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Recipe quick jumps:   Dinner  Breakfast  Dessert

There are two basic meal planning strategies that canoe and backpackers typically use. You can plan your meals to the last detail prior to heading out from home taking only the items needed, or take basic ingredients for many meals and make your plans during your trip. For a short or overnight trip, full pre-planning is the way to go. For longer trips you may consider taking a variety of ingredients. All of the fancy pre-packaged dehydrated foods sold at the outdoor retailers have two things in common. They’re all expensive and they all taste bad. There are many foods sold at the grocery store that are excellent for camping trips. The best backpacking foods are light weight, packable (a.k.a. crushable), easy to prepare, and require little cleanup. Listed below are several poplar backpacking meals, many donated by club members.

A day spent carrying a heavy backpack several miles over varied terrain is not a day to diet. “Bonking” is what Tour de France riders call running out of energy, and this is not the condition you want to find yourself in case your day out turns bad. The old boy scout motto applies here: “Be Prepared”. Count on burning twice the calories you would consume on a normal day back home. GORP (good ol raisins and peanuts) is the traditional backpacker snack food of choice, and for good reason. GORP can provide more than 160 calories per oz of packable weight. Making it up yourself back home is always better (and less expensive) than store bought. Mix equal parts low salt dry roasted peanuts with plain raisins. Many people like to also mix in plain M&M candy, Reces pieces, or dried fruit. A couple fist fulls of GORP is rocket fuel to a tired hiker. Here Carbs are good. Just don’t over do it. GORP is also addictive. Take several small zip-lock bags of it instead of one large bag to help keep track of how much you eat.

Longtime Standard Backpacking Fare:
Snack Ideas:

GORP (see text), Kellogg’s Nutri-Grain bars, Fig Newton cookies, Granola Bars (ever try homemade?), Beef jerky, Dehydrated fruit

Breakfast ideas:

Quaker instant Oatmeal, Kellogg’s Pop-Tarts

Lunch Ideas:

Summer sausage and crackers w/ Guda or Edam Cheese (comes in hockey puck sized red wax), powdered soup mix, beef jerky, canned ham/chicken/tuna (down side is packing out the empty cans-drain well first)

Dinner Ideas:

Lipton Noodles and sauce (mix in canned chicken for great meal- serve with pita bread), Instant minestrone soup (mix in ham chunks or summer sausage), Make stew or chili at home and freeze solid in Ziploc bag. Eat first night out.

Other things to consider:

Tea bags (great anytime on cool days), hot chocolate packs, coffee, salt and pepper, parmesan cheese, sugar, olive oil, Bisquick mix, powdered milk, powdered drink mix (Crystal Light, Gatorade), pita bread, butter buds, Mrs. Dash garlic and herb

Dinner Recipes:

General Sol Cashew Chicken

Foil Pack Chicken
Korr Fried Rice
Simply Asia General TSO stir fry sauce

Pour a little oil in the pan, cook Celery, Broccoli and Onion. Add rice and water to the pan with the chicken. Pour the sauce over the chicken and rice. You can add it to flour tortilla or just eat it.

Serves 2 Cost $6.50, weighs 1.8 lbs.

Courtesy of Kevin Ayers

Pepperoni Pita Bread Pizza

Pita Bread 6-7 inch
Powered Tomato Paste/Pizza Sauce in Foil Package

Cook in frying pan, heat the Pita Bread on both sides, add sauce, pepperoni and cheese. Cover pan and add 1/4 cup of water to pan and the steam will melt the cheese.

Serves 1 Cost $2 Weighs .5 lbs.

Courtesy of Kevin Ayers

Lightweight Blonde (Chicken) Chili

1 5.5 oz jar of salsa (dehydrate), regular size, temperature of your choice
2 24 oz jar of Great Northern beans (dehydrated)
1 package of foil sealed chicken – no need to dehydrate
1/3 of a package of McCormicks White Chicken Chili seasoning mix

Prior to departure:
Dehydrate the salsa and beans. Use dehydrator (follow directions in materials). Salsa may take 6-7 hours and beans 6-8 hours. Or warm over to 150 degrees or slightly less.

