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Meal Plan for thru-hike
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Douglas Johnson
(Sponge) - MLife

Locale: PNW
Meal Plan for thru-hike on 02/02/2008 12:04:56 MST Print View

Question: Do you eat a hearty breakfast/lunch/dinner, or do you maul balance bars all day to get your protein/carbs? What is everyone's technique for eating out on the trail?

I'm trying to setup my food plan for my JTM thru-hike this coming August.

Brian Lewis
(brianle) - F

Locale: Pacific NW
cold breakfast, hot dinner on 02/02/2008 12:24:32 MST Print View

Breakfast: Protein shake + trail bar + a little of any of gorp, dried fruit, jerky

Lunch: the usual suspects, some sort of bread item with peanut butter, trail bar, jerky, gorp, dried fruit

Dinner: Sarbar's freezer bag cooking approach, i.e., never have to clean a pot, heat food in a freezer bag in a cozy. Sometimes store bought prepared stuff, sometimes homemade dried meals, sometimes ad hoc put-together stuff, things like ramen with canned chicked (can left at home).

I like going cold for breakfast; it's a faster start to the day and simple. I'm not happy without a hot dinner; it's not primarily the heat of the food, it's the additional variety this provides, probably to include a better nutrition mix too.

Steven Evans
(Steve_Evans) - MLife

Locale: Canada
Re: cold breakfast, hot dinner on 02/02/2008 14:11:25 MST Print View

"I like going cold for breakfast; it's a faster start to the day and simple"

This is my prefernce aswell. My breakfast is usualy just some cereal. I package the cereal and powedered milk in ziplocks before hand, that way you just add water. Super fast and easy to clean up - pack up and out I go. A "no cook breakfast" (or any meal for that matter) saves fuel consumption aswell.

Hot freeze dried dinner for sure though...along with a hot drink.

Martin Wilde
( - F

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: Cold Breakfast, cold lunch, and hot dinner on 02/02/2008 14:41:23 MST Print View

I agree with the others - I only cook my dinner. I did this on my JMT thru-hike last year and it worked perfectly. As I wanted to leave camp early (~7a) adding the extra time to cook typically takes about 15 more minutes. Sometimes it is hard to roll out of bed at 5:30a and thus just adding cold water to a freezer bag of my favorite granola, powdered milk, blueberries and protein powder is very easy. I saved the treat of real eggs, bacon, pancakes for the resturants along the way.

I snacked on bars, crackers (peanut butter/nacho cheese) and gorp for between meal snacks and for lunch had various choices of hummus, moose goo, jerky, cold top ramen, chickpea/bulgur wheat salads so so forth. If you like RyeKrisp crackers - they hold up very well and are a good source of minerals/vitamins. All just required adding water and hour or two before eating.

Dinner was always hot meal of around 1000 calories - sometimes hard to choke that much food down for me (5'10" 150lbs) - but I was re-fueled for in the morning to tackle the next pass. I also had an ounce or two of dark chocolate before bed (antioxidants + fat).

You will want to get as much protein into your diet as you can - most suggest around 100gms per day. You need to rebuild your muscles as you go.

Try to add some dehydrated/freeze dried veggies into your dinners. They are easy to add and give you necessary vitamins that you cannot (IMHO) get with vitamin substitutes.

Having a recovery drink with meals is a good idea also.

Good luck! It is a trip you will always remember.


Edited by on 02/02/2008 14:45:13 MST.

Mike W
(skopeo) - F

Locale: British Columbia
Cold breakfast, hot dinner... on 02/02/2008 15:10:12 MST Print View


Edited by skopeo on 04/24/2015 23:30:18 MDT.

Greyson Howard

Locale: Sierra Nevada
Re: Cold breakfast, hot dinner... on 02/02/2008 15:44:20 MST Print View

I'll add one more vote for cold breakfast.

