Where To Find Affordable Backpacking Meals?

Are you an avid backpacker, always on the lookout for affordable meals to bring along on your adventures? Look no further! This article will provide you with valuable insights on where to find the best and most affordable backpacking meals. From budget-friendly grocery stores to online marketplaces and specialty stores, we’ve got you covered. So, get ready to explore a variety of options that will keep both your belly and your wallet happy during your next exciting trek into the wilderness.

Grocery Stores

Local supermarkets

Local supermarkets are a great option for finding affordable backpacking meals. These stores typically carry a wide variety of food items, including canned goods, instant noodles, and packaged snacks that are suitable for backpacking. They often have a good selection of dehydrated and freeze-dried meals specifically designed for outdoor enthusiasts. Shopping at local supermarkets also supports the local economy, which is an added bonus.

Discount grocery stores

If you’re looking for even more affordable options, discount grocery stores are worth exploring. These stores specialize in offering products at lower prices than traditional supermarkets. They often have a dedicated section for discounted or closeout items, which can include backpacking meals. While the selection may not be as extensive as in regular stores, you can still find some great deals on dehydrated meals, energy bars, and other snacks.

Farmers markets

For backpackers who prefer fresh and local ingredients, farmers markets are an excellent choice. Farmers markets offer a wide range of fresh produce, baked goods, and locally sourced products. You can find fruits, vegetables, nuts, and homemade snacks that are perfect for creating your own backpacking meals. Supporting local farmers not only ensures the freshness and quality of the food but also contributes to sustainable agriculture practices.

Online Retailers


When it comes to convenience and variety, it’s hard to beat the online giant Amazon. With their vast selection of food items, including backpacking meals, you have access to a wide range of choices from various brands. Amazon also often offers discounts and deals on bulk purchases or subscription services, making it a cost-effective option for stocking up on backpacking meals. Just make sure to read through customer reviews and check the expiration dates before making a purchase.


Walmart is another online retailer that offers a diverse range of affordable backpacking meals. They have a dedicated section for outdoor and camping gear, where you can find dehydrated meals, energy bars, and other camping food essentials. Walmart often has competitive prices and deals that can save you money on your backpacking meal purchases. They also offer the option of in-store pickup if you prefer to collect your items locally.

Thrive Market

Thrive Market is an online retailer that focuses on providing healthier and more sustainable food options. While they may not have a dedicated section for backpacking meals, they offer a wide variety of organic, gluten-free, and vegan options that can be suitable for backpacking. Thrive Market operates on a membership model, with an annual fee that grants you access to discounted prices. If you’re conscious about the quality and origin of your food, Thrive Market is a great option to consider.


While primarily known for their outdoor gear and equipment, REI also offers a selection of backpacking meals. Their online store features a variety of dehydrated and freeze-dried meals from reputable brands. REI often runs sales and promotions, making it a good place to find discounted backpacking meals and snacks. Whether you’re a hiker, backpacker, or camper, REI is a trusted retailer that caters to outdoor enthusiasts.

Backpacker’s Pantry

Backpacker’s Pantry is a specialized online retailer that focuses on providing meals specifically designed for backpacking and camping adventures. They offer a wide selection of dehydrated and freeze-dried meals, including vegetarian and vegan options. Backpacker’s Pantry’s meals are known for their taste and quality, making them a popular choice among outdoor enthusiasts. While their prices may be slightly higher compared to other options, the convenience and quality they offer can make it worth the investment.

Camping and Outdoor Stores


REI, a well-known outdoor retail store, is a great option for finding backpacking meals and other outdoor gear. They have a dedicated section for camping food, where you can find a range of dehydrated meals, energy bars, and snacks. REI also carries cooking equipment and utensils that are specifically designed for backpacking, making it a one-stop shop for all your outdoor cooking needs.


Decathlon is a popular camping and outdoor store that offers a wide selection of affordable gear and equipment. While they may not have a vast array of backpacking meals, they do carry basic food items like energy bars, nuts, and dried fruits that are suitable for outdoor adventures. Decathlon is known for its affordable prices, making it a great option for budget-conscious backpackers.


Cabela’s is a well-established retailer specializing in outdoor gear and equipment. They have a dedicated camping and hiking section where you can find backpacking meals, snacks, and other food essentials. Cabela’s offers a range of options from various brands and often has sales and promotions that can save you money. Whether you’re looking for dehydrated meals or durable cooking equipment, Cabela’s is worth considering for your backpacking needs.

