November 20, 2015 8:16 PM MST - Subscription purchasing, account maintenance, forum profile maintenance, new account registration, and forum posting have been disabled
as we prepare our databases for the final migration to our new server next week. Stay tuned here for more details.
Subscribe Contribute Advertise Facebook Twitter Instagram Forums Newsletter
Thoughts on long distance food
Display Avatars Sort By:
Craig W.
(xnomanx) - F - M
Thoughts on long distance food on 04/19/2010 18:23:07 MDT Print View

I'm going to be spending 12 days (maximum, but likely less) on the JMT and would like to do it without resupply. To-date, I've never gone for more than 7 days without resupply.
I'm looking for thoughts on food for this situation.

I'm a simple eater on higher mileage/long trips. I'll be moving, for the most part, from morning to evening, so bars and no-cook trail food are best. The only hot meals I want are dinner. Weight and calories are my concern here, not freshness and good eating (within reason!).
Here's a sample day I've broken down (with a pretty good calorie to weight to space ratio):

6 Balance Bars: 10.71 oz, 1260 cal.

1 Mtn House Mac n' Cheese: 6.8 oz., 940 cal.

1 package Peanut M&Ms mixed with 3.3 oz. roasted almonds: 5.04 oz, 796 cal.

1 portion crushed Pringles: 3 oz, 450 cal.

23.64 oz.
3446 calories

328g carbs, 164g fat, 160g protein.
That's ~50%, 25%, 25%.

Of course I could easily add more calories with another ounce of Pringles, some oil, another bar, etc.

So I like the weight to calorie ratio, but the carb/fat/protein ratio is a trip: I'd never eat like this in normal life, but this is the sort of menu that's served me well on past trips- this is the first time I've done the actual number breakdown though. It's worked for me on higher-intensity trips in the past so....


Sorry, my math might be fuzzy, keep catching errors...

Edited by xnomanx on 04/19/2010 18:45:27 MDT.

Craig W.
(xnomanx) - F - M
Re: Thoughts on long distance food on 04/19/2010 18:53:15 MDT Print View

Especially interested in low weight vegetarian dinners of 600+ calories.

Nick Gatel
(ngatel) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Re: Thoughts on long distance food on 04/19/2010 19:01:24 MDT Print View


No nutritional expertise here. But some thoughts. The MH Mac & Cheese is one of their highest calorie meals, also the heaviest at 6.8 oz. The MH Chili Mac with Beef is 4.8 oz and 290 calories. The packaging weighs 1 oz for all the 2 person meals. Additionally the packaging takes up a lot of room. Could you repackage several meals into one larger bag, and re-use a freezer bag to cook it? Also, I find that chocolate melts unless I keep insulated in my pack. Peanut butter is pretty high calorie-wise, 167 per oz and tastes really good to me. Flour tortillas not super high in calories, but pack well and stay fresh. I eat peanut butter and honey tortillas. Pecans are almost 200 calories per oz.

Craig W.
(xnomanx) - F - M
Re: Re: Thoughts on long distance food on 04/19/2010 19:05:31 MDT Print View

As for Mac n' Cheese, no doubt their highest calories meal...and a serious effort to eat (though not bad tasting)...but a ton of calories.

I always repackage, just using listed weights for simplicity.

Dont Wantto
(longhiker) - F
Not to create any drift here.. on 04/19/2010 20:27:42 MDT Print View

but I am curious -- can you repackage freeze-dried Mountain House dinners (like the one above or the ones with meat), emptying several into a ziploc bag and carrying one bag to prepare it in?

How many days can you go like this without spoiling? Does it depend on how hot it is? Or how wet it is around?

1 oz / meal sounds like a lot of packaging.. what have I been doing all these years?!

Doug I.
(idester) - MLife

Locale: PNW
Re: Re: Thoughts on long distance food on 04/19/2010 20:43:36 MDT Print View

The Mary Jane's organic vegetarian meals are very tasty, and the packaging is made to burn (non-aluminum) unlike the MH and other varieties. So if you have a campfire, or are burning wood in your Ti-Tri, you can 'get rid' of the meal packaging after each meal. FWIW. They weigh about 5 oz. or a bit less each.

They're not quite as high in calories as you want. The Mac and Cheese, per package, has 465 calories, 21 grams protein, 63 grams carbs, 16.5 grams fat. The Lentils, Rice and Indian Spice has 450 calories (per package), only 2.25 grams fat, 88.5 grams carb and 18 grams protein.

I keep mine in an Aloksak, as you can smell the meal while sealed in the bag (probably because of non-aluminum, I guess). But I like that they're organic, one of the best vegetarian selections, and most are very, very tasty.

Edited by idester on 04/19/2010 20:44:41 MDT.

