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Simplifying Expedition Food With Single Serving Sized Packages

Single serving packages can simplify shopping, packaging, and preparation of meals.

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by Ryan Jordan | 2013-11-19 00:00:00-07


This article will highlight, in part, how I simplify the shopping, packaging, and preparation of expedition foods by heavily relying upon single serving sized packages - especially for snacks that I eat throughout the day while on the trail (as opposed to in camp). Take note, however: I will not be discussing pre-packaged freeze dried meals. My preference is for foods that have a higher nutritional quality, a higher caloric density, and/or a lower cost than what is available in the food aisle at a local outfitter.

What I’m offering are my personal favorites in a few different categories. They are summarized in the following table.

CategoryFoodPackage SizeCaloriesCaloric DensityFatCarbProtein
High Caloric DensitySahale Snacks Glazed Nuts43 g210138 Cal/oz14 g18 g6 g
MoraleAnnie’s Bunny Snacks23 g7086 Cal/oz0 g18 g0 g
High ProteinSeaBear Wild Salmon100 g13037 Cal/oz2.5 g0 g26 g
High Caloric DensityWalker’s Shortbread Fingers32 g159141 Cal/oz7.9 g20.6 g1.6 g
High Caloric DensityJustin’s Almond Butter32 g200177 Cal/oz18 g6 g7 g
Fiber/Low-Sugar CarbTerra Sweet Potato Chips34 g170142 Cal/oz11 g22 g1.4 g
MoralePanda Black Licorice32 g10089 Cal/oz0 g25 g1 g

Perhaps some of these ingredients will find their way into your backcountry diet, or spark some interest in related foods.

#7. Sahale Snacks Glazed Nuts

I first discovered these at a Starbucks shop in Butte, Montana. I’m a fan of sweetened nuts and fruit/nut mixes more than just plain old nuts. Plain nuts (even salted and roasted) get old really fast on even short duration trips. I’ve probably returned from more trips with more weight of uneaten plain nuts than any other food.

expedition_food_single_serving_jordan - 1
Sahale Snacks Glazed Nuts.

#6. Annie’s Bunny Snacks

The kids know what’s up with these. I like to trick myself into thinking they are healthy since they are organic, made with real fruit juice, etc. Some days, I may even believe that they’re fruit. I used to eat fruit snacks purchased in bulk from the likes of Costco (e.g., Kellogg’s), but I’ve been trying to avoid foods where the first ingredient is corn syrup.

expedition_food_single_serving_jordan - 2
Annie’s Bunny Snacks

#5. SeaBear Wild Salmon

Single serving foil packets containing pre-cooked ground beef, chicken, tuna, and salmon are now common items found on the aisles of most grocery stores but many of them have strange additives and thus, taste a bit like, well, something else than what’s advertised. Such is the nature of most processed foods, I suppose. But the SeaBear Wild Salmon packets really are something special. I grew up in the Pacific Northwest, the son of a salmon fisherman, so I’m a little picky about my ocean fishes. SeaBear does not disappoint, and the only two ingredients are salmon and sea salt. I spread this on fried bagels for breakfasts, seed crackers for lunches, or fold it into noodle dishes or chowder for dinner.

expedition_food_single_serving_jordan - 3
SeaBear Wild Salmon

#4. Walker’s Shortbread Fingers

I’ve been eating this glorious butter stick-disguised-as-a-cookie for as long as I can remember, and I’ve never grown tired of it. This is another really simple food - four ingredients: flour, butter, sugar, and salt. My favorite lunch snack includes two fingers slathered in almond butter - a 350+ Calorie snack that you can continue licking from your gums for miles!

expedition_food_single_serving_jordan - 4
Walker’s Shortbread Fingers

#3. Justin’s Almond Butter

Another tasty food, considering that it contains only two ingredients: almonds and palm oil. An outrageously high caloric density (177 Cal/oz) and convenient single-serving squeeze packet make this a food that I buy by the case - often.

expedition_food_single_serving_jordan - 5
Justin’s Almond Butter

#2. Terra Sweet Potato Chips

I’ll admit it. I love chips. I used to pack snack bags of Fritos, Cheetos, and Doritos on most of my trips, crushing them into little bits so they wouldn’t take up space in my pack. Then, when it came time to eat them, I’d tear off a corner and pour them into my mouth. More recently, as I’ve tried to incorporate more nutritious options into my backcountry trips, I discovered other types of chips that have higher levels of fiber and non-sugar carbohydrates, with Terra Sweet Potato Chips being my favorite.

expedition_food_single_serving_jordan - 6
Terra Sweet Potato Chips

#1. Panda Black Licorice

For a candy, this one is very simply made: it contains only molasses, flour, licorice, and aniseed oil. I consider myself somewhat of a licorice connoisseur, which means that if it isn’t fresh, heavily salted, and delightfully chewy, then it isn’t licorice. Panda Black comes close. It’s my favorite food for the three o’clock blues when I’m tired from a long day with several miles still to go. There’s something to be said for morale food.

expedition_food_single_serving_jordan - 7
Panda Black Licorice

Your Picks?

Help others by making the forum attached to this article a repository for packaged snack ideas. What are your favorites?


"Simplifying Expedition Food With Single Serving Sized Packages," by Ryan Jordan. (ISSN 1537-0364)., 2013-11-19 00:00:00-07.


