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We have gear lists, but what about food lists?
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Christopher Taggart

Locale: Western PA
We have gear lists, but what about food lists? on 02/15/2011 07:08:50 MST Print View

I have to say that if there is one thing I am really lacking in the backpacking knowledge department, it is putting together a menu. I am certainly not a picky eater and can eat just about anything. The one thing I cannot stand though is bland food. Give me spice, give me salt. Give me flavor or give me death. Well, my trail food is usually bland and it takes the fun out of eating.

Are there any trail gourmet's out there willing to put together a complete menu for a couple days?

chris markley
(motorapido) - F
food weight/volume/calories database needed on 02/15/2011 08:58:51 MST Print View

This doesn't get to your need, but it's related in general. Somebody needs to create a database that lists food calories by weight and volume so we can plan for the most calories by weight/volume. Luckily I'm an omnivore and don't mind eating odd menus for a backpacking trip. So far it seems to me that the best combination of weight/calories/volume comes from either peanut m&ms or sunflower seeds. Macaroni and cheese mixes with some olive oil added seems like a good one too. Sometimes you can achieve low weight and low volume but you don't get the high calories you need. Or to get the high calories you have to carry heavy, bulky stuff. It would be nice if somebody would start a shared database in which people could build this list, using both general types of foods (fruit, meat, nuts)and name brand prepared stuff. Does anybody have such a list that they can share?

James Marco
(jamesdmarco) - MLife

Locale: Finger Lakes
We have gear lists, but what about food lists? on 02/15/2011 10:51:17 MST Print View

One supper I like is:
Pot Pie:
1/4 cup Jerky (any type)
1/8 cup mixed vegtables (corn, carrots, green beans, celery, peppers, onions, etc., all dehydrated)
1/8 cup instant barley(5 minute cook time), minute rice, or oatmeal
1/3 cup bisquik mix
1/4 cup instant potatos
3 tbs of olive oil

I throw everything together in one pot (except the bisquick and potatos) with 1qt of water and simmer it for about 20-30 minutes after it boils. This will depend on the type of vegies you have. Some cook in about 5 minutes, some take up to 20 minutes...
Salt, pepper, seasonings to taste.
Add the instant potatoes.
Then mix up the bisquik and dump it on top. Simmer for a little bit with the lid on and turn it off. I usually set it in my hat or in a pile of forest duff as a cozy for another 15 it cools.

Chris Benson
(roguenode) - F

Locale: Boulder
BPL article on 02/15/2011 11:28:11 MST Print View

Mike Clelland's excellent Groovy-Biotic Cooking article includes a 6-day 2-person plan:

Edited by roguenode on 02/15/2011 11:28:48 MST.

Willie Evenstop
(redmonk) - F

Locale: Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem
We have gear lists, but what about food lists? on 02/15/2011 11:36:58 MST Print View

There are many nutritional databases on the internet.
type in your ingredients, get out estimated nutritional value.

Dug Shelby
(Pittsburgh) - F

Locale: Bay Area
Mine is coming on 02/15/2011 22:34:03 MST Print View

I've been working on mine for a while, but I've been gearing up for a PCT thru-hike, so it would be different than what one would use for a couple days.

I could post it later this week though. :)

Dicentra OPW
(dicentra) - F

Locale: PNW
5day PCT Menu w/ Post-Trip Notes on 02/16/2011 13:47:28 MST Print View

5day PCT Menu w/ Post-Trip Notes

5 Days of Food.

I didn't eat all this in the order posted. This is more or less just a guideline so I knew that I would have the right amount of food.

Overall verdict is more snacks. Especially carbs and flavored nuts. I was also eyeing Rooinator's pepperoni sticks and peppered beef jerky he had for snacks. I need to look into more things that I can eat while actually walking along.

Ended up eating trail bars for breakfast one day, and a PB Crunch Wrap for lunch on the last day. The tortillas got dry and a bit crumbly by day 5.

Day 1
Breakfast: at home
Lunch: salami and cheese (the little wax covered wheels)
Dinner: Pasta w/Chicken and Artichoke Hearts - excellent!

