage, broken into small pieces. Roll mixture into golf ball-size balls and bake at 450 degrees Fahrenheit for 15 to 18 minutes. Serve with mustard sauce.
6. Muesli Bars
Muesli bars are probably my favorite type of snack food. To start, combine two cups of old-fashioned oats, two cups of rolled oats, half of a cup of shredded coconut, and ½ cup of sunflower seeds.
Drizzle with melted vegan margarine, sprinkle with cinnamon and sea salt, and press down firmly.
Place in the refrigerator for 30 to 45 minutes, or until firm. Cut into squares and enjoy!
7. Fruit Salad
Fruit salad is always refreshing, healthy, and extremely easy to prepare, especially if you are planning to spend cold weekends with kids.
In addition to being delicious, it serves double duty as dessert.
Here’s what you’ll need: 1 apple, peeled, cored, cubed, and diced; 4 kiwifruits, peeled, halved, seeded, and cut into bite-sized wedges; 1 banana, sliced; half of a large mango, peeled and diced; one handful of blueberries; juice of 1 lime; ½ teaspoon vanilla extract.
Toss all ingredients together and chill before serving. Enjoy!
8. Veggie Frittata
Frittatas are fantastic because they can be made ahead of time and frozen. They’re also very adaptable – vegans can use tofu instead of eggs, vegetarians can substitute cheese for dairy, etc.
This frittata has potatoes, tomatoes, mushrooms, onions, bell peppers, zucchini, eggplant, squash, parsley, and more.
You may use whatever veggies you like best – just ensure that your vegetables are approximately equal in weight.
9. Oatmeal Raisin Cookies
These oatmeal raisin cookies are the most popular treat in our house. I love them because they have the perfect balance between sweet and salty.
All you need is brown sugar, butter, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and vanilla extract.
For the icing, whisk together ½ cup confectioners’ sugar, 2 teaspoons milk, and 1 tablespoon of lemon juice.
10. Chewy Rice Krispies Treats
Rice cereal treats are so easy to make, yet taste so decadent! Just mix ¾ cup marshmallows, ¼ cup shortening, and ½ cup rice cereal.
Press into mini muffin tins and bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 12 to 14 minutes. Let cool slightly, then drizzle melted chocolate chips over the top.
11. Chocolate Chip Peanut Butter Cups
Chocolate chip peanut butter cups are one of my favorites. If you don’t own a candy thermometer, be ready to melt several batches of chocolate and peanut butter together to get to the right consistency.
Use a fork to dip each peanut butter cup into chocolate, place it on wax paper, and refrigerate overnight. Yum!
12. Strawberry Banana Smoothie
Strawberry banana smoothies are such an awesome way to start the day. It’s hard to believe how great this drink tastes without any added sugars.
Start by combining a cup of strawberries, a banana, ice cubes, almond milk (or other non-dairy milk), and honey.
Blend thoroughly and serve immediately. These smoothies are especially good when eaten while watching the sunrise.
I hope these backpacking meals and recipes help you out during your next camping trip or weekend hike.
Remember that there is nothing wrong with having fun, living outside, and enjoying nature.
There’s plenty of room in the world for everyone who wants it. Have fun, explore new places, and keep smiling!
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Eating clean doesn’t mean going hungry, though. Healthy eating is about nourishing your body, not depriving yourself of tasty foods.
Finding nutritious options at restaurants, grocery stores, and even vending machines can be challenging.
But it’s not impossible!
When you put a little planning into play, use fun and easy backpacking meals, you’ll be set to go!
Do you have any other ideas for backpacking meals?
Let me know, til then—cheers m’deres!
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Nancy Polanco is a freelance journalist, lifestyle content creator, and editor of Whispered Inspirations. She is a proud Mom to Gabby and Michaela and partner and best friend to Darasak. Having worked as part of a health care team for almost a decade, Nancy is happy to be back to her passion. She is a contributor to the Huffington Post, TODAY’s Parents, and an Oprah Magazine Brand Ambassador.