Easy meal plan guide for a 3 day backpacking adventure

Prior to a recent backpacking trip, I was looking for some resources to help me with meal planning. Being someone who usually eats quite well on camping trips (my group of friends tends to carry coolers with fresh food and cold beers quite the distance), I know I had to tone it down for this trip. We were hiking 8 miles in the first day and were anticipating 90 degree heat. To my disappointment, this search yielded suggestions that did not incorporate fresh foods, which should be easy to do on a short weekend trip, and required far more planning than I thought necessary. I created my own meal plan that worked out quite well, though I intend to make a few tweaks for my next trip. If you do not quite have the whole wilderness chef thing down, here is an easy and nutritious meal plan summary, complete with a shopping list if you want to use it to plan your own. You should be able to use what you have in your pantry supplemented by a quick trip to the market. If you're heading out on a longer trip, I recommend bringing as many fresh foods as you can for the first few days then adding in the dried goods or pre-made, freeze-dried meals

Day 1

  • Lunch:
  • Dinner: 
    • Burrito made with beans, cheese, kale, and 1/2 avocado. 
    • Red wine, thanks to my adventure buddy, Kristine

We left after breakfast so that was one less meal to pack. Kristine and I each brought and prepared one dinner to share and brought our own lunches. I pre-packed the beans, cheese, and kale in a light weight container that I then used as my bowl for the weekend. We heated up the mixture and rolled up into delicious burrito, including a 1/2 avocado each. We should have brought hot sauce... 

Day 2

  • Breakfast
    • Instant oatmeal with nuts and cereal
    • Tea (easier than coffee)
  • Lunch:
    • Apple
    • Cheese
    • Salami
    • Crackers
    • 2 carrots
    • Hummus
    • 1/2 Kind Bar
  • Dinner:
    • Trader Joe's (TJ's) Indian food packet with 1/2 avocado and pre-cooked rice (this may be a bit heavier to pack but so much easier to prepare)

Salami and cheese was not going to last much longer so I scarfed as much as I could. 

Day 3 

  • Breakfast: 
    • Instant oatmeal with nuts and cereal
    • Tea
  • Lunch:
    • Apple
    • Justin's hazlenut butter
    • Crackers 
    • (I wasn’t too hungry at this point, just thirsty and ready to jump in some water!!)
  • Home for dinner...

Lesson learned: 

  • Salami and cheese are best on day one, doable on day two. I usually pack jerky but thought I'd test out the salami idea to mix things up. I’ll go back to jerky next time.
  • Hummus was tasty, but unnecessary
  • No chocolate in my trail mix was a good call...
  • Red wine in a water bottle is a good idea and gives just enough to share with someone on two nights
  • Bring hot sauce packets

Shopping list

Dinner options:

  • Burrito:
    • 1 can beans
    • Jack cheese to shred and pack with the beans
    • Kale (also packed in a tupperware with beans and cheese)  
    • Sprouted grain tortillas for lunches and burrito dinner
  • Indian food:
    • 2 packets from TJs
    • One bag pre-cooked rice (also from TJ's)
    • Avocado packed easily and was a nice addition


  • Jerky (instead of salami)
  • 2 apples
  • 2 avocados 
  • 6 carrots
  • Mixed nuts (almonds, cashews, walnuts, pecans)
  • Cereal/oatmeal
  • Crackers
  • Kind Bar (usually get 1 per day but only needed 2)
  • Justin's PB packet
  • Cheese in wax (only lasted 2 days) 
  • Hot sauce packets

What are your favorite things to pack on a backpacking trip? Let us know in the comments below!