Backpacking food suggestions?

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Backpacking food suggestions?

Postby 3boysmom » Mon Feb 27, 2006 12:21 pm

Hi all,
I'm looking for suggestions on backpacking food. We don't want to spend the money on all the freeze-dried stuff, and I know that someone has to have come up with recipes using minute rice, chicken bouillon, etc. Anyone know of a good book of backpacking recipes? Or link to a website? Thanks,

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Postby JazerNorth » Mon Feb 27, 2006 12:58 pm

I used instant oatmeal in the morning, instant cup-o-noodles (non stryfoam stuff) for lunch, and instant rice-a-roni stuff for dinner. Everything came in burnable packages (some have aluminum bags or lined bags inside, so becareful). If it has aluminum, you will need to pack it out.

Was my food good, well mostly. Was it healthy for a hike, oh yeah.

Enjoy.

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Postby FrankJ » Mon Feb 27, 2006 3:41 pm

I like lentils & rice. Somewhat of an acquired taste. Rise & beans come prepacked at the grocery store. Be sure to get the type that cooks in 20 min. Romian noodle mixed with cup-a-soup. You can add chicken or fish from the foil packets without too much of a weight penality. Same thing for tuna helper. The first night, if it is not too hot, take a steak in a vacuum sealed pouch. Make everbody else jealous. Dried soups have vegetables. Dried fruit, jerky. pasta. Chocolate. Dried soy protein spiced to make chili or spagatti sauce using packaged mixes.
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Food

Postby 3boysmom » Mon Feb 27, 2006 10:34 pm

Some great ideas there! One of my concerns with my boys is peanut and soy allergies, so many of the "normal" foods you think about are out for us- and they're going to have to be extra well-behaved to not reach into someone else's bag of GORP during the day....makes me a little nervous, but luckily the middle one has had a couple anaphylactic episodes so he knows what he's dealing with!

Thanks for the ideas. Keep them coming.
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Postby FrankJ » Mon Feb 27, 2006 11:35 pm

Too bad about the allergies. Definitely watch out for the gorp bag. Since peanuts are one of the less expensive fillers they tend to find there way into everything. If your sons carry an Epipen make sure the others around him know about it & how to use it.
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Postby stevenscout » Fri Mar 03, 2006 6:41 pm

I have used chicken and rice before. Use the chicken that comes in foil packages and premeasure your rice. Cook the rice, then add the chicken. It's real good after a cold day.
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Postby ICanCanoeCanU » Fri Mar 03, 2006 7:17 pm

Boneless chicken can also be prewrapped in plastic wrap and used in combination with all different kinds of vegys, rice, sauces and tucked into burrito wraps, stir frys or kabobs. Also canned chicken isn't bad either but you will have to carry out the can.
2lbs of boneless chicken can go along way for a goup of people and can wrapped small enough to carry pretty easy in a cooler type pack. Fresh carrots, celery and other vegy's can be split up amoung the scouts to carry too.
Oatmeal, granola bars.
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Backpacking Food

Postby mrcis » Tue Mar 07, 2006 4:54 am

I have tried the Uncle Bens Ready Rice outside of backpacking and feel it would be an excellent choice. The plastic package, while not burnable, collapses to nothing for pack-out. 3 or 4 flavors including a delicious long grain and wild rice. Zatarain's brand has 3-4 cajun/creole varieties in similar packaging. The Star-Kist tuna filets, also in similar packaging, while untried by me look intriguing, again, mostly for the ability to pack-out the packaging. Also advantages of these are little or no water for preparation and since they are packaged fully cooked could be eaten without heating of any kind. I haven't done it but I'm sure if you walked around the grocery and kept an eye out, you might find more examples of these kinds of foods in different sections.
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Postby CapXK » Mon Apr 03, 2006 8:20 pm

Two good books for backpacking recipes:


Backpack Gourmet, Linda Yaffe, Stackpole Books, ISBN 0-8117-2634-7

Lipsmackin' Backpackin', Tim & Christine Conners, Globe Pequot Press, ISBN 1-56044-8814

Both books assume you have a home dehydrator. However, virtually any recipe (in these books and out) can be modified for backpacking. Substitute potato flakes for potatos, dried milk for dairy, oil & ButterBuds for butter, meat from foil packs for whatever the specified meat is, dried vegetable soup mix for veggies, etc. Actually, take any box dinner from the supermarket, combine with chicken or beef or fish from a foil pack, add a sauce pack and you have a meal.

