Meal planning for when you’re bike touring

Follow this guide equipped with a grocery shopping list and some camp-friendly recipes that will be sure to make meal preparation as easy as can be.

When you're bike touring, you know you have to pack sustenance for at least a couple of days, and if you really sit down and think about it, that requires a lot of well thought out planning. Let's face it, a pile of granola bars is great for a snack, but it won't be enough to really give you the energy you need for the amount of activity you'll be doing. Plus you also have to consider the weight of the food. Your pannier has room for a whole feast, but that doesn't mean you want to pack one. Never fear though! If you're stressed about what to pack, just follow this guide equipped with a grocery shopping list and some camp-friendly recipes that will make meal preparation as easy as can be.

How much food should you pack for your bike tour?
First things first, you need to know what the appropriate amount of food looks like for days of activity far from a grocery store. REI recommended that your should aim for about 1.5 to 2.5 pounds of food per day depending on how much energy you plan to burn – if  you know you're going to be pushing it every day, aim for more food. It's also important to pack foods that you actually enjoy. If you try out new foods and don't like them you won't be getting the appropriate amount of calories and will end up tiring out faster, noted the source. That being said, you'll want to load up on complex carbohydrates and proteins – such as snacks like nuts or dried fruits – as these will give you the fuel you need for efficient energy. 

"Pack foods that easy to cook."

You'll want to repackage foods to save room in your pannier. Use resealable bags that you can label and even write recipes on for convenience, suggested REI. Also try to pack foods that are easy to cook or don't require cooking at all so you don't have to pack a plethora of extra ingredients or risk getting sick from undercooking. If you are packing perishables, try to pick ones that can withstand a tough journey – peaches might not be your best friend as they bruise easily. That being said, you also need to consider expiration dates. Eat anything that isn't made to last a long time at the beginning of your trip.

And of course, you never know when you are going to come across a fresh water stream so you need to be prepared with your own water. It's imperative to stay well-hydrated on long trips so this is a must-have on your shopping list. Energy drinks come in powdered packets that will fortify your water full of electrolytes and nutrients that will help keep you going even longer as well. 

Here are some basics you should add to your grocery shopping list: 

  • Instant oatmeal
  • Granola 
  • Pasta
  • Quinoa
  • Rice
  • Potatoes
  • Nuts
  • Dried Fruit
  • Carrots
  • Tuna
  • Hot dogs
  • Tortillas 
  • Water
  • Energy drink packets
  • Peanut butter.
Packing food for your next bike touring trip doesn't have to be a hassle!
Packing food for your next bike touring trip doesn't have to be a hassle!

Don't forget your cooking gear.
Once you have all your food you'll need something reliable to cook it on, but again, you don't want to be slowed down by a whole kitchen of pots, pans and dishes. Just pack a lightweight pot set and that will take care of all your cooking needs without the extra pounds. You can eat right from your cookware, or you can invest in foldable cups, bowls and dishes. They're light, easy to clean and sturdier than you'd believe, therefore they're easy to toss in your pannier until your next meal. You also might find yourself in a position in which you can't start a fire. If that's the case you don't want to have to sacrifice your meal, so be sure you have a portable stove with you as well. Don't worry, they're smaller and lighter than they sound.

Easy camping meal recipes.
Now that you have all of your food and camping equipment, it's time to learn what you can cook up. Sure, you can just boil some potatoes, heat up some instant oatmeal or slap some peanut butter on a tortilla and call it a day, but you can also get a little more creative than that. Check out some of these recipes below that are easy to whip up over your portable stove.

Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, so you'll want to make this a big meal packed with lots of nutrients to get your day started on the right foot. Fortunately, your instant oatmeal and dried fruit make this an easy one to prepare. All you have to do is whip up the oats, stir in the fruit and granola, and voila! But don't forget you need a side of protein. For this you can make a peanut butter roll-up with your tortilla and even sprinkle in some nuts for extra crunch and power. 

By midday you'll likely have worked up a pretty healthy appetite, so you'll need another meal to refresh. Keep this meal light so you don't cramp up, however. Try a tuna roll up with a side of potatoes for a carb-packed meal. 

And finally, dinner time! At the end of the long day you probably won't want to do too much cooking. Thankfully however, you packed your hot dogs and those are easy to make. Just boil some water and plop them in for a couple of minutes. You can also make a side of rice or quinoa, and be sure to have a handful of dried fruit for a well-balanced meal before bed.

About Stephane Marchiori

Owner of
Bike touring since 2003, including:
a 5-Year Bicycle Journey Around The World!

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