Day 2
Breakfast: PB Crunch Wrap - good stuff. Packed too much granola, better with the maple almond butter than the cinnamon PB (Justin's Nut Butters)
Lunch: salami and cheese
Dinner: Chili Mac - ok

Day 3
Breakfast: PB Crunch Wrap
Lunch: Wasa crackers and shelf stable cream cheese (eaten with more salami, pepperoni sticks or similar would have been better) - wanted more of this. Better than expected
Dinner: Unstuffed Peppers w/quinoa and chicken

Day 4
Breakfast: Cherry Almond Oatmeal - made with almond milk powder. Very good!
Lunch: Mount Daniel Wraps (black beans, cheese, taco sauce, tortilla) - 5 min to make and awesome! A little too much beans - the excess went on Rooinator's tuna wrap. He said it was good.
Dinner: Rice & Veggies w/ Peanut Sauce

Day 5
Breakfast: Strawberry Almond Oatmeal - made with almond milk powder. Very good.
Lunch: whatever cheese/crackers/salami and snacks are leftover
Dinner: at home/in car

Dried mangos - wanted more! MORE! MORE!
PB M&Ms - more! Good fast energy. Or similar candy. Snickers? Payday w/chocolate?
salted cashews - just right amount
California Crunchies (flavored almonds) - love these. More. I think I can reverse engineer these to be made at home too.
EmergenC x 22 - half would be more than enough. Overkill.
Luna Moons x 3 - more would have been good. Easy to eat while walking
1 mini chocolate bar w/dried fruit (Target) - more
1 chocolate cliff nectar bar - didn't eat
1 cherry lara bar - good snack
Just veggies - didn't eat.

Starbucks Via instant coffee - great!
Sugar in the raw packets
Powdered almond milk (only b/c I didn't have regular milk) - good. Really good in the oatmeal
Herbal Tea packets - great! Nice change from plain water and EmergenC w/dinners
1 dessert - Nutella and banana wrap - Made and gave to Rooinator. He said it was good.
Olive oil - only added to the artichoke pasta
salt & pepper packets - didn't use

Laurie Ann March
(Laurie_Ann) - F

Locale: Ontario, Canada
Re: We have gear lists, but what about food lists? on 02/18/2011 06:25:38 MST Print View

I love your line "give me flavor or give me death" - it's awesome and very much how I feel about eating on the trail.

The menu I would create for you would depend entirely on a few key points...

- style of cooking (would you be wanting to do the freezer bag thing or are you willing to cook in a pot or would you want a complete no-cook menu)?

- are you into backcountry baking (it's not super UL but jazzes up a menu)?

- do you prefer a hot lunch or the no-cook variety?

- do you like leisurely mornings or do you like to break camp speedily and get on the trail?

- how many nights will you be traveling?

- are you going solo or will you have companions eating the same menu?

- do you have any extreme dislikes, food allergies, or other dietary concerns?


- do you have a dehydrator?

So, once I know the answers to all that, I can customize a menu.

Dave Brunstein
(Aztazer) - F
Here's a Menu Plan... on 02/18/2011 22:02:53 MST Print View

BF Lunch Dinner
Sat --- Pasta salad Scalloped Potatoes
Banana Pineapple cake

Sun Granola Pepperoni & cheese Pasta
Coffee tortillas Brownie

Mon Potatoes Lentils, tuna & crackers Stroganoff
& Bacon Pretzels Chocolate Pudding

Tues Instant BF Bean burritos Chili mac
Coffee cake Corn chips Banana Cream Pie
Coffee Cool aid

Weds Grits PB&J & tortillas ---
Coffee Pringles

Power bars
Dried fruit
Corn nuts
Jolt gum

Jamie Shortt
(jshortt) - MLife

Locale: North Carolina
2.5 Day Food List on 02/19/2011 19:51:26 MST Print View

Here is my typical 2.5 day food list. Breakfast is usually eaten on the way to the trail. I would like to make it even simpler and less costly, but for now it works well. Even though it is only 20 oz/day I still have some left over on almost ever trip.

