Vegetarian Weekend Backpacking Menu

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Backpacking Cathedral Lakes
There are a lot of things to look forward to before setting off on a backpacking trip, but eating dehydrated trail food is not usually one of them. It’s true that hunger is the best sauce and at the end of a long, strenuous day even the world’s most finicky of eaters will happily stuff their face with whatever freeze-dried food they can get their hands on. In many ways, meals in the backcountry – just like the pack on your back – serve more as the price of admission than the main attraction. But that doesn’t necessarily need to be the case.

Now, there is nothing wrong with going down the pre-prepared path. Companies like Mountain House, AlpineAire, and Good To-Go have spent a lot of time dialing in their recipes and have a couple of rock-solid hits. But if you’re looking for something a little more customizable to your diet – not to mention a whole lot cheaper – we’ve got a few DIY meal ideas for your next weekend excursion. Low on weight, big on flavor, these meals will give you the energy you need to explore while being something to look forward to in their own right. Extra bonus points: the whole menu is vegetarian… or vegan if you swap out the cheese at lunch!

Our Favorite Backpacking Kitchen Gear

Jetboil Stove (14-16 oz) – When we want hot water fast, we reach for our Jetboil. This stove is perfect for making coffee, instant oatmeal, or rehydrating a freeze-dried meal. Since there’s two of us, and we hate waiting for our coffee in the morning, we have the Sumo version.

MSR Pocket Rocket (3 oz)-  This super lightweight nozzle from MSR is our go-to method for cooking meals while backpacking. Just screw on to a fuel canister, open the valve, and light. There’s also a newer Micro Rocket, that’s 2.6oz for all you gram counters, which you can pick up at REI.

Snowpeak 2L Cook & Save Pot (7.9 oz) – For two people, this Snowpeak titanium pot is perfect for cooking in the backcountry. This definitely on the larger side of backpacking pots, but that’s because it doubles as a car camping pot. If you’re looking for something smaller, there’s the 1.4 L Snowpeak Trek at 7.4 oz.

Spork – Half spoon, half fork. This classic camping utensil is one of the best parts of eating outdoors!

Steripen Adventurer Opti (3.6 oz) – Instead of a water filtering pump, we use this Ultra Violet water purifier. Our version runs off of disposable batteries (we recommend carrying extras) but there are a newer versions as well that charge via USB: the Steripen Ultra (5 oz) and the super lightweight Steripen Pure+ (2.6oz!)

Weekend Backpacking Menu

Friday
Lunch: Cheese & crackers, dried fruit, nuts
Dinner: Dan Dan Noodles

Saturday
Breakfast: Strawberry Almond Oatmeal
Lunch: Dried fruit, nuts, peanut butter & crackers
Dinner: Vegan Bacon Mac

Sunday
Breakfast: Jackfruit Coconut Oatmeal
Lunch: Granola bars, cheese & crackers

Breakfasts
We are big fans of oatmeal around here – it’s full of protein and fiber to keep you full and loaded with (good) carbs to get you energized for the day. Here are two of our favorite variations. You can find freeze-dried fruit at Trader Joe’s or on Amazon.

Backpacking Strawberry Almond Oatmeal

Strawberry Almond Oatmeal

1 serving / 420 calories / 14.5g protein

Ingredients
1/2 cup rolled oats
1/2 oz freeze dried strawberries
1/4 cup almonds, chopped
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt

Preparation
At home
Portion out the oats, strawberries, chopped almonds, sugar and salt, and place in a ziplock bag.

In Camp
In your cookpot, combine 1 ¼ cup water and all the dry ingredients. Cover and bring to a boil. Once boiling, cook for another minute or two and then turn off the flame and let it sit, covered, for 1-3 minutes until the oats have softened to your liking.

Backpacking Jackfruit Coconut Oatmeal

Jackfruit Coconut Oatmeal

If you can’t find jackfruit, you can sub with mango or pineapple.
1 serving / 384 calories / 8.5g protein

Ingredients
1/2 cup rolled oats
1 oz. freeze dried jackfruit
1 tablespoon powdered coconut milk
1 tablespoon shredded coconut
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt

Preparation
At home
Portion out the oats, jackfruit, coconut milk powder, shredded coconut, sugar and salt, and place in a ziplock bag.

