22 Simple Backpacking Meal Ideas from Trader Joe’s

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Looking for some new backpacking meals to try this summer? We’ve put together a few creative ideas from items that you can pick up from Trader Joe’s.

20+ Simple Backpacking Meal Ideas using items from Trader Joe's

When meal planning for an extended backpacking trip, variety can really be the spice of life. While it’s tempting to only go with the tried and true, pack too few options and you run the real risk of mid-trip burnout. Megan is still recovering from eating Lara Bars for lunch every day on the JMT. And that was over 4 years ago!

So to mix up your backpacking meal plan, you’ll need some fresh ideas. That’s why we put together this mix and match list to help get you thinking about new ingredient combinations to take on your next backcountry adventure. Not only that but to make things simple, all these items can be purchased with just a single trip to Trader Joe’s.

While we wish this post was sponsored by Trader Joe’s, sadly it is not. We just really love shopping there. One of the reasons for that is their unexpectedly amazing selection of backpacking food, from their large assortment of nuts and dried fruits to their individual packets of coconut oil and olives. You can read all about our favorite TJ backpacking ingredients here.

But for this list, we just want to give you some inspiration. Get some new creative ideas flowing, and get you thinking about making something truly delicious out on the trail.

Do you have a favorite combo you don’t see below? Let us know in the comments and we’ll add it to the list!

Backpacking Breakfast Ideas

1. Seedy, Nutty Oatmeal

Nuts & Seeds Oatmeal - An easy backpacking breakfast using oatmeal, seeds, and peanut butter

Oatmeal + Peanut Butter + Seeds

2. Very Berry Oatmeal

Very Berry Oatmeal - A simple backpacking breakfast idea using oatmeal and freeze dried berries from Trader Joe's

Oatmeal + Freeze Dried Blueberries + Strawberries + Raspberries

3. Tropical Oatmeal

Tropical Oatmeal - A simple backpacking breakfast idea using oatmeal, chia seeds, coconut and dried fruit

Oatmeal + Chia Seeds + Coconut Flakes +Freeze Dried Mango + Freeze Dried Banana

4. Banana Bread Oatmeal

Banana Bread Oatmeal - A simple backpacking breakfast idea using oatmeal, dried bananas, and chopped walnuts.

Oatmeal + Freeze Dried Bananas + Chopped Walnuts

5. Apple Pie Oatmeal

Apple Pie Oatmeal - A simple backpacking breakfast idea using cinnamon spiced oatmeal and dried apples

Apple Cinnamon Oatmeal + Freeze Dried Apples

6. GORP Oatmeal

GORP Oatmeal - A simple backpacking breakfast idea using oatmeal, raisins, and peanut butter

Oatmeal + Raisins + Peanut Butter

7. Apples & Bananas Oatmeal

Apples & Bananas Oatmeal - A simple backpacking breakfast idea using cinnamon spiced oatmeal and dried fruit

Apple Cinnamon Oatmeal + Freeze Dried Bananas

8. Almond Joy Oatmeal

Almond Joy Oatmeal - A simple backpacking breakfast idea using oatmeal, chia seeds, coconut and almonds, and dark chocolate

Oatmeal  + Coconut + Chopped Almonds + Dark Chocolate

Backpacking Lunch & Snack Ideas

9. Peanut Butter Banana Wrap

Peanut Butter Banana Wrap - A simple backpacking lunch idea using wraps, peanut butter, coconut, and dried bananas.

Flour Tortilla + Peanut Butter + Flattened Banana + Coconut Flakes

10. Peanut Butter Apple Dippers

Peanut Butter Apple Dippers - A simple backpacking snack idea peanut butter and dried apples.

Peanut Butter + Freeze Dried Apples

11. Backpacker’s Cheese Plate

Backpacker's Cheese Plate - A simple backpacking lunch idea using crackers, cheese, olives, and summer sausage.

Summer Sausage + Babybel Cheese + Olives + Crackers

12. Chocolate Banana Wrap

Chocolate Banana Wrap - A simple backpacking lunch idea using wraps, cocoa spread, and dried bananas.

Flour Tortilla + Cocoa Almond Spread + Flattened Banana

13. Peanut Butter Banana Dippers

Peanut Butter Banana Dippers - A simple backpacking snack idea peanut butter and dried bananas.

Peanut Butter + Banana Chips

14. Pizza Hot Pocket

Pizza Hot Pocket - A simple backpacking lunch idea using pitas, cheese, and tomato paste

Pita Bread + String Cheese + Tomato Paste = Hot Pocket

Backpacking Dinner Ideas

15. Cheesy Broccoli Mac

Cheesy Broccoli Mac - an easy backpacking dinner idea using mac & cheese, dried veggies and summer sausage

Mac Cheese + Broccoli Florets + Summer Sausage

16. Pasta Carbonara

Pasta Carbonara - A simple backpacking dinner idea using pasta, bacon jerky, and cheese.

Angel Hair + Bacon Jerky + Parmesan

17. Chicken Noodles

Chicken Noodles - A simple backpacking dinner idea using noodles, chicken jerky and dried veggies

Chicken Broth + Broccoli Florets + Chicken Epic Bar + Orzo

18. Vegan Mac & Cheese

Vegan Mac and Cheese - A simple backpacking dinner idea using pasta, nutritional yeast, and sun dried tomatoes.