Food List


Edited by jshortt on 02/19/2011 19:56:30 MST.

Ken T.
(kthompson) - MLife

Locale: All up in there
Re: 2.5 Day Food List on 02/19/2011 21:01:35 MST Print View

You could cut down on the variety of snacks to simplify/reduce cost. What about some sort of jerked meat alternative. That stuff can get pricey.

Webster Jorgensen
(WebsterJ) - F

Locale: Kansas City
Separate Forum For Food Lists?? on 02/21/2011 12:58:02 MST Print View

What about a separate forum for food lists? One where people would post lists like the one Jamie posted in this thread.

I'm new to the backpacking world and have probably learned more from the Gear List Forum on BPL than anything else. Seems like a similar forum for food lists would help people build their knowledge quickly.

Edited by WebsterJ on 02/21/2011 12:58:38 MST.

John Castro-Rappl
(Jabber) - MLife
Lists on 02/22/2011 13:10:14 MST Print View

Food lists on the whole sound like a great idea; a sub-forum for them could certainly be nice, though I don't know how much traffic it would end up getting.

It's interesting that we spend so much time paring down gear lists when the vast majority of our pack weight comes from the consumables; higher efficiency foods = lighter weight backpacking.

Christopher Taggart

Locale: Western PA
Re: Re: We have gear lists, but what about food lists? on 02/23/2011 02:54:41 MST Print View

Ok, so where do I start? As far as style of cooking goes, I guess I don't have a preference. I have always just eaten meals which required adding to water and boiling. Then I add spices to jazz it up. I don't even know how to freezer bag cook.

I'm not really into baking. At home, sure, but not on the trail. I can eat a hot lunch or I can eat a cold one. I really have no preference here unless it's really hot and humid out. If that's the case, I would prefer a lunch that didn't require too much fuss. I work the midnight shift, so I am certainly not a morning guy. I need to take my time waking up and that gives me time to cook a breakfast.

How many nights will I be traveling? I don't hike for more than three days at a time. My work schedule just won't permit it. I hike with a partner 50% of the time.
As far as food allergies, dislikes or dietary concerns. I have none. I eat just about anything and everything.

My main complaint is that I don't get enough meat in my current backpacking diet. I'm a man, I need meat.

Laurie Ann March
(Laurie_Ann) - F

Locale: Ontario, Canada
meat on 02/23/2011 06:58:31 MST Print View

You sound like my husband as far as the meat thing goes. My writing a vegetarian/vegan cookbook frightened him... lol. I did find that he really likes things like lentils and quinoa so if there isn't meat I will use those sometimes. He needs the protein to help him feel full for longer as some veggie fare leaves him starving an hour later. I did include one meat-free dinner (the quinoa soup) as this is he-who-eats-much-meat's favorite vegetarian meal and I thought you might like it.

This menu is a modification of one on my website. It's also a real menu that we've used on trips. Lunches don't require using a stove at all - so fuel is reduced. The meat recipes do require a longer rehydration time. I use boiling water and cozy the pot/Nalgene for a half hour or more depending on the dish. I've included links where the recipes are publicly available but if you want recipes let me know. For the record - my food isn't as ultralight as a pack of Ramen, but it tastes good.

Many of my recipes require a little work in the kitchen at home and the use of a food dehydrator. In my opinion I feel that it gives me more control over the ingredients and taste of a meal and I really do enjoy the cooking part of prepping for a trip. We often make the recipe for a meal and the dehydrate the leftovers.

Day One

B - Harvest Oatmeal Bars
S - Dried Fruit and Almonds
L - Tuna Salad Wraps
S - Dark Chocolate
D - Quinoa and Spinach Soup
D - Caramel Apple Chai (this is a hot tea that doubles as dessert)

Day Two

B - Muesli with milk
S - Dried apples and cheddar
L - Roasted Tomato Dip with Pepperoni and Crackers
S - Smoked Almonds
D - Chipotle Pork with Toasted Tortillas
D - Chocolate Moosey Mousse

Day Three

B - Blueberry Maple Granola with Nido
L - Citrus Lentil Salad
S - Homemade Energy Bars
D - Spaghetti with Meat Sauce

Edited by Laurie_Ann on 02/23/2011 07:12:29 MST.

