A hunting trip is not just about the pursuit of game; it's a communion with nature, an escape from the daily grind, and an experience that calls for endurance, patience, and strategy. And just as you wouldn't venture out without your essential gear, you shouldn't overlook the vital role of nutrition on the hunt.
A successful hunting expedition requires both physical stamina and sharp mental focus—both of which are fueled by what you eat. Whether you're perched in a tree stand for hours or trekking through challenging terrain, the right sustenance can make all the difference. In this blog, we'll dive into the best food options to pack for your hunting trip, ensuring you remain energized, satisfied, and ready for whatever the wilderness throws your way. Prepare for a culinary adventure as thrilling as the hunt itself!
The Best Hunting Breakfasts
Often referred to as the most important meal of the day, it’s easy to overlook breakfast, especially if you’re striking out in the wee hours of the morning. With this in mind, we’ve suggested both warm and comforting breakfasts and quick and easy snacks for when you’re up-and-at-’em.
- Instant Oatmeal with Nuts & Dried Fruits: A quick, warm, and energy-rich option. Add some nuts like almonds or walnuts for extra protein and healthy fats. Dried fruits like cranberries or raisins can sweeten the mix and provide quick energy. Or, sub for an “overnight oats” preparation to make ahead.
- Whole Grain Wraps with Peanut or Almond Butter: Spread your favorite nut butter on a whole grain wrap and roll it up for a portable, protein-filled breakfast. These are great for ont eh go and can be prepped ahead of time.
- Pre-made Breakfast Burritos: For a more full and filling hunting breakfast, make these before you head out. Fill tortillas with scrambled eggs, black beans, cheese, and maybe some precooked sausage or bacon. Wrap them tightly in foil and store them in a cooler. Reheat them over a campfire or portable stove.
- Greek Yogurt with Granola: If you have a cooler, pack some Greek yogurt. It's high in protein and can be topped with granola, peanut butter, and fruits for added energy, texture, and flavor.
- Freeze-Dried Meals: Go gourmet while only building some water. From scrambles to oatmeal, these meals are incredibly easy to prepare: just add boiling water, wait a few minutes, and your meal is ready to eat. They are packed with the necessary nutrients to kickstart your day and sustain energy levels. Additionally, their compact packaging ensures they won't take up much space in your backpack. Pick an option that appeals to your taste buds and meets your energy requirements - there are plenty!
The Best Hunting Lunches
It may be easy to rely on protein bars and small snacks, but packing a proper lunch will help you stay fueled and focused throughout your day. Looking for more options? Check out our post on the best backpacking lunches.
- Sandwiches or Wraps: Use whole grain or high-protein tortillas and fill with lean meats (like turkey or chicken), cheese, lettuce, and other veggies. Remember to pack condiments separately to avoid sogginess.
- Tuna or Chicken Pouches: These are lightweight and packed with protein. You can eat them straight from the pouch or mix them with some mayo packets and relish for a quick salad. Pair with whole-grain crackers.
- Jerky and Cheese: Pairing beef or turkey jerky with hard cheeses (like cheddar or gouda) can be a protein-rich and satisfying lunch.
- Freeze-Dried Meals: Similar to breakfast, there's a plethora of freeze-dried lunch options available, from chicken and rice dishes to hearty soups and chili. Simply add hot water, wait, and eat.
The Best Hunting Dinners
When planning dinner, think about ease of preparation, especially if you've had a taxing day. Having a mix of quick-to-prepare and more elaborate options can help you choose based on how you feel each day. And, of course, always remember to carry enough water for both drinking and cooking, ensuring you're well-hydrated and properly nourished for the next day's adventures.
- Freeze-Dried Meals: An extensive range of flavors and meals are available, from beef stroganoff to pad thai. Just add boiling water, and within minutes, you have a hot, substantial meal.
- Pasta: Lightweight and quick to cook, pasta is a great option. Pair it with pre-made sauce pouches, veggies, and perhaps some canned meat for a complete meal.
- Instant Rice Dishes: Rice is a good carbohydrate source. Combine it with freeze-dried vegetables and a protein source, such as canned beans, chicken, or fish, for a balanced dinner.
- Grilled Meat or Fish: If you're successful in your hunt or bring along portable grills, grilling fresh game can be both a reward and a delicious dinner option. Just ensure you pack the necessary spices or marinades.
- DIY Burrito Bowl: Combine instant rice, canned beans, veggies, spices, your meat of choice and some cheese for a delicious and filling burrito bowl.
Sample 3-day Hunting Trip Meal Plan
Oatmeal with nuts and dried fruits
Hard-boiled eggs (prepared beforehand)
Black coffee or tea
Whole grain wrap filled with turkey, cheese, and veggies
Trail mix with nuts, seeds, dried fruits, and dark chocolate
Freeze-dried beef stroganoff meal
Instant mashed potatoes on the side
Hot cocoa or herbal tea
Jerky Protein bars
Protein-packed overnight oats (oats, protein powder, freeze-dried berries, chia seeds, with water or milk of choice)
Black coffee or tea
Tuna pouch mixed with mayo and relish, served with whole grain crackers
Peanut butter and crackers
DIY burrito bowl
Chips and salsa Energy bar
Black coffee or tea
Whole grain wrap with almond butter
Ramen enhanced with veggies and meat
10 Foods to Bring on Your Next Hunting Trip
Oatmeal is the perfect quick-and-easy breakfast for when you just want to get out of camp quickly. All you need is water, a stove, and perhaps some toppings. Dried fruit, nuts, and nut butters are all great additions that will add healthy calories to the first meal of your day.
Some hunters prefer apples as their portable fruit of choice, but chomping down on an apple is anything but quiet. Opt for bananas instead — the peel means they’re portable, and you can eat them quietly.
Just don’t toss your peels into the woods, that’s a Leave No Trace no-no.
3. Snickers Bars
You could also pack protein bars or another type of energy bar, but Snickers taste way better. Consider removing them from the wrapper before heading out to avoid noisy crinkling, and store them in a reusable baggie instead.
With any luck, you’ll have enough meat to make your own jerky after the hunt is over. Until then, bring some jerky to snack on. It’s a great source of protein, and some varieties also have plenty of fat.
5. Summer Sausage
Like jerky, summer sausage is a high-protein and high-fat food that keeps well without refrigeration.
6. Snack Crackers
Carbs are equally important for staying satiated on a hunting trip. Pair your summer sausage with some snack crackers, like Wheat Thins. If you’re feeling extra fancy, pack some cheese and make your own campsite charcuterie board.
7. Freeze-dried Meals
Freeze-dried meals, like the kind we create here at Backpacker’s Pantry, are perfect for hunters who need major calories. When you’re trying to bag prize-winning game, you don’t always have the time to prepare an elaborate camp meal.
With these meals, all you need is boiling water and a few minutes. There’s something for every palate, so find your next hunt-ready meal here.
8. Boxed Mac & Cheese
Pack some comfort food for your next hunting trip in the form of cheesy, gooey, macaroni and cheese. Grab a few boxes from the grocery store, or bring along something a bit more gourmet with our Three Cheese Mac & Cheese.
9. Campfire Chili
Chili is an excellent pick-me-up when bellies are growling and spirits are low. There are infinite ways to make delicious chili, like this easy 5-can recipe from Fresh Off the Grid.
10. Instant Coffee
Is there anything more essential than coffee? Instant coffee has come a long way in recent years, and you can buy everything from simple brews to specialty caffeine concoctions.