Place beans in pan in a single layer and place in oven with door ajar. Put salsa in a second pan, but spray with PAM first. Spread salsa 1/4 in to 1/2 inch thick and place in oven. The drying process in the oven should take all day or all night. The salsa will look like fruit leather. It should be flexible, a little sticky but not wet. The beans will look hard and round. When done place beans in a zip lock. Roll up/tear salsa and place in a separate zip lock. Chicken stays in purchased foil pouch(es).

Package everything up in a gallon size zip lock and include recipe in bag.

In Camp:
Boil approximately 1 to 1.5 quarts of water in a 2-3 qt pot. Add beans to the water and set aside. Best to start with 1 quart of water. Tear salsa into small (2 inch) pieces and add to the beans pot. Let set for 20 minutes. Return pot to low heat, simmer and stir constantly. Add water as needed. Add the McCormicks mix.

Serve your vegetarians and then add chicken.

This meal can be enriched with oyster crackers, sour cream, shredded cheese, hot peppers, etc.

By dehydrating the main ingredients there is a considerable weight savings. A 2 pound glass jar of salsa will be reduced to a zip lock of 5-6 ounces.

Chicken Curry (Serves: 4-5)

2 cup Instant Rice
2 chicken bouillon cubes, crushed
1 pkg. cream of vegetable or mushroom soup mix (one that makes 4 cups)
4-6 t Curry Powder (depending on how spicy you would like it)
6 oz foil-pack chunk chicken
1 cup dried cranberries or raisins
1 1/2 cup salted peanuts
6 cup water

Prior to departure:
Combine first 4 ingredients in a quart Ziploc bag. Place peanuts and cranberries in separate Ziploc bags.

Preparation at camp:
Bring 6 cups water to boil in large pot. Add rice mixture, stir well, reduce heat and simmer 5 min. Stir in chicken and cranberries and simmer an additional 5 min. Remove from heat, stir in nuts, cover and allow to rest 5 min. to thicken slightly before serving.

Turkey Trail Dinner (Serves 5-6)

This is a great super-easy dish for COLD weather camping!

1 box Turkey Dressing Mix (easy one-step kind that makes 3 cups)
2 t onion flakes
2 cup dried potato flakes
4 T dried turkey gravy mix
4 T powdered milk
2 t poultry seasoning
1 t salt
1/2 t pepper
12 oz. foil pack chunk chicken
6 cup water

Prior to departure:
Combine first 7 ingredients in a Ziploc bag.

Preparation at camp:
Bring 6 cups water to boil in large pot, add dry ingredients and stir vigorously to mix well. Stir in chicken, remove from heat, cover and let stand 5-10 minutes.

Peanutty noodles with chicken (serves 3)

3 packages of ramen noodles (discard seasoning packets)
1/4 c. chopped peanuts
1 foil pack pre-cooked chicken
3/4 c. hot water
Chow mein noodles (optional)

1/3 c. unsweetened peanut butter
1/4 c. soy sauce
1/2 tsp. vegetable oil
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. brown sugar
Tabasco sauce to taste

At home:
Mix sauce ingredients in 1 quart or, 1 gallon if doubling, ziplock bag (not the kind with the slide top). Freeze if not using in 2-3 days. Double bag for safety. Package noodles, chicken and peanuts in a separate bag, with peanuts in their own baggie.

On the trail:
Heat 1 cup of water just until hot (not boiling!). Pour into sauce bag, seal bag, and immediately shake until peanut butter is completely dissolved and mixed. Give it a good shake every couple of minutes until it has cooled and thickened. If too thick, add another 1/4 cup hot water. Cook noodles and drain. Pour sauce over noodles. Mix in chicken. Sprinkle on chopped peanuts.

Noodles in a Spicy Sesame Peanut Sauce (Serves 5)

1 cup smooth Peanut Butter
2 T Sesame Oil (or Sesame-Chili Oil)
2 T Soy Sauce
2 t dried Onion Flakes
1 t crushed Red Pepper
4 T Seasoned Rice Vinegar (any vinegar will work but this is particularly tasty)
1 cup Chopped Peanuts
5 packages Ramen Noodles (flavor is not important)

Prior to departure:
Combine first 6 ingredients in a quart Ziploc bag. Seal and place in a second Ziploc bag (definitely don’t want this stuff loose in your pack!!). Place chopped peanuts in a Ziploc bag. Ramen noodles can be combined in a large Ziploc bag (throw away the spice packs) or carried in the original packages.