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Simplifying Expedition Food With Single Serving Sized Packages
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Gregory Allen
(Gallen1119) - M

Locale: Golden, CO
Re: Minibiz on 11/26/2013 20:30:26 MST Print View

Hadn't ever seen that store. Pretty cool. Bookmarked for later. Seems more reasonable than repackaging small quantities.

Sam Farrington
(scfhome) - M

Locale: Chocorua NH, USA
Packacked foor weight on 11/27/2013 17:22:08 MST Print View

Tom and Paul,
Sure. It will take some time to put together some menus and weights, so please give me until after the first of the year when there should be time. Will put it on the gear forum where it'll be hard to miss. Thanks.

Tom Kirchner
(ouzel) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest/Sierra
Re: Packacked foor weight on 11/27/2013 19:25:20 MST Print View

"Sure. It will take some time to put together some menus and weights, so please give me until after the first of the year when there should be time."

Hi Samuel,

Excellent. If I can knock my weight down by even 2 of those 4 oz or so/day, I'll be one happy camper. I'll be looking forward to your input.

One request: Would you be willing to post your data here, instead of in the Gear Forum? This is an established thread that I, and presumably, Paul are already watching. If you establish a new thread in the very crowded Gear Forum, it will be all too easy for us to miss.

Thanks again for responding.


Michael Sagehorn
Colin Fletcher had a better diet despite being British (Welsh) on 12/10/2013 23:44:43 MST Print View

All of the packaging adds weight.

My breakfasts are simple-Grape Nuts, brown sugar, milk from powder, and dried fruit, plus coffee.

Lunch is cheese, salami, crackers, nuts, chocolate, and sometimes soup from an envelope

Dinner is also simple-dried potatoes from a box, crushed red pepper from the pizzaria, and gravy mix OR rice and gravy mix.

Nearly all the food can be packed in bulk. My pack weight goes down as I travel and with each day. For a week's worth of food, I can pack it all in a stuff bag the same size as my sleeping bag. A few fish add to the variety too.

Scott Tanner
Pre-packaged small spreads and condiments on 03/04/2014 00:00:59 MST Print View

I prefer to buy in bulk and package my own meals but I do horde prepackaged condiment packs, spreads, dressings and nut butters. Things like single serving packets of jams, jellies, peanut butter, and honey are great and combine well to make sandwiches or even consumed straight like a goo. Also I sometimes use mayo or cream cheese packets to add to foil packs of salmon or tuna and either eat straight with a spoon, slather on WW bread to make a sandwich or spread on a bagel. Think bagel, cream cheese packet, and foil pack of salmon.. Lox and cream cheese. Great for any meal. Cream cheese is great with jam or honey too.

Michael Witteveen
(Wittefish) - M
Dessert of the gods on 07/06/2014 17:05:01 MDT Print View

Pepperidge Farms Mint Milanos and a cup of Starbucks VIA coffee.

Ken T.
(kthompson) - MLife

Locale: All up in there
Re: Re: Simplifying Expedition Food With Single Serving Sized Packages on 01/29/2015 19:19:09 MST Print View

Ryan is taking another shot at expedition food for us.

From his Facebook page. copied since I know great deal of you don't do fb.

"I'm violating rule #1 (posting food pics on social media) but we are putting together a series for @backpackinglight on training and nutrition for expedition backpacking and I couldn't resist this one, which @bigskysteph says "best sandwich ever."

It's loaf bread with fresh vegetables, cheese. Must be for short expeditions.

Bradford Rogers
(Mocs123) - MLife

Locale: Southeast Tennessee
Re: Re: Re: Simplifying Expedition Food With Single Serving Sized Packages on 01/30/2015 11:39:25 MST Print View

I repackage food into single serving ziplocks for week long trips at altitude. This helps me moderate my eating and force myself to eat at times and ensures that I do not over eat. On previous trips I either had A).way too much food left over due to loss of appetite at altitude or worry of running out of food when it wasn't divided by meal or B.) not enough of certain types of foods that were more appetizing to me than others at the time.

Now I predetermine each meal and snack and repackage in a ziplock with the weight and day and time to be eaten written on the bag with a sharpie. I try and make myself eat something every two hours of hiking to keep my energy up.

rick .
(overheadview) - F

Locale: NYC
hybrid bulk/singles on 01/30/2015 16:43:51 MST Print View

I package to not waste a ton of packaging:

Coffee in bulk
cereal in bulk (Bob's Redmill 10grain)

Lunch and snacks in one quart ziploc with nuts, dried fruit, and homemade bars. Sometimes there's packaged bars too for variety. This rides up front to dig in when there's a vista

Dinner is usually single-serve ziploc meals, solo, and double-serve if with a tarpmate.

This means on a 3day trip I use 2ish ziploc per day. First one empty is trash.

toss in a few morale items:
nutella repackaged in tiny nalgene jar
tuna packet

Henk Smees
(theflyingdutchman) - MLife

Locale: Spanish Mountains
Menus and weights (SamuelCF) on 01/31/2015 03:45:11 MST Print View

Hi Samuel (scfhome),
Have you ever been able to put together the menus and weights or have you posted these in the Gear-Forum as you said - if so, I can’t find these (maybe the search function here doesn’t work well). I’m sure many will be interested (at least I am).

Tom Kirchner
(ouzel) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest/Sierra
Re: Menus and weights (SamuelCF) on 02/02/2015 17:50:07 MST Print View

"I’m sure many will be interested (at least I am)."