A Recipe For Eating Well On The Trail

A Recipe For Eating Well On The Trail

By Adelia Ladson

When you’re backpacking or tent camping, you seem to build-up an appetite like no other time. And, as it’s important to get the calories that you need, a hearty breakfast, lunch and dinner is essential. Just because you’re out in the wilderness doesn’t mean that you can’t eat well. You don’t have to live on trail-mix and beef jerky, even if you’re backpacking. There are so many options and recipes out there to assure that you eat well when you’re on the trail.

Cooking And Dining Gear

The first thing that you need is a good set of camp cooking gear. One of the best sets on the market is the Kelly Kettle Large Kit. It’s the perfect set-up for two campers since it includes two plates and two camping mugs. The Kelly Kettle is designed to boil about 54 ozs of water within minutes, in all weather conditions, using the included Hobo stove. The kit also comes with a pot, pan, grill and pot support, which all store neatly in a tough drawstring bag, along with the stove and the kettle. Add to the set a couple of KA-BAR Tactical Sporks, which have a serrated knife housed in the handle, giving you a complete set of dining utensils. Then, for clean-up, include the UST FlexWare Sink that holds up to 4 gallons of water yet folds down almost flat for carry. You’ll find plenty of more uses for the sink apart from washing dishes.

Just Add Water

Today’s ready-to-eat meals have come a very long way from the military-issue MRE’s and ReadyWise Food has some of the most delicious and nutritious entrées out there. You can get kits, in different quantities, that have breakfast, lunch and dinner entrées. What I like is that they come in pouches that contain four servings each, making them ideal for two backpackers to share. Boiling water is all you need to prepare them and there are a variety of different meals. I don’t know about you, but I need a nice strong cup of coffee in the morning wherever I am. I don’t like instant coffee but Ready Hour’s Franklin’s Coffee doesn’t taste like instant at all. It’s 100-percent Colombian coffee and comes in a resealable pouch. Ready Hour also offers canned, powdered foods like whole eggs, whey milk and butter that make great additions to your breakfast fare.

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Make Your Own

If you don’t want to go the commercial ready-to-eat meal pouches, there are other tasty options that you can cook over your open fire or camping stove. You can put together your own meals, in zip-lock bags at home, to take out with you. There are many pre-packaged items at the grocery store that can be turned into hearty backpacking fare. I would suggest, however, to still invest in a can of the powdered eggs above for breakfast and you can find powdered whole milk at your local grocery store. Also, when you’re planning out your meals, don’t forget seasonings like salt, pepper and garlic powder. Maybe, look at already combined seasonings or mix your own to save space. Although, these will be packed in baggies, too, and not in their original containers.


A majority of your main starches can be found in forms that don’t need to be refrigerated, making them great for backpacking, and they’re a good source of carbohydrates for energy. They also come in instant forms that only require water and will provide a base to build your lunch or dinner on. You can get boil-in-bag rice and instant couscous. Pastas are a great base for meals, especially, egg noodles, which will give you extra protein. Stay away from long, thin noodles as they won’t pack well, but look at smaller pasta like macaroni or rotini, which can also be found made of vegetables. Also, look at pouches of instant potatoes, which make a great addition to a meal with a pack of gravy.


When you go to the aisle of your grocery store with canned meats, you will find a surprising number of proteins that are in lightweight individual pouches instead of cans. I’ve found different flavors of both chicken and tuna, which can be added to your pasta or rice. You can also find salmon, which can be used to make salmon patties, with the egg powder as a binder. I have also found pulled pork in an individual pouch, which would make a great meal with tortillas and refried or black beans (another good source of protein), which can also be found packaged in pouches instead of cans. You can also find canned bacon that doesn’t need to be refrigerated after opening. You can warm it up and serve it with your powdered eggs and toast that you pre-cooked at home.


Certain vegetables like unpeeled carrots, broccoli and cauliflower, radishes, onions and bell peppers, celery and mushrooms will last in your pack for a few days. You can store the unpeeled carrots, celery, radishes, broccoli and cauliflower in your zip-locks with a wet paper towel. Make sure not to seal them completely to allow for airflow. You can pack mushrooms and bell peppers in brown paper bags. and you can just drop your onions in anywhere they will fit in your pack. Vegetables that are packaged like the proteins above are harder to find and tend to be expensive except for sun-dried tomatoes, which can also be added to any pasta dish that you cook-up and will reconstitute nicely in water. I’ve also found tomato sauce packaged in small boxes.

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