We're going camping! When this post goes live I will be happily paddling a canoe miles away from civilization in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area in Northern Minnesota. Although this is a canoe trip, I still want to keep our food weight down to make long portages just that much more enjoyable.
Freeze dried camping food sold by backpacking companies is expensive and is often full of preservatives and fillers that aren't very healthy. They way I see it, when I am burning so much energy hiking or paddling I want the most nourishing food possible. I also want the most delicious food possible, which is why I make my own camping food.
(If you do want to buy some premade camping food, the best company I have found is Cache Lake. Their fry pan bread is especially delicious.)
Here is my meal plan for our 6 day trip next week. You will notice that there are more than six days worth of food planned. This not only allows you to have some flexibility depending on what you have a craving for, but gives me a bit of security if, for some reason, I was stuck in the backcountry longer than I had planned. You will also notice that this meal plan is vegetarian; if you would like to eat meat on your trip, simply bring jerky or summer sausage and add it wherever you like or eat it separately as a snack. I do plan on fishing during this trip, so I am not bringing meat, but if you are backpacking and cannot fish, you may want to.
I also have not added amounts, because the amount of food each person eats is very individual. Do remember that you will be eating more food than usual, though, so pack more than you think you will need.
Just an FYI, you will need a food dehydrator to prepare the ingredients for most of these recipes. I swear by my 9 tray excalibur dehydrator, but any brand will do. I do not recommend using your oven as most are too hot.
I have included three breakfast options here. If you feel that you do not need such variety, feel free to choose one or two. If you are only going to eat one breakfast the whole trip I would suggest bringing oatmeal because it is fast and easy to make, lightweight, and can be seasoned creatively.
Day 1 Pancakes with Syrup
2 Oatmeal with Raisins and Brown Sugar
3 Bannock Bread
4 Pancakes with Syrup
5 Oatmeal with Raisins and Brown Sugar
6 Bannock Bread
I have only included two lunches as trail lunch is often quick and simple. There is no need to go crazy with lunch, especially because I doubt you'll be cooking anything for it. Tortillas are great for lunch because you don't even have to break out the dishes, plus you can put anything in them. I would eat my cheese first because it is at a greater risk of going bad, but you could mix it up if you like. If you don't eat cheese, just stick with the PB&J. I often eat snacks during lunch as well, keep them in the same, easily accessible bag. Scroll down to see what I pack for snacks. If you buy tortillas with no preservatives, buy them immediately before your trip and keep them tightly locked away from air in at least one gallon zip lock. If you are afraid to skip the preservatives but still want them to be a little healthier, go for the green tortillas with spinach in them.
1Tortilla with Cheese (and summer sausage)
2 Tortilla with Cheese (and summer sausage)
3 Tortilla with Cheese (and summer sausage)
4 Tortilla with PB &J
5Tortilla with PB &J
6Tortilla with PB &J
Dinner is the best meal of the day while camping so feel free to get fancy with it, just remember that you will most likely only have one pot and one skillet, so it can't be anything too complex. Having a variety of seasonings is essential for successful trail dinners. Bring the same basic ingredients, such as rice, beans, and textured vegetable protein, and season them differently every night.
1 Curry Stir Fry with Rice
2 Shepherds Pie with Gravy
3 Pasta and Tomato Sauce
4 Peanut Stir Fry with Rice
5 Pasta with Seitan
6 Sloppy Joes with Biscuits
8 Wild Rice Soup
Trail Mix WITH Chocolate
Wasabi Peas or Sesame Sticks
Here's how I make the meals listed above (except the obvious ones, like oatmeal and PB&J).
Bannock is a traditional flatbread that is made in a skillet and has been eaten by travelers for hundreds of years. I consider it to be a camping must have. There is nothing tastier or more comforting than fresh, warm bread when camping. Here is a basic bannock bread recipe, but feel free to add any seasoning you like. Some prefer sweet breakfast bannock with cinnamon or dried blueberries, but I enjoy savory garlic or italian bannock. I borrowed this recipe from Field and Stream.
2.5 cups flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp sugar
3 TBS shortening
1 cup water
Dry seasoning of your choice
Mix dry ingredients together ahead of time. Once you are ready to make it, add shortening (I use oil) and water and mix well. Fry in a greased fry pan for 5-10 minutes on each side. Serve warm with butter or honey if you like.
Pancakes with Maple Syrup
Pancakes are so incredibly simple and people totally overcomplicate them. All I do is bring whole wheat flour and add oil and water to make the batter. If you must, you can add dry milk, but I don't find it to be necessary. If I do add anything other than flour, I will add a couple tsp of baking soda and a couple TBS of sugar.