Eugene Smith
(Eugeneius) - MLife

Locale: Nuevo Mexico
"Thoughts on long distance food" on 04/19/2010 20:53:41 MDT Print View

I'll 2nd Douglas on the Mary Janes Outpost food. Excellent stuff. I've never had a meal of theirs that I wasn't utmost satisfied with. The organic aspect, though cool, didn't sell me, rather the flavor and the use of whole ingredients, lower sodium, no preservatives or MSG and the ability to burn the packaging. My personal favorite is their Bare Burrito meal. Their meals only run around 300-500 calories per serving, which I've found sufficient, but each persons caloric needs vary. I supplement my meals and eat frequently throughout the day on long mile days so I don't necessarily need to tank up on calories in the evening.

Edited by Eugeneius on 04/19/2010 20:58:02 MDT.

Craig W.
(xnomanx) - F - M
Re: "Thoughts on long distance food" on 04/19/2010 20:56:10 MDT Print View

Thanks for the tips- I've never had Mary Janes. I can always recombine packages- i.. 3 dinners into 2, to boost calories.

Doug I.
(idester) - MLife

Locale: PNW
Re: Re: "Thoughts on long distance food" on 04/19/2010 21:04:24 MDT Print View

RE: Mary Janes'. You get the best selection online, but I generally get mine at REI. Warning, they're expensive! Between $8-$10 per package. But well worth it to me.

John Whynot

Locale: Southeast Texas
Re: "Thoughts on long distance food" on 04/19/2010 21:04:42 MDT Print View

I'll add my support for the Mary Jane's meals. A little low on calories, but enough for me. Best price is direct from Mary Jane's Outpost. Also available in bulk package. Usually I'll also have a Lara Bar after dinner.

I've tried Balance Bars for snacks and lunch -- after 2 days, I had to force myself to eat them. Too much sweet...

Edited by jdw01776 on 04/19/2010 21:06:06 MDT.

Eugene Smith
(Eugeneius) - MLife

Locale: Nuevo Mexico
"Thoughts on long distance food" on 04/19/2010 21:09:47 MDT Print View


Absolutely. I'd say it's absolutely worth the cost of buying 2 meals and repackaging them in freezer bags since this is a trip of a lifetime, at least it would be for me. Mary Janes Outpost is topnotch stuff. If you go to you can browse through their entire collection and see the caloric facts and nutrition breakdown. I'll have to recommend Red Pesto Pasta, delicious.

Not to further confuse you, but AlpineAire foods is another really good alternative to the sodium logged Mntn House meals.

Alpine Aire Foods Entrees

I can also attest to their excellent taste. These come in 2 person servings which might save you some money. The Alpineaire foods are much like the Maryjanes Outpost offerings, nutritious, no artificial flavorings, no MSG, no preservatives. They sit quite well with my stomach.

Craig W.
(xnomanx) - F - M
Re: Re: Re: "Thoughts on long distance food" on 04/19/2010 21:12:02 MDT Print View

Can't afford to spend $120 on dinners for backpacking!

I'm probably being lazy looking at the store bought stuff...Maybe it's just time to put on the chef's hat and break out the dehydrator for some homemade mac n' cheese (or Trader Joe's). Maybe I'll alternate that and Mary Janes...450 cal/serving is OK.

I didn't mention Mountain House because I like their stuff...I just know their macaroni is one of the highest calorie dinners I can find. You're all right though, the rest of their stuff is way too much sodium and junk.

Edited by xnomanx on 04/19/2010 21:16:30 MDT.

Tom Kirchner
(ouzel) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest/Sierra
Re: Re: "Thoughts on long distance food" on 04/19/2010 21:12:48 MDT Print View

Adding an ounce of olive,or other, oil to whatever evening meal you choose is an easy way to add 250 calories to your diet, or slug down an ounce, neat, in the morning. Chocolate is another calorie dense item that fits in well with extended trips where monotony can be an issue-there are dozens of flavors to choose from. I haven't had any trouble with chocolate melting at the elevations you're going to be at in the Sierra, so I'm not sure that would be an issue. Walnuts and macadamia nuts are ~200 calories/oz and pecans are ~190. Nido full fat powdered milk is 150 calories/oz.

Bob Gross
(--B.G.--) - F

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: Re: Re: "Thoughts on long distance food" on 04/19/2010 21:53:40 MDT Print View

Some long distance backpackers will pack one special dinner meals for every five or ten normal dinner meals, and they use that as a personal reward for something (like finishing 25% more miles than your plan). The special meal is either an extra large portion or has a special dessert treat.


Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: Re: Re: Re: "Thoughts on long distance food" on 04/19/2010 22:58:52 MDT Print View

> Can't afford to spend $120 on dinners for backpacking!

That's for 12 days, right?
I wonder how much your household budget would spend for 12 days of dinners?
I wonder how much you spend on fuel just getting to the start of your walk and home again? (better amortise the car maintenance into that as well.)
I wonder what 12 days of backpacking is worth to you?


