Paleo backpacking meals aren’t as impossible to make and carry as you might think. There are many more options available as people choose paleo meals to enjoy along with nature.
Although, it does still take some thought and preparation to make satisfying meals for the trail. Unless you consider beef jerky and some dried fruit satisfying. Most people don’t. Nevertheless, this where campers begin, when they start thinking of paleo backpacking meals.
That said, here are some of the traditional snacks campers new to paleo mistake for nutritional backpacking meals:
- Meat Jerky
- Hard-Boiled Eggs
- Smoked Almonds
- Pumpkin & Sunflower Seeds
- Paleo Trail Mix
- Dried Fruit (no added sugar)
- Seaweed Snacks
- Chips Made from Veggies
It makes sense – carrying beef jerky, veggies, dried fruit, roots, and nuts to enjoy as you hike through nature’s beautiful splendor. Obviously, though, you can only eat so much of this on the trail without becoming bored and resentful.
All of a sudden, everyone’s easy-to-carry, cheap-to-buy, and wonderfully satisfying and delicious junk food looks awesome. And while natural eating and backpacking seem like they should go together, all of a sudden, they don’t.
This is confusing. Especially since the paleo diet is about getting back to what the cave people ate. This would make it seem like the ideal food to take backpacking. But even the most devout of the paleo dieters will find this quite the opposite. Paleo foods like this just don’t have enough calories and variety to be satisfying after a long day of hiking.
Paleo Backpacking Meals May Leave a Little to Be Desired
It’s a fact that backpacking meals in general favor junk food or snacks that masquerade as healthy. This is because the necessary goal of backpacking is to carry as little weight and volume as possible.
While there are some freeze-dried paleo backpacking meals that are also perfect for backpacking, they are expensive. This is because paleo backpacking meals, more than anything, are difficult to prepare and preserve.
Prepackaged paleo backpacking meals, as you will found out, can also be hit-or-miss in the satisfaction department. On the other hand, make-it-yourself paleo backpacking meals are either too time-consuming to make or too bulky to carry.
Paleo Backpacking Pro Tips:
- If you find a company you like that makes paleo backpacking meals, sign up for their email list. Most of these companies are smaller operations and they always have awesome sales. You have to delete their daily emails until you find good deals, but it’s worth it.
- Since these meals are freeze-dried, you can buy them in advance and store them until you need them for backpacking. They usually have a shelf life of up to two years. Buying these meals on sale makes them an affordable and convenient option to take backpacking.
- Combining these meals with paleo snacks will give you much more satisfying paleo nutrition on the trail.
Now we are getting closer to a complete paleo backpacking meals solution.
Make no mistake, though, many pre-made paleo meals for backpacking sometimes need a little (or a lot) of help. By adding dehydrated vegetables and spices of your own, you can make these meals much better. You can also stretch the portion of one meal to make it for two or more people. This also makes them more affordable.
Spices Are a Big Part of Tasty Paleo Backpacking Meals
So don’t be afraid of new spices when it comes to eating paleo while camping. Here are some spices to use to make paleo meals better:
- Garlic Powder
- Onion Powder
- Chili Powder
- Cayenne Pepper
Making Your Own Paleo Backpacking Meals That Satisfy
At some point, you will want to make your own meals. This is because most of the recipes you see for paleo backpacking meals look really tasty. Then you realize how much time it will take to make them.
Paleo Backpacking Pro Tip:
- What’s the real secret to making paleo backpacking meals that are easy, enjoyable to eat, and delicious? The secret is to cut back on the time required to prepare the ingredients that go into them.
So let’s talk about the ingredients for paleo backpacking meals. These are ingredients that can be easily prepared, stored, and taken on the trail. Then it’s just a matter of finding your favorite recipes and putting them together like any other meal!
Paleo Breads Are the Cheapest and Easiest Place to Start
Paleo breads are light, easy to carry, delicious, and satisfying. Also, paleo breads don’t have to be refrigerated on the trail if they are vacuum-sealed. You can have paleo bread with eggs in the morning, almond butter at lunch, and then stew in the evening.
Paleo bread is made mainly with almond or coconut flour (your choice) and ground flaxseed. Paleo bread, bought in the store, can cost up to $20. However, you can mix it up yourself in about ten minutes (plus baking time) for very cheap. A bag of almond or coconut flour is only about $4 and makes several loaves. Paleo bread will also save you on the trail when you are ravenously hungry.
Basic Paleo Bread Recipe:
- 2 cups almond flour
- 2 tbsp. coconut flour
- ¼ cup ground flax seed
- ½ cup arrowroot flour
- ½ tsp. baking soda
- 1 ½ tsp. baking powder
- ¾ tsp. sea salt
- 3 large eggs, whisked
- 2 large egg whites whisked
- 6 tbsp. almond milk
- ½ tsp. apple cider vinegar
- ¼ cup coconut oil, melted
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and ready an 8” x 4” loaf pan. In a large bowl, combine the wet ingredients. In a separate bowl, mix the dry ingredients. Combine both bowls and mix, then put the mixture in the pan. Bake for 60 minutes, or until the loaf is risen and golden brown. Let it cool before you slice it. Eat the loaf within 4 days or freeze.
Dried Fruit for Snacks and Desserts
Of course, we have to talk about dried fruit, but there is a better way to process it. If you have a camping trip coming up, buy one or two pieces of fruit every time you go to the grocery store. Remember, when you are drying fruit, buy it on sale – because you are going to dry it immediately.