Sarah Kirkconnell
(sarbar) - F

Locale: In the shadow of Mt. Rainier
Re: Meat Lovers Unite! on 02/23/2011 09:25:31 MST Print View

My oldest, Ford, is like you - loves meat. He is Mr. Carnivore. We eat a mostly vegetarian diet at home due to watching cholesterol/heart healthy so I buy him Costco bags o' jerky to gnaw on. You can't go wrong with finely chopped up jerky added to meals really. It can liven up nearly anything.

One thing Ford loves when hiking is chicken salad. You can do it a couple ways - use canned or pouched chicken, freeze-dried chicken or dehydrated canned chicken. The pouches are the easiest really and IMO taste the best. At 13 and 6 feet tall Ford can eat a 7-ounce pouch by himself now :-O Anyhow, they are easy to make, no fuss and you get a ton of manly man protein ;-)

This blog entry of mine has a ton of recipes for said chicken:

Nothing wrong with weekend trips IMO - you can often cheat and carry a bit heavier food and not feel guilty. When we do 1-2 night trips I usually take string cheese, Babybell cheese, even a fresh loaf of bread from the grocery store bakery and some cream cheese in salmon flavor - I live it up. Add in some fresh peas or carrots to munch on, heck a rack of sweet green I said, live it up. If cold fried chicken sounds good for your first lunch, pick some up on the way out of town (carry a cooler in the car) and then pack it in your pack and eat a couple hours in! I often pack Ford cold pizza for first lunch out...he eats 2-3 times what I do!

K Magz
(lapedestrienne) - F

Locale: somewhere without screens
trail food will never be homecooking on 02/26/2011 11:03:49 MST Print View

I have a great deal of admiration for people who cook every day on the trail. When I'm at home, I cook up a storm--weekends, evenings, sometimes I get up early on work days just so I can make something decadent like blue corn waffles with blueberry-ginger-maple sauce. But out on the trail I become a completely different person. A minimalist, a functionalist. I leave my domestic instincts behind--or perhaps they shut themselves off after a few days in the woods. When I hike, I am a no-cook fiend; I don't bring a stove unless the temperatures will likely be sub-freezing; then it becomes worth it to have hot tea in the morning and hot soup (try instant miso--it's addictively salty) in the evening.

My primary concerns are ease of preparation and nutrition. For instance, I am a big fan of sprouted quinoa while hiking. Bring an airtight container, one you trust not to open and spill, and fill it with quinoa and clean water. Change out the water at least once a day, preferably twice, and after one or two overnight soaks the quinoa seeds will have cute little tails. Soaked quinoa has a higher vitamin content than cooked and is more easily digestible. Throw in dried herbs/spices of your choice, perhaps some Herbamare or lemon salt. Also very nice topped with toasted salted sunflower seeds, or curried cashew pieces, with some freeze dried veggies such as peas and corn tossed in... sprouted quinoa is an endlessly variable no-cook base. And remember, it is not a grain but a seed; if you feel over-carbed and under-proteined, this might be your best friend. Try quick-cooking quinoa flakes for breakfast in place of oatmeal.

Although I've been veggie for some years, I went through a fish phase several years ago when I was worried about my BMI being too low. Those tuna packets are great, and you can mix it up by bringing some salmon ones too. They contain everybody's favorite omega-3s, to keep skin, joints, brain, etc all functioning properly. My favorite method of preparation is a packet of olive oil plus some lemon salt, then roll it all up in a tortilla. I cannot overemphasize how nice lemon salt is on the trail. It has the magical power of making almost anything taste fresher.