Clearance Sales and Discounts

End-of-season sales

One way to find affordable backpacking meals is by taking advantage of end-of-season sales. Outdoor retailers often discount their camping and backpacking food items at the end of the season to make room for new inventory. This is a great opportunity to stock up on dehydrated meals, energy bars, and other snacks at significantly reduced prices. Keep an eye out for these sales and plan your backpacking trips accordingly to take full advantage of the savings.

Clearance aisles

Another option for finding discounted backpacking meals is to check clearance aisles in grocery stores and outdoor retailers. These aisles typically contain discounted items that may be close to their expiration date or have slightly damaged packaging. While the selection may be limited, you can still find some hidden gems. Just make sure to check the expiration dates and assess the quality of the products before making a purchase.

Discount codes and coupons

A tried and true method for saving money on backpacking meals is by using discount codes and coupons. Many online retailers and manufacturers offer promotional codes that can be applied at checkout to receive discounts on your purchase. Additionally, signing up for newsletters or loyalty programs can often grant you access to exclusive offers and coupons. Before making any online or in-store purchases, be sure to search for available discount codes to maximize your savings.

DIY Dehydrated Meals

Dehydrating your own food

One of the most cost-effective options for backpacking meals is to dehydrate your own food. Investing in a food dehydrator allows you to create your own customized meals by dehydrating fruits, vegetables, meats, and even cooked meals. This method not only saves you money but also gives you complete control over the ingredients and flavors you prefer. Dehydrated meals can be rehydrated with hot water while on the trail, providing you with lightweight and nutritious options.

Meal planning and prepping

Successful backpacking trips often require careful meal planning and prepping. By planning your meals in advance, you can shop for ingredients strategically and minimize food waste. Look for versatile ingredients that can be used in multiple meals, such as pasta, rice, and dried beans. Prepping your meals at home, portioning them into individual servings, and carefully packaging them can help save time and effort while on the trail. Additionally, planning meals around seasonal and locally available ingredients can further reduce costs.

Recipe resources

If you’re new to DIY dehydrated meals, there are plenty of resources available to help you get started. Online platforms like blogs, websites, and YouTube channels offer a wealth of information on dehydrating techniques, flavor combinations, and meal ideas. Backpacking cookbooks and guides specifically dedicated to dehydrated meals can also provide valuable recipes and tips. Exploring these resources can inspire you to create delicious and affordable backpacking meals that suit your taste preferences and dietary needs.

Backpacking Communities and Forums

Reddit – r/backpacking

Reddit is a popular online platform where people can discuss various topics and share their experiences. The subreddit r/backpacking is a community of backpackers who exchange tips, advice, and recommendations. This platform is a great place to connect with like-minded individuals and seek recommendations on affordable backpacking meals. You can also find valuable information on gear, trails, and other aspects of backpacking that can enhance your outdoor experience.

Backpacking Light Forum

The Backpacking Light Forum is an online forum dedicated to lightweight and ultralight backpacking. The forum members share their knowledge and expertise on gear, techniques, and meal planning for backpacking. This resource is particularly useful if you’re looking to reduce weight and pack size without breaking the bank. Backpacking Light Forum offers valuable insights on budget-friendly backpacking meals, gear recommendations, and optimization strategies.

TrailSpace Forum

The TrailSpace Forum is another online community where outdoor enthusiasts come together to discuss hiking, backpacking, and camping. The forum provides a platform for sharing personal experiences, gear reviews, and recipe ideas. It’s a great place to ask questions and get recommendations from experienced backpackers who have extensive knowledge of the best affordable backpacking meals. The TrailSpace Forum can help you discover new and inexpensive meal options while connecting with a supportive backpacking community.

Local Buy/Sell Groups and Classifieds

Facebook Marketplace

Facebook Marketplace is an online platform where users can buy and sell various items, including outdoor gear and backpacking meals. Joining local buy/sell groups and monitoring the Marketplace can help you find affordable backpacking meals that people are looking to sell. Be sure to exercise caution and verify the condition and expiration dates of the products before making a purchase. However, buying from individuals can often result in great deals and unique finds.


