View Full Version : Trail Menu

2007-06-05, 23:21
Hey, I want to start some discussion on trail menus. I'm fairly new to long distance solo hiking and am still in the process of learning/refining skills. I have posted my trail menu in the hopes that I can get some constructive critcism. I know most of you guys are probably ultra-lighters and know a few tricks here and there to "drop the weight". Most of the outdoor cooking books I've read are geared for large groups and their methods are really impractical for solo hikers. So trying to size it down has been a challenge for me. Anything you can add or subtract on my menu, recipes you know, methods, or even examples of your own menus would be much appreciated.

This is my menu for a ten day trip. Averaging 10-15 miles a day. Mess includes alcohol stove, pot w/lid, small titanium cup, and a spork. I plan to only cook breakfast and supper with one re-supply along the way.

Many Thanks, Big John

2007-06-05, 23:40
$32.00 worth of food for 10 days straight out of the grocery bag. Haven't broken it all down yet to fit into my mess sack. Just to let you know I'm serious. Be gentle...:ahhhhh:

2007-06-06, 01:07
I would look into freezer-bag cooking for the evening meal. A lot of us here like the Knorr/Lipton meals, they are tasty but lacking in protein. A foil package of tuna or chicken mixed with them solves that. I have a Food Saver vaccum packer for vege and game processing, so that is what I use. Freezer bags will work though. You'll need a cozy, I made mine from bubble wrap and tyvek tape, to "simmer" the reconstituted meal. I would avoid the pancake thing, too much time to cook and clean up, and not really all that nutritious, you need milk to go with the pancakes to get complete protein, cold milk is kinda scarce on the trail. Mountain house sells a granola, premixed with powdered milk, that is tasty. There are 500 calories in a package, it'll get you going, that is what I use to break up oatmeal monotony. No clean up of course with the granola, add water and eat out of the bag. Walmart carries a protein bar made by Cliff called the builder bar, this isn't the regular Cliff bar. I find these tasty, the protein is a bonus. They are chocolate coated so that can be a problem in the heat. You need to get out of the three-squares daily mindset, you should eat five meals daily, they don't all have to be the same number of calories but it doesn't hurt. They've taught diabetics to eat like this for decades and it is healthy for everyone else.

2007-06-06, 01:12
The hamburger thing for the first day is a good idea if you can keep it frozen till the trailhead. You can do something similar with an MRE entree, it doesn't really add weight for the first day since it is part of that day's water supply. Ditto for a resupply day. The trick is finding one you can eat. If you use the heater, disposal is an issue, since you'll have to carry that wet thing around until you can properly dispose of it.

2007-06-06, 02:03
I think your going to lose some weight.

As long as you are going to have a burger the 1st day why not have it the 2nd night too? Patty the burgers and then freeze them. Wrap them in a plastic bag and then aluminum foil. Take from the freezer just before leaving and stuff them into the middle of your sleeping bag. I have had burgers that didn't thaw completely in 2 days doing this.
How long the burger is good for does depend somewhat on the weather but it should be good for 2 days anyway. (If you add a plastic bag of ice you could go much longer - makes me nervous having melting ice around my sleeping bag though).

Add more protein. Tvp, jerky, dried hamburger, and add it to the ramen to bulk it up.

Tvp (textured vegetable protein) you can usually find at whole food or health food stores.

Dried burger you can make yourself - add salt & pepper, roll it about 1/4 inch thick on a oven tray (I line the tray with parchement paper - optional) bake in the oven for 1 hr. to 45 min at 200 F. Take out of oven, blot off any grease, cut into 1 inch strips and return to oven, putting them directly onto the racks. Crack the oven door open (to allow moisture to escape - I use a wooden spoon) lower the oven temperature to 150 to 170 F. Cook for another 1 to 2 hrs. When the burger is dry enough it should break when bent and there should be no moisture in the break.
You can eat this as jerky or tear it up and add to your meals.
-Some people break the burger up into little pieces and do the entire drying process on a tray (burger marbles). I like strips better.

Add olive oil to your menu. It's good for you (unlike most oils) and if you add a tablespoon to your mashed potatoes, or ramen you won't even really notice it, but it will give you an added boost.

You also might look into cozy cooking (adding boiling water to prepared ingredients in an insulated container and letting them finish cooking there).
-I'll gather up some recipes and post them for you

(I had put in quite a bit of work on a personal hiking cookbook. Decided to reformat it, and in the middle of the redo my computer had a hiccup - now I have to start from scratch.)