Fruits That Are Best for Dehydrated or Dried Fruit
- Canned Fruit Cocktail
Paleo Backpacking Pro Tip:
- Simply slice each piece of fruit very thinly and place it in the microwave. Put the microwave on DEFROST for 30-45 minutes and you will have dehydrated fruit. Really!
Make sure not to put the fruit on a regular setting or you will have charred fruit. This dehydration method also works really well for fruit that you notice getting overripe in your kitchen. You can save this fruit by quickly slicing it and throwing it in the microwave. Then put it in a vacuum-sealed bag for a later backpacking trip.
Dehydrating Veggies for Paleo Backpacking Meals
Veggies are the easiest to dehydrate for later use because you can do them in large batches in the oven. Simply slice any raw veggies as thin as you can and then put them on lined cookie sheets at 125 degrees for 6-8 hours.
Veggies can then be stored indefinitely in vacuum-sealed storage bags in the freezer. They can be used in almost any recipe.
Veggies That Are Popular to Dehydrate:
- Sweet Potatoes
- Cauliflower & Broccoli
- Spinach & Kale
- Canned Beets
- Frozen Vegetables
Dehydrating Meats and Jerky for Paleo Backpacking Meals
Any meats can be dehydrated, but they have to be prepared first. For example, if you want to make beef jerky, the beef has to be thinly sliced. As well, it has to be lean (with zero fat) because the fat doesn’t dry out and goes rancid.
Paleo Backpacking Pro Tip:
- Here is where it is a good idea to make friends with the butcher at the grocery store.
A butcher can slice the meat thin enough to make jerky. As making jerky gets expensive, they can also tell you when the meat gets marked down so it’s affordable.
This will save you quite a bit of money on prepackaged jerky as well as on the preservatives. Homemade jerky can last up to two months if properly packaged; two years if vacuum-sealed and frozen.
Other Meats to Dehydrate for Backpacking:
- Any Cuts of Lean Beef
- Sliced Deli Ham
- Precooked and Peeled Shrimp
- Canned Tuna
- Imitation Crab
- Canned Chicken
Paleo Backpacking Pro Tip:
- Canned chicken and tuna are better to dehydrate because they rehydrate better than their fresh counterparts. Plus, canned meats you dehydrate and vacuum-seal means you will not have to carry clunky, heavy cans while hiking. Remember, food you take backpacking should be light to carry and take up the least room possible.
The best meat to dehydrate for backpacking though, is lean ground beef, turkey, or chicken. This is because, with these meats, you can make hearty dishes like chili or paleo bread sloppy joes. And yes, as you learn to prepare more ingredients for your paleo backpacking meals, it’s time to get creative!
To Dehydrate Lean Ground Meat:
- Cook the meat in a skillet, breaking it into small pieces, until done.
- When it is cooled off, drain the meat of all fat in a colander.
- Rinse with hot water, drain on paper towels and season to taste.
- Use a home dehydrator to dehydrate meat at 145F for 4-6 hours.
- Store in vacuum-sealed food storage bags, refrigerate or freeze until use.
Paleo Backpacking Pro Tips:
- If you haven’t already, you should definitely buy a food dehydrator. An inexpensive food dehydrator can be purchased for about $35 to $100. Buy a used one if you can find it because buying an inexpensive food dehydrator is a great investment.
You can use it for all kinds of snacks and meals to enjoy at home, for work, or travel. Eating paleo means work and travel are the same as backpacking because you still have to plan your meals accordingly.
- Also, buying an inexpensive vacuum food sealer will make backpacking paleo so much easier. Don’t spend more than $50 on a vacuum sealer. The cheap ones work just as well for backpacking purposes. This is also something you can buy second-hand because its previous owner probably didn’t ever use it. Just make sure it is a vacuum sealer you can get bags for or it won’t do you any good.
- As you will notice, vacuum bags reduce the space of your paleo meals to almost nothing. In fact, they will fit in many places in a backpack their store-bought counterparts won’t. They are also waterproof and will stay fresh for much longer.
Vacuum bag sealing means that you can fit 2-3 times more food in your backpack. So you don’t have to worry about being ravenous at the end of the trail.
Making Paleo Backpacking Meals In Advance
Any paleo meals that you make at home can be taken on the trail. The most time-saving thing you can do is to make a meal, like stew, then make extra. Take the extra and freeze it portion-size plastic containers. Pop-out the frozen block later, then put it in a vacuum-seal food bag and seal it. (You can’t vacuum-seal room temperature liquids.)
This kind of frozen meal is easy to transport in a backpack. It won’t sweat or thaw very quickly. You can also use frozen vacuum-sealed meals instead of ice packs. They will also keep other foods cool for at least the day. Then, in the evening it will be easy to heat or just eat cold.
Paleo Backpacking Meals Recipes
Now that you can quickly assemble ingredients, there are many, many paleo recipes online for you to try. It will be worth your while to go through them and mark the ones you like. By vacuum-sealing any of these meals, you will have quite a bit of variety when you are backpacking.
The real trick is to make the preparation of these meals as fast as possible. You will have so many different food combinations when you learn the quickest way to prepare the ingredients. And the faster you can dehydrate paleo ingredients, the better you will eat on the trail.