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GT: Plant-based camp meals we love.

Whether you’re backpacking or car camping, one of the best parts of the day is sitting down to a proper meal. Kick your hiking shoes off, slip into your camp slippers, and throw a quick meal together taking special pride in having made something nourishing, comforting, and hot-damn delicious.

As an added super-bonus, when you cook plant-based, you’re doing the planet a mega favor. People who eat plant-based—meaning either vegan or, at least, mostly vegan—reduce their carbon footprint by an insane 73%. If you’re a huge animal person, maybe it’s relatively easy to ditch meat and dairy forever. But even if you have a soft spot for the occasional burger, you can still make a massive impact by mostly eating plants and leaving meat for less frequent occasions.

You may ask, “But how do I feel nourished eating plants after a huge day on the trail?”

Friends, we are here to answer that. Deliciously! Heartily! With much umami! With protein, with vitamins! With tasty dessert to boot!

We’re sharing these food suggestions geared toward backpacking-style minimalism, because it makes car camping easier, too, if you minimize perishables and food weight. We figure you can always glam up a recipe with bulkier extras if you’re car camping, whether that means you’re bringing a jar of fresh salsa instead of a tiny vial of hot sauce, or cartons of fresh fruit instead of dried berries.

Yes, you can take the easy way out with store-bought dehydrated meals. 

We’re sharing homemade meal ideas below, but if you’re tight on time or want to prioritize ultimate simplicity, there are tons of pre-made backpacking meal packets out there that are vegan or vegetarian, and you simply add water to whip up a fairly fabulous, tasty meal. Those are a little pricier than the DIY method, and you create a certain amount of trash with each packet used. But, you always have the option to use them.

Homemade meal ideas we love: 

Many of these ingredients, like dehydrated fruit and grains, are available at a typical grocery store. But you’d be amazed by what you can find online, too. Dehydrated veggies of every variety, dehydrated mashed potatoes, gravy and sauce mixes,

Photo by Margarita Zueva on Unsplash

For breakfast: 

Instant oatmeal with dehydrated fruit and nuts: Skip the high-sugar instant oatmeal packets from the grocery store. You can do better! In fact, you can go all out. Pick up some plain instant oats, then have fun thinking of creative mix-ins. Dried apples with slivered almonds, dehydrated blueberries with shredded coconut, dried mangoes with granola … the combinations are endless. Nuts add protein, while the oats supply fiber and carbs, and the fruits offer vitamins and fiber plus yumminess. We love ordering dehydrated coconut milk powder and mixing it in for creaminess. A little sugar or vial of maple syrup lets you dial up the sweetness and pack in a few more calories.

You can keep the ingredients separate to customize your brekky combo each day, or mix everything together ahead of time for simplicity.

Chia pudding variation: If you want a variation other than oats, try chia seeds. They just need to soak in your coconut milk overnight in a covered bowl or water bottle (which means you need to keep them out of critters’ way) and they make a creamy chia-seed pudding that’s a little like tapioca or rice pudding—but even more nutritious. Run with a ratio of approximately two tablespoons of chia seeds for every half cup of coconut milk for a great recipe. And to mix things up even more, add some cocoa powder to make it chocolatey. Sugar or syrup give it a sweet boost.

Photo by Monika Grabkowska on Unsplash

For lunch and trail snacks:

Many people simply opt for snack bars along the trail, but those sure get old after a couple of days, and it’s nice to mix things up.

Hummus wraps: You can buy dehydrated hummus mix at many grocery stores and online, too. Pre-make yourself a lunch wrap after breakfast by mixing the hummus mix and a little water till it reaches a spreadable consistency, then spread it on a nice big tortilla. Throw in some olives, sun-dried tomatoes, and a slice of vegan cheez (some brands are pretty darn good, like Chao and Violife). Vegan jerky from Primal brand can add a big dose of heartiness if you’re into it—and since it’s dried, it adds hardly any weight.

Dessert hummus wraps: Yes, in the mountains, you’re entitled to lunch dessert. Bust out that tortilla pack again, but this time make a wrap with Nutiva (vegan nutella) and banana chips. Presto—deliciously sweet, satisfying, and high-fat to give you the calories you need.

Hot miso soup: If the weather is cool, you might really crave something warm for lunch. Dehydrated miso soup packets are easy to find at most grocery stores, and all you need to do is heat some water in your mug and dump the mix in. Not only does the savory broth really hit the spot, but miso’s high sodium content makes it a great help when you need to replenish your electrolytes. (We call miso soup “mother nature’s pedialyte.”) It’s easy enough to filter and heat a couple cups of water during your lunch picnic, so treat yo’self to some soup.

Photo by Mae Mu on Unsplash

For dinner: 

Ramen soup: Ramen noodle packets are easily found at the grocery store, and there are some darn good brands out there that outdo the 49-cent ramen noodles we ate sophomore year of college. Pick up a nice brand at your local health food store, then plot how to jazz up the meal. We love dumping in dehydrated veggies and hot sauce (single-serve Sriracha packets for the win!). We’re also huge fans of dehydrated tofu. You can dehydrate your own if you have a food dehydrator, or there are a couple online brands you can buy already dehydrated and cut into chunks. When it re-hydrates in your soup, it has a chewier texture than regular tofu—which is actually very satisfying as an alternative to the chicken or pork often found in ramen.

Bean burritos: You’d be shocked by how tasty dehydrated pinto beans are when wrapped in a piping hot burrito. Pick some up online, then just add hot water at camp to make a yummy pinto bean mixture. We love prepping a quick-cook couscous mix or rice pilaf to throw in with the beans, wrap in a tortilla, and pair with any dried veggies you have on hand. If you dig vegan cheez, that can be a lovely addition. If not, a simple hot sauce packet or little vial of taco sauce will complete the meal. (And, if there were ever an excuse to trek miles with an avocado in your bag, this meal would be it.)


We usually go ultralight on all things backpacking, but we do spring for s’mores stuff if there will be a campfire. You can snag vegan marshmallows at your nearest health food store (regular marshmallows are made with gelatin from animals’ hooves—ew, yuck, and sad). We’re also big fans of dark chocolate as a satisfying evening treat. Or just dunk graham crackers in your lunch Nutiva (vegan nutella)!

We’ve never found a way to dehydrate beer (although we’ll award a Geartrade Nobel Prize to the first person who manages it). So, if you crave an after-dinner drink, we suggest a little whiskey in hot water with a dash of maple syrup. It warms you up from the inside, soothes that aching body, and sends you off to dreamland—ready for the next day’s adventures.

Tag us in your own camp cooking pics and posts. We can’t wait to see what you’re dishing up!

Beth Lopez is a seasoned writer and creative director who loves to tell tales of adventure and discovery—and finds writing a powerful way to give a voice to people, causes, and places. Beth runs amok in the Wasatch mountains when untethered from her computer. She believes there’s no such thing as a bad ski day and considers animals her favorite people. Don’t tell her mother about her Instagram mountaineering photos.

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