When you’re carrying everything you need to get by for multiple days on the trail it can be challenging to figure out what goes in the backpack and what stays behind. If someone doesn’t grow up backpacking, learning to pack for and prepare food in the backcountry is often one of the most difficult skills to master.
Mountain House, a popular freeze dried food company, would tell you that you need to pack nothing more than a stove, a single pot and a lot of their meals. Though, Mountain House freeze dried Neapolitan ice cream is surprisingly tasty; if you are sharing with a group try to get your hands on the strawberry section first.
Other people might suggest taking ramen noodles and power bars, which is also a viable but bland option. While these ideas will certainly sustain a person for days or even weeks on end, they aren’t great at feeding much more than your belly.
My girlfriends and I have taken a bit more creative approach to dining in our adventuring. While we do sacrifice some space and weight in the process, we’ve decided it is definitely worth it. Over the past five years we have established some meals that are our must-haves and, with the permission of the other three women, I’d like to share some of them with you.
Our first morning in the Wilderness we treat ourselves to breakfast burritos. They have been prepared in 6” tortilla shells, wrapped individually in tin foil, and frozen the day before we depart on our adventure. Twenty-four hours later they have thawed and are ready to be heated and devoured. Eating a warm homemade treat that first morning makes carrying them through the first day completely worth the effort.
Hands down our favorite lunch has become Thai chicken wraps, but unlike the breakfast burritos we make these fresh on the trail. By spreading peanut butter on a tortilla we create a base that will hold the other ingredients in place. Next we add chunked or shredded chicken to the mix, and thinly sliced cucumber and yellow or orange bell pepper strips tossed to the top complete the dish. Wrap and enjoy.
We have experimented with a lot of dinner options over the years and we have learned a lot of lessons. Two of the evening meals we continue to come back to are a pasta, sausage, avocado dish, and a Stovetop stuffing, Craisins, and chicken feast. It can be a bit tricky keeping an avocado bruise-free and intact for multiple days in a backpack, but as long as it’s kept at the top it makes the trip quite nicely.
We carry a lot of traditional snacks as well, most notably our proprietary, super-delicious, custom trail mix. While I am not authorized to share the ingredients of our particular GORP, I do have a recipe to share. A friend recently gave me Dirty Gourmet: Food for your Outdoor Adventures, and while I was pleased to discover many new recipes I’ll be experimenting with this summer the one for black sesame cashew granola brittle stood out. It includes brown sugar, honey, oats, cashews, unsweetened coconut flakes, and black sesame seeds.
When you hit the trails this summer I encourage you to get creative with your food and try making a new meal. You never know, you might like it so much you want to make it again at home.
Julie Greer is a member of the Wyoming State Parks & Cultural Resources Commission.