Preparation at camp:
Bring approximately 2 quarts water to a boil. Place peanut butter sauce ingredients into a second pot (or bowl) large enough to hold 4 cups. The easiest way to do this is to cut a hole in the bottom of the Ziploc bag and squeeze the contents into the pan.

When water is at a boil add all of the Ramen noodles (do not use the spice packs). Break them up a bit. This makes the dish easier to serve. Boil the noodles for 3 minutes and turn off the heat. Using a cup with a handle transfer approximately 2 cups of the pasta liquid to the pan with the peanut butter sauce. (Don’t worry if a few stray noodles go along for the ride.) Stir vigorously until peanut butter is mostly melted and sauce is well blended. Using the pot lid, drain as much of the water as possible from the pasta. Add the sauce and peanuts to the pasta pot and stir well to combine. This gets easier to serve after it sits for a few minutes. Scoop into cups or bowls. Yum!

Beef/Mexican Rice (serves 4)

1 10oz can Roast Beef
8 Small Flour tortillas
1 1/2 cups Instant Rice
1 1/2 cup water, plus more if needed
1 Zucchini cut into small strips
1 sliced Onion
1 Green Pepper cut into small strips
1 to 2 packages Fajita Seasoning, start with one, add more if needed.
8 packets Taco Bell Taco Sauce
Optional: dehydrated beans
Canned tomatoes and chiles (for salsa)
Oil for stir frying
1 large pan

To cook:
cut up Zucchini, Onion and Green Pepper in to small strips. (if you eat this the first night on the trail, veggies can be cut up at home)
Stir fry veggies in a small amount of oil or boil in a small amount of water, when done, add Fajita Seasoning, rice and water. Cover, bring to a boil, remove from stove, let stand until done. Add water if needed. Add meat (could be added after vegetarians are served), Serve a scoop in a tortillas
Chef – Linda Gibson

Bacon and Noodles

Package of Creamy Noodle Mix
Can of Hormel Bacon Bits (not Baco’s)
Dehydrated green beans or carrots

At home:
Cook and dehydrate green beans, put in a heavy freezer ziplock bag
To cook:
First thing, rehydrate veggies in the baggy by pouring enough boiling water over green beans to cover it. Zip up and set aside. Prepare Noodle according to the directions, when done, add the bacon bits. To serve, dish up noodles and serve green beans on the side.
Chef – Linda Gibson

Fried Rice (2 servings)

1 package instant fried rice
4oz-dried veggies (from Wild Oats or Georgetown Health food store)
canned ham or chicken
Packages of Soy Sauce, Sweet n Sour Sauce, Hot Sauce from your favorite Chinese Restaurant
At home:
Put veggies in a heavy freezer ziplock bag
To cook:
First thing, rehydrate veggies in the baggy by pouring enough boiling water over to cover them. Zip up and set aside. Prepare rice according to the directions, when done, add the veggies and meat.
Serve Fortune cookies for desert.
Chef – Linda Gibson

Shell Noodle Surprise

3 cups Small Pasta shells
2 cups Dried Tomatoes (cut in half)
2 Tbsp Powdered Shortening
3 tsp Dried Basil
1 tsp Garlic powder
1 pkg Mrs. Grass Onion Soup mix
1 pkg Uncle Ben’s Cream of Mushroom Soup mix
At home:
Mix ingredients in zip-lock bag and tape it shut.
On the trail:
Boil 6 cups of water, add ingredients and simmer for 10 minutes stirring occasionally. Remove from stove, cover and wait 5 minutes.
Chef – Lois Evans

Turkey Tetrazini (Makes 3 servings)

3 cups water
3 servings dry mushroom soup mix
1 can turkey (5 oz)
1 pkg Ramen oriental noodles
On the trail:
Mix water and soup mix until smooth. Add turkey and noodles. (Don’t use the sauce mix from the Ramen package. You can leave that at home). Cook 2 minutes and serve.

