how do I pack recipe ingredients for backpacking trip

How-to pack a recipe

by Chef Corso

You’re going outside…great!  And you want to cook something fantastic while you’re out there…awesome!

But…how do you go about packing a recipe that includes some fresh veggies, liquids, spices and dry ingredients?


Plastic bottles.  Make sure they’re threaded.  I will say that again…MAKE SURE THEY’RE THREADED.  What I mean by that is that they have a twist on, tight sealing cap like a bottle of soda.  If they aren’t threaded, they will most likely pop open in your pack or with elevation gain and there goes oil or soy sauce all over your t-shirts and socks.  Not the best experience. For recipes with multiple wet ingredients, I like to combine them into 1 bottle for easy adding to the recipe when it’s time to cook. Example.  Soy, sesame oil, black vinegar, and chili, all in an 8 oz bottle.


Spices are an important part of any dish, even if you’re just adding salt and pepper. But I love keeping chili powders, curry powders and other options in the pantry for fast, light flavor.  You can go the store packet route, but many of these are loaded with salt and not the highest quality. Check your label and make sure salt isn’t the first ingredient. My favorite spice company is WORLD SPICE MERCHANTS out of Seattle, WA.  I like using small bottles, old pill containers or spent drink tab containers for easy filling and packing

Fresh Veggies

Yes, you can use fresh vegetables and herbs when you cook outside.  Most herbs can last for 3 days easy and really give a nice freshness to dishes.  Great vegetables to take are shallots, bell peppers, snap peas, broccoli/cauliflower pre-cut, baby tomatoes.  If they’re large (like a pepper) cut into slices and pack in a baggie. Many of the pre-cut / portioned items come in their own bag for easy packing or you can transfer to a ziplock.

Protein Pre-Cooked

These are my go-tos.  Ham, cooked chicken sausages and even some fake meat sausage and patty options out there are easy to pack and last for multiple days.  Be mindful of overall time in your pack, ie, eat them in the first few days of your trip and make sure to heat them through for overall food safety.

Protein Pre-cooked Frozen

I do not suggest you take any raw protein on the trail.  It’s just too risky. But you can pre-cook that fajita meat or Thai chicken and freeze it solid, then pack it to use for one of your first days on the trail.  It will thaw out as you wander and will be ready for a quick warm up once you’re ready to eat.

Condiment Packets

These are great ways to add flavor with small weight and volume, and I’m sure you have plenty of mayo, mustard and soy packets in a drawer somewhere.  As with any packing, always remember to pack these out. No one wants to see trash in the wild

Dry Ingredients

The workhorses of any camping trip.  Noodles (pasta,rice noodles, ramen), instant rice and beans, polenta, powdered eggs.  All are great bases for your meals. I like to try to have at least 2 recipes per dry ingredient to help save time in shopping and packing.


Stuff Sacks/Packing Cubs

Once you’re ready to pack up your individual ingredients, I highly recommend a stuff sack, packing cube or small reusable grocery bag for EACH RECIPE.  Pack a breakfast in one bag, pack a dinner in another. Pack your frequently used ingredients together in the “pantry” (salt, pepper, hot sauce, garlic powder, oil, etc).  It makes for easy meal prep and saves you time from searching around your pack for that loose lemon or chili powder container.


Always nice to pack them in one spot together so your spork isn’t down at the bottom of your pack next to your socks.



get out there



Categorized in: Food, How-To Cooking, Packing / Equipment