Meal Plan Breakdown

The components of my backpacking meal plan are based on countless years of research, recommendations, preparation, and experience.  One can find a plethora of opinions and statistics published by others on what to expect for (for example): how many miles to hike per hour, how many calories burned per hour, how many days to hike before resupply, which food has the highest calorie-to-weight ratio, which foods produce the most energy, etc.  I’ve included links to some my favorite resources on this site that aided in this planning (such as Erik the Black.  Additional consideration was also taken for my own personal preference of taste, weight, price, variety, shelf-life, packability, and safety (such as intense odors, or impact to GI tract).

Lastly, unlike a short trip, a thru-hike meal plan’s intensity can have dangerous long-term effects on one’s body and mind if done poorly.  For example, eating too few calories per day could result in too much weight loss, eating too much junk food could leave you lethargic to continue on, or too little diversity could lead to expensive over-compensating in towns.

After defining these guidelines and preferences, my meal strategy is fairly simple: An average of 3,800 calories, weighing 2lbs, consumed across 6 meals per day. I will eat the same meal every day until the next maildrop or town resupply, which will be planned every 4-5 days to keep total food weight under 10lbs at a time.

Click each category below to expand to view individual meals, items, calories, weight, and cost:

Meal Week 1
Meal Food Item Cal. Oz. Cost
Breakfast
Granola
1 cup Granola 375 $3.00 $0.82
1/4 cup Nido Fortificada instant milk (or Milkman @ 90 cal) 160 $1.00 $0.25
1/4 cup freeze dried berries (harmonyhousefoods.com) 50 $0.30 $0.78
1/4 cup MP Roasted Almonds 170 $1.00 $0.48
2 Folgers instant coffee packets 0 $0.40 $0.28
Elevensies
PB M&Ms, Fruit Bar, Trail Mix
1 bag Peanut Butter M&Ms 240 $1.60 $1.00
1 cup TJ Trail Mix (assorted) 600 $4.20 $0.80
1 Pressed by Kind Fruit Bar 120 $1.00 $1.25
Lunch
Dry Jerky Snack
3 oz Dry Beef Jerky (Old Trapper, European Deluxe, etc) 450 $3.00 $2.14
1 MP Cheese Sandwich Crackers 200 $1.30 $0.27
28 pieces TJs Soft & Juicy Mandarins 280 $2.80 $1.35
Snack 1 Bobo’s Bar (peach, lemon, etc.) 360 $3.50 $2.50
Dinner
Chicken Ramen
4 packages Saltine Crackers (8 crackers) 100 $0.80 $0.20
1 packet Chicken Ramen 380 $3.00 $0.28
1/4 cup dried mixed veggies 60 $0.60 $0.81
1/2 cup freeze dried chicken 120 $0.90 $1.62
1 packet olive oil (11ml each) 90 $0.80 $0.90
Dessert 1 package Welch’s Fruit Snacks 80 $0.90 $0.25
Meal Week 2
Meal Food Item Cal. Oz. Cost
Breakfast
Instant Oatmeal
2 packets TJs instant unsweetened oatmeal 320 3 $0.55
1/4 cup freeze dried berries (harmonyhousefoods.com) 50 0.3 $0.78
1/4 cup MP Roasted Almonds 170 1 $0.48
2 Folgers instant coffee packets 0 0.4 $0.28
Elevensies
Snickers, Fruit Wrap, Trail Mix
1 Snickers Bar 266 2 $0.67
1 cup TJ Trail Mix (assorted) 600 4.2 $0.80
1 TJ Organic Fruit Wrap 50 0.5 $0.50
Lunch
Tuna Crackers
3 Future Essentials Pilot Crackers 300 2.5 $1.80
1 package Starkist Tuna Creations (Lemon Pepper, Hickory Smoked, etc.) 100 2.6 $0.99
1 package Goldfish crackers 140 1 $0.51
8 pieces TJs Just Mango slices 240 1.5 $1.33
Snack 1 Cliff Bar (Pomegranate) 380 2.5 $0.85
Dinner
Freeze Dried Meal
1 snack size bag Frito chips (1 oz) 160 1 $0.25
1 single serving freeze dried meal (Mountain House, Alpine Aire, etc.) 650 4.8 $7.00
Dessert Hostess Fruit Pie (Apple, Blackberry, Lemon, Chocolate) 400 4 $1.00