Sausage and Rice (serves 4)

1 green pepper
1 cup instant brown or white rice
12 sun dried tomatoes, cut into small pieces
teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon paprika
teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon thyme
1 teaspoon garlic powder
Smoked sausage or summer sausage
2 cup water
At home – Combine all ingredients, except green pepper and sausage in to a heavy freezer Ziploc bag
To cook – Cut sausage and green peppers in to small piece
Bring 2 cup of water to a boil. Drop in green peppers, cook until almost tender. Add rice mix and sausage and return to a boil. Cover, let stand until rice is down.
Side Dish – Pita Bread with butter and Ms. Dash Garlic and Herb.

Mashed Potatoes and Chicken

(2 containers will feed about 8 people)
Can of chicken (or precook chicken at home, shred and freeze. Should be used the first night on the trail)
Dried veggies (from health food store, Wild Oats or Good Earth, these are expensive so you might need to up the price per meal,
instant mash potatoes
powdered milk
butter buds (optional)
gravy mix (about cup per person)
1 med pan
2 heavy freezer ziplock bags
At home – Put veggies ziplock bag
Place instant mash potatoes, powdered milk and butter buds in ziplock bag. (follow instruction on box to determine the correct amount of flacks and powdered milk per person. Mark the amount of water needed on the outside of the ziplock, including water for milk)
To cook – Add boiling water in to the ziplock bag containing the veggies, water should cover veggies.
Start the gravy, stirring to avoid burning it. When it’s thick, add the chicken.
Add the correct amount of water to the ziplock bag containing the mash potato mixture. Stir with a long handle spoon.
Serve potato and veggies, then top with chicken gravy. Side Dish – Bagels with butter and Ms. Dash Garlic and Herb
Chef – Linda Gibson

Stan’s Mediterranean Curry Couscous (serves 4)

1 Package Near East Mediterranean Curry Couscous (very little curry flavor)
3 diced large Carrots
1 diced Onion
1 diced Zucchini
cup chopped Pecans
cup Raisins
At home – Cook and dehydrate veggies, put in a heavy freezer Ziploc bag (OR take fresh vegetables)
To cook – If you are using dehydrated veggies, first thing, rehydrate veggies in the baggy by pouring enough boiling water over them to cover it. Zip up and set aside.
If you are not using dehydrated veggies, add enough water to the bottom of pan to cook veggies. Cook veggies a little, do not over cook. In the same pan as the veggies, prepare Mediterranean Curry Couscous according to the directions, add pecans, raisins, cover and let stand for 5 minutes with NO heat.
Chef – Stan Curts

Pepperoni Spaghetti

Sliced Hormel Turkey Pepperoni (no refrigeration required)
Noodles and Spaghetti sauce (hamburger helper without the hamburger can also be used)
To cook – Prepare Noodle according to the directions, when done, drain. Make sauce in the same pan.

Ham and Potatoes (serves 4)

1 10oz can chopped ham
Package of sliced potato dinner (may require powdered milk)
Dehydrated veggies from local Heath food store with butter (or butter buds)
At home – Put veggies, in a heavy freezer Ziploc bag
To cook – First thing, rehydrate veggies in the baggy by pouring enough boiling water over veggies to cover them. Zip up and set aside. Prepare Potatoes according to the directions. Add Ham. Drain water from veggies, add butter.
To serve, dish up potatoes and serve veggies on the side.

Carrot and Raisin Salad

Carrots and cabbage keep fresh without refrigeration, so are great for fresh vegetables when you are camping. Purchase grated carrots and combine with a bottle of Italian dressing. Add raisins. Mix in zip lock bag.
Chef – Ellie Bachmann

Cheese Burritos – Side Dish

Place small flour tortillas in a skillet, warm on both sides, then sprinkle shredded cheese over Tortilla, warm over low heat, fold in half, serve.
Chef – Lois Evans

Dessert Recipes:

Dirt Pudding (Serves 5-6)

1 5.1-ounce package Jello Instant Vanilla Pudding Mix
1 cup Powdered Milk
1 1/2 dozen Oreos

Prior to departure:
Empty pudding mix into a gallon ziplock bag. Add powdered milk to the bag and seal. (I always use Freezer bags rather than Storage bags when I plan to add liquid to the bag). Transfer Oreos to a Ziplock bag.

