5 Easy & Vegan-Friendly Backpacking Meal Ideas

Last Updated: April 2021

Tired of bland meals when out on the trail but don't want to blow the budget on pre-packaged meals?

Read on to discover our favorite, field-tested, easy-to-make, delicious backpacking recipes. 

Here's what we are going to cover in this article -

food packed for camping

Tips for Backpacking Meal Planning

Getting the right amount of calories, nutrients, carbohydrates, and proteins when you’re backpacking is essential.

When you invest time and energy into building your backpacking recipes, this can become confusing and sometimes overwhelming.  

So, before you even start, you may be asking yourself a few questions: 

  1. How much food should I bring? How much food you bring will depend on how long you’re hiking each day and the overall terrain. In general, you should be consuming at least 2500-4500 calories per person per day. 
  2. What types of food are best for backpacking? Bring what you like to eat! You don’t want to carry around food you won’t be eating at all. So, if you like dried fruit, bring dried fruit. If you like jerky, bring jerky. Plan your meals around the types of meals you make at home, just make them camping friendly by using dehydrated ingredients. 
  3. Where should I get food to prep for my backpacking recipes? Bulk bins are the best way to shop for backpacking meals. You can find freeze-dried and dehydrated foods in bulk online, but most grocery stores will have some grains, nuts, and dried fruits available in stores. If you have a dehydrator, take advantage of it and prep at home. 
  4. How do I make a backpacking meal plan? Write down each of your travel days, how much hiking you’ll be doing, and whether you want to cook each night. Then, plan out food choices for breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks, and even dessert. Also, consider the weight of the food and how much fuel you’ll use for cooking each meal. 

Another question you may be asking yourself is: what makes a good, nutritious meal that is easy to make when I’m backpacking?

That’s where we’ve got you covered!

We have 5, easy to prep, and easy to cook, backpacking recipes options for you to try on your next camping trip.

Plus, they’re all vegan friendly and if you don’t have a dehydrator, don’t worry. All of the recipes below have ingredients you can find either in stores or online.  Check out our guide to Choosing Vegan Outdoor Gear.

Pro Tip: Plant-based options are easy for you to dehydrate at home. Dehydrating animal products can be tricky, messy, and could turn rancid very easily. Save some time, cholesterol, and avoid food poisoning by opting for dehydrating plant proteins. 

Not sure how best to cook the food when out on the trail? Then check out our guide to the Best Backpacking Cook Sets.

stasher silicon storage bags

Top 5 Most Tasty Backpacking Recipes

Forget about those pre-packaged meals that can cost you a fortune, especially when you’re planning a week-long trip!  

Learn more in our article on Homemade vs. Pre-Packaged Backpacking Meals.

We have made sure that these recipes are easy to personalize. So feel free to mix up the vegetables, proteins, and grains to fit your dietary choices.

When prepping your backpacking recipes, the classic option is to use a disposable plastic baggie (i.e., Ziploc bags). For a more eco-friendly option, use Stasher bags.

They may add slightly more weight to your pack, but they keep their form, have various size options, and come in multiple colors, making it easy to pack and locate your meals.

Plus, if you are an avid camper or backpacker, you’ll save a ton of money and plastic, down the line. 

All Recipe measurements: One serving 

1. Basil Tomato Couscous 


For this recipe, you can either bag all of the ingredients separately or put them in a shared bag. 


Prep: Before you go

  1. Chop sun dried tomatoes (unless purchased chopped)
  2. Package couscous, tomatoes, protein, and spinach into a reusable bag. 
  3. Add the unopened seasoning packet into the same reusable bag. If using a salmon packet, put the unopened bag in with the other ingredients. 

Prep: At camp

  1. Boil 12 oz of water in your camp cooking pot
  2. Once water is at a rolling boil, turn off your stove, remove your pot, and set it on a level surface. 
  3. Add couscous mixture and the pesto packet, stir, and cover
  4. Let sit for 8-10 minutes
  5. If couscous is not tender by the end of 8-10 minutes, bring back to a boil and simmer for a few minutes
  6. If using salmon, add the packet when couscous is fully cooked. 

2. Chili Mac

dehydrated vegetables

If you want a “fast-cook” version of this meal, precook each ingredient separately and dehydrate it before you go. This will cut down on cook time at camp. If you don’t have a dehydrator, add in the ingredients as is, but expect cooking to take a few extra minutes. 


