Backcountry meal planning – and cooking – requires a little more thought and consideration than the average frontcountry adventure: you’re a lot more limited on space, and less able to pack foods that can spoil. This can make deciding what to pack tricky – but I promise – it becomes easier and easier each time. These are a few tips, tricks and considerations that make planning your meals relatively easy breezy.
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You’ve got things to do – and places to be! The last thing you want to have to do is set up kitchen and take the time to cook a meal in the middle of your trek.
Pack lunches that don’t require any cooking – or if you’re set on a hot lunch, prep it at camp during breakfast and pack it in a thermos.
It’s possible to pack perishable items (foods that spoil quickly and/or are typically stored in a fridge) such as bread, fresh fruits and veggies, cheese, eggs – but:
Keep in mind that perishable items typically take up more space and add extra weight to your pack too – so they may not be worth the hassle. Certain fruits also leave you with peels or pits that you have to carry for the remainder of your trip… which can get nasty after a few days.
Although canned foods are non-perishable, it may be best to avoid packing them because they:
Note: this might not be such a concern for certain activities and trips where weight and super compact packing isn’t such a necessity (ex. canoe or kayak trips)
Why is it important to pack your fuel below your food? Incase your fuel leaks! It doesn’t happen often – but if it does happen!
If fuel gets onto your food, it’s poisonous and no longer safe for consumption. Not a good scenario.
Take snacks out of boxes (and only pack the amount you need), remove any unnecessary packaging, and remove any air from bags (reseal with tape or a clip after if needed).
This makes your food more compact to pack. It also reduces the amount of garbage you have to carry back out with you!
Make use of condiment packets you may have collected from dining out or on the go.
Better yet – invest in refillable condiment packets/containers so you can bring your favourite condiments and sauces (and to be nicer to the environment)
Spices can really amp up a meal or help add some new flavours to repetitive meals you may be having.
Tip: Fill and label a compact BPA-free pill organizer with your favourite spices – or mini sealable baggies -and store in your stove.
Pack your snacks for the day in an easy access spot such as a zippered pocket on your pack or waist belt. BUT avoid packing them in places where they can easily fall out (i.e. water bottle pocket)
Losing a snack sucks for one, but can also attract wildlife to the trail (and creates litter… no one wants that!)
(Making your lunch relatively easy to access is a good practice as well!)
If you’re travelling with others, split the gear amongst the group to:
Although it can be a bit trickier – or more expensive – to pack dehydrated or freeze-dried meals that only require boiled water (or add water and bring to a boil), it can certainly be worth it. Aside from keeping the kitchen equipment you need to a bare minimum, these types of meals:
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Hi there! I'm Bri.
I create and share nutritious and flavourful recipes for outdoor enthusiasts and adventure seekers.