You can easily cook and dry hamburger for use on backpacking outings without a dehydrator. Fry the hamburger in a skillet until there is no pink remaining. Place the cooked hamburger in a collander and rinse with hot water until no more oil/grease runs off. Place the rinsed hamburger in a oven pan, spreading out the hamburger and breaking up any large clumps. Place in an oven set at its lowest temperature, leaving the door ajar. Dry for 3 hours or so, checking every 30 minutes to break up and stir the pieces. The hamburger should feel dry and hard, the pieces should be about the size of small gravel ("gravel" also happens to be its nickname). To use, place in a pot with other ingredients, barely cover with water, bring to a boil and stir for about 3 minutes, adding water as necessary.

If you're going to do alot of backpacking consider getting a food dryer. You can get a decent one at Wal Mart for about $45. I've been using one for several years and they do a great job and save a lot of money over commercially dried foods.

I was the adult grubmaster on this last month's outing. Every meal served included something I had made and dried at home. One breakfast was an all-in-one meal of potatos, eggs, and bacon. 5 lbs. of potaos, 2 large onions, 1 lb of cheese, 8 eggs, and 8 strips of bacon were cooked and dried down to a weight of 2 1/4 lbs., and then heated and ready to serve in 8 minutes. The only problem with backpacking dried meals is that they are all one-pot meals with the food chopped up into tiny bits (for ease of drying and reconstituting) that tend to be varioous shades of brown. Over a prolonged stretch that could get a little boring.

Sorry to ramble on so much.
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My Backpacking Meal experience

Postby scoutaholic » Tue Apr 04, 2006 2:52 am

In my 7 years as ScoutMaster I have learned a few things on the subject of backpacking foods.

I bought the freeze-dried stuff a couple times. It tends to have smaller portions than the package says, so you have to buy more than you think. It is expensive, and many of the boys didn't like it. After the first 2 or 3 tries, they told me never to buy any more.

For breakfasts, our most common and easiest is instant oatmeal, and cocoa and/or tang. The oatmeal comes in so many flavors, that we can do almost a week without getting too repetative.

Depending on the schedule, I often plan lunches that we don't have to stop and cook. Power-Bars, Granola Bars, Gorp, Dried Fruits, Jerky, etc.

A fun thing to do if you are hiking where you might find snow, is to take along some Kool-Aid powder (the pre-sweetened kind). Get a cup full of clean snow with some Kool-Aid sprinkled over the top to make snow cones. It's not filling or full of nutrients, but it's fun.

Dinners are a little harder, but still manageable. For the first night, pre-cooked and/or Frozen meats can be sealed up and packed well enough to still be good. Tuna comes in a mylar/foil pouch which is easy to pack in/out. They now sell pre-cooked bacon in a sealed package that doesn't have to be refrigerated until openned. (It would likely be bacon bits by the time you want to use it, but it would taste good anyway.) Get your Starches/Carbs with Rice, Pasta, or Instant Potatoes. For sauce/flavoring, look at the dry soup mixes, dry gravy mixes, or other dry flavoring packets.