Craigslist is another online classifieds platform where you can find a variety of items, including outdoor gear and backpacking meals. Similar to Facebook Marketplace, searching through local listings on Craigslist can yield some budget-friendly opportunities. When using Craigslist, it’s important to prioritize personal safety and arrange meetups in public places to ensure a secure transaction. By being vigilant and persistent, you may find hidden gems at discounted prices.

Outdoor gear swap events

Many communities and outdoor organizations organize gear swap events where individuals can buy, sell, or exchange outdoor gear, including backpacking meals. These events bring together outdoor enthusiasts who are looking to offload items they no longer need or find affordable alternatives. Attending these events not only gives you the chance to snag great deals on backpacking meals but also allows you to connect with fellow hikers and backpackers, creating a sense of camaraderie within the outdoor community.

Food Banks and Charitable Organizations

Local food banks

Food banks are nonprofit organizations that provide food assistance to individuals and families in need. While primarily established to combat hunger and food insecurity, food banks may also have backpacking-friendly items. Contact your local food bank or browse their website to see if they offer dehydrated meals or snacks that could be suitable for backpacking. Supporting these organizations not only helps those in need but also allows you to find affordable backpacking meals while giving back to the community.

Food rescue organizations

Food rescue organizations work to minimize food waste by rescuing surplus food from restaurants, cafes, and grocery stores. These organizations then distribute the food to those in need or sell it at a reduced cost. Some food rescue organizations focus on providing healthy and nutritious options, which can include dehydrated meals and other backpacking-friendly items. Exploring local food rescue organizations can help you find affordable backpacking meals while supporting sustainability efforts.

Community gardens

Community gardens are collaborative spaces where people grow and harvest fresh produce collectively. Participating in community gardens not only allows you to grow your own fruits, vegetables, and herbs but also connects you with a network of individuals passionate about sustainable food systems. By growing and preserving your own food, you can create custom backpacking meals at a fraction of the cost. Community gardens often hold workshops and events that can provide valuable insights into gardening and meal planning for backpacking.

Dollar Stores and Discount Retailers

Dollar Tree

Dollar Tree is a popular discount store that offers a wide range of products for just one dollar. While they may not have a dedicated section for backpacking meals, you can find various food items that can be suitable for your outdoor adventures. Look for canned goods, instant noodles, dried fruits, nuts, and other snack options that offer lightweight and affordable meal solutions. Dollar Tree is a budget-friendly option for backpackers who want to save money on their meal purchases.


Aldi is a discount supermarket chain that focuses on providing affordable groceries while maintaining quality standards. While the specific product selection can vary by location, Aldi often carries a decent range of dehydrated meals, instant soups, and other backpacking food essentials. Aldi’s emphasis on low prices makes it an attractive option for backpackers looking to save money without compromising on quality. Be sure to check their weekly ads and special offers for additional savings.

Family Dollar

Family Dollar is another discount retailer that offers a variety of products at affordable prices. From canned goods to packaged snacks, Family Dollar can be a goldmine for finding inexpensive backpacking meals. While they may not have a dedicated camping or outdoor section, exploring the aisles can lead you to discover budget-friendly options. Family Dollar often has sales and promotions that can further reduce the cost of your backpacking meal purchases.

Backpacking Meal Subscription Services

Good To-Go

Good To-Go is a popular backpacking meal subscription service that delivers delicious and nutritious meals to your doorstep. They offer a variety of options, including vegetarian and gluten-free meals. Good To-Go’s meals are known for their gourmet flavors and quality ingredients. While they may be slightly more expensive compared to other options, the convenience and taste they offer can make it worth the investment for backpackers who prioritize high-quality meals while on the trail.

Mountain House Adventure Meal Kits

Mountain House is a well-established brand known for its freeze-dried meals suitable for outdoor adventures. They offer various meal kits that include breakfasts, lunches, and dinners, making it easy to plan your backpacking meals in advance. Mountain House’s meals have a long shelf life and are lightweight, making them ideal for backpacking. They also have vegetarian and gluten-free options available, catering to a wide range of dietary preferences and restrictions.

Wild Zora Foods

Wild Zora Foods specializes in healthy and nutrient-rich backpacking meals. They offer a selection of dehydrated meals that are paleo-friendly, gluten-free, and free from artificial ingredients. Wild Zora Foods focuses on using high-quality, sustainably sourced ingredients to create flavorful and nutritious meals. While their prices may be higher compared to other options, the emphasis on quality and nutrition makes it a popular choice among health-conscious backpackers.