Either on the trail or at home, I rarely have an apitite right after waking up, so sometimes I'll wait for breakfast until a few miles down the trail.

Another tip would be to not only pack sweet foods like bars, gels, and gorp.
On a two week hike this summer, I found things like cheese-its and other salty foods more appealing than sweets.

Douglas Johnson
(Sponge) - MLife

Locale: PNW
Meal Plan on 02/02/2008 17:29:43 MST Print View

Thanks for all the replies so far.

- I've never tried powdered milk, does it taste like regular 1 or 2% milk that you can buy in U.S. supermarkets?

- I bought the freezerbag cooking book, but I don't have a dehydrator yet, and I'm not sure if I'll find the time/patience to make that many meals! I was thinking Enertia and Mountainhouse meals as dinners. Any thoughts?

- How on earth do you inhale 100g of protein in a day? I guess you could do it with protein bars, any favorites among the group?

Nia Schmald
(nschmald) - MLife
Re: Meal Plan on 02/02/2008 17:57:41 MST Print View

Powdered milk definitely does not taste quite like real milk (or even skim milk). But out on the trail it's good enough to give some flavor to the water. I'd never drink it at home for sure.

Granola is great for breakfast. Add some powdered milk, some freeze dried fruit, and some extra goodies. My favorites are dark chocolate m&ms and candied ginger. This works for a cold breakfast, but if hanging around in camp some morning feels good hot water on granola is quite tasty too.

My favorite packaged food is Alpine Aire. Enertia is good but pricey. You can save some money by buying the 4 serving packs and repacking in freezer bags.

As far as protein goes, the bars work. I make my own. Quite easy and much cheaper. I basically use this recipe but just mix the melted chocolate into the bar with the sugar rather than trying to coat the bar. I also add fiber (look for something natural with apple fiber as its primary ingredient) to the bar. This helped so much but not the best discussion to have while talking food. Protein is most important at night to rebuild muscle so I add extra dehydrated chicken to my premade meals and can usually catch a few fish.

This was my diet on the JMT, granola for breakfast, bars for lunch/snacks and dehydrated meals with added chicken and veggies and fresh fish for dinner. Every few days I would bake a chocolate brownie (from a store bought mix) for dessert.

Fishing on the JMT is stellar. I estimate eating about 40 for the 3 weeks I took on the hike this past summer. It's a great way to get some "real" food on the trail if your in to that sort of thing.

Edited by nschmald on 02/02/2008 18:05:46 MST.

Anitra Kass
(Anitraten) - F

Locale: SoCal
Meal Plan on 02/02/2008 17:57:45 MST Print View

Cold Breakfast: usually a cereal like honey bunches of oats (in any one of many varieties) with pine nuts and crazins mixed in and some powdered milk or nido. Just add water to the zippy and you have a great breakfast. Sometimes I cook breakfast if it's really cold (and I know it ahead of time) but the last time I did that I was getting up really early, used my tarptent as a ground cloth while I slept out and when starting my stove in the morning I accidentally lit my tarptent on fire so COLD breakfasts for me now!

Lunch: I've done it both ways, bread product with meat (summer sausage or italian salami) or bars/snacks for lunch. It depends on my mood. I love Thomas' everything bagels. I don't eat them at home because they are high in fat and calories but at 12g of protein per serving...they are nice. Also, I love tortillas with Nutella smeared on them but it's kind of a wimpy lunch.

Dinner: Lately I've been addicted to Ramen. I don't know why. I make ramen casserole. Ramen, mashed potatoes to thicken it, chicken (preferably in a pouch) and if I have them, Just Veggies. I love these things. I eat them as an appetizer too, just like popcorn. Sooo good.

I've been known to eat Lipton and cous cous. Rarely freeze dried due to expense. Mac and cheese is a favorite of many hikers but I just don't like mac and cheese.