2007-06-06, 07:24
Thought of a couple more things I would add - Raisins and nuts to add some variation to the oatmeal. Also Tang for daily vitamin C and a morning sugar boost (cider mix doesn't have vitamin C).

I looked back at your list and your purchases and saw you already knew about the olive oil. I still think you could use some more protiens and fats. Maybe a chunk of pepperoni? Adds spice to the meal or a good snack. It lasts unrefrigerated for a very long time. And if it ever does start to go bad you just cut off the mold (seldom happens). Dry Italian sausage is also a good choice.

Thought I should give you this suggestion too.. you might not have this problem.. I do.. If you decide to go the frozen burger loaded last route, make a big reminder and post it on the door you leave by. There is nothing more disheartening than reaching in your pack for the burger and realizing it's still at home in the freezer (I've done this once and variations of it many times).

Here's a few recipes.
Don't know how many you can or even want to use, but they might give you some ideas.


2/3 C potato flakes
2 T powdered milk
1 tsp Butter Buds
1 tsp cilantro flakes
1 tsp dried onion flakes
1/2 pkg Alfredo Sauce Mix
dash black pepper
2 T bacon bits

Add 1 1/2 C boiling water, stir

Rice Pudding:

2/3 C instant rice
1/3 C raisins
1 tsp cinnamon
3 T powdered milk
2 T brown sugar
1/4 C raisins

Add 1 C boiling water. Mix well.
cozy 10 to 15 minutes till firm

Presto Parsley Pasta:

1 pkg Ramen noodles
1 garlic clove, minced
1 T parsley flakes
1/4 C olive oil
1/4 C parmesan

Add 1 1/2 C boiling water to noodles
cozy 5 minutes, drain
Add rest and toss

Potato Bacon Chowder:

1 T dried onion flakes
3 T precooked bacon or soy bacon
1 T dried carrots
1/2 C dried hashbrowns
1 pkg cream of chicken soup
1/3 cup powdered milk

Add 2 cups boiling water, stir
cozy for 10 minutes
If soy bacon add after cozy


(amounts per)
1/4 C dried burger
1/4 C dried refried beans
1 tsp taco seasoning
flour tortilla
cheese (optional)
1 pkt. Taco Sauce

Add 3/4 C boiling water to 1st 3 ingredients
cozy for 5 minutes
Wrap in tortilla w/ cheese and taco sauce

Beef Stroganoff:

1 T powdered milk
1/2 T butter buds
1/2 T tomato powder (or soup mix)
1/2 T flour
Dash of pepper
2 T dried onion
1 tsp beef bullion
1/4 C dried mushroom slices
1 C quick noodles
1/2 cup dried hamburger

Top with boiling water
cozy for 10 minutes

Quick Trail Stroganoff:

1/4 C jerky, chopped
1 T dried onion
1/4 C dried mushrooms
1 pkg cream of mushroom soup
1 T dried potatoes
1/4 C powdered sour cream

Add 2 C boiling water, stir
cozy 10 minutes

Mashed and Ham Au graten:

1/2 C potato flakes
2 T butter buds
1 1/2 T cheese sauce powder
1/4 C powdered milk
1/4 C ham TVP
S&P to taste

Add 1 C of boiling water, stir
cozy 5 to 10 minutes

Cheesy Hamburger Rice:

1/2 C instant rice
1/3 C powdered milk
1 1/2 T cheese sauce
1/2 tsp Butter Buds
1/4 C dehydrated hamburger

Add 1 C boiling water, stir
cozy for 10 minutes

Creamy Chicken Rice:

1 C instant rice
1 pkg cream of chicken soup
1/4 C dried chicken

Add 1 3/4 C boiling water
cozy for 5 to 10 minutes

Chipped Beef & Gravy:

1 cup instant potatoes
1 pkg beef gravy mix
2 T powdered milk
dried beef/jerky

Add 1 cup boiling water, stir
cozy for 5 min

Chili Noodles:

1/2 cup dehydrated hamburger
1 T chili powder
1 T dry onions
1 Ramen noodles (minus flavor pack)
1 T olive oil

Add 2 C boiling water
cozy 5 minutes

Beef Stew w/ Rice:

1/3 C dried ground beef
1/4 C dried veggie mix
1/4 C dried diced potatoes
1 T dried onions
1 pkg. brown gravy mix
1/2 C instant rice
1 T olive oil

Add 2 C boiling water
cozy 10 minutes

Potatoes and Gravy:

2/3 C potato flakes
1/2 pkg mushroom gravy
1 T powdered milk
1/3 C minced beef TVP or jerky
1 tsp parsley flakes
1 tsp onion flakes
1 tsp Butter Buds

Add 1 1/2 C boiling water, stir

I use a cozy that I specifically made for making these meals, but you can just wrap your pot in an extra shirt or anything else that will insulate it. - actually with some of these meals you might not even need the cozy as the water will stay warm long enough on it's own.

good luck.

2007-06-06, 08:19
-I'll gather up some recipes and post them for you
Thanks Dropkick! This will definately help.

2007-06-06, 08:26
You will notice TVP in most of Dropkicks recipes. This is a great recommendation. I even put some into a custom oatmeal blend I created. Helps keep me full. (For the record, I don't do the mega miler/10 day hike thingy, but...I do a bunch of smaller jaunts.) For the breakfast thingy, I just want to boil some water, pour it into something, eat and go. I use Carnation instant breakfast with a bit of instant coffee for my drink, and then my custom oatmeal blend. Ditch those store bought oatmeal packs, spendy, too sugary, but instead, take a walk down the bulk natural food aisle at the store, and make a blend of interesting healthier items, including: Steel cut oats, farina, flax seed, sunflower seed, dates, etc.... Then add some powered milk, maybe some brown sugar, and there you go....custom oatmeal blend. I keep my oatmeal in a ziplock, and spoon it out seven or eight heaping teaspoons dry each morning. Pour in the water, wait, eat. No muss, no fuss.

2007-06-06, 13:58
Here is a link with some of the most fantastic dehydrated dinners i found yet. Ive tried 5 of the dinners and wow. They are relativly easy to prepare(if you dehydrate), they pack down really well and they have a really good combination of nutrients.

I tend to add Flax seed & flax oils to bolster as well as dehydrateing meats to add because these meals are vegitarian( very nice if yer in that crowd)

you can caluculate costs pretty well as well and my last run of 4 dinners from these picks cost me $11


have fun...

2007-06-06, 14:39
Thanks Bdawg those are awesome!! Especially the Curry. I'm already hungry.

2007-06-06, 22:08
I just noticed that when I posted those recipes it took out the space between the directions and the ingredients. I ment for them to post like this (minus the dashes):

-----------------Curry Couscous:
3/4 C couscous---------------------Add 1 1/4 C boiling water, stir
2 T coconut cream powder----------cozy for 5-10 minutes
2 T dried veggie flakes
2 tsp curry powder
1/4-1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ginger powder
chicken or chicken flavor tvp(optional)

Instead the directions are right against the first 2 or 3 ingredients.
You can still use them and now that I've told you what happened it'll be easier to figure out.

Aww heck with it -- I'm going to edit and fix them.
I'll sill leave this explanation for anyone who looked earlier and thought "What does that mean?" though.

2007-06-22, 13:27
I have posted my trail menu in the hopes that I can get some constructive critcism.

This is my menu for a ten day trip. Averaging 10-15 miles a day. Mess includes alcohol stove, pot w/lid, small titanium cup, and a spork. I plan to only cook breakfast and supper with one re-supply along the way.

Many Thanks, Big John

Now that's an invitation! So here's my critique, intended entirely constructively, and based on my experience and observations:

I don't see any between-meal snacks. I munch on nuts, dried fruits, snack/meal bars every 60-90 minutes during the day. Some of my favorites are Lara bars: they're just nuts, dates, and fruit mixed into bar form. They come in a variety of flavors - Cherry (best), Apple, Lemon (tied for best), Pecan Pie, Key Lime - all very good. Nothing fake, no sugar added, for that reason, skip any of the chocolate flavors!. Also Balance Bars, Snickers, Snickers Marathon, etc. In hot weather, I also nurse diluted Gatorade all day.

Breakfast: cooking coffee and instant oatmeal (i.e. boiling water!) is about all I can handle on the trail in the morning, and I rarely see anyone else cooking breakfast. My personal choice for breakfast is meusli (raw oatmeal, nuts & dates), or granola with powdered milk, and coffee. Quick to cook (no cooking, just hot water for coffee) and clean up. In a morning hurry? Just a couple of granola bars will do. Pancakes are messy & time consuming, both for making and cleaning. Don't let me stop you if pancakes are your thing - but I'll bet you get sick of prepping breakfast after a few days.

