Are you looking for new ideas for things to eat while backcountry camping? Take a peek at my menu for an upcoming 8-day hike along the entire length of the La Cloche Silhouette Trail at Killarney Provincial Park. I’ll be going in early May with my friend Cheryl.
We’ve done two 4-day hiking trips at Killarney now, the first time hiking 2 days in counterclockwise, then hiking back out, and the second time hiking 2 days in clockwise, then hiking back out. It was on that second trip that we realized we need more food when hiking compared to what we need for canoe trips! On a canoe trip to Killarney, we paddled from our campsite to the trail and hiked to Silver Peak (and saw a bear). What a beautiful park.
For our last couple of hiking trips, including last fall’s 38.6 km hike along the Highland Trail at Algonquin Provincial Park, staying at Faya, Harness, and Provoking Lake East, and this February’s 4-day snowshoe adventure again along the Highland Trail, we’ve been able to estimate very well our energy needs! We’ve arrived back at our vehicle with only our last day’s lunch and afternoon snack. So, we are confident that the amount of food we’ve packed will be just right – however, I’ll be reporting back in May after the trip!
Cheryl and I got together a few months ago to plan this trip, setting out our menu and dividing up who would prepare what. All of our food was assembled at home meal by meal, and labelled with instructions if needed (e.g. add 1 1/4 cups of boiling water). We packed lots of our favourite meals, but are also trying some new things this time!
Given that we will be carrying 7 days worth of food on our backs, we wanted to pack nutrient dense food that didn’t weigh a ton (it’s an 8-day trip but we’re not carrying the 1st day’s breakfast, morning snack or lunch, or the 8th day’s dinner and evening snack).
We each used our Excalibur 9-tray dehydrators to remove as much weight as possible and keep things fresh on the trail. Where normally we may have used skim milk powder, we used whole milk powder instead to have extra calories for the same weight. I added coconut oil to some things, more cheese and bacon than I might usually, etc. However, we’re not willing to eat bars for every meal, or pre-packaged store-bought meals. We want to eat real food, healthy food, and a variety of things! All told, our food weighs 23.6 pounds.
The recipes we used come from the following books:
- Backpacker Backcountry Cooking by Dorcas Miller (B)
- A Fork in the Trail by Laurie Ann March (F)
- LipSmackin’ Backpackin’ by Christine and Tim Conners (L)
- The Trailside Cookbook by Don and Pam Philpott (T)
Where a recipe was followed, you’ll see a (B), (F), (L) or (T) after the recipe name. The weight of each meal is also included in brackets.
Breakfast: at home
Morning snack: in car en route
Lunch: picnic lunch en route
Afternoon snack: peanut crisp (T) (151g)
Dinner: quinoa spinach soup and bannock, including bannock for lunch the next day (F) (502g)
Evening snack: dried fruit and chocolate treat (e.g. dehydrated banana + mini turtles) (97g)
Breakfast: strawberry peach muesli (F) (277g)
Morning snack: honey mustard gorp (F) (142g)
Lunch: bannock from night before, cheese, nuts and dehydrated fruit (276g)
Afternoon snack: peanut butter chocolate squares (117g)
Dinner: minestrone soup and cornbread, including corn bread for lunch the next day (F) (569g)
Evening snack: dried fruit and chocolate treat (88g)
Breakfast: oatmeal with nuts and dehydrated fruit (344g)
Morning snack: trail mix (144g)
Lunch: corn bread from the night before, pepperettes and cheese sticks (168g)
Afternoon snack: beef jerky and applesauce (115g)
Dinner: huevos rancheros (F) (237g)
Evening snack: dried fruit and chocolate treat (83g)
Breakfast: apricot/pecan cream cereal and dehydrated fruit (B) (518g)
Morning snack: quick energy bar (T) (130g)
Lunch: hummus, dehydrated veggies, naan bread (374g)
Afternoon snack: beef jerky and applesauce (117g)
Dinner: pasta with tomato sauce, dehydrated veggies and parmesan (280g)
Evening snack: dried fruit and chocolate treat (71g)
Breakfast: Canadian maple blueberry granola (F) (287g)
Morning snack: pizza gorp (F) (140g)
Lunch: peanut butter, dehydrated apple, sunflower seed, blueberry tortilla wraps (369g)
Afternoon snack: peanut butter chocolate squares (121g)
Dinner: chili and mini pitas with parmesan (324g)
Evening snack: dried fruit and chocolate treat (92g)
Breakfast: maple pecan couscous and dehydrated fruit (F) (290g)
Morning snack: quick energy bars (T) (117g)
Lunch: black bean dip, veggies and bread (278g)
Afternoon snack: honey mustard gorp (F) (140g)
Dinner: egg, bacon, cheese, and dehydrated veggie wraps (T) (302g)
Evening snack: dried fruit and chocolate treat (85g)
Breakfast: big river apricot granola and dehydrated fruit (L) (380g)
Morning snack: peanut crisp (T) (155g)
Lunch: tomato and toasted almond spread (B), cheese, pitas, dehydrated veggies (276g)
Afternoon snack: trail mix (148g)
Dinner: pasta alfredo with dehydrated veggies, bacon bits, parmesan cheese (277g)
Evening snack: dried fruit and chocolate treat (95g)
Breakfast: apple crisp (190g)
Morning snack: pizza gorp (F) (139g)
Lunch: carrot raisin peanut salad (F) (416g)
Afternoon snack: trail mix (164g)
Dinner: on drive home
In addition to the above, we packed gatorade to have at breakfast and lunch (516g), tea and whole milk powder for breakfast and 2 mugs of hot chocolate for each of us over the 8 days (325g).
Sometime soon, I’ll take all the bags out of the freezer, open every ziploc bag and make sure I squeeze out as much air as possible so we can actually fit all this in our packs! And speaking of ziploc bags, a concerned facebook reader noted (when I posted a picture of all our food) that we were using an awful lot of plastic bags, and that we should try to find an alternative. I agree. While we do use some of them to store our garbage during our trip, the vast majority are brought home. Some are thrown out (e.g. greasy ones) and some are washed to be re-used. But that’s a lot of water and soap to clean them. In any case, I did a quick google search and found this idea – wrapping food with wax paper using masking tape and a stapler. I will definitely consider doing this to cut down on the amount of plastic. Thanks Michelle D S for raising the plastic issue!
After the trip, I’ll do another blog post on the food, noting how far we hiked each day, whether we had the right amount, too little, too much, what we loved, what we wouldn’t make again, what we forgot to pack (hopefully nothing, unlike one particular canoe trip at Algonquin or another trip where someone forgot to pack utensils!!), etc.
UPDATED May 2016: Menu review here.