Snacks: I don't have a planned snack regimine but I eat when I am hungry. I think I am less hungry than other hikers but I am smaller then most of the other hikers I know. Snacks usually consist of: candy bars like Snickers, sometimes protein/health bars but not often unless they are on sale, dried fruit...I love mango and pineapples and I crave fruit on the trail, nuts of almost any variety, and usually gummy worms/bears.

Night Cap: At night after dinner I usually have a hot beverage (hot chocolate or Oregon Spice Co.'s spiced Chai Tea latte...yes I can sleep after drinking it) and some sort of dark chocolate. I just feel like it's an awesome way to end the day.

This is not the only way to eat, nor is it the best but it's been good for me. I usually resupply along the way and I can usually find enough of that stuff to get me through. Occasionally, I can't find good cereal and/or powdered milk so I resort to individually packed muffin but I found out that I love Banana Nut Muffin Loaf and it packs better than regular muffins. Bon Appetite and Happy Trails,

Sam Haraldson
(sharalds) - MLife

Locale: Gallatin Range
Meal Plan for thru-hike on 02/02/2008 19:49:08 MST Print View

Breakfast: Granola, water with E-mergen-c and a Snickers

Snack one: Two homemade energy bars

Lunch: One can Pringles (crushed in ziploc)

Snack two: powdered milk/carnation instant breakfast, Hammer Perpetuem combination

Snack three: Homemade energy bar

Dinner: 1,000 cal. dehydrated meal (homemade and dried)

Desert: Snickers

Approximately 4,000 cal/day

Sarah Kirkconnell
(sarbar) - F

Locale: In the shadow of Mt. Rainier
Thoughts on 02/02/2008 20:46:39 MST Print View

1) Go to and stock up on their very tasty and high quality dried vegetables and beans. All work great in 1 pot and FBC style meals. Or got to for their freezedried vegetables and fruits.

2)I don't cook breakfast anymore besides a cup of something hot. I eat something cold as I break camp or start my walk early.

3) I don't do a real lunch anymore on long days. Instead every night I pack a snack bag and carry that with me. It has single servings of many items to nibble on, from dried fruit to potato chips, etc. This year it will change though with having braces on. Not sure yet what will be in it, I will deal with it when I get there. Anyways, this means I eat tiny meals all day.

4) A big dinner with a lot of fluids. I eat an FBC meal suited to my low sodium/nothing artificial diet I live on at home.

5) A big bag of chocolate. Well, not any more with these STUPID braces :-(

6) I do pack soup mixes as well that I make up at home. They are a good lunch if I am dehydrated and feeling queasy.

Richard Gless
(rgless) - MLife

Locale: San Francisco Bay Area
Powdered Milk on 02/02/2008 21:03:15 MST Print View

Milkman Powdered Milk with 1% fat makes pretty good milk on the trail. It's much better than powdered skim milk. When I did the JMT I came out at South Lake looking forward to milk and donuts and found the store bought milk didn't taste as good as the Milkman milk had.

John S.
(jshann) - F
Re: Thoughts on 02/02/2008 21:08:18 MST Print View

Why would braces stop a person from eating chocolate?

Kathleen B

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Trail food without a dehydrator on 02/02/2008 22:00:10 MST Print View

Douglas - you don't really need a dehydrator to prepare food for the trail. I'm one of Sarah's many fans, using her freezerbag style of preparing dinners, but I don't own a dehydrator and don't feel the need for one.

I buy the dehydrated veggies and beans from, I use Idahoan instant potatoes, and I dehydrate the pasta, rice, hamburger, and chicken on a cookie sheet in the oven. It really is simple and quick. Sarah describes the process in her book, and also several previous threads here on BPL discuss dehydrating rice and chicken. It's worth giving it a try.

