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Meal Plan for thru-hike
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Christopher Mills
(Hiker816) - MLife

Locale: Denver
Meal Plan for Thru-hike --breakfast on 02/04/2008 15:34:34 MST Print View

I've had really good luck with these shakes for breakfast:

I had them customized to have just under 800 calories per shake, with extra protein, and I had them packed in ziplock bags instead of bottles. They make for a very easy and fast morning meal, and are easily eaten (drunk?) while walking.

Edited by Hiker816 on 02/04/2008 15:35:17 MST.

Tom Kirchner
(ouzel) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest/Sierra
Re: Meal Plan for Thru-hike --breakfast on 02/04/2008 18:20:36 MST Print View

Hi Christopher,
Can you get this in powder form and mix it as needed? Couldn't from their website because all they mentioned is bottles, which implies liquid.

Christopher Mills
(Hiker816) - MLife

Locale: Denver
Re: Re: Meal Plan for Thru-hike --breakfast on 02/04/2008 19:13:39 MST Print View

"Can you get this in powder form and mix it as needed? Couldn't from their website because all they mentioned is bottles, which implies liquid."

They come as a bottle filled half way with powder, the intent being that you can just put water in the bottle up to the line, shake, and drink. But you can ask them to put the same single serving amount of powder in a ziplock bag and then pour the powder into your own bottle. You could probably also have them put a whole bunch of it (more than a single serving size) into a big ziplock, and just use as much as you feel like, though I haven't asked them if I can do that. It'd be harder to know how many calories you're getting that way, and you'd lose more of it if the bag broke, but it would cut down on the number of plastic bags you're carrying.

Word of warning: When ordering, you have to be explicit about the fact that you're backpacking, and you want lots of calories & carbs in the shakes (you can specify exactly how much/many). They usually do them for bodybuilders who want lots of protein and low carbs, or for people trying to lose weight, so they need to know that's not your intent. Oh, I found the fruit flavors to be gross. Cappaccino & chocolate are good, though.

It's also possible to put shakes together on your own if you buy all the raw ingredients. I chose not to do that because the cost savings didn't seem to outweigh the hassle of figuring out how much of everything to use to both get the nutrients I wanted, and have it taste ok.

Kirk Beiser
(kab21) - F

Locale: Pic: Gun Lake, BWCA
Thru-hike eating on 02/05/2008 06:11:18 MST Print View

I developed a very large appetite when thru-hiking last year and was eating about 4000cal/day (about 2.5lbs at 100 cal/oz). And wasn't totally satisfied even then, but only lost 5-10lbs on the hike.

For ease, BAR = any of the following: Granola bar, energy bar, protein bar, breakfast bar, oatmeal-to-go, pop-tart, pretty much anything and everything. Cookies (chips ahoy chocolate were my favorites), Fig Newtons, and other calorically dense, nutritionally lacking food items were also eaten at similar times as bars.

Typical meal structures
Breakfast - it was cold usually and I wanted to get moving so I would have 1-2 (300-400cal) bar as I packed up camp. I also mixed up an energy drink for my first liter of fluids of the day.

mid-morning - more bars

before lunch big snack - if i had crackers I would eat them with peanut butter (Jif-To-Go is perfect) or summer sausage type meat. I would also have nuts, dried fruit, jerky or any other snacks that were available

mid day dinner - I usually stopped and had a big meal in the heat of the day. My typical meal was pasta/rice, dried vegetables, olive oil, 3oz tuna/salmon packet, and basil/lawry's.

Snacks later - more bars

Last liter of fluids most days was a protein shake.

Notes on eating on a thru-hike. In some ways it will end up vastly different than a single week trip. It doesn't have to, but for most part it was for me.
A) Fancy energy bars are nutrionally better than granola bars and pop-tarts obviously, but they are also about 4-6x more expensive in the small town grocery stores. And when you're talking about 5+/day that will add up over 5 months.

