I am often asked the question "what is your favorite menu?"

As far as a favorite meal plan goes - that changes so much for me from trip to trip. The trail food I eat depends on the length of trip, difficulty of the hike or paddle and the number of people coming with me.

Here you will find two menus for the same length of trip. The first menu (below) has some trail cooking techniques that require a bit of additional gear such as a backpacking oven. Then, if you scroll down, there is a second menu that has been modified to be lightweight and use an alcohol stove.

Below the trail menus you will find some additional tips and comments for backcountry meal planning.

(B=Breakfast, S=Snack, etc)

sample menu one

This menu requires a pot set, Outback Oven (or other camp oven) and a small thermos.

Day One

B - Harvest Oatmeal Bars
S - Dried Fruit and Almonds
L - Tuna Salad Wraps
S - Dark Chocolate
D - Spaghetti with Meat Sauce

Day Two

B - Blueberry, Hazelnut Quinoa
S - Fresh apples and cheddar
L - Roasted Tomato Dip and Pita
S - Pepperoni sticks
D - Chicken Potpie with Biscuits
D - Chocolate Cake (for a camp mate's birthday)

Day Three

B - Granola with fresh yogurt and fruit
S - Gorp
L - Black Bean Dip with Pita
S - Homemade Energy Bars
D - Trail Pizza

Day Four

B - Homemade Energy Bars
S - Frunola Bars (these are purchased from Kettle Valley)
L - Citrus Lentil Salad
S - Smoked Almonds and white cheddar
D - Black Bean, Corn and Sweet Potato Soup


sample menu two

Now, as promised, the same menu but modified to suit a quick breakfast and using a single pot instead of a pot set. It also removes the need for a backpacking oven and thermos (used to make yogurt on the trail).

All of the lunches in this modified menu are easy and don't require the use of a stove. I don't like to have to haul the stove out of my pack at lunchtime. You could even get away with an alcohol stove using the menu below.

Day One

B - Harvest Oatmeal Bars
S - Dried Fruit and Almonds
L - Tuna Salad Wraps
S - Dark Chocolate
D - Chicken Stew with Dumplings
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 and Pita
S - Pepperoni sticks
D - Black Bean, Corn and Sweet Potato Soup


Day Three

B - Blueberry Maple Granola with Nido
S - Gorp
L - Citrus Lentil Salad
S - Homemade Energy Bars
D - Minestrone
D - Chocolate Moosey Mousse

Day Four

B - Homemade Energy Bars
S - Frunola Bars (these are purchased from Kettle Valley)
L - Black Bean Dip with Pita
S - Smoked Almonds and white cheddar
D - Spaghetti with Meat Sauce



So as you can see it it pretty easy to switch it up to suit the trip and person. Additional days are merely variations of the same but with different recipes.


some general advice and comments...

  • make sure you taste the meals at home to see if you like them (everyone in your group should be included in this)
  • homemade energy bars made with a high energy cereal (Kellogg's Vector for example) will keep you going longer than something like instant oatmeal and one batch can be split up over a trip
  • when cooking pasta on the trail you can rehydrate your sauce in a container, cook your pasta in the pot and once drained add the sauce to give it a quick heating
  • if you don't want to cook pasta on the trail then cook it at home and rehydrate it with hot water at camp (but I still prefer to cook pasta at camp without dehydrating it as has better texture)
  • eat the heavier dinners earlier in the trip (example the Chicken Stew with dumplings)
  • save more complex breakfasts for layover days or short hiking days

  • supplement your trail menu with nuts, gorp, and other snacks to ensure you are getting enough calories
  • when drying foods you can always dry enough for more than one trip and put it in the freezer so you have it on hand for impromptu backpacking or padding adventures
  • if you aren't big on desserts just omit those entries (we like to spoil ourselves with desserts on trips - my partner refers to it as his "essential luxury")
  • be well aware of serving sizes when you are planning the food so that the meals are hearty enough but you don't have a lot of waste either
© 2008 Laurie Ann March  
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