Preparation at camp:
Add 3 cups cold water (purified!) to the bag containing the pudding mix and milk. Seal and shake and squish and toss and whirl the bag until the contents appear to be a mostly homogenous mixture. Let the pudding rest. You could put the bag into a pan and place the pan into a cold stream to chill the pudding a bit, but this is not necessary. In the meantime, mash, beat, stomp and slam the Oreos into a nice crumbly consistency.

Transfer the pudding to cups or bowls. The easiest way to do this is to cut a hole in the bottom of the Ziplock bag and squeeze the contents into the dish. Top with crushed Oreos.

No-Bake Peanut Butter Oatmeal Cookies (Makes apx. 48 cookies)

These hold up pretty well in a backpack if you pack them gently.

3 cups Sugar
3/4 cup Butter
3/4 cup Milk
1/2 t vanilla
1 1/2 cups Peanut Butter
4 1/2 cups Quick Oats

Measure peanut butter and vanilla into bowl.

Combine sugar, butter and milk in saucepan over med-heat. Bring to a boil and boil 1 minute. Pour over peanut butter. Mix vigorously. Add oatmeal, mix well and quickly drop by spoonfuls onto wax paper. Let harden completely before packaging.

Apple Dumpling Dessert (serves 3-4)

1 cup Bisquick
1 cup dried apples
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
2 Tbsp. oil
2 1/4 cups water

At home:
Put into 3 small bags: 1. Biscuit mix; 2. Apples; 3. Sugar, salt, and cinnamon

On the trail:
Soak apples in 2 cups water for 1 hour. If you only have one pot, you can soak the apples in the bag while you cook dinner. Bring apples and water to a boil in pot and simmer while you make the dumpling. To make dumpling, add 1/4 cup water to biscuit mix, seal top of bag and knead into dough. Add sugar/spice mixture and oil to apples. Cut off one corner of bag containing dough and squeeze dollops over apples. Cover and simmer 15-20 minutes until dumpling is puffed up and dry in the middle.

Dessert Cherry Almond Couscous (2 and 1/2 cup servings; this can also be used as breakfast cereal)

1/2 cup whole wheat couscous
1/2 cup powdered milk
1/2 cup dried cherries
1/3 cup chopped almonds
2 1/2 tablespoons brown sugar
1/8 or less teaspoon salt
1 cup hot water
At home:
Combined all dry ingredients in a heavy freezer ziplock bag
To cook:
Add 1 cup of boiling water into the baggy. Zip up and set aside for 10 minutes.
Chef – Linda Gibson

Dessert Fruit Cobbler (serves 4)

1 cup dried fruit (apples, peaches or blueberries work well)
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon, pinch nutmeg and clove if you have it.
1/4 cup bisquick
1 1/2 cup of water
At home:
Bag 1 tbsp of brown sugar with bisquick in a ziplock bag.
Bag remaining ingredients in another ziplock bag.
To cook:
In a large pan or skillet that has a lid, Boil 1 1/2 cup of water with fruit mixture, bring to a boil, simmer 5 minutes.
Add 1 tablespoon of water into the baggy that contains the bisquick and mix well. Cut whole in the bottom of the bag, squeeze over fruit mixture and cook for 5 minutes.

Breakfast Recipes:

Bagels (with peanut butter, jelly, honey or cream cheese)

To warm bagels, butter the bagels and brown in a skillet

Backpacker’s Breakfast Quesadillas

Shopping list:
2 ea/person Small Flour Tortilla (2 bags is usually a good number)
1 bag Real Bacon Bits (good for 8-10 people)
1 8oz jar Salsa or Taco Sauce
1 1lb. block Velveeta (Pepper Jack or Regular)
1 lb. Butter
Ziploc Bags (Small and Large)

Preparation at home:

Place 2 Tortillas for each hiker in one large Ziploc. You can include a couple extra, someone always wants more.