B) It is preferred that thru-hikers at least support the community a little by not having everything shipped in a resupply box. If I'm hiking again I would have a bounce box with hard to resupply items like specific energy/protein drink mixes, dried vegetables, vitamins, and other stuff. By the time you factor in shipping and the hard work put in by your resupply person you aren't saving much money.

C) There is alot of junk food in my typical day. That's not preferred, but an important factor is the number of calories consumed. The junk food is there partly for cost and partly for easy to find in the small groceries or convenience stores that you'll be going thru.

D) Don't neglect protein/fats, especially protein. Carbs are easy to find, but protein was typically neglected (especially by me early on). Good protein sources are 3 oz salmon/tuna packets, jerky, nuts, peanut butter (1 oz Jif-To-Go is much better than an entire jar), prepackaged non-perishable meats (salami, summer sausage types), protein shakes. I'm also going to try some ground quinoa (there's a thread about this) and maybe some lentils or beans when possible.

E) I tried to hit 4000 cal/day. I found that more important than only eating healthy, nutritious foods. I tried to eat as much 'good food' as possible, but I would rather eat junk food before going hungry or losing excessive weight.

Just a bunch of rambling by me and not all of is probably good advice, but it's how my thru-hike diet ended up. And I think I ate better than most.

Tom Kirchner
(ouzel) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest/Sierra
Re: Re: Re: Meal Plan for Thru-hike --breakfast on 02/05/2008 20:57:09 MST Print View

Thanks Christopher. That gives me pretty much all I need to communicate with them.

Ron Babington
(Ohbejoyful) - MLife

Locale: Greenville, SC
Meal Plan for thru-hike on 02/06/2008 07:47:50 MST Print View

I had a cold breakfast every day, and almost always the same thing-- a brown sugar pop-tart with peanut butter spread in between the two halves. It was delicious (and caloric)!

Sam Haraldson
(sharalds) - MLife

Locale: Gallatin Range
Re: Meal Plan for thru-hike on 02/06/2008 12:01:35 MST Print View

...not having everything shipped in a resupply box... ...By the time you factor in shipping and the hard work put in by your resupply person you aren't saving much money.

I was on a 61 day, 1200 mile thru-hike this summer. Resupplies were three to nine days. The cost of total shipping was around $120. Factoring in the amount of time my support team put into that is subjective but worth LOTS.

David J. Sailer
(davesailer) - F

Locale: Pacific Northwest
One more point of view on 02/06/2008 13:34:59 MST Print View

I haven't been (lucky/bold/rich/stupid) enough to do a thru-hike, but I've come across some things that work for me for trips of one to 12 days.

First, I'll second the Just Tomatoes suggestion ( I don't buy commercially dehydrated foods or meals, but I have found some of the Just Tomatoes berries and mixed vegetables locally, bought them, and found them to be excellent.

For food I'm mostly concerned with getting enough calories in a form that I can get down. If it keeps me going and tastes OK, it's good. I drink tea and bring candy for a flavor treat.

Generally speaking I concentrate on couscous, ramen, and instant mashed potatoes. Instant rice is good but isn't instant. Bulghur wheat would work, and I'll be trying it this year. It has the advantage that you can add cold water and let it soak for a while (an hour, or maybe overnight) and just eat it.

For hot meals I pre-package everything at home in ziplock bags, including seasoning. For most meals I add about four tablespoons of powdered milk, and another four of Parmesan cheese for the foods that it goes with.

Parmesan cheese is absolutely fantastic for me. Flavorful and salty. Contains protein. Keeps forever.

Mrs. Dash seasoning, garlic powder and onion powder work well, depending on the food, as would pepper. If it's a longer trip, like one to two weeks, I'll usually add two to four tablespoons of oil into the ziplock bag (works best with instant mashed potatoes).

