I usually indulge myself in a hearty cooked meal after I hike the whole day, and it is very comforting and fulfilling. However, I sometimes feel that preparing the meal can be inconvenient and time-consuming especially when I am worn out after all day of trekking; hence, I bring foods that do not require cooking on my outdoor adventures.
Even though I eat no cook backpacking meals most of the time during my adventures, I shall say that it feels like I am eating cooked foods because of the satisfaction that my no-cook meals provide. My secret is that I bring the ones that are scrumptious and contain nutrients that give long-lasting energy.
By your imagination and creative thinking, you can come up with numerous no-cook backpacking ideas that will be an additional enjoyment on your trip. In my case, I list my meals for breakfast, lunch, and dinner that do not require cooking in this article. These suggestions are all perfect for your next backcountry adventure.
Breakfast perhaps is the most important meal of your day when hiking, so it is important not to skip it as your first meal will you fuel you and provide you the starting energy for your adventure.
However, I have also met backpackers who are not comfortable eating a heavy meal for breakfast which is just fine if you eat a variety of light meals that are nutritious. Here are some of the meals which you can consider eating for breakfast.
1) Hearty and sweet granola
Granola is one of the perfect breakfast ideas that are indeed good to start my day. It is just like a breakfast dessert. However, a sweet and hearty granola is more healthy.
I usually mix it with seeds or nuts, and my favorites are almonds, walnuts, and unsalted sunflower seeds. I also top it with cranberries or some dried fruit such as raisins.
To make granola tastier, I add shelf-stable soy milk or shelf-stable packaged milk. You can also bring with you cranberry and homemade pumpkin, or you can have a zucchini bread which you can slice and enjoy best when you spread with peanut butter.
Another combination is sweet granola, shredded coconut, almonds, and yogurt of your choice. Partner this breakfast idea with a hot beverage. I often use individual packets of hot chocolate that are sugar-free, coffee, or apple cider. These beverages require hot water alone.
2) Honey (or jelly) and peanut butter sandwiches
Peanut is another popular choice for many hikers which is no surprise because any peanut butter will give you the carbohydrates, protein, and the energy you need from a heavy and healthy breakfast.
Peanut butter is also very versatile. There are many ways to prepare food with it. In my case, I usually put add sliced bananas in my sandwich. However, never forget to consume bananas immediately as this fruit tend to spoil fast.
3) Dried fruit (or fresh) and nuts
If you want healthy fats and sugars but want to avoid the hassle of cooking, I suggest that you bring foods pods like nuts. Nuts are not only crunchy, tasty and ready to eat, you can also combine them with other snacks.
What I do is I pair nuts with different types of dried and fresh foods like fruits. Did you know that these kinds of foods are important elements of Mediterranean diet, the only type of diet which is clinically proven to help a person live a healthier and longer life? Don't miss these healthy options.
4) Hard-boiled eggs with nuts and sweet rolls
Although hard boiled eggs still need boiling, the good thing about them is that you can cook them before your trip. Just make sure that you store and keep them in a cool place for your first or second day of adventure.
I love pairing eggs with spices and salsas, but they taste good also if you pair them with other types of sweet foods, such as syrups and honey. Have you tried combining hard boiled eggs with sweet nuts and rolls? It is worth it!
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When on the trail, always go with meals that are quick, easy and high energy. When you eat a large or hefty meal in the afternoon, your body will tend to slow down. Hence, it is important to choose a light meal and eat snack often during the day and eat light for lunch.
Here are some of the meals which you can include on your list of foods for lunch.
1) Broccoli salad with almond vinaigrette
Are you looking for a vegetarian meal for backpacking to bring with you during your trip? This meal is the answer to your craving. In just five minutes, you can have a delicious mixture of vitamin-rich ingredients.
This salad contains sweet cranberries, slivered almonds, freeze-dried broccoli, and plump raisins which you have to marinate in a zesty and tasty vinaigrette. All you need to do is combine all these ingredients.
I understand that some backpackers may not be comfortable with the taste of broccoli or other vegetables. If you are this type of person, here is another meal which you can consider.
Muesli cereals are your perfect choice if you want to enjoy cold cereal for your lunch. Mix these cereals with fruits of your choice, seeds, and nuts and add instant organic soy milk. Then, just put water, stir, and pamper yourself with another guilt-free meal.
3) Nutritious pumpkin bread
This bread has been my favorite ever since my grandmother taught me its recipe.
However, recently, I had it in my outdoor adventure, and I discovered how this piece of loaf could be so rich and hearty, making it an another perfect choice for any meal of the day. However, I prefer eating it during lunch time especially when I already have a heavy breakfast.
You can buy pumpkin bread, but you can also prepare homemade ones which you can make even more delicious by adding whole pumpkin seeds to your loaf. If you want to enjoy pumpkin bread at its best, you can cover it with almond butter or with any spread which suits your taste.
4) Cold cut sandwiches
Cold cuts are ideal because they provide ample amount of protein which your body will require while indulging in outdoor activities.
You can prepare any sandwiches, but the important thing to remember is that they should give you the essential nutrients you need when hiking such as sugars and proteins.
Just take two slices of bread or a sub bun and lay the meats like chicken, turkey, or ham on there. I love adding cheese, parsley leaves, and other condiments as well.
If you have excess foods from breakfast or lunch, you can consume them for dinner. Often, I spare a few pumpkin bread that I eat for lunch to eat for my last meal of the day.