About actual meals on the trail - I've switched to cold breakfasts for the reasons stated above, usually granola with dehydrated fruit, powdered milk, and cold water. Lunch is the usual collection of nibblies. Try making moose goo with Nutella instead of peanut butter! Someone here suggested that, and it's now my favorite (Moose goo - peanut butter, powdered milk, honey, and corn flour - the proportions are up to you). Dinner is a freezerbag concoction with something hot and sweet to drink. Sometimes I'll make a steamed biscuit. Sarah has described a way to do it, or take a look at an older article here at BPL called Groovy-Biotic Cooking for some good ideas.

Douglas Johnson
(Sponge) - MLife

Locale: PNW
RE: Thru-hike meal plan on 02/02/2008 22:51:55 MST Print View

Wow! The vets are weighing in on this one, thanks for all of your input! That's why I love this place, tons of experience and knowledge...

- I will definitely try out some Milkman or Nido and Granola. I'm a pretty picky eater, but I think I could make that work.

- Sarah, thanks for those links, I'll check them out ASAP!

- I've seen the Moose Goo recipe before, but never tried it. I'm going overnight for Dead Presidents Day, so I'll try to whip some up and try them out.

- Sam, I see you like snickers and pringles, my kind of grub!! =)

- I will revisit the "dehydrate in your oven" idea, I forgot about that! Thanks.

- Nitro, bummer about your Tarptent! I also enjoy couscous and ramen...I'll have to try that casserole idea, thanks!

Sarah Kirkconnell
(sarbar) - F

Locale: In the shadow of Mt. Rainier
Re: Re: Thoughts on 02/02/2008 23:31:47 MST Print View

"Why would braces stop a person from eating chocolate?"

John....I am missing teeth in the back and the braces only make it worse for eating. In two years I will be getting implants but till then...careful eating! My bite is being corrected so I cannot bite down like normal :-(

I have a feeling this year as my teeth are shifting so fast that my meals will be soup, soup and soup! And pudding ;-) Which btw, is great with Nido 26% fat dry milk! That and lots of mashed potatoes. ;-)

todd h
(funnymoney) - MLife

Locale: SE
Re: Meal Plan for thru-hike on 02/03/2008 19:14:37 MST Print View

What a useful thread! Thanks for all the input, everyone. I never thought about it until now, but in cool / colder weather I've always eaten a hot breakfast...just because! I'll still do that sometimes, but i'll modify that approach somewhat from here on.

Chad Miller

Locale: Duluth, Minnesota
Typical menu on 02/04/2008 07:49:41 MST Print View

Here was my typical menu for my though hike of the Superior Hiking Trail. This menu typically contained 3,500-4,200 calories, 720g carbohydrate, 130g protein, 50g fat. Keep in mind Iā€™m6ā€™2ā€, 230 pounds so my caloric requirements may be different than yours. All of my food only uses simple boil in bag type of preparation.

3/4 cup granola type cereal with 1/4 cup powdered milk
Apple cider drink mix (2)
This breakfast can be prepared either hot or cold.

Morning Snack:
2 energy bars

Bagel with peanut butter and nutella.
Energy bar

Afternoon Snack
2 Energy Bars

Dinner (typical)
1 cup cous cous with dried chicken, vegetables, and soup mix
1-2 tortillas
1/2 cup peanut butter M&M's

If I where to change anyting I would replace the begels with two tortillas to save weight and bulk.

Edited by chadnsc on 02/04/2008 07:52:27 MST.

Mike W
(skopeo) - F

Locale: British Columbia
Meal Plan for thru-hike on 02/04/2008 10:26:41 MST Print View


Edited by skopeo on 04/24/2015 23:28:56 MDT.

Margaret Snyder
(jetcash) - F

Locale: Southern Arizona
Re: Re: Re: Thoughts on 02/04/2008 13:13:33 MST Print View

Sarah - You will be so happy when your teeth are all fixed! I had 7 years of braces then an implant to top it off. Now I have a great smile and can once again eat whatever I want! Just watch out for the gummy stuff; I've sworn off sour peaches cuz they ripped the crown off my implant twice.