Most of these foods can be eaten without utensils, especially the potatoes. When ready to eat, squeeze out the air, double check that you've sealed the bag tightly, then tear off one bottom corner with your teeth and squirt the contents into your mouth. I bring one largish ziplock bag for garbage and keep stuffing it with my empties, which I bring home.

The quart-sized freezer-weight bags work best. Light bags let oils migrate right through, and contaminate everything else. I found this out experimenting with bags of crushed potato chips for lunch. That was a great lunch (for me), but everything in my food bag got covered with oil that had gone right through the plastic. My hands too when I handled the bags. No really. It was horrible.

One favorite lunch when I don't mind the expense is crushed Doritos nacho tortilla chips. I crush them to reduce volume and make them easy to eat by being able to pour the contents right from the bag into my mouth (no oily or smelly hands). I get about three lunches for every two bags of chips, and it's salty and spicy. Quick too.

I have experimented with some home made brownies made with lots of milk powder, peanut butter, nuts, and oil, but wasn't able to dry it down enough. It was incredibly good but contained too much water and so it was much heavier than something couscuos.

I'm going to play some more with this.

I also have done a tiny bit of experimenting with shortbread. It's got carbohydrate, fat, and sugar, and you can add as much milk powder as you want. Simple but tasty. Some recipes use cheese as well. It seems like this might work if I can make it in thin sheets and dry it enough. Could serve for any meal of the day.

Hummus is something you might try. All you have to do is add water, mix, and eat. After a couple of days on this I started gagging and eventually threw it all away. Couldn't stand the lemony flavor, but maybe another flavor deserves another try. It has promise.

For longer trips I might try carrying oil separately, in a Platypus half liter bottle. I could add it to food just before cooking rather than worrying about oil leaking through pre-packaged food bags.

Final note: I'm the kind of person who can eat the same meals every day without a problem. As long as I get calories and kind of enjoy the taste, and have a little something else along as a treat (like peppermint patties or a bag of hard cinnamon or lemon candy) I'm OK.

Joshua Mitchell
(jdmitch) - F

Locale: Kansas
Squeezing Mashed Potatoes out of a Bag on 02/06/2008 14:29:41 MST Print View

wow... that's awesome... gotta remember that on...

Sarah Kirkconnell
(sarbar) - F

Locale: In the shadow of Mt. Rainier
Re: One more point of view on 02/06/2008 15:01:20 MST Print View

Commercial hummus mix is pretty gross. Make your own! Then you can use other beans as well as garbanzos. I don't add oil when making, add that on the trail. I use onions, oregano and chili powder often in my hummus.

I also make my hummus hot and have it over pasta or rice as well.

Joshua Mitchell
(jdmitch) - F

Locale: Kansas
Re: Homemade Hummus on 02/06/2008 15:23:25 MST Print View

Hey Sarah, have you tried grinding those HH Dried Garbanzo beans for your trail Hummus? (Realize you may have actually posted this as the way you do it and I simply missed it).

Sarah Kirkconnell
(sarbar) - F

Locale: In the shadow of Mt. Rainier
Re: Re: Homemade Hummus on 02/06/2008 17:47:14 MST Print View

I haven't! But hey, I'll try it out ;-)

Joshua Mitchell
(jdmitch) - F

Locale: Kansas
Re: Re: Re: Homemade Hummus on 02/06/2008 18:54:12 MST Print View

"I haven't! But hey, I'll try it out ;-)"

Really? Yay! I contributed something to food discussions!

Darwin Roos
(darwin310) - F

Locale: Great Lakes Area
My thru-hike meal plan on 02/07/2008 10:09:34 MST Print View

Here's what I've eaten on the two treks I have done:

-flax seed
-wheat germ
-sunflower seeds
-soy bean nuts
-powdered milk

-Bear Valley bar

-instant flavored potatoes
-flax seed
-wheat germ
-sunflower seeds
-soy bean nuts
-beef jerky

This plan has worked well for me. Actually, every meal I eat cold.


