How To Meal Plan for Fastpacking Trips

Fastpacking Food Meal Plan

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Before you head out on your next fastpacking adventure, you will want to pack an adequate amount of food. This way, you will ensure your body has enough nutrition.

The tricky part is packing high-calorie foods that deliver efficient amounts of energy while remaining low weight so as not to break your pack weight limits. Below I discuss what I do and why.

Food will make or break your adventure

You can improve your packing food skills by learning from your mistakes. The first few times I went fastpacking, I didn’t put much thought into it and instead just guessed what I should eat.

Fastpacking with food that lacked variety and nutrients meant that after several days on the path, I was usually hungry and exhausted. My internal gas tank had gone dry, and the effects were painful.

I realized that to get the most out of my fastpacking trips, I needed to alter my perspective on the food I brought along with me.

My recent fast-packing trips are considerably different from those I’ve taken before. The food is delicious and satisfying, and I get all the nutrients I need to maintain and improve my health.

Now I have the tools to efficiently pack a week’s worth of food for a trip. Fastpacking meal planning was a game-changer for me, and it can be for you, too.

So, allow me to share my best ideas for a multi-day hiking food plan that is light, nutritious, and tasty. Fastpacking isn’t about survival; it is meant to be fun too.

Fastpacking Meal Plan

Planning Your Diet is Necessary

Math is the foundation of good food management while out in the wilderness.

While out on a daylong hike or camping trip, it’s crucial to eat sensibly and at regular intervals.

You can do a lot of complicated math or use energy calculators for hiking and jogging, but I have a more straightforward method. 

Determine how much food you usually eat each day in your everyday life, then increase your daily calorie intake by 1000…I know this doesn’t work for everyone, but it seems like a good average way to do it, and it’s what I do.

Select Easy-to-Prepare Foods

Avoid unnecessary stress and choose dishes that need little to no cooking. It’s unlikely that weary fastpackers will want to put in the effort required to prepare elaborate meals.

A prepared snack (check out my snack suggestions), cold soaking, or hot food can satisfy your hunger. I combine all three of these approaches. Although it’s not strictly necessary, having a way to cook up a hot supper at the end of the day is guaranteed to improve your mood.

Biggest Tip: Try to prepare food with a lot of calories per gram. 

Carry a Variety of Dishes

Do yourself a favor and pack a wide range of foods for the trip. A wide variety of foods to choose from will prevent you from getting sick of your trail grub too quickly.

Even if it may be tempting, you should try to avoid bringing only processed meals for your lunch. 

Take an ample supply of dried foods, including fruits, veggies, and nuts. Your body will thank you for eating these nutrient-rich meals. Your body will also thank you if you make sure your electrolyte levels are maintained.

I use Redmond Re-Lyte because they are high-quality, and our readers get a 15% discount with this link.

Set Up Your Fastpacking Kitchen

The extent of my cooking while on the road consists of boiling water for my dehydrated meals. I do this every night before bed.

Due to the simplicity of my requirements, I can get by with minimum, lightweight gear when I travel.

All my cooking gear, including the stove, saucepan, spork, lighter, and fuel cartridge, weighs in at less than a pound.

Schedule Your Fastpacking Trip’s Meals

Let’s discuss breakfast, lunch, dinner, and of course, snacks.

What’s for Breakfast?

Ideally, before setting out on a long day of fastpacking, you’d eat a light yet nutrient-dense breakfast that would give you the energy to get going but not weigh you down. Don’t jam too many calories into breakfast; you can always graze later on.

Ideas for a Fastpacker’s Lunch

It is recommended that you consume numerous high-calorie snacks between breakfast and dinner in preparation for spending the majority of each day on your feet while fastpacking. 

The higher protein content is preferable.

I don’t bother making lunch because I often munch throughout the day. If you’re going hiking, I think it would be best to take in calories slowly and burn them off as you go.

My go-to midday munchies include jerky, energy bars, nuts, and dried fruit.

Fastpacking stove

Fastpacker Meal Plans For Dinner

After a long day of travel, I recommend a hearty dinner high in carbohydrates and protein. This is essential so your body can rest and replenish its energy stores in preparation for the next day of fastpacking.

Feed your hunger, replenish your energy, and prepare for tomorrow by eating today.

When I’m exhausted, the last thing I want to do is spend a lot of time preparing dinner, so I always bring along a freeze-dried or dehydrated backpacking kit. Basically, I just need to boil water, throw it into a bag, add some hot sauce, and then wait. Quite delicious despite its seeming simplicity.

If you want to see what I pack, just check out my fastpacking food list here.

Snacks

I don’t leave without packing some form of animal meat jerky. Right now, my favorite is Carnivore Crisps because they have great Beef Ribeye Jerky as well as Beef Liver Crisps. They only add salt for flavoring, so you need not worry about excess garbage.

Use this Carnivore Crips link for a 10% discount, or type WILD at checkout!

One other snack I can get down with is KION bars. These bars were designed with athletes in mind, plus they don’t add any unnecessary filler or chemical additives. Use this link for 10% off!

Remember to keep hydrated by drinking water regularly.

Many fastpackers worry about dehydrating, which is even more of a problem at higher altitudes. Think about how much water you need to drink and the calories you need to consume.

The perfect amount of water to drink during a trek is as unique as the ideal amount of calories to take with you on a hike.

Consideration must be given to factors such as altitude, level of activity, and body mass index.

I rarely go on a trip without a legit water purifier as they save on weight, and you can replenish your water stores when you are near a body of water. I discuss water purifiers in detail here.

Leave No Trace

Most hikers do a great job of being responsible and taking out their trash, but a few bad apples may ruin everything for everyone.

Keep your food waste and empty wrappers in an airtight container until you find a trash can. 

Avoid leaving garbage behind, and take everything with you. Help maintain a high standard of trail cleanliness for the benefit of trail users everywhere.

Conclusion

With the exception of needing slightly more food and making an effort to keep the weight down, the criteria for meal prepping are the same as those for multi-day trekking.

Due to the increased speed, you should consume more calories and carry a lighter pack than you would if you were hiking alone, but the principles are the same. 

Need more fastpacking knowledge? Try these two articles out:

  1. How to Sleep Fastpacking | The Ultimate Sleep System Guide
  2. 16 Most Dangerous Fastpacking Mistakes

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