Shopping for Backpacking Food at the Grocery Store

April 26, 2017

No time to shop online for specialized freeze-dried or dehydrated foods? Your regular grocery store has a lot more to offer for backpacking foods than you might think!

Be creative

A lot of the foods in grocery stores can be used for backpacking trips. Here are some examples:

Category Examples
Grains Pasta, rice, couscous, rice noodles
Seasonings Dried spices and herbs, small containers of curry paste or tomato pasta, parmesan cheese
Vegetables Sun-dried tomatoes, dehydrated onions or chives (in the spices sections), dehydrated mushrooms
Breakfast Instant oatmeal, wheat cream, granola, breakfast cereals, milk powder
Snacks Bars, dried fruits, nuts, seeds, premixed trail mix

Protein options can be challenging

Since most protein sources are either refrigerated, frozen or in can, finding lightweight and shelf-stable protein options can be tricky. To add to the complexity, some shelf-stable options involves long preparation time such as dried beans. With some ingenuity, there are ways to get a variety of protein options at low cost:

  • Individually sealed cheese and meat sticks
  • Dry lentils (cook faster than other dry beans)
  • Cooked fish or meat in vacuum-sealed pouches (i.e. salmon, tuna, chicken, ham)
  • Milk powder
  • Beef and other types of jerkys
  • Shelf-stable smoked salmon

Pay attention to the weight and volume of packages

A lot of shelf stable foods are in cans. This means, carrying the can (and its weight) in and out the trail. Look for plastic packages or other lightweight packages. In the case of dry foods, you can also transfer the food in Ziploc-type plastic bags to save on the volume and weight of packages. For example, you can transfer the content of your favorite mac&cheese box in a plastic bag to save on space.

Stay tuned for more ideas of backpacking foods in grocery stores near you. I will share my findings I make in different grocery stores from the Pacific Northwest on this page.

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