Backpacking Breakfast Recipes For Your Most Important Meal

Morning on the Appalachian Trail.
Morning on the Appalachian Trail. Photo: Samuel Martin.

By Matt Jenkins

Your daily food intake should include a mix of complex carbohydrates, simple carbohydrates, fats, and proteins. Breakfasts are no exception. Breakfast is commonly believed to be the most important meal of the day because you need to resupply the calories that you consumed while you were sleeping. Of course, if you’re on a trip, you also need to lay a solid foundation of calories for your upcoming aerobic endeavors. That means finding backpacking breakfast recipes that are delicious and pack a nutritional punch.

Quick and Easy Backpacking Breakfast Recipes to Keep You Going

When I’m on a longer trip, like a thru hike, I fire up the stove immediately after waking. Before I’m even out of my sleeping bag I am sipping on a hot cup of coffee and have breakfast re-hydrating in my cozy. This provides me an ample amount of time to eat my breakfast, pack my pack, and embark on my first segment of the day, typically a two-hour push.

Most trainers don’t recommend exercising for any longer than that without refueling. If you are going to exercise for longer than two hours, be sure to eat at least 100 calories per hour of mostly simple carbohydrates.

For those of you that can’t stand the thought of eating breakfast in bed or are committed to the “10 before 10” mantra, I recommend eating at least a couple hundred calories before walking. A simple snack of medjool dates and cashews should do the trick. You might want to consider assessing your protein needs, too.

Below you will find three of my favorite breakfast recipes to try out on your next trip. As with all of my meals, I like to mix these up in bigger batches, and parcel them out into individual meal sizes. That makes it easy to build menus on a grab and go basis, and get out the door and into the backcountry.

Vegetarian Parmesan Spinach Grits

½ cup Nestle Nido

¼ cup instant grits

¼ cup pine nuts

¼ cup dehydrated spinach

1.5 tbsp ham TVP (textured vegetable protein)

1 tbsp butter powder

4 packets Parmesan cheese

1/8 tsp onion powder

1/8  tsp garlic powder

pinch cayenne pepper

1 cube veggie bouillon

1 tbsp olive oil

Directions: Mix all the ingredients together at home apart from the veggie bouillon, Parmesan, and olive oil. In the field, add a splash of boiling water and the bouillon to your cozy. Dissolve the bouillon cube. Then add the rest of the ingredients and enough water to re-hydrate the mixture, approximately ½ cup. Let “cook” for approximately five minutes.

Savory Breakfast Scramble

1 cup freeze dried sweet potatoes or dehydrated potato slices

½ cup freeze dried pork crumbles

1 tsp rosemary

1 tsp air dried green onion

½ tsp pepper

½ tsp Herbes de Provence

¼ tsp garlic powder

¼ tsp onion powder

pinch salt

1 tbsp olive oil

½ cup freeze dried scrambled egg chunks (not egg powder) (Optional)

Directions: Mix dry ingredients at home. Olive oil can be packaged individually or in larger quantities in a leak proof container for a longer trip. Add approximately ½ cup boiling H2O to mixture. Re-hydrate for 5-8 minutes. Potato slices with eggs take about     15-20 minutes. Stir once. Check potatoes for doneness, you may need to add a little bit of hot water–and it goes without saying that the cooking time makes this a backpacking breakfast recipe that works best for leisurely mornings in camp.

Southwestern Grits

2 packets instant grits

2 tbsp Nestle Nido

2 tbsp cheese powder

1 tsp air dried red chili pepper

1 tsp air dried green onion

½ tsp garlic powder

¼ tsp onion powder

pinch salt

pinch pepper

2 tbsp Real Bacon bits

Directions: Mix everything but the bacon bits at home. Add approximately one cup of boiling H2O to mixture. Let sit inside of a cozy for 3-5 minutes.

 Matt Jenkins and his wife Elyssa Shalla are backcountry rangers at Grand Canyon National Park, have been exploring the deserts of the southwest together since they met in 2008. Matt has written extensively for the Hyperlite Mountain Gear blog on topics ranging from how to develop your personal nutrition strategy to strategies for optimizing your ultralight sleep system for winter trips.

For more info on how to meet your nutritional needs, plus ways to keep things creative and delicious on the trail, visit our Backpacking Recipes + Food Ideas page.