Meal Week 3
Meal Food Item Cal. Oz. Cost
Breakfast
Instant Grits
2 packets Quaker Oats Instant Grits 200 2 $0.42
1 tbsp dehydrated cheddar cheese 50 0.3 $0.34
1.5 tbsp Bacos 30 0.2 $0.10
1 packet Emerald Breakfast on the Go Berry Nut Blend 190 1.5 $0.51
1 packet Honey 30 0.3 $0.12
2 Folgers instant coffee packets 0 0.4 $0.28
Elevensies
PB Twix, Fruit Bar, Trail Mix
1 Peanut Butter Twix 286 1.9 $1.25
1 cup TJ Trail Mix (assorted) 600 4.2 $0.80
1 Pressed by Kind Fruit Bar 120 1 $1.25
Lunch
BBQ Chicken Crackers
3 Future Essentials Pilot Crackers 300 2.5 $1.80
1 can Swanson Chunk Chicken 112 6.3 $1.30
2 packets parmesan cheese 40 0.2 $0.12
2 packets BBQ sauce (or Buffalo Sauce) 50 0.8 $0.38
5 pieces TJs Dried Pineapple 240 2.8 $1.00
Snack 1 Power Plus PowerBar (Cookie Dough, Vanilla Crisp, etc.) 230 2.1 $1.50
Dinner
Walking Tacos Supreme
2 snack size bags Doritos (crushed) (1 oz) 280 2 $0.90
1/2 cup dehydrated refried bean flakes 160 1.6 $0.66
1 cup freeze dried ground beef 460 2.7 $4.89
1/2 cup dehydrated cheddar cheese 300 1.8 $2.00
2 T dehydrated onion 35 0.4 $0.17
1 packet olive oil (11ml each) 90 0.8 $0.90
2 tsp taco seasoning 12 0.2 $0.05
Dessert 1 package Target Twisted Fruit Ropes (Raspberry Lemonade, etc.) 60 0.6 $0.38
Meal Week 4
Meal Food Item Cal. Oz. Cost
Breakfast
Honey Buns
2 Little Debbie Honey Buns 460 3.5 $0.60
10 rings TJ Dried Apples 110 1.4 $0.70
2 Folgers instant coffee packets 0 0.4 $0.28
Elevensies
Pure Bar, Fruit Wrap, Trail Mix
1 Pure Protein Bar (Chocolate Peanut Caramel) 190 1.8 $1.12
1 cup TJ Trail Mix (assorted) 600 4.2 $0.80
1 TJ Organic Fruit Wrap 50 0.5 $0.50
Lunch
PB Banana Snack
3 Future Essentials Pilot Crackers 300 2.5 $1.80
2 packet Justin’s Honey Peanut Butter (or Almond Butter) 360 2.2 $2.00
26 pieces TJ Organic Banana Chips 320 2.1 $0.43
Snack 1 Nature Valley Granola Bar (Apple Crisp, Oats & Honey) 190 1.5 $0.67
Dinner
Pesto Chicken Pasta
1 packet Ramen 380 3 $0.28
1 packet Pesto spices (2 T dried basil, 1 T garlic powder) 60 0.5 $1.79
1/2 cup freeze dried chicken 120 0.9 $1.62
1/4 cup TJ Sun-dried Tomatoes 70 1 $1.00
3 packets parmesan cheese 60 0.3 $0.18
1 packet olive oil (11ml each) 90 0.8 $0.90
1/4 cup TJ Dry Toasted Pignolias (Pine Nuts) 200 1 $1.00
1 snack size bag Snyder’s mini pretzels (20 count) 110 1 $0.18
Dessert 1 package (2 cookies) Newton Bars (Strawberry, Mixed Berry, Fig) 200 2 $0.46
Meal Week 5
Meal Food Item Cal. Oz. Cost
Breakfast
Blueberry Breakfast Biscuits
4 TJ Blueberry Breakfast Biscuits 210 1.8 $0.50
2 Bonne Maman Raspberry Jam Individual Packets 100 1 $0.66
1 packet Emerald Breakfast on the Go Berry Nut Blend 190 1.5 $0.51
2 Folgers instant coffee packets 0 0.4 $0.28
Elevensies
Nut Roll, Fruit Bar, Trail Mix
1 Pearson Salted Nut Roll 240 1.8 $1.00
1 cup Archer Farms Caramel Cashew Mix 800 5.6 $1.00
2 Simply Balanced Fruit Strips 90 1 $0.48
Lunch
Wet Jerky Snack
3 oz Wet Beef Jerky (Old Trapper, European Deluxe, etc) 450 3 $2.14
1 pack MB Peanut Butter Crackers 300 2 $2.14
10 slices TJ Dried California Persimmons 220 2.8 $1.00
Snack Nature’s Bakery Whole Wheat Fig Bar (Raspberry, Peach, Mango) 220 1 $0.80
Dinner
Vegetable Beef Rice
1 cup Minute Instant Brown Rice 300 3.1 $0.45
1/4 cup dried ground beef 115 0.6 $1.23
1/4 cup dried mixed veggies 60 0.6 $0.81
1 vegetable broth bouillon cube 15 0.2 $0.08
1 t Onion Powder, 1 t Garlic Powder 0 0.1 $0.34
1 packet olive oil (11ml each) 90 0.8 $0.90
Dessert 2 Grandmas Cookies (Chocolate Chip, Peanut Butter, etc.) 400 2.9 $0.35
Meal Week 6
