Food Whole30-compliant no-cook backpacking meals

These recipes are (mostly) healthy, Whole30 compliant, and require no stove or fuel. They also do not require soaking, unless otherwise noted.

I should mention that I typically supplement these meals with Whole30-approved snacks such as fresh fruit, EPIC bars, or custom trail mixes. I’m generally OK with the weight penalty of fresh fruit for the first day or two, after which those items tend to get beaten to a literal pulp in my backpack anyway.

Note: I am not responsible for illnesses caused by foodborne pathogens from making or consuming these recipes. These recipes are what work for me, but I am not a food scientist or a nutritionist. Do your own research, especially when it comes to the recipes containing meat cooked or dehydrated at low temperatures.

Chocolate Coconut Almond Bars

This is by far my favorite Whole30 recipe, even at home. These bars absolutely feel like a cheat meal. They pack a lot of calories and nutrients into a small size, and they are ready to eat when you are. I adapted this recipe from a vegan raw cacao bar recipe that might be a good option for anyone looking for raw or varying restrictions.

Ingredients

Directions

  1. Soak the dates for 10 minutes, then drain.
  2. Blend the dates in a food processor until they form a paste.
  3. Add the ground flax, coconut, vanilla extract, cocoa powder, and melted coconut oil, then blend to combine.
  4. Add almonds and blend until the almonds break into chunks.
  5. Line the bottom of a baking dish with wax paper or parchment paper. I use an 8×6-inch Pyrex dish, but any size will work with varying results in thickness.
  6. Press the mixture flat into the dish. Optionally, create a channel along the walls of the dish, separating the mix from the walls. This will aid you in removing the bars later, but it’s not totally necessary.
  7. Refrigerate for at least 3 hours.
  8. Once set, cut into 8 bars.
  9. Bars are ready to eat, or they can be refrigerated or frozen in a sealed container for several weeks.

Notes

While these bars don’t spoil easily, they should be kept as cold as possible before your trip. I would advise pre-freezing them overnight (they taste great frozen, and they don’t release much condensation as they warm).

I have left these bars out during cool, sunny Texas weather, and they have remained solid up to at least 70° F.

These bars have a LOT of fiber. Plan accordingly.

Almond Flour Crackers

I stumbled across this recipe on a Reddit post before my Whole30 adventure, and loved how easy and adaptable they were. This recipe serves as a great base, but as the OP suggests, feel free to customize these crackers to your tastes. I like to add fresh rosemary to the dough and top the crackers with sea salt.

Ingredients

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350° F.
  2. Combine dry ingredients and mix.
  3. Add beaten egg to dry ingredients and mix to make dough.
  4. Roll or press flat onto a silicone mat- or parchment paper-lined baking sheet. The size is really up to you – thicker crackers will hold up better in your backpack. Try to keep the shape rectangular.
  5. Score the dough into 8 or more crackers with a knife or pizza cutter, then use a fork to create uniform holes in each cracker. This will help each cracker crisp up towards the middle.
  6. Bake for 15–20 minutes, depending on thickness, until they reach desired crispness.

Notes

These crackers can last a really long time without refrigeration. While they are more rigid than their wheat-based counterparts, they do need to be protected from breakage. A rigid container offers great protection, but at a significant weight penalty in most cases. If I am carrying these for more than a short trip, I will try to store all of my breakables in one lightweight plastic container to minimize weight.

Double Chocolate Banana Bread

This recipe is pulled directly from Must Hike Must Eat, a great resource for healthy, diet-specific backpacking meals. While it’s not as nutrient-dense as some of the other options, it is deliciously fluffy and bread-like, and would be great with a Whole30 jam (just boil down your favorite fruit with some lemon juice) or nut butter.

Ingredients

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350° F.
  2. Add the bananas, eggs, almond butter, coconut oil, and vanilla extract to a food processor and blend until smooth.
  3. Add the coconut flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt and pulse until there are no lumps.
  4. Stir in the chocolate and walnuts until incorporated.
  5. Line a loaf pan (approximately 8×4-inch) with parchment paper on the bottom and all sides, then pour in the batter.
  6. Bake for 55–60 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean.
  7. Remove from oven, lift the bread out using the parchment paper, and rest on a cooling rack for 30 minutes.
  8. Once cooled, cut 10 equal slices. Bread can be enjoyed or frozen for several weeks.

