How to Do Food Out There
This is my meal plan and the unanimous plan of choice by all the groups I’ve taken into the wilderness. Use it as a starting point and alter it as you wish.
Breakfast: Instant oatmeal with your choice of dried fruit and brown sugar.
Lunch: Not a regular meal. Appetites are pretty suppressed from the activity and regular snacking. Eat trail food i.e. gorp, bars, jerky.
Supper: The one big meal of the day. See below for different approaches to it.
Trail food: Eating a little bit every couple hours. Variety is key so you don’t gag on it after a couple days. Bars, jerky, nuts, trail mixes (gorp), summer sausages and hard cheeses are a few I enjoy out there.
Doug’s per day amount: 2 packs instant oatmeal, 1 pound trail food, a couple servings of dinner.
Doug’s Gorp Recipe: Equal parts dry roasted peanuts, dried cherries and M&M’s.
How Do You Want to Deal With Food Out There?
Basically we’re only talking about supper here. One meal a day.
Take the ingredients and cook from scratch.
This is a pain in the ass. It’ll take all your free camp time. And although it sounds like home cooking, it tastes nowhere near – unevenly cooked, burnt and dry. The only reason I’ve heard people insist on cooking their meals the hardest way possible is so that they can boast about doing it the hardest way possible, which they imagine makes them look better than the rest of us average bears. Don’t bother.
Cons: Everything about it from prepping at home, hauling extra equipment, taking up all your camp time, and having to pretend it tastes wonderful.
Pros: There are none. Nobody wants to hear how cool you think you are.
Buy items off the grocery shelf
These are basically add water and stire i.e. Ramen (a backpacker staple), Mac ‘n Cheese, and any other packaged meal that catches your eye. Take along your favorite spice (mine is Siracha) and everything tastes pretty good, at least as good as the dehydrated backpacking meals.
Cons: Cheap food doesn’t necessarily cook well on your camp stove.
Pros: Saves money, but not as much as you think. Convenience and selection.
Purchase dehydrated backpacking meals
Boil water and add to the bag. Seal it and its ready to eat in 20-30 minutes.In the early days it all tasted like wet cardboard. But they’ve gotten much better over the years. I’ll do this when I don’t feel like putting the effort into dehydrating food.
Cons: Costs about $10 a bag, which they say can feed two people. Two small people.
Pros: No mess. No squatting over a pan stirring noodles for 20 minutes so they don’t stick. No digging burnt food off the pan with your fingernails. You can get buy with less cookware and a smaller stove – just enough to jet boil a couple cups of water.
Dehydrate your food
Sounds like a pain, and maybe it is, but the reward is worth it. You get to eat the food you like out there in all of its glory and flavor. I simplify the whole process below.
Cons: Prep time
Pros: It tastes better than anything else out there and is a great comfort at the end of the day.
Dehydrating made easy (and keeping it that way)
Get an Excaliber Dehydrator, any model. Or, if you like researching out various brands go for it, and then buy an Excaliber.
How to dehydrate
Individual foods, such as fruit, veggies (cooked), meat can be dehydrated for great trail snacks.Slice foods no thicker than 1/4 inch, season as you like, and place on dehydrator trays. Check your dehydrators guide for setting.
Complete dishes such as casseroles and pastas. Cook the dish, yours or store-bought, and place in the fridge to completely chill. Once chilled, take it out and chop it into pieces approximately 1/4 inch square. Its not an exact science. Do the best you can. Put parchment (not wax) paper over the screened trays, spread out the chopped up dish on the trays and dehydrate.
Use only ground meat in dishes. Chunks of meat do not rehydrate. They remain jerky no matter how much you try to rehydrate it.
Foods are best stored in zip lock bags.
A couple hours before you want to eat, put the dried food in a pot. Add water until the pan is filled about 1/2 inch above the food. Check it periodically and add water to keep food barely submerged.
As the food becomes pliable, stop adding water. Begin heating and then add water if needed. Keep stirring constantly to prevent sticking to pot. Bring it to a simmer for about 20 minutes and serve. Use your judgment.
Almost anything can be dehydrated
In addition to what has been mentioned, I’ve also dried yogurt, baby food, apple sauce and just about every fruit as a snack. I dehydrated salsa, BBQ sauce and other condiments to pour over the top of a meal if desired. Think outside the box and have fun.