Macaroni + Nutritional Yeast + Sun Dried Tomatoes

19. Indian Fare Quinoa

Indian Fare Quinoa - A simple backpacking meal using Trader Joe's Indian Fare, quinoa, and pitas.

Indian Fare + Quinoa + Pitas

20. Taco Chili Cheese Mac

Taco Chili Cheese Mac and Cheese - A simple backpacking dinner idea using mac & cheese, taco seasonings, and summer sausage.

Mac Cheese + Taco Mix + Summer Sausage

21. Deconstructed Pesto One Pot Pasta

Pesto One Pot Pasta - an easy backpacking meal idea using pasta, cheese, sun dried tomatoes, olives and spices.Basil Pasta + Parmesan Cheese + Sun Dried Tomatoes + Pine Nuts + Olives + 21 Seasoning Salute

22. Moroccan Spiced Couscous

Moroccan Spiced Couscous - An easy backpacking meal idea using cous cous, spices, dried raisins & apricots and almonds.

Couscous + Spices + Apricots + Raisins + Chopped Almonds

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  1. Oh this is so cool.

    I’m terrible at figuring out food to take when I’m backpacking, but looking at your cute graphic really helped. Plus, it’s not a huge amount of food to haul around, but makes a fair number of tasty meals.

    Thanks. I’ve just printed out the graphic so I can take it to the grocery store the next time I’m getting ready for a backpacking trip!! And I’m currently in Vienna, so don’t have Trader Joe’s, but I can easily get everything on this list. And, maaaaan, I miss Trader Joe’s sometimes 🙂

  2. Emily aka Goldie says:

    I used to love making up a curried chicken couscous with apricots, golden raisins, and cashews.
    1 cup couscous
    1/2Tbs. Curry Powder
    1 Tbs. Dried Onion Flakes
    1Tbs. Dried Milk
    1/2 of a Boullion cube Chicken or Vegetable
    1/2 tsp. Garlic Powder
    1/8 tsp. Tumeric
    Chopped nuts *I liked cashews!
    Apricots/Golden Raisins
    Chicken from the fresh packed/ dehydrated
    Boil 1 1/4 cup of water. Add all the ingredients besides the chicken and nuts. Take it off the heat, stir, and cover. Let it sit for 5 to 8 mins and then fluff with a fork. Add protein and nuts and enjoy! This could totally be made vegetarian with TVP or tofu, but I always make it with chicken. I would make these up into little baggies before I head out and usually add whatever I forage i.e. Ramps, mushrooms, chives, or mustard greens. It was always nice to add something fresh:)

  3. This is amazing!!! I’ve been planning to eat couscous + spices + Sardines + nuts for our Grand Canyon overnight trip.. I’m gonna try some of these too!!! Thank you!!

    1. Hope you enjoy! We’ve always wanted to do an overnight trip in the Grand Canyon – that’s going to be an awesome trip.

      Michael swears by the harissa sardines from Trader Joe’s – I bet they would be great with couscous.

  4. this is really nice article and I would loved it.

  5. Lisa Rearick says:

    I make an “Adult” mac & cheese with dehydrated tuna w/dried peas, sun dried tomatoes, dehydrated bells, and dehydrated broccoli. Taking it just a bit further, I also make Shrimp fetuccini alfredo w/veggies using a dried alfredo sauce mix. I find that many trail recipes are a little thin on veggies so I add more into my mixes. Remember anything that can be done with pasta can be done with Couscous, Quinoa or instant rice.
    How about a No Cook Ramen Tuna Noodle w/Veggies? 1 pkg ramen, sans/flavoring, *1 envelope no-salt bouillon, 1 T Italian Seasoning, 1 pkg True Lemon, 1T dry minced onion, 1/8 t garlic powder, 1/8 t ground dry mustard*. 1/4 cup dehydrated tuna (or sea legs, or shrimp, or chicken), 3/4 cup mixed dried veggies (cabbage, green beans, carrots, broccoli, red bells). Add in one package of Olive oil and parmesan cheese from the pizza delivery service. Put from * to* in a separate bag (I use daily meds zip bags for this) and package everything else in one freezer bag or vacuum bag, adding the sauce & extras before sealing. On the trail or road, cover the noodle mix with water and let rehydrate. Pour off almost all the water, add the oil and cheese and sauce mix. Stir and enjoy. I love this one for road trips as it rehydrates on the hot dash while we take a 15 minute walk to stretch our legs.

  6. I made many of these meals for my first canoe trip. There was a group of 5 of us, and everyone really enjoyed these meals. Thanks for putting this together!

  7. I am a former guide and I really love this website. I’ve seen so many people turned on to backcountry travel through the wonder + awe of a good culinary experience after a long day outdoors. We owe ourselves better eats out there, and you guys go a long way to taking the guesswork out of planning and prep.

    Thank you for existing, and for giving the people (me) what they (I) want. Keep up the good work.

  8. This is great – Thanks for all the tips????

  9. Merci pour toutes ces idées. Elles m ont beaucoup plues. Surtout celle des pitas

  10. Mike Rivera says:

    I like to be prepared for emergencies and use backpacking ideas for stocking up. I have various says to be able to eat and drink if we lose power for any number of days!