Maple syrup is pretty self explanatory, just make sure it is in a plastic container that is not going to spill in your pack. If you want to save even more space, you can bring granulated maple sugar and add to boiling water to make instant syrup.
Stir Fry with Rice
This is a classic camping meal that can be seasoned in many different ways. I make it two ways, peanut stir fry and curry stir fry. I bring:
Dehydrated Bell Peppers
Dehydrated Brown Rice
I dehydrate my own veggies, but feel free to buy yours from the store if you like. I also prefer to eat brown rice over instant white rice, so I make a big pot of it before the trip and dehydrate the cooked rice, making it cook much faster.
These are the basic ingredients that can be seasoned differently. To make, mix the dehydrated vegetables together in a skillet with enough water to cover. Let simmer until they rehydrate. Once they are rehydrated you can add whatever seasoning you like. To my peanut stir fry, I like to add vinegar (or beer or cooking wine), soy sauce, a scoop of peanut butter, oil, and peanuts.
For the curry stir fry, I purchase curry paste from the store and add it to taste. You can also use powdered curry seasoning if you prefer.
While you are making the stir fry, cook the rice in a pot. If you only have one stove and no fire, cook the rice first, then the stir fry. Even if the rice gets cold, it will warm back up again when you pour stir fry over it.
This is a great recipe to add wild edibles too, so don't forget to forage throughout the day. I like to use wild mushrooms or greens, such as nettles, in this recipe.
For the shepherds pie you will need:
Instant mashed potatoes
dehydrated onions or onion powder
salt and pepper
To make the "pie" mix dehydrated vegetables and potato together in a large pot and cover by several inches with water. Again, I dehydrate my own vegetables at home, but you may want to buy them.To learn how to make homemade instant mashed potatoes, check out this great blog post by Homestead Chronicles. Bring to a boil and then let simmer until fully rehydrated and cooked. The corn may take longer to cook than the other vegetables. Experiment before your trip and if you find this to be true, you may want to soak them in water in a waterbottle for several hours before dinner.
To make the gravy, mix dehydrated onions and water in a fry pan and simmer until rehydrated. Add oil, sage, salt, and pepper and mix well. To thicken, add flour slowly while stirring constantly to prevent clumps. Serve over shepherds pie.
Pasta and Tomato Sauce
This one is pretty simple. All you need is dry pasta, you can purchase any kind you like, and sauce. You can make your own pasta sauce or buy it from the store, but you will need to use dehydrator sheets to dry it. Make sure that it is dehydrated all of the way through and not moist underneath. You may need to flip it halfway through.
To make, place both pasta and sauce in a pot, cover with water and boil until pasta is done. Be sure to stir it while it is cooking so that the dehydrated sauce is not chunky. If you like, you can also add some dehydrated tomatoes to the mix.
Pasta with Seitan
You will need:
Vital Wheat Gluten
Seasonings of Choice
Mix one part vital wheat gluten with one part flour, a tablespoon of soy sauce, and any seasonings you want. Knead in water until it forms a tacky dough. Flatten small balls of dough and toss in boiling water. Boil for half an hour (or longer if cooking over a fire). Remove
Sloppy Joes with Biscuits
You will need (filling):
Textured Vegetable Protein (TVP)
Store Bought or Homemade Powder Sloppy Joe Seasoning
To make my own sloppy joe seasoning I combine onion powder, garlic powder, chili powder, tomato powder, dry mustard, salt, and brown sugar.
To make the filling, cover TVP with water in a pot and stir in seasoning. Boil until cooked through.
You will need (biscuits:
1 1/4 cup flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
3 TBS oil
1/2 cup water
I would suggest mixing the dry ingredients together ahead of time and packing in ziploc bags. Once at camp, add oil and water and mix into a sticky dough. Fry in oil on a skillet until slightly brown. If you only have one heat source, make the biscuits first and set aside.
You will need:
Textured Vegetable Protein (TVP)
Taco Seasoning (homemade or storebought)
cheese, dehydrated vegetables
Cover TVP with water and add taco seasoning. Boil until cooked through and all of the water is absorbed. Serve hot on tortillas with cheese or rehydrated vegetables if you prefer.
Wild Rice Soup
Wild rice is a great camping food because it is high in protein and cooks in just 20-30 minutes.
You will need:
dehydrated vegetable soup mix (carrots, onions, mushrooms)
bouillon cubes or instant soup
optional: dehydrated chicken or turkey jerky
Mix dry ingredients ahead of time of time and pack in a plastic bag. To make, cover with water and cook until wild rice is cooked through. You may need to add more water to compensate for how much the rice soaks up. Remember that wild rice will expand to four times its size when cooked so don't use too much.
I hope you enjoyed my meal plan and camp cooking recipes! What do you like to bring on camping trips?
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