Meal Food Item Cal. Oz. Cost
Breakfast
Cereal
1.5 cups Cheerios (Protein, Fruity, Yogurt Burst, etc) 210 2 $0.44
1/4 cup Nido Fortificada instant milk (or Milkman @ 90 cal) 160 1 $0.25
1/4 cup freeze dried berries (harmonyhousefoods.com) 50 0.3 $0.78
1/4 cup MP Roasted Almonds 170 1 $0.48
2 Folgers instant coffee packets 0 0.4 $0.28
Elevensies
Baby Ruth, Fruit Bar, Trail Mix
1 Baby Ruth Bar 275 2.1 $0.91
1 cup Archer Farms Handful of Everything Trail Mix 500 4 ,8
1 Pressed by Kind Fruit Bar 120 1 $1.25
Lunch
Nutella Banana Snack
3 Future Essentials Pilot Crackers 300 2.5 $1.80
2 Justin’s Chocolate Hazelnut Butter 360 2.2 $2.00
20 pieces TJ Roasted Plantain Chips 140 1 $0.28
10 TJ Dried Apple Rings 110 1.4 $0.72
Snack 1 Pro Bar Meal (Superberry & Greens, Wholeberry Blast, Superfruit Slam) 360 3 $2.69
Dinner
Pepperoni Pizza Quinoa
1/2 cup Costco Organic Quinoa 320 3 $0.79
1/4 cup dried mixed veggies 50 0.6 $0.80
1/4 cup TJ Sun-dried Tomatoes 70 1 $1.00
1/2 tsp dried oregano, 1/2 tsp dried basil, 1/2 tsp dried garlic 0 0.2 $0.00
1 packet olive oil (11ml each) 90 0.8 $0.90
3 packets parmesan cheese 60 0.3 $0.18
17 slices Hormel Turkey Pepperoni 70 1 $1.40
Dessert Hostess Fruit Pie (Apple, Blackberry, Lemon, Chocolate) 400 4 $1.00
Meal Week 7
Meal Food Item Cal. Oz. Cost
Breakfast
Bagel with Cheese
1 Market Pantry Bagel (Blueberry, Cinnamon Raisin, Plain) 220 3 $0.50
2 Laughing Cow Cheese wedges (original swiss) 100 1.5 $1.00
1 packet Emerald Breakfast on the Go Berry Nut Blend 190 1.5 $0.51
2 Folgers instant coffee packets 0 0.4 $0.28
Elevensies
Almond Snickers, Fruit Bar, Trail Mix
1 Snickers Almond Bar 230 2 $0.67
1 cup Archer Farms Caramel Cashew Mix 800 4.6 $1.00
1 Pressed by Kind Fruit Bar 120 1 $1.25
Lunch
Babybel Snack
3 Future Essentials Pilot Crackers 300 2.5 $1.80
3 Mini Babybel Cheeses (Original, Cheddar, Gouda) 210 2.1 $2.00
8 pieces TJs Just Mango slices 240 1.5 $1.33
1 package Goldfish crackers 140 1 $0.51
Snack 1 Kind Bar (Dark Chocolate Chunk, Vanilla Blueberry, Peanut Butter) 140 1.2 $0.60
Dinner
Meaty Mashed Potatoes
Idahoan Instant Mashed Potatoes (Buttery, Four Cheese, Garlic Parmesan) 440 4 $1.00
1/4 cup dried mixed veggies 60 0.6 $0.81
1/2 cup dried ground beef 230 1.2 $2.46
Dessert 2 Grandmas Cookies (Chocolate Chip, Peanut Butter, etc.) 400 2.9 $0.35
Resupply Meals
Meal Food Item Cal. Oz. Cost
Breakfast
Bagel with Nut Butter
1 Bagel (Blueberry, Cinnamon Raisin, Plain) 220 3.0 $1.00
2 oz Nut Butter (e.g. Peanut Butter, Nutella) 350 2.0 $1.00
1 Pop-Tart or 1 Honey Bun 200 1.8 $1.00
2 Folgers instant coffee packets 0 0.4 $1.00
Elevensies
Candy Bar, Trail Mix, Fruit
1 Candy Bar (PB Twix, Snickers, Baby Ruth, etc.) 250 2.0 $1.00
1 cup Trail Mix (nut, fruit, and chocolate mix) 600 4.5 $1.00
2 Fruit Leather, Bar or Snacks (e.g. Welches, Fruit Roll-up) 100 1.5 $1.00
Lunch
Meat and Cheese Snack
12 Crackers or 2 Tortillas (e.g. Stone Wheat, Triscuits, Mission, etc.) 280 2.0 $1.00
2 oz Cheese (String, Hard Cheddar, Babybel, Laughing Cow) 200 2.0 $1.00
2 oz Beef Summer Sausage, Beef Sticks, or Beef Jerkey 180 2.0 $1.00
3 oz Dried Fruit or Raisins 260 3.0 $1.00
Snack 1 Granola Bar (Nature Valley, Kind, Quaker Oats, etc.) 150 1.5 $1.00
Dinner
Instant Rice or Noodles
1 package Instant Rice or Noodles (e.g. Knorr, Maruchan) 600 5.6 $1.00
1 snack size bag of chips (e.g. Doritos, Fritos, etc.) 160 1.0 $1.00
1 can Chunk Chicken or packet Tuna/Salmon (e.g. Swanson, Starkist) 100 2.0 $1.00
Treat 4 dry cookies (e.g. Oreos, Nutter Butters, Chips Ahoy) 200 1.5 $1.00