The other thing I have found to be good for longer backpacking trips is to have the resupply person bring equipment and food for a nice meal in the middle of the week, and have someone meet you at the end of the trip with a nice meal. When we did our 50-Miler we only carried 2-days worth of food. We had the resupply truck bring dutch oven dinner and breakfast mid-week, and we had a parent meet us the last night at the end to enjoy dutch oven dinner again.
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Postby 616kayak » Tue Apr 04, 2006 8:22 pm

I like the freeze dried for my bigger hikes. Anything that you add the water too is good if you have a source of fresh water. Water in your food is heavy.
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Postby MaScout » Wed Apr 05, 2006 2:55 pm

Macaroni & Cheese. Instant Pudding (pre-measure powdered milk). Instant mashed potatoes. Gravies (use dried meat, a small amount of oil, flour or pancake mix, powdered milk, water). Pancakes, pan bread, tortillas, etc. Salami (which keeps outside refrigeration), hard cheese, crackers (store in Glad containers), ramen noodles, instant oatmeal, instant cream of wheat, hot chocolate mix, pastas & noodles... Most stores have dried soup mixes...all you add is the water.

You can purchase pre-cooked hamburger in foil pouches. This is available at many grocery stores & Wal-Mart. Tuna in foil packets. (Usually less water, don't need a can opener, easier/smaller to pack out, foil weighs less than a can, ...) Mix up your own trail mix. Put in M&M's, carob chips (Not chocolate chips -- they melt too easily), nuts of your choice, hard candies, raisins, Corn Nuts, wheat nuts, etc. Basically anything you like and is dried. Jerky. (We make our own)

Does anyone in your troop have a food dehydrator? We make casseroles & then dehydrate them ourselves...tastes better & is much cheaper. Dry our own fruit. Then you can choose what fruits you get and it tastes soooo much better! Fruit leather is easy this way, too.

Walk up & down the aisles in the grocery store & see what is there. Then take those ideas & run with them. If you want something else, prepare it ahead -- either by dehydration or just putting together the ingredients.
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Postby mrcis » Wed Apr 05, 2006 5:45 pm

I saw the foil packets of tyson chicken pre-cooked in the store the other day, not sure which section.
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Postby deweylure » Thu Apr 06, 2006 4:45 pm

Dry foods can be purchased then re packaged for backpacking. Rice,noodles,macaronoi and cheese. Instant oatmeal. you can add meat ,some of the dehydrated chicken cubes are great to use in a casserole with noodles.
A food dehydrator works great.

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Another good book for backpack cooking is from NOLS

Postby USforester » Tue Jun 27, 2006 9:59 am

National Outdoor Leadership School has an excellent backpacking cookbook. Not sure it's exact name. It explains rationing, fuels and usage rates for summer and winter. It also has a number of recipes.

Also remember to included slim jims or other sausage products that contain fat. Chese will also serve well and generally will last for several days in the original packages unrefridgerated. Again temperature must be considered as it will vary the storage times. Many of these pack well. Your body starts to need the fats about day 2-3 or else it starts to think your in starving mode and will start to store the energy from the other foods you're eating.

Bagels and wheat breads pack very well. Pitas are also a good packing food and stand up to being packed. We always tell out scouts to make sure they treat the food tenderly and put it into their packs last on top of all other items to avoid crushing.

Drink mixes like crystal light and others are much lighter than their sugar counterparts so they reduce weight.
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Re: Another good book for backpack cooking is from NOLS

Postby 616kayak » Tue Jun 27, 2006 5:54 pm

USforester wrote: Drink mixes like crystal light and others are much lighter than their sugar counterparts so they reduce weight.


I have had crystal light with me on every camp out for a while now. I suggest buying it in the little packets meant for water bottles the amount is easily measured and reduces the need for a measuring cup.

For ultra light hikers:
Make scratches in your pot at 1 cup, 1 1/2 cups, or whatever you need it at. This will turn your pot into a measuring cup and reduce your weight and volume a little.
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Re: Backpacking food suggestions?

Postby alex gregory » Thu Aug 07, 2008 1:06 pm

I really don't like the freeze dry approach, it feels like such a cop-out, it's expensive, and my food is more better. Remember that people have been cooking trail food for thousands of years. Eating well makes backpacking so much more enjoyable.

Trader Joe's is a great place to find great and cheap backpacking chow.

First and foremost, I can't go anywhere w/o my coffee and french-press mug. I also like Earl Grey Tea (Hot) - just make it so Number One.

Horde those handy dandy little packages of soy sauce, hot sauce, mustard, ketchup, relish. etc. whenever you get take-out or fast-food. They're perfect for backpacking.

