New Version 3.0

  • Added Settings tab and moved calorie/gram selector and other knobs to it.
  • Added Density Calculator – displays Cal/Oz or Cal/Gr based on calorir/gram selector.
  • Added “Good Calorie” and “Bad Calorie” knobs to control cell highlighting.
  • Updated weight columns to display only two decimal places.

How To Use

Romping through the backcountry with a load on your back consumes a ton of energy. Way more than you may be used to and so careful menu planning is essential to ensure you have a great backcountry experience. Packing too little food will not only leave you hungry, but without the energy you need to get through the day. And packing too much food really means carrying excess weight and burning more energy than is necessary.

I am assuming that you know what to pack, and how to make good choices for backcountry food. This post is simply to share with you a tool that may be helpful in your planning.



I find it most helpful to plan my meals by day of the trip, so the calculator is laid as a daily menu. This tool is intended to be a starting point for you, feel free to customize it as you like.  You’ll notice, for example, that I’ve only laid out 5 days worth of Daily Menus. If you need more than that, it should be pretty straightforward to just copy and paste one of the existing Daily Menu selections.

To get started, enter your Starting Date in cell C1. All of the dates and days of week will automatically update in the individual Daily Menu sections.

By default, it is set up to display the weights of your menu items in Ounces. If you prefer grams, clear the “x” next to “Ounces” on the Settings tab.

All of the daily calories and weights are driven by the data you enter for your meals in the “Food Lookup” tab.



On this tab, just enter additional items on new rows, add the number of calories, and the weights, in both Ounces and Grams if you want to be able to switch between the options. I have not set it up to auto-calculate, so you will need to do your own conversions. To make this easier for you, I have provided the necessary conversion factors in the Settings tab and they are assigned the names “GrPerOz” and “OzPerGr”.

Let’s say for example, that you have a new item to add to row 15 and you know the weight is 97 grams. First, enter the value “97” under the “Weight (gr)” column. Then, under the “Weight (Oz)” column, you could simply enter the formula “=E15*OzPerGr”.  In this example, E15 is where you entered “97” and “OzPerGr” will automatically pull in the conversion factor from the setting for “Grams to Ounces”.

As you add or update entries in the Food Lookup table, your Menu Planner will automatically update.  Go ahead and fill out your Daily Menus now.  You will notice as you click on a cell under any of the “Item” columns, you will get a drop-down selector that lets you pick from the list of entries in your Food Lookup table.  Picking an item from the list will automatically pull over the calories and the weight of that item but it will calculate as “0” until you enter the quantity.

If you find this useful, or if you have suggestions for how this might be improved, provide feedback below!

Menu Planner Excel Spreadsheet

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