Dinner Backpacking Meal Ideas

Angel-hair pasta in dried tomato sauce

Even using expensive dried tomatoes, this costs less than half as much as freeze-dried spaghetti, and give you many more options for adjusting the flavor to your liking.


  • 1 lb angel hair pasta, broken into 2” pieces.
  • 1.5 quarts water
  • 0.5 cups Parmesan cheese (in a plastic bag)
  • Sauce concentrate, prepared at home:
    • 3 oz. dried tomatoes, powdered in a food processor
    • 1.5 tbs oregano
    • 0.5 tbs rosemary
    • 0.5 tbs black pepper
    • 3 tbs onion flakes
    • 0.25 tsp ground coriander
    • 0.25 tsp garlic powder
    • 0.25 cup olive oil
    • 2 tbs sherry or cooking wine
    • 2 tbs vinegar
    • 1 tsp salt


While at home, prepare the sauce concentrate: Chop the dried tomatoes with a knife, then powder them in a food processor. Add the spices, oil, sherry, and vinegar. Store in a double Ziploc bag to prevent leaks. The alcohol in the sherry will prevent spoilage, and help the spices release their flavor. (It will also evaporate completely during cooking.)

On the trail, cook the pasta by covering with the water, bringing to a boil and then reducing to a simmer. Don’t use use extra water, because this will increase your cooking time. When the pasta is simmering, add the concentrate and stir constantly. As the tomatoes rehydrate, the water will be absorbed. Remove from heat and serve, topped with the Parmesan cheese to taste.

Macaroni and cheese with chicken

Combine this with pita bread and stewed fruit for dessert (see “Fruit Topping” under breakfast recipes) to increase the calories to a full dinner and add variety.


  • 2 boxes macaroni and cheese (repackage into Ziploc bag)
  • 1 tin or foil pack of chicken white meat
  • Dried milk and oil (as required by macaroni and cheese instructions)
  • Spices to taste (Mr. Heaton prefers rosemary and onion flakes)


Follow the macaroni and cheese directions, adding chicken as the dish is cooking.

Chicken hot-shots

A quick, hot, and filling dinner. Easily modified with your favorite spices.


  • Pita bread (4 rounds)
  • Instant mashed potatoes (to make 2 cups/person)
  • Two envelopes chicken gravy mix
  • Three cans/foil packs of white chicken meat


At home, add dried milk to the mashed potato flakes per the instructions on the pack. For short duration trips in cool weather, you can add butter at home as well. For long duration trips, pack an appropriate amount of ghee to add on the trail.

On the trail, add boiling water (based on the potato directions) to the potato mix, stirring occasionally. In a second pot, make up the gravy per the packet instructions. Add the chicken and juices and heat through. Serve the potatoes over the pita, and top with chicken and gravy.