In Camp
In your cookpot, combine 1 ¼ cup water and all the dry ingredients. Cover and bring to a boil. Once boiling, cook for another minute or two and then turn off the flame and let it sit, covered, for 1-3 minutes until the oats have softened to your liking.

Lunches
We’ve never been fans of pulling out the camp stove at lunchtime, so we always include an assortment of non-cook foods to refuel throughout the day. Some great options are bars (Lara, Clif Bars, Kind bars, etc), nut butter packets, crackers, trail mix, dried fruits, nuts, and cheese. Hard cheeses will keep for a few days in your pack, as will the wax covered Baybel cheese rounds.
Backpacking Lunch Ideas

Dinners
After a long day of hiking up mountains, a high protein dinner is an important factor in helping your muscles recover. These dinners each have over 30 grams of protein.

Backpacking Dan Dan Noodles

Dan Dan Style Soba Noodles

1 serving / 828 calories / 31g protein

Ingredients
3.5 oz soba noodles (or other high protein noodles – egg or bean curd noodles are great)
2 (1.15 oz) peanut butter packets (or scoop 1/4 cup peanut butter into a small container)
2 teaspoons soy sauce
2 teaspoons sesame oil
1-2 teaspoons sriracha, depending on your spice tolerance

Preparation
At home
Mix the sesame oil, sriracha, and soy sauce in a small plastic screw top container (you can pick these up for $2 at REI). Portion out the noodles. Place the sauce, noodles (break in half to make them more packable), and peanut butter packets into a zip lock bag.

In camp
Bring enough water to just cover the noodles to a boil. Once boiling, add the noodles and cook according to the package instructions – ours took 3 minutes. Once the noodles are done, drain off all but about 1 tablespoon of the cooking water. Mix in the sauce and peanut butter. Thin out the sauce if needed with a little water. Enjoy!

Backpacking Vegan Mac and Cheese

Vegan Bacon Mac

Did you know that McCormick’s bacon bits are vegan friendly? It’s true! They add a little salty crunch to this comfort classic. You can find them in most supermarkets.
1 serving / 620 calories / 32g protein

Ingredients
4 oz. pasta
1/2 tablespoon olive oil
1/4 cup nutritional yeast
1 tablespoon bacon bits
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
Salt + pepper

Preparation
At Home
Portion out the pasta and place in a ziplock. We found small elbow pasta that cooks in 6 minutes – try to find pasta that cooks in that time or less to conserve fuel. Angel hair cooks in about 4 minutes, so that would be even more efficient! In a separate ziplock, add the nutritional yeast, bacon bits, garlic powder, and salt & pepper. Place the olive oil in a small plastic screw top container.

In Camp
Place the pasta and enough water to cover by ½ inch into your cookpot. Bring to a boil. Continue boiling until the pasta is done (time will depend on your pasta selection). You’ll want to stir fairly often to avoid the pasta sticking to the bottom of your pot. Once the pasta is done, drain off some of the water, leaving about 1/2 cup. Add the oil and dry ingredients and mix well (add a little water at the end if the sauce looks too thick). Dig in!


5 Comments

  1. I am testing out backpack dinners at home because I want to get more creative out in nature! Two thumbs up for the "Dan Dan Style Soba Noodles". Adding the extra pasta helped a lot! Thank you for the ideas :)

  2. Thanks for the Babybell tip! I'm putting together my shopping list for a three day backpacking trip and I think those little suckers will save me. Do you have a specific type of cracker you'd recommend that will hold up to being shoved into a bear vault?

    • Looove me some Babybel cheese in the backcountry! As for crackers, my faves are the Bite Sized Everything crackers from Trader Joe's, or their Pita Bite Crackers. They are fairly sturdy, so they don't totally crumble. While I usually pack my bear barrel by day, I do keep more fragile food like crackers at the top so I don't smush them when I'm cramming everything in. Hope you have a great trip!!

    • Follow up: I just found another cracker at Trader Joe's that can definitely hold its own in a bear barrel: Cranberry Coconut Snacking Crackers. I hadn't seen them before today but I grabbed them for lunch and they are great. Sturdy but not too hard, and the bits of cranberry in them are kind of fun. Definitely would recommend them!

  3. Just found your blog via Faring Well! I love the vibes you have going on here :) And I love this recipe for vegan bacon mac + cheese... it looks so good! And since it's dairy-free I bet it's really portable for a trip too ;)

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