Couscous is awesome and much easier to prepare than rice. Boil water, pour onto the couscous, cover, wait 1-3 min, eat. I like to add a package of Trader Joe's lentils or curry - vacuum sealed, already cooked, outstanding Indian flavors, and just need to toss the pouch in boiling water. Trader Joe's also has delicious Thai tuna in vacuum sealed pouches that's tastes great on couscous.

Flatbread (e.g. tortillas or naan) is also terrific. Use it to swipe out your eating bowl and pot to make clean up easier.

Asian noodles, they cook much faster than regular pasta (basically just need to drop in boiling water for about a minute). I like to top with crumbled jerky or vacuum-sealed smoked salmon or tuna (I think it's Bumble Bee that makes a yummy tuna in ginger), diced green onion and wasabi peas.

Mac n' cheese is always a winner, but a mess to clean up. I cook the pasta in water, and when just about done I add a stick of butter and the cheese glop to make yummy and very creamy cheese sauce.

For the first night out cheese fondue is a lot of fun. You can get packages that you just toss in the pot, melt, and gobble away. A nice brie or camembert wrapped in foil and melted in a bed of coals is also magnifique. Get a couple of baguettes pre-sliced and bon apetit!

A few cloves or garlic and a couple of shallots or pearl onions are very nice for sprucing up a bowl of couscous and jerky, and add very little weight. Also helps keep away the vampires.

Instant cream of rice or Zoom are great for breakfast, look for a higher calorie punch than oatmeal. If you're lucky you'll have fresh huckleberries on the trail.

Peanutbutter and honey or Nutella and honey are great, but watch out for nut alergies.

Instead of kool-aid I suggest powder Gatorade for hiking and a Vitamin-C drink mix for morning OJ.

I agree that power bars, fruit leather, jerky etc. are your best lunch bets. Dry salami and hard cheese are also excellent. I usually nibble all day rather than have a prolonged lunch. If I wait to eat until I'm hungry in mid-afternoon I have a really hard time the rest of the afternnon.
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Re: Backpacking food suggestions?

Postby conmcb25 » Tue Aug 11, 2009 6:56 pm

I like Granola and some powdered milk for breakfast. Can be eaten cold or hot depending upon the mood. Due to dietary needs, I need to balance protiens and carbs which isn't easy with backpacking food. So I usually bring some type of pwedered eggs as well which does require cooking. I suppose I could try jerky but that odoesn't appeal to me for breakfast. maybe I need to try this packaged bacon talked about earlier in this thread.

Lunch is hard sausage and hard cheese with whole wheat crackers, or crackers and peanut butter.

Dinner is Cous Cous with a foil package of tuna, chicken or salmon. And some sort of vegetable soup mix to get some veggies in me.

Breakfast and dinner also have dried fruit.

Some sort of gorp during the day, and we bring those propel packets to sweeten up opur Nalgene Bottles, I find my kid actually stays hydrated with some propel.

Ill mix this up with the Backpacking foods so its not cous cous every night.
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Re: Backpacking food suggestions?

Postby FrankJ » Wed Aug 12, 2009 12:37 pm

if you want to really experiment with light weight trail cooking here is a great site. http://www.trailcooking.com/. It has recipes & instructions for dehydration. a bit beyond what your average scout might want to do, but it worth checking out.
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Re: Backpacking food suggestions?

Postby topshot » Wed Jan 06, 2010 2:36 pm

FrankJ wrote:if you want to really experiment with light weight trail cooking here is a great site. http://www.trailcooking.com/. It has recipes & instructions for dehydration. a bit beyond what your average scout might want to do, but it worth checking out.
I was just going to post about this when I saw the thread so I'll add a hearty second instead. For our second Wood Badge weekend they had a contest for patrol with lowest food budget and we easily won ($47.42) using modified recipes from this site. The other patrols laughed, but we ate very well. See the freezer bag cooking and http://www.trailcooking.com/recipes/types/no-cook-meal sections. You can get as complicated as you'd like.
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