However, I also take time sometimes to make some foods I intend to eat for dinner especially when I have adequate time to prepare them. Below are just some of my favorite meals during the evening.
1) Tuna wraps
Apart from being cheap and easy to carry, tuna wrap is another perfect no-cook backpacking meal because it is great for your trail leg muscles. Make sure to add nutritious ingredients such as hard cheese, and sliced veggies.
If you want, you can also convert these wraps into a salad or a sandwich. Canned tuna is a great choice because it has low fat and high protein. The small amount of fat that it contains also come in the form of the essential omega-3 fatty acids which provide many brain and heart benefits.
2) Pizza wraps
If you are someone who loves pizza, this food is something you will surely enjoy. It is not bad to have a few comfort food on your trip along with your beans and fruits so that this delicious snack can have a spot on your dinner.
All you have to do is mix all your ingredients (basil, oregano, and tomato powder) in a bowl or plastic bag. Then, add one teaspoon of water at a time until your mix shows a paste consistency. Spread your pita on, and you can top it with cheese and meat.
Cured meats such as pepperoni and salami and hard cheeses can last on the trail even if there is no refrigeration.
This food is a Mexican dish which can also be in the form of wraps. It is one of my favorites because it is an almost complete meal diet since it usually has various ingredients like fish, fruit, meat, and vegetable ingredients which are inside the wrap.
Because of these fillings, your body absorbs a lot of protein and carbohydrates. Your body will need these nutrients to keep your stamina while you are outdoor.
4) Stuffed tomatoes
This meal is another food that I prepare in my camping site. Apart from looking fancy, it also is very healthy. If you plan to have it too, the only thing you need to do first is slice off the top of your tomatoes and cut a cone shape into every piece of tomato.
Just remove the core before you dice up the other tomato piece and place it in a separate bowl. Hollow out all the tomatoes. Place the other "flesh" and seeds into a sieve for them to drain.
You can add any filling of your choice, but what I always put are cheese, mango, and salad onion in a coriander before I pour the dressing ( a tablespoon of tomato juice in a bowl that has oil, lime juice, and zest) on top of the combination.
The important considerations when choosing a no-cook backpacking meal
Flavor or taste
You can always find and bring your comfort food when you go hiking, camping, or backpacking. When I travel and prepare my food, this factor is what I often consider. Luckily, there are a lot of options to choose from, and the items I listed here are great options for you as well.
I know that you or other backpackers may be under a diet program which is not a problem at all. However, please do not forget that you will also need to have an ample amount of calories when you go hiking because calories can be your defense against headaches and fatigue.
Always take good care of your health even when you travel outdoor, and never forget to consider the healthiness of the food you will eat when preparing your meal. Dried fruits and nuts, for instance, give stable energy to help your muscles.
The meals that are ideal for backpacking are those that have a high amount of complex proteins and carbohydrates. These types of foods will surely energize you enough when you go for a long trip.
Bulk and weight
As a backpacker, you probably already have to bring a lot of materials with you. Hence, it is important to find foods that are lightweight, and bring less bulky items when you travel.
Sometimes, I repackage my foods into resealable plastic baggies since this tip can eliminate excess garbage and bulk. You can try it too. Just make sure that you put clear labeling to your baggies.
Convenience and ease of preparation
It is necessary to keep things as simple as possible as this practice will surely save you time and effort. Although some no-cook backpacking foods are ready to eat, others still require a little preparation. There are also certain meals that require a little boiling such as the hard-boiled eggs.
There are a lot of meal options that are very budget-friendly like eggs, cereals, and vegetables. However, it is also not bad to go for foods that are a little pricey especially if these meals will provide you the energy you need for your backpacking adventure.
The space for gears will be limited, and you may even need to bring cookware for backpacking, so you need only to take what you think you will need. Packing too much can lead to less space and wasted food. Hence, it is important to think and plan how much you will consume in your trip.
The food you bring will most likely have to be in containers so that they do not spoil. There are also foods such as meats, fruits, and vegetables which will spoil if they are not in suitable and properly stored containers.
If you bring some pieces of bread, always ensure that they do not get too much air exposure to avoid spoilage.
Reminder for junk food lovers
I know some backpackers who love to bring and eat different cookies, candy and wrapped trail bars during their trips. These types of food often contain refined sugars which offer no mineral, protein or vitamin content. Also, they can damage or harm your tooth enamel.
However, many backpackers like to buy these snacks because they are often cheap, additive, quick to find, and ready to eat. These snacks also contain a considerable amount of calories. However, these calories in sugar give carbohydrate energy which replenishes depleted glycogen stores.
Our muscles are not capable of distinguishing the carbohydrates from food that contains a refined sugar versus ones which come from fruits.
The bottom line? Replacing nutrient-filled meals and foods with a sugary snack is detrimental to your immune system.Always choose foods that give you the nutrients you need, and you can always go back to this article to find some of them.
Did you enjoy reading my list of the best no cook backpacking meals?
Perfect no-cook meals may require careful planning, so you may remind yourself of the essential considerations that I have discussed in this article. And If you like experiencing outdoor adventures with simple preparation and convenience, your best thing to do is to bring any of my no-cook meals. I am sure that you will love hiking even more.
If you want to give your opinion about this writing piece or if you know some other no-cook meals that you think should be on this article, please feel free to post it in the comments section below. You may also share this no-cook food list with your friends.