Notes

This is a hearty bread that can take a decent amount of abuse, but you will still want to keep it somewhat protected in your pack. We have kept a loaf unrefrigerated for weeks without incident, so it should easily keep in a pack for a week long trip.

Grain Free Muesli

For those that need a super light, dynamic food option, this easy grain free muesli makes a great breakfast option that eats like breakfast cereal or a satisfying mid-hike that stands up to any trail mix. Serve with your choice of nut milk or eat dry. Top it with fresh or freeze-dried fruit for some extra sweetness.

Ingredients

Directions

  1. Combine all ingredients and mix well.
  2. Store in an airtight container for up to a month.

Notes

My favorite way to eat this muesli is like a breakfast cereal topped with freeze-dried strawberries, but milk isn’t an option for obvious reasons. Instead of carrying the full weight of nut milk, check out JOI nut base, a creamy base that can easily be shaken with water to produce very passable almond or cashew milk.

This recipe makes about 8 half-cup servings, plus a little extra to snack on!

Basic Jerky

Jerky is a standard in the backpacking world, but Whole30 recipes are hard to come by. Most include soy sauce or added sugars, but it’s actually quite easy to make if you have a dehydrator. This is a rough estimation of my personal recipe, based on information I found at JerkyIngredients.com.

Ingredients

Directions

  1. Place the chuck roast in the freezer for 1–2 hours to slightly freeze it. The roast should still be somewhat flexible when squeezed, not rock hard. You can skip this step if you’re in a hurry, but it does make slicing a lot easier.
  2. With a sharp knife, slice the chuck roast into thin strips. Thinner strips will dehydrate faster, but consistency is more important than thickness.
  3. In a clean bowl, prepare the marinade by completely dissolving the salt into the water, then adding the other ingredients and mixing well.
  4. Combine the beef strips and the marinade in a plastic zipper bag. Remove any excess air, seal the bag, and massage the contents softly to evenly cover the beef in marinade.
  5. Store the contents in the refrigerator for at least 6 hours, or ideally overnight.
  6. Lay the strips out flat on dehydrator trays with plenty of space between the strips to allow for maximum air flow.
  7. Run the dehydrator between 145–150° F for 9–12 hours depending on thickness, or whatever your dehydrator’s instruction manual recommends for jerky.
  8. Store jerky in the refrigerator or freezer for up to a month. I have had no issues with eating unrefrigerated jerky while on trail, but do so at your own risk.

Notes

When slicing the jerky, consider the direction of your cut. Slicing with the grain makes a tougher piece of jerky that lasts longer but takes more effort to chew. Slicing against the grain makes pieces softer and easier to tear, but they won’t last you as long (because you'll eat them more quickly).

To make this recipe easier, you can substitute ½–1 teaspoon garlic powder or onion powder for the fresh stuff. You can tell the difference, but it’s still pretty darn good. I tend to go heavy on the black pepper, but this recipe can be modified to your taste. The important thing to remember is to keep the salt ratio to 9 grams per pound of fresh meat.

I enjoy using this jerky and the crackers above to create a sort of trail charcuterie board by combining them with some dried fruit and nuts.

Fizzy Citrus Electrolyte Drink Powder

This powder is adapted from a recipe for a DIY Nuun Electrolyte Replacement. It’s great for adding electrolytes to plain water and replenishing the salts you sweat on long-distance hikes. When added to water, the ingredients create a slightly fizzy drink with a hint of citrus.

Ingredients

Directions

  1. Combine ingredients and store in a dry, air-tight container.
  2. When it’s time to have a drink, mix the powder with ½ L of water.

Notes

On shorter hikes (or if you’re not as concerned with pack weight), you can improve the flavor and increase the fizzy action by replacing the citric acid with 2–3 tablespoons of your favorite citrus juice. I like to use 2 tablespoons of lemon juice (about half of a lemon) and 2 teaspoons of lime (about a third of a lime).

For multiple servings, multiply the measurements by the number of electrolyte drinks you plan to consume on your trip, and mix up a larger batch of powder. On trail, shake up the powder and measure 1 teaspoon (or ½ teaspoon if you removed the citric acid) per serving.

In an effort to be transparent, I should let you know that the arrowroot powder primarily serves as a filler to keep measurements easy. If you happen to only need one serving, or you plan to store your servings separately, you could save a few milligrams by omitting the arrowroot powder.