Meal Planning: How Do You Do?

12:14 p.m. on September 24, 2015 (EDT)
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Hi Everybody,

I'm always looking to improve systems that are in place, how do you plan your meals when you're out-and-about? I'm not a build-your-own-spreadsheet kind of guy, perhaps I'd use an existing one... Here's what I currently do, using as example my upcoming annual lazy trip to Baxter State Park in ME:

Baxter Meal Plan

Wed. 10/7
Night run to CT?
Snacks, coffee

Th. 10/8
CT->BSP
Base camp @ Roaring Brook Campground
Breakfast, coffee, snacks, lunch, dinner 

Fr. 10/9
Roaring Brook-> Russell Pond
Breakfast, coffee, snacks, lunch, dinner (3 meals carried) 

Sat. 10/10
Russell Pond- Day hikes 
Breakfast, coffee, lunch, dinner (3 meals carried)

Sun. 10/11
Russell Pond- Day hikes 
Breakfast, coffee, lunch, dinner (3 meals carried)

Mon. 10/12
Hike out-> CT
Breakfast, coffee, snacks, lunch, dinner (1 meal carried)

Tues. 10/13
CT-> MD
Snacks, breakfast, coffee, lunch


Breakfast- 6 (3 carried)
Coffee- 7 
Snacks- 4 (3 carried)
Lunch- 6 (4 carried)
Dinner- 5 (3 carried)

 

I add in my specific meals as I go, using existing cooked/dehydrated meals, or plan according to my guests. 

 

Thanks in advance for your time and input!

10:36 a.m. on September 27, 2015 (EDT)
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I bring a breakfast and a dinner for each night of a planned trip, though I often come home with one or more because it was replaced with a snack meal. Lunch has been replaced with all day snacking.

I've tamed a lot of my stomach issues by eating small amounts often rather than focusing on big meals. Belly is too used to cycling where it gets fed every 45 minutes and gets angry if it has to wait too long.

10:42 a.m. on September 27, 2015 (EDT)
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Food is the one part of backpacking I really do not like.

I have been spoiled by horse packing trips and especially river trips where the food is fresh and we usually have some cold  beer.

The through hikers' template is even more Spartan than regular backpacking. Living on bars and Ramen noodles is the outdoor version of Hell.

2:37 p.m. on September 27, 2015 (EDT)
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I have different meal planning methods depending on the length of trip. For short trips, like weekends or a couple of nights, I usually just figure it out as I pack and hit the store for supplements on the way. I keep a lot of my staples in the house, including my dehydrated stash.

For longer trips, I draw mine out as a chart on a blank sheet of paper...days along the top and meals/snacks along the side. Then I start filling in the boxes with my favorite meals and snacks. It helps me to see it laid out like that so I keep the variety of food high and don't have similar items in a row. That said, I pack food by meal (a breakfast bag etc)not by day so what I actually eat and when tends to vary by how I feel that day and time. Haven't stuck to the plan yet...I used to worry that the calories, protein, etc were similar each day, but over the years have seemed to evolve to eating what feels right and it evens out over the trip. Those hard days your body knows it needs more...had two dinners the other week about 2 hours apart after gaining elevation most of the day.

I always pack at least one extra meal, usually something light like Ramen, and a few extra snacks, either for emergency or munching on the way home.

3:22 p.m. on September 29, 2015 (EDT)
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ppine said:

Food is the one part of backpacking I really do not like.

I have been spoiled by horse packing trips and especially river trips where the food is fresh and we usually have some cold  beer.

The through hikers' template is even more Spartan than regular backpacking. Living on bars and Ramen noodles is the outdoor version of Hell.

 Cold beer. Mmmmmm... There's absolutely no substitute ppine! I'm pretty sure it is somewhat common, but a good hiking pal of mine loves to stash cans of beer or growlers in a stream ahead of time. 

Short trips I find it easy by fully cooking meals at home, and dehydrating them. I've had great success having incredible dinners, i.e. butternut squash soup, spaghetti, chili. I like to mix in some (still real) food like a baguette, wedge of parmesan/reggiano, and whatnot. That little bit of real food added is almost as good as having a fire...

It would be incredibly arduous to prepare like that for a long distance hike, I don't think I could make it living on candy bars and ramen only to dream about real (REAL) food whilst making big mile days. 

7:45 p.m. on September 30, 2015 (EDT)
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I carry Ramen and some form of pasta, usually egg noodles or macaroni.  I crumble the Ramen up and mix it with the pasta in a big Ziploc bag, enough of both depending on how many meals.

I bring the water to a boil, ad the Ramen/pasta mix, remove immediately from the heat, cover, insulate with a spare clothing item like a Tshirt and let sit for the normal simmering time. In 10-20 minutes its cooked and ready to eat. No need to waste valuable canister stove fuel or even scorching on hot coals and having to stir so not to burn or stick to the hot side of the pan.

Pasta,oatmeal.ramen and other water hydrated foods can be done with cold water as well, just takes more time. I often place pasta about 1/3 deep in a large mouthed bottle, fill with cold water and let its soak while in between lunch and dinner meals. Then heat or just eat cold ( a way of eating that takes time to get used to).

I also make at home before outdoor trips my own instant rice and/or beans. Cook them normally, then spread to dry completely, then just add to hot boiling water and its done "Instantly". Making wild instant rice and multi types of bean soups made at home then hydrated in camp, easy as and cheaper than buying instant white rice or instant "refried beans".

April 9, 2020
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