Ike Mouser
(isaac.mouser) - F
spending on 04/20/2010 08:47:16 MDT Print View

I dehydrate everything. It is cheaper than buying mountain house or mary janes or anything else. My grocieries are 50 dollars a week. I dehydrate daily. you can do it on the cheap, suggestions:

buy ziplock bags in 200 count packs at sams
Great value, cheap as hell
- gv is fine for some things like nuts, bread, etc. But some other things from them suck.
- Buy meat at sams club, chicken bres**(censored by BPL, wtF) is super cheap (not for craig, for the others who may be reading this)

To make your meals taste better:
idaho instant spuds
powdered butter
coconut powder
powerdered cheese(hard to find, might have to get online)
pepper, salt, curry powder, ms. dash, chef pauls, etc.

I buoght a few recipe books, i bought laurie ann march's-turned out to be very little FBC, instead shes packing ovens and cookin gear in the backcountry, making pizzas and steakes. Was too heavy of an approach for simple guy like me. Sarah's was pretty good. I found i could only really use 2-5 from lauries book for fbc realistically without going out and buying 50 more herbs/fresh veggies/expensive ingredients.

Just use your man taste buds. You like cheese, butter, meat(well actually you don't my bad), etc. I load up on cheese and powdered butter to make my meals extra tasty. Nido powdered milk is also good and availible in huge tubs at walmart in a vitamin fortified and non-fortified version. Instant rice, Instant noodles you should have as well. Kepp it simple and flavorful. I don't have a lot of vitamin content in my meals, other than delicious meats. But i pack a drink called MILO, its philipino and has nearly every vitamin and tastes like hot chocolate-actually better. And its cheap as well.

Some things i make for the trail:

chicken adobo (adobo powdered mix availible @ asian food stores)
Beef adobo (again asian food stores)
Sweet and Sour chicken (asian food stores, see a pattern?)
Chicken soup with mixed veggies(great value)
couscous spicy chicken
meatloaf (substitute for tofu)
spaghetti (just don't use the noodles from home, use instant rice or instant noodles, you can dehydrate the sauce as well)

Edited by isaac.mouser on 04/20/2010 09:15:50 MDT.

Craig W.
(xnomanx) - F - M
Re: spending on 04/20/2010 09:01:32 MDT Print View

$120 for 12 nights of trail dinners is not cheap for one person Roger. That cost is in addition to what is being spent at home by my family (wife and two kids) while I'm gone.
And, as you noted, in addition to getting to the trail. And in addition to lunches and other food. And in addition to a bus and train ride home from Yosemite.

My apologies for trying to keep my costs down. Any donations that would help me maintain your standard of trail food would be greatly appreciated!

Hiking Malto
(gg-man) - F
Lower cost alternative on 04/20/2010 09:12:20 MDT Print View

I usually take one of a dozen variety of Hamburger Helper. You then buy a large can of dehydrated ground beef (MH or other) Usually you need milk, Nido is whole milk loaded with calories and an ounce of olive oil on the trail. Lower cost, yummy and very high calorie content.

You also buy large cans of chicken as well and add these to mashed potatoes, stovetop stuffing or other low cost prepared meals.

Net, the ground beef is the only part that you can't buy dried from the grocery. Don't waste your money on the rest. Here is where I bought my ground beef
They also have bulk MH meals as well that will be less expensive then the prepackaged.

By the way, you could use Muir Trail Ranch to save carrying 4-5 days of food at the beginning of your trip. It's $50 plus postage and it only adds about a mile on to your trip. There is also a great hot spring just across the river that will feel great at the end of a long day of hiking.

Edited by gg-man on 04/20/2010 09:14:02 MDT.

Ike Mouser
(isaac.mouser) - F
dehydrating beef on 04/20/2010 09:18:55 MDT Print View

Its so easy to dehydrate your own beef? Why pay for it? Just buy beef that has a very low fat content (96/4, etc). Cook it to your specs, soak up excess fat with paper towels. Put it on dehydrator on highest setting (160 or so), leave for 2 hours. Come back, put on 145, leave for 4-5 hours.

Done when it has the consistency and texture of gravel.


For every lb of gorund beef you dehydrate, add 3/4 cup bread crumbs. The crums will make it rehydrate fast, add nutrition for little weigh penalty, and make it tastier. Just a thought.

Also it helps to marinate the meat for a day before dehydrating, increases taste.

Edited by isaac.mouser on 04/20/2010 09:20:20 MDT.

Ike Mouser
(isaac.mouser) - F
craig on 04/20/2010 09:25:07 MDT Print View

I forgot to add, lauries book is 99% vegetarian. You will find a great variety of veggie based meals in her book. Recommend it to you. You will however have to buy alot of spices/ingredients to follow the directions EXACTLY though. If thats not a big deal to you, just leave out the spices. You will also have to modify them for FBC, if thats what your doing. Hope that helps!