Also--don't hesitate to bring hard cheeses. Parmesan and asiago, as well as alpine styles like gruyere, and that old standby aged cheddar, are great traveling foods, and a little goes a long way toward making plain pasta or crackers or what-have-you taste more like "real food". General rule of thumb: the harder the cheese, the longer it will keep.

Also, I always allow myself some fresh food treats that I know will pack well: apples, carrots, radishes, green beans, and snap/snow peas are all good options. If I'm out for an extended trip, I make sure that whenever I hit up a grocery store I grab something extra-special, like a ripe avocado (awesome mashed up with lemon salt--LEMON SALT!--and slathered on a bagel or tortilla) or a couple of pieces of fruit, and eat them within the next day to keep weight down and keep them from getting too bruised. I know my own body, and I know that the vites and minerals in fresh whole foods leave me feeling more energized than any protein supplement can. I always pack sea vegetables, like nori sheets, or dulse, for the same reason. Tons of minerals and a great easy salt-fix.

I concur with those who vote for more snacks. I rarely break out dishes and silverware for midday eats; I prefer having things to nosh on the go, and on a nice day I'll make several short stops to appreciate good views and snack on things like tamari almonds (can't leave home without em), sesame cracker sticks (ditto), dried fruits (especially figs and apricots), chocolate chips, and the occasional energy bar.

That's a pretty thorough rundown of my trail staples. Oh! One final word: bring tea bags for flavored water! I love green or oolong tea steeped for an hour or two in cold water; the flavor is smooth and refreshing and it's a good mellow caffeine boost.

Very few of these are things I prepare for myself on a regular basis at home, but they do the trick when you're out in the woods. Everything tastes better on the trail; I've never had a lot of luck testing out trail recipes at home because I am just never starving enough for the prospect of something like freeze-dried veggies or vacuum-packed tuna to be appetizing. The best way to find out what you like is to get out and do some field tests!

Dale Wambaugh
(dwambaugh) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: We have gear lists, but what about food lists? on 02/26/2011 11:31:39 MST Print View

If you are eating things like pasta and rice, it needs as much help on the trail as it does at home. Spices don't weigh much. Think about hot sauce, curry, black pepper, pesto, sun dried tomatoes, Kalamata olives, garlic, soy sauce, sesame oil, capers, anchovies, thyme, cinnamon, dried onion flakes, dried green pepper, seasoned salt, and so on. We "cook" more on overnighters.

Cleanup is the real measure of a recipe. My wife does a killer one pot meal with pasta, canned clams and jack cheese, but you need a jackhammer to clean out a non-stick pot.

Tim Zen
(asdzxc57) - F

Locale: MI
Re: We have gear lists, but what about food lists? Breakfast on 02/26/2011 11:37:59 MST Print View

I can get my gang out for hiking if I make sure we eat well.

Breakfast (cool weather)

Dehydrated hash browns (Hungry Jack brand)
Shelf stable bacon (Many brands available)
Home dehydrated red peppers and onions.
Eggs (yes we will pack fresh eggs, but we use them in the morning)
Olive oil
Fry it all up.
(The hiss of the white gas and the smell of the bacon makes it worth the walk)

Any weather
Complete pancake mix
More shelf stable bacon
Olive oil
pure maple syrup
(warm syrup in water heated for coffee)
Serve on toddler plates ( 70 cents and 40 grams )

No Cook
Powdered, freeze dried fruit
Whey protein powder (chocolate is a big hit)
Powdered milk
Shake, slurp and spoon.

E-mergency to wake up the water

Greg Mihalik
(greg23) - M

Locale: Colorado
Re: Re: We have gear lists, but what about food lists? on 02/26/2011 11:39:47 MST Print View

"My wife does a killer one pot meal with pasta, canned clams and jack cheese, but you need a jackhammer to clean out a non-stick pot."

I **think** you can pre-cook and then dry wheat pasta for use in a 'cozy' style dinner. We use a rice pasta that reconstitutes very well, and use an insulated Ziplock 3-cup container as the cozy. Clean-up is easy, even with cheese and tomato sauce.

Edited by greg23 on 02/26/2011 11:40:49 MST.