A Simple, 4 Day Backpacking Menu

What’s the first thing you do when planning a backpacking trip? If your answer is “figure out what I want to eat,” then this article is for you. Figuring out what food to pack can be daunting. We’re all familiar with the traditional backpacking foods like oatmeal, granola bars, and dried fruit. But there are lots of other options as well! Today I’m sharing a simple 4-day backpacking menu!

Today I’m sharing our menu plan from our very first backpacking trip over 4 days. This 4-day backpacking menu plan includes some more creative recipes and worked pretty well for us. Feel free to let me know what you would change about this menu!

We’ve been camping many times. But I had never been “backpacking.” I purchased the book The Joy of Backpacking by Brian Beffort and read it cover to cover. Most of the information I basically already knew just from having been camping so many times. But there are some differences. Mainly, you have to whittle what you take with you down to the very basics. I enjoyed the book and it was very informative.

So, for me, one of the major differences between backpacking and camping close to your car is the food.

Food for me is critical to the enjoyment of my camping experience. I need good food and lots of it. If I don’t eat I get shaky and feel like passing out. Food is really important to me. Not only that, but I figure that since I’m bringing my kids and teenagers along, I want them to really enjoy the experience so they want to do it again. If we eat tasteless food every day, they won’t enjoy it.

Backpackers need more or less food based on the distance they will be hiking and how strenuous it is. More than likely you’ve been on a hike before. A bag of trail mix or a pack of granola bar weres enough to get you through a day hike.

But if this is your first time going on an extended backpacking excursion for several days, you’re probably wondering how much food and what kind of foods will sustain you until you get to the end of your trip. You know you won’t be able to pop in the grocery store or pull into a fast food restaurant if hunger strikes. Backpacking in the wilderness requires more planning than back-country hiking.

Everything I have read suggests that you pack an average of 2 lbs. per person/ per day (according to Section Hiker and others). I figured my nine-year-old daughter would only need about 1 1/2 lbs. per day. Also, it’s important to consider the weight of the food versus the amount of enjoyment the food item will bring you plus the energy it will provide you as well as the calories. Calories are important when you’re extending a lot of energy!

Over course, it’s not a bad idea to pack a little more than you’ll need for your journey in the event that something goes wrong – but don’t overpack either!

Our very first backpacking trip into the wilderness in 2009.

4 Day Backpacking Menu

This is the menu we carried on our very first backpacking trip. It was a 24 mile, 4 day, all girl backpacking trip. We hiked about 6 miles a day over steep terrain. We ended up not eating as much food as I expected and I’m not sure why. I think this being our first backpacking trip, we were too tired at the end of the day to care about food.

Day 1:

Day 2:

Day 3:

  • Breakfast – Instant Grits, Hot Chocolate or Apple Cider
  • Snack #1 – Tofu Jerky
  • Snack #2 – Cheese-Its
  • Lunch – Macaroni and Cheese, Dried Apricots
  • Supper – 15 Minute Stir Fry and Angel Food Cake, Leftover Nutella

Day 4:

  • Breakfast – Instant Oatmeal, Nuts, Hot Chocolate
  • Snack #1 – Trail Mix
  • Snack #2 – Fruit Snacks
  • Lunch – Bread, Cheese, Mayo Packets, Pringles Potato Chips

With this 4 day backpacking menu in hand, you’ll have no trouble keeping your stomach and taste buds satisfied while backpacking. I hope your first backpacking adventure is as amazing as ours was. Let me know in the comments below what foods you most like to pack for a backpacking trip!

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