How to Meal Plan for Overlanding Trips

Yes!  You’ve put an overlanding trip on the calendar and it’s coming up quick!

Food is an extremely important part of any trip.  It gives us fuel to keep going strong and hopefully compliments our experience. If you’re in for a food suffer-fest of JUST bars and JUST jerky…well…this article isn’t for you. Here’s a link to go buy some trail mix.

At Outdoor Eats, we cook outside for every trip and almost every meal because it tastes great, it’s totally worth it, and it’s not nearly as hard as you might think it is. But, there are a lot of sizes of trips out there and meal planning can be challenging. How do you plan for a Solo Trip / 2 person / 4 person / 5+ person / Young Family Trip?

Overland Meal Planning Basics

Follow along below as we work through common challenges and share ways to help you forge the meal planning river. If you are looking for some quick ideas for Check out our pre-planned meal plans here. Let us do the planning for you!


With any trip, my first question is:  What’s the water situation? Is there water consistently available?

Yes –  Awesome, you can cook anything and you’ll be nice and hydrated.

No –  Then you will have to pack plenty in your rig. And you need to be really mindful of water for drinking and packing recipes that are low on water usage. 

Dietary Restrictions

My next question is: Does anyone have dietary restrictions?

They can be a real challenge. Do you make everything gluten free or vegetarian for just one person?  That’s a question you will have to ask your group but I will say it’s always easier to ADD meat and dairy, rather than take it away. 

Gluten free breads/crackers are very available now with not too much extra work.  Don’t shake your head at field roast or soy based “meats.”  They are pretty solid and once in a recipe you will never know it’s a soybean rather than a cow. 

Added bonus: pretty bulletproof hanging out in your rig for longer trips

Solo Trip

The Challenge: It’s only you. You need great meals, but you don’t want to pack the whole fridge. 

It may seem a little scary, but a solo trip is one of the best experiences you can have in the outdoors (check out this article of my 50+ mile solo trip in 2019).

Minimal ingredients and can be made in multiple ways over a multi-day trip.

Our Recipe Pick

Cheese Grits
Camping Grits Recipe

Other Recipe Suggestions:

  • Breakfast Burritos
  • Cuban Black Bean Soup


2-Person Trip

The Challenge:  Not too many. A 2 person trip is pretty easy to plan for. But overall weight and volume of ingredients is something to be mindful of.

You only need one stove. Just a few recipes and some snacks to keep you moving.

Our Recipe Pick

Camping Asian Noodles Recipe

Other Recipe Suggestions:

  • Apple Pear Crisp
  • Breakfast Rice


4-Person Trip

The Challenge: Everyone’s used to doing their own thing…..coordinating a plan. Amount of food to keep everyone full and happy.

When you get to 4 people, a typical way to plan a trip is to pack your own recipes and use one or two personal sized stoves to cook up meals.

For a cheaper, tastier, and overall better experience, coordinating family style meals is the way to go!  You can have a fresher, heartier flavor than those bagged classics with our CLASSICS ELEVATED RECIPES or theme your recipes for a Mexican or Asian night. 

Share the load and cook up something memorable!  The other benefit with meal planning together is not wasting a bunch of extra food that just sits in the cooler. 

Pack one two-burner suitcase-style stove plus two pots and 1 skillet.

Our Recipe Pick

Camping Mango Fried Rice

Recipe Suggestions:

  • Tamale Bowl
  • Blueberry Lemon Rice Crispy Bowl


4-Person Young Family Trip

The challenge: Picky eaters, dietary restrictions, new campers.

The kiddos barely want to leave the couch, let alone their electronics. Keeping them happy for a weekend camping trip is going to be tough. Also, meal cooking can take a long time. When a meltdown is happening, you need something NOW or else you might be going home!

Outdoor Eats has a bunch of kiddo friendly recipes for fast, tasty meals.  All recipes are ready in 30 min or less!

If there are dietary restrictions like dairy or gluten, we have some great options to search through.  You know your camper on what they will or won’t eat, but it’s probably NOT the time to go adventuring into the culinary backpack for something fancy.

Keep it simple.  Keep it tasty.  And rest assured they will be excited about the next trip if their belly was happy on this one.

Our Recipe Pick

Camping Mac and Cheese
Camping Mac and Cheese Recipe

Recipe Suggestions:

  • 5 Min Marinara
  • Chocolate Marshmallow Fondue (with Campy Fondue Sticks…whittle some twigs!)


5+ Person Trip

The challenges:

Amount of total food to fill everyone up and how to keep everyones’ taste buds happy.

The main difference between 4 people and 5+ is quantity and meal planning.  You are going to need more of everything to make sure everyone’s belly is happy. It may be easier for everyone to go it alone, but it’s more fun to cook and plan together.

Again, the great part about group meal planning is that you can share the load for everything!  Cost, packing, cooking and cleaning duties can all be shared.  And everyones’ bellies are happier when they’re fueled with better ingredients.

My suggestion for the 5-8 person trips is to take 2 – 2 burner stoves with larger pots and skillets based on what you’re cooking.

This helps for a couple of reasons:

  1. Morning bevies are fast with larger capacity pots.
  2. You can double up on recipes or theme night your meals to feed your group.

Example:  We went on a Outdoor Eats testing trip with 6 people. We packed two stoves and spread the ingredients evenly across the group. One night, we doubled up on a Stroganoff Recipe that fed the whole crew no problem. Another night we had an Asian night with mango fried rice and wonton dumpling bowl. Then warmed up some sake for a campy night capper. Amazing.

Our Recipe Pick

Camping Lasagna Recipe

Recipe Suggestions:

  • Jambalaya
  • Pad Thai
  • Caramelized Banana Nilla Wafer Bowl



This post was authored by Chef Steve Corso, a guest contributor to Ordealist and the publisher of Have more questions?  Send Chef Corso a note and let him help plan for your trip.  You can email him at and follow him at the links below:

YouTube: Chef Corso



TikTok: outdooreats365

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