Monty Montana
(TarasBulba) - MLife

Locale: Rocky Mountains
Some More on Meal Plan on 02/07/2008 12:30:47 MST Print View

For years I relied on Quaker instant oatmeal packets even though they seemed too sweet to me. Then I came across Bob's Red Mill Old Country Style Muesli. I think this must be the original granola. It has about 5 whole grains, 4 nuts, dates & raisins and no sugar. Delicious hot or cold with milk. Since I like to be in the moment and not rush through things, the abundant crunchy/chewiness fits the bill, unlike oatmeal. I also like to savor something hot like a cup o' Joe or hot chocolate. That slow relaxed time in the early AM is a good time to let the mind streatch to new possibilities and discuss x-country excursions or fishing plans.

As for milk, Milkman tastes best; Nestle's Nido is whole milk but tastes like dehydrated milk.

I don't bother with lunch too often, as I'm snacking all day long. I stuff my pockets with homemade gorp (nuts, M&Ms, dried fruit), sesame/honey snap crackers, jerky and anything else that won't melt. Sometimes I'll pack along bagals stuffed with salami and cheese but end up not being hungry enough to eat all of them.

Dinner can be a Mountain House freeze-dried or something I make from a dried lentil soup base from the bulk section at the local natural food store.

Someone asked about extra protein. Try Bob's TVP (textured vegetable protein). These are little nuggets and can be added to anything, even cereal. Happy trails!

Craig Lewis
(craigl28) - F

Locale: SoCal
Other Possibilities on 02/07/2008 13:45:47 MST Print View

Other items not already mentioned include:
1. smoke salmon in the long-shelf-life, no refrigeration packages.
2. fresh carrots in the "baby-size" package can last 4-5 days w/o spoiling.
3. Dehydrated Fruit-rolls like the Ladies explain in Food forum.
4. Green tomatoes, or Tomatillos would pack well and just added to whatever hot dinner you make.
5. Chicken stock base comes in small jars next to boulion in the soup isle. Pricey, but the flavor is amazing. Ham, beef base available too.
6. Hard boiled eggs for the 1st few days on a trip.
7. Croutons instead of bread.
8. Corn Bread Stuffing
9. Ham Hock (smoked, salted ham neck) is great when boiled with green beans for an hour. Very simple to make. Packed in the coldest area of your pack could last a long time.
10. TraderJoe's applesauce poured into a Nalgene bottle.

Edited by craigl28 on 02/07/2008 19:16:09 MST.

Adam Weesner
(davefan40) - F
I vote for variety on 03/06/2008 10:45:10 MST Print View

I have learned the hard way that variety is key, at least for me. Some mornings I'll do some oats, tea maybe dried fruit. Others I'll just eat a cold breakfast and go. I try not to be on a rigid schedule so I just go with what sounds good. Mostly snacks through out the day like bars, bagels with p-butter, cream cheese, mix, etc. I generally always cook dinner.

cat morris
(catt) - F

Locale: Alaska
meals on 03/09/2008 12:31:26 MDT Print View

Breakfast: oatmeal or cream of rice with raisins, wheatgerm, & flaxseed meal

chocolate-covered espresso beans

Lunch: pretzel barrels stuffed with peanut butter (my new find)
snacks:dried apricots
almonds, walnuts, pecans, sunflower seeds

Dinner: instant split pea soup

or instant pinto beans with chile pequin & red peppers or
instant veggie noodle soup
or Westbrae buckwheat ramen

Dessert: instant brown rice, coconut, raisins,brown sugar

Denis Hazlewood
(redleader) - MLife

Locale: Luxury-Light Luke on the Llano Azul
Re: Powdered Milk on 03/09/2008 13:59:46 MDT Print View

I second the "Milkman". After the first time using this brand I threw away all my other powdered mild.

Michael Crosby
(djjmikie) - MLife

Locale: Ky
Milkman Powdered Milk on 03/09/2008 14:09:46 MDT Print View

Where do you get this brand? I have been unable to find it.