Your lunches look great - mine are similar, but often lunch is just another snack with a longer nap.

Your dinners look good, too. Dinner is the time when I see more people put in more effort, even through-hikers (and by the time I'm seeing through-hikers in Vermont, they've been out for months already). I base my own dinners on 'pour water in a cardboard cup' soups or mashed potatoes or rice, and add dehydrated foods. I also like the instant Thai meals, similar to ramen noodles, but way better.

Dehydrated veggies and TVP from Harmony House make great additions to simple starts. Here's some of my typical recipes:

Pea soup: start with a dehydrated pea soup cup (Big Soup is the brand, I think), add carrots, onions, ham-flavored TVP

Pad Thai: start with Thai Kitchen Pad Thai, add carrots, green onions, mushrooms, and a small can or foilpack of shrimp

Bean Burrito: rehydrated black beans, taco bits, jalapenos, onions (all from Harmony House) and cheese on a tortilla

Chicken soup: instant chicken soup, added dehydrated veggies (carrots, green beans, onions, potatoes, etc.) and a small can of chicken meat

Tuna steaks in foil packs - add to ramen or mashed potatoes.

on and on and on! Check out the instant foods in the grocery store, and definitely look at Harmony House foods, then just mix 'em. I have a small nalgene jar with cap (6-8 ounces capacity) that I put the dehydrated veggies in with water mid-afternoon. By dinner time, they're reconstituted and don't need extra cooking.

For most meals, I add some olive oil for good fat & calories.

Check out minimus.com (maybe .biz) for single serving portion packs of all sorts of things (pb&j, dried milk, coffee, etc.), too.

Then, even in summer, sometimes a cup of hot cocoa after dinner goes down real nice.

Hope this helps:bandit:

2007-06-22, 14:12
Here are the web addresses:

Harmony House - great selection of dried foods, TVP, etc.:

Minimus - individual packs/servings of lots of goodies:

Have had successful dealings with both.

2007-06-23, 00:23
Deadeye, are you buying the ham flavored TVP, or seasoning yourself? Sounds like a winner.

2007-06-23, 06:53
The ham was their "hamish bits" pre-flavored TVP.

I bought the "super deluxe sampler" package. About $70 bucks for around 30 (some items vary with season) packages of dried veggies and flavored (chicken, beef, ham, taco) TVP. So far, it's all been good stuff. There's only a couple items that I don't know what I'm going to do with - yet - , so there was very little waste buying the big package. I didn't really stop to calculate if it was actually a better deal or not. Next time, I can just order specific items that I want.

2007-06-23, 06:56
Deadeye, are you buying the ham flavored TVP, or seasoning yourself? Sounds like a winner.

I've found that when I season myself, nothing wants to eat me anyway! :aetsch: (sorry, couldn't resist):biggrin:

2007-06-23, 14:19
You will notice TVP in most of Dropkicks recipes. This is a great recommendation.

...What is TVP?

2007-06-23, 14:30
...What is TVP?

It's explained at post five.

Most of my criticisms have been posted, but I'll rehash them.

Not enough calories or protein. Jerky and dried hamburger are easy to make.
Substitute hamburger's for steak. I almost always have a steak on day one. Just keep it frozen, and by the end of the day, its ready to go.
You need a much larger breakfast. It is the most important meal for any hiker. Add dried fruit to your oatmeal.
Scrap the pancakes. Who the heck wants to clean up pancake crap at 6:30 in the morning while out hiking? Not me.
Learn freezer bag cooking. Who the heck wants to clean at all at the end of a 12-20 mile day? Not me.
I'll try to send a .pdf file to you with a TON of recipes. Most are for 4 ppl, but almost all are easily broken down for just one.
Good luck and welcome to LDHing.

2007-06-23, 16:52
I'll second Amigi on the steak, a solid piece of meat is much more resistant to spoilage than hamburger. I just noticed that the Publix supermarket near my house sells dry ice, that could be useful for keeping the first days' food.

2007-06-23, 17:49
Thanks Bdawg those are awesome!! Especially the Curry. I'm already hungry.

Ditto, Bdawg! Some of those are going to work their way into this fall's trip.