Prep: Before you go

Combine all ingredients into a reusable bag. You can add seasonings directly into a bag or in a small, separate travel spice container

Prep: At camp

  1. Bring 2 cups of water to a boil in your camp cooking pot
  2. Add pasta and other ingredients
  3. Cook on high to continue boiling for time suggested on pasta packaging while stirring
  4. Remove from heat, stir in spices, and cover
  5. Let sit for a few minutes, and then enjoy

**If using dehydrated pasta, bring to a boil, remove from heat, add ingredients, and let sit for 10-15 minutes. 

3. Protein-Packed Bolognese

dried pasta

For this recipe, the noodles already contain a high enough level of protein. If you want to add more, you can add some TVP. You can also sub edamame noodles with black bean, lentil, chickpea, or mung bean pasta. 


For the Sauce

  • 2 tbsp red pepper flakes
  • 2 tbsp tomato flakes
  • 1 tsp onion flakes
  • 1-2 tbsp tomato powder
  • 1 tsp Italian seasoning blend (basil, parsley, oregano)
  • ¼ tsp garlic powder
  • Salt to taste
  • Dash of black pepper

Prep: Before you go

  1. Put pasta in a reusable bag
  2. Add mushrooms, walnuts, and carrots to a smaller bag. If there is room, store this bag in the pasta bag. 
  3. Mix seasoning for sauce and store in a small spice tin. If there is room, store the spice in the pasta bag as well. 

Prep: At camp

  1. Bring 2 cups of water to a boil (may need more if you have more than 2 oz of pasta)
  2. Once boiling, add pasta
  3. Mix in mushrooms, walnuts, and carrots
  4. Cook for 4-6 minutes (al dente) stirring periodically 
  5. While that is cooking, mix sauce seasoning in ½ cup of water. 
  6. Add sauce to pasta mixture
  7. You may need to add more water if the noodles and vegetables have soaked most of it up when adding the sauce. 
  8. Remove from heat, cover, and let stand for a few minutes

4. Backpacking Burrito Bowl

dehydrated vegetables

If you want to make this into an actual burrito feast, pack a few tortillas! 


**If you’re dehydrating at home, 1 ½ cups is just slightly more than one can of black beans. Rinse and drain one can of beans, dehydrate, and pack for your burrito bowl.

Prep: Before you go

Mix rice, tomatoes, peppers, corn, and black beans into your reusable bag. Store vegetable broth in a small spice container and the taco seasoning in a separate one. If the containers fit in the bag with the other ingredients, store them there. 

Prep: At camp

  1. Mix vegetable broth powder with 1 cup of water
  2. Bring water to a boil
  3. Add rice, vegetables, beans, and taco seasoning to water and continue simmering
  4. Stir occasionally, and add more water if rice and beans have soaked it up and it looks dry
  5. Remove from heat when all ingredients are fully rehydrated 

5. Breakfast Option: Tofu Scramble

scrambled eggs at camp

While most backpacking breakfasts may consist of oats, a protein shake, or just a granola bar, having one good breakfast on the trail can be a real treat. This one is especially a favorite if you’re on a long trek, and you have a rest day or a lazy day at basecamp. 


Prep: Before you go

Combine hash browns, tofu, and vegetables into a reusable bag. Keep all spices in a tin, but store tin in the reusable bag along with the other ingredients. 

Prep: At camp

  1. Boil 1 ½ cup of water in you cooking pot
  2. Once water is boiling, remove from heat
  3. Pour your hash brown mixture into boiling water
  4. Cover, and let sit for 8-10 minutes
  5. Once hash browns are rehydrated, add 1 tbsp of oil and stir
  6. Return pot to stove and simmer on low heat 
  7. Pour seasoning mixture and stir
  8. Add more water as needed
  9. Pan fry for 4-5 minutes or until slightly brown

Final Tip: Add-In Ingredients to Always Pack when Camping

  • Olive Oil (Store in a small bottle inside another bag. You don’t want oil all over your backpack!) 
  • Salt/Pepper
  • Nutritional Yeast

You can pack more spices, but our recommendation is to season meals when you prep at home. That saves on time when cooking in camp and is one less thing to carry 

Pro Tip: Raynag Mimi Reusable Bottles are great containers for condiments or adding the desired amount of oil to each meal.


They are small enough you can store them with each meal in their designated containers. Like ketchup on your hash browns? Fill one of these containers. Or maybe you want some hot sauce for your burrito bowl. No worries. This will save you from having extra waste, and you’ll have all your favorite flavors on the trail. 

Check out our guide to Camping with Kids for some meal ideas to keep the whole family happy.

Key Takeaways

Just because you are out on trail, that doesn't mean you can't eat delicious and healthy food.  With a little bit of preparation you too can make some tasty backpacking meals.

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