Andrew and I really like to cook. We enjoy doing everything from comfort food (wonderful Wisconsin mac & cheese), to difficult culinary adventures (like that time I ordered oysters on the internet and shucked them for a party). When we’re on the trail, we like to eat well too. I’m not a canned chicken kind of gal, but pre-packaged meals like Mountain House are very expensive for what you get and extremely salty. Assuming one meal averages $9, times two people, times 5 nights, that’s easily $90 for dinner alone. Here’s how we do trail food, including our 5 day menu for our trip to Isle Royale National Park.
Whenever we start planning a trip, I find that it helps out a lot to determine how many meals we’re going to have. If you’re going to go beyond pre-packaged food, you’ll need some lead time. For our trips, I tend to start prepping 3 x the number of days in a trip in advance. So, for Isle Royale, we had a 5 day trip, so I started food prep about two weeks in advance (5×3 days). Why so much time?
- It takes time to dehydrate food (up to 24 hours a meal) if you’re doing that.
- Repackaging things you buy at the store can also take a lot of time.
- We never remember everything we need to bring the first time we go to the store, so this leaves us some wiggle room.
Breakfast doesn’t need to be boring if you don’t want it to be! I’m much happier with an interesting breakfast and a boring lunch. For our 5 nights, we needed 5 breakfasts. We brought: 8 packets of oatmeal (variety of flavors), dehydrated hash browns, a bag of granola, 8 tubes of Trader Joe’s instant coffee, and 8 Clif Bars.
For some reason, though I’ve been burning calories like crazy, I am never ready to sit down and eat a meal for lunch. Andrew, on the other hand, is often ravenous. We never do a hot lunch, which works for us. For our 4 lunches on Isle Royale, we brought: 1 box of Triscuits (repackaged), 6 pitas, 1/2 lb Manchego Cheese, summer sausage, 4 individual Jif to go peanut butters, 3 Justin’s hazelnut butter packages, and 1 espresso hazelnut almond butter blend.
Snacks are my favorite thing to pick out for the trail. Because I don’t eat much at lunch (often a half of a pita with some hazelnut butter), I get exhausted if I don’t force myself to eat. I find it way easier to stop every hour or so and have a small snack. We brought: 3 Kind bars, 3 energy gels (for me), 6 fruit snack packets (Star Wars themed!), 3 packets of olives, Mini Babybel cheeses, homemade beef jerky, trail mix, dehydrated apples, and 4 Clif Bars.
Dinners are the big meal when to backpacking. We like variety of food and don’t mind taking the extra time to cook it. For our 5 dinners on the trail we brought: Trader Joe’s Cheese Ravioli with Boboli Pizza Sauce (easy to thin out on the trail with water), dehydrated pea & ham risotto, supplies for burritos (tortillas, dehydrated black beans, instant rice, small amount of cheese), dehydrated beef & broccoli, and dehydrated risotto.
After a long day of hiking, sometimes you just want a treat! We brought: 2 bars dark chocolate, a Jiffy Pop popcorn, 4 packets of apple cider, and whiskey.