Divide the bacon up for the number of participants you have going, and place in a Ziploc:

  • 1/2 for 4-5 people
  • 3/4 for 7-8 people
  • Entire bag for 9-10 people

You will need to cut the block of Velveeta down to fit your group as well:

  • 1/2 for 4-5 people
  • 3/4 for 7-8 people
  • Entire block for 9-10

Dehydrate the bottle of salsa / taco sauce and place in small Ziploc

Place 1/2 a stick of butter in a small Ziploc

Place all of the small bags inside the large Ziploc with the Shells

On the Trail:
(Good to start with the first ones up as you cannot feed everyone at one time)

  • In a small sauce pan bring 1/2 to 1 cup of water to a boil, and then add the dehydrated sauce. Place to the side. You will need to stir occasionally to help it reconstitute.
  • Cut your Velveeta into small strips (Width wise) and you will need two pcs per shell.
  • Heat a skillet or frying pan over Med-Med High heat.
  • Add a small bit of butter to the pan.
  • Add one shell
  • Place 2 pcs of Velveeta on one half
  • Add 1-1 1/2 tbsp of bacon to one half of the shell
  • Spoon in a little of the salsa
  • Using a spatula fold in half and turn over
  • Serve and enjoy.

Backpacker’s Corn Cakes and Bacon

Total Weight: 10 ounces, Weight per Serving: 5 ounces, Total Servings: 2

Shopping list:
1 pkg Jiffy Corn Bread Mix
1 tbls Powdered Eggs
2 tbls Powdered Milk
1 tbls Butter
1 pkg Precooked Bacon
Ziploc Bags (Small and Large)

Preparation at home:

  • Measure out the appropriate amount of each of the ingredients for the size of your group.
  • Place the entire dry mixture into a large Ziploc
  • Place the butter in a small Ziploc and put inside the large bag.
  • Do not forget the syrup if you will want it.
  • Take the bacon from the store packaging and place in a Ziploc (remove as much of the air as possible) and put inside of the large bag

On the Trail: (You will need 2 stoves or to cook the bacon and cakes in rotation)

  • If preparing syrup do it first per the appropriate instructions.
  • Remove the Bacon and Butter from the large bag and set aside
  • Mix 1/3 cup of water per recipe in the bag with the dry ingredients. Knead thoroughly.
  • In a small skillet heat the bacon over med heat.
  • In a separate skillet melt a 1/2 tbls of butter in the pan.
  • Cut a small corner of the Ziploc bag off
  • Squeeze the batter into the pan. If it is thicker you can flip it and pat it down, or thin it out to more of pancake batter consistency.
  • Cook through and serve

Fruit Syrup

Recipe By: Backpacker’s Cookbook by Margaret Cross and Jean Fiske

1/4 C Dried Apples
1 C Brown Sugar
1/4 tsp Cinnamon
2 Tbsp Margarine
1 C Water

Simmer the apples in the water until they are rehydrated. Add remaining ingredients and simmer until sugar is melted and thickened.

Pancake Syrup

Recipe By: Backpacker’s Cookbook by Margaret Cross and Jean Fiske

1 C Brown Sugar
1/4 C Water
2 Tbsp Margarine

Heat until bubbly and slightly thickened.

Breakfast Rice makes 2 and a half cup servings

1/2 cup instant rice
1/2 cup powdered milk
1/2 cup chopped dried fruit
1/3 cup chopped walnuts or pecans
2 1/2 tablespoons brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 or less teaspoon salt
1 cup hot water

At home
Combined all dry ingredients in a heavy ziplock bag
To cook
Add 1 cup of boiling water into the baggy. Zip up and set aside for 10 minutes.

Breakfast Burritos (3 servings)

6 eggs
1/2 lb turkey bacon (or precooked bacon or Hormel Bacon Bits)
a hunk of cheese
3 tortillas
dried tomatoes
2 tsp powdered milk
a little water
3 packets of Taco Bell hot sauce
To cook
Fry bacon and set aside (near the campfire). In a bowl or pot scramble eggs, powdered milk, and little water and pour into frying pan. Add cheese (broken in small pieces), spices and tomatoes and fry until done. While eggs are frying, toast tortillas over campfire. Put eggs and bacon in tortillas and smother with hot sauce.
Chef – Lois Evans

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