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Backpack Meal Ideas

Backpack Meals
The best backpacking food is lightweight, tasty, calorie-packed and quick cooking. However, each meal type is different — lunch is usually heavier, more bulky, high energy, and no-cook. Cooked dinners are typically dehydrated so they are lighter. Good backpacking food for breakfasts consists of about half no-cook and half quick-cook. Don't forget to bring liquid flavorings (hot cocoa, etc).

In case you haven't already figured this out, big coolers are no fun to carry on the trail. Generally, you should not plan meal menus that require ingredients that must be kept on ice.

You should repack food from bulky store packages into sizes that will pack easily. Some foods can be precooked & frozen then heated or finished with other ingredients at the campsite.

Keep in mind also the limitations of your cooking gear: stove, pot size, frying pan, etc. Backpacking stoves are great for boiling water and that's really about it. Backpacking pots and frying pans usually only have capacity to serve 3-4 people at a time.

Some of the best meals are those that use dry or dehydrated foods soaked or boiled in water. For example: 1 Oodles of Noodles, 1 Boullion cube, 1 vacuum sealed bag of Starkist Chicken and assorted dried vegetables from Whole Foods makes a delicious meal for 3-4 people in about 7 minutes. Top it off with a package of Oreo Cookies and you have a scrumptious meal. You can feed a whole patrol with two pots of boiled water. Additional benefits that merit consideration:

  • fuel economy
  • excellent calorie to volume ratio
  • ingredients pack small and do not require ice
  • you get a lot of calories compared with the weight and size of the uncooked food
  • cleanup is really really simple

For meal cleanup... eat all the food you put in your bowl, rinse with water and drink it. Wipe your kits and pots down with Clorox Wipes and remember to pack out the dirty wipes.

Where meal cost is less of an issue, consider taking prepackaged dehydrated meals. To prepare, all you have to do is:
  • boil water
  • Pour water right into the bag the meal comes in
  • seal the bag
  • wait 5-7 minutes
  • get your spoon and dig in

No cleanup required! When you are down, seal up the empty bag with any other trash you have inside, pack up and get moving!

There are many great ways to cook on backpacking trips so don't think you need to eat trail mix the whole time. The best resource of all is a simple Google search on backpack meals.
Additionally, here are some Troop 104 tested ideas.
Breakfast Ideas
  • Tang
  • Maxwell Houses Coffee bags (they are like tea bags)
  • Individual pouches of Cream of Wheat or Oatmeal with brown sugar and dried fruit added
  • Breakfast bars
  • Bagles and peanut butter (Jiff Peanut Butter comes individual serving packs that pack well)
  • Pancakes - use the "Add Water" mix. Requires a small frying pan. If you want Syrup, it's best to bring it in a hard plastic backpacking container to save on size and to ensure it doesn't spilll on your gear.
  • Salt Cured and vacumn sealed country ham - it smells a little funky when you cook it, but it keeps very well and gives you a little extra salt if you've been sweating a lot
Lunch Ideas
  • Pita Bread with peanut butter and/or cheese. You can keep aged cheese for several days if you wrap it in cheese cloth. American cheese, mild cheddar and other soft cheese are not a good choice because they don't keep. Aged Chedder, blue cheese, Swiss and other hard cheeses work well
  • Antipasta - hard salami, pepperoni, proscuitto, etc generally do not require refrigeration and make an excellent cold lunch, especially when server with cheese and pita bread or wheat thins
  • String cheese
Dinner Ideas
  • Noodles, vegtables and meat - Raman noodles are boring, but you can dress them up into a delcious meal by adding dried vegtables and chicken, tuna or salmon from vacumn sealed pouches. Whole Foods has an amazing selection of dried vegtables and fruits that you can buy in bulk. Pre-packaged pouches of meat are available near the Tuna Fish cans in most grocery stores.
  • vegetable soup - take dried vegtables from Whole foods and some potatoes for a nutritous and calorie packed meal. Add boullion cubes to meat flavor and salt.
  • potatoes and gravy (3-5 minute gravy mix)
  • couscous with dried veggies
  • burritos(toritillas, refried beans, cheese, peppers, salsa, onions) - you can use chicken in a vacumn sealed pouch if you want meat.
Foods to avoid
  • Juice boxes - they puncture and get sticky liguid all over your gear and other food
  • Anything that can spoil if not chilled
  • Canned food - too heavy to carry (Kayak Trips are an exception. Weight is not quite as important)
  • Fresh fruit. It's heavy, doesn't stay fresh and bruises easily in your pack
Additional Resources
Backpacking Guide Dot Com
Backpack Do Net 7-day meal plan
Backpack Magazine Skills
One Pan Wonders



Created by System Administrator. Last Modification: Monday 04 of June, 2012 06:59:45 CDT by System Administrator.

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