View Full Version : Backcountry Cuisine Curiosity

Speck Lover
01-14-2011, 10:32 AM
I am curious as to what kind of vittles you take on extended backcountry fishing trips when you backpack in. Oatmeal, Ramen Noodles, Landjaeger, GORP, Cheese, and Mountain House Freeze Dried Meals normally wind up in my pack. For some reason, my taste for freeze dried meals has been waning for the past couple of years, and I'm looking to expand my menu.

01-14-2011, 10:59 AM
For dinners we typically take spaghetti noodles, a tube of tomato paste, and a pepperoni stick for a pasta dish. My wife does a fried vegetarian dish with potatoes, onions, & tempeh. I like to do a chicken noodle soup with canned chicken, carrotts, onion, noodles or rice, & bouillon cubes to make a stock. Lunches are usually pretty simple with tuna, or pbj. We like to use pita bread at lunch. Amber (my wife) is in charge of breakfast. She pre-mixes pancake batter in a squeeze bottle, tastes awesome.

We got tired of mountain house trash and oatmeal. Those freeze dried meals are expensive too.

Ramps, branch lettuce, morels, & trout make the menu when and where available.

01-14-2011, 11:01 AM
Speck lover, I don't have any good advice to give you! But, I am desperatly curious on what you just asked also. This year I had the idea of MRE's.

so just consider me a very curious lurker, who'll be reading the responses you recieve.

01-14-2011, 11:05 AM
Here is something that we always made when packing. Take a package of freeze dried green beans and a package of corn mix in package of Hormel bacon bar. It has fat and good tasting.

Note I don't know if they still market the bacon bar.

Another thing we took was pate' and the little bread that they use for orderves (sic).

Also smoked oysters and clams. All of these things have high fat and stoke the inner fire.

Rog 1
01-14-2011, 11:12 AM
Hate to give up on some of the luxuries of home....I will usually freeze a ribeye and let it thaw out on the way in....will usually pack a dozen self lighting charcoal pieces which will allow me to grill the steak...can also prepackage some sliced potatoes and onions in foil to cook with the meat....breakfast and lunch are generally simple....will eat fish one night with some instant cheese grits...in between I will try to find something in a package that is palatable....they even have freeze dried ice cream sandwiches for dessert now.

01-14-2011, 11:22 AM
these are better than mountain house but more limited in offering. I have been going fresh as much as possible just tatstes better.

01-14-2011, 11:22 AM
Done the frozen meat to thaw too. I have taken whole potato and onion to cut up and cook in alum foil. International foods coffees. small bottle of dawn or something like it to coat the outside of the skillet for easier clean-up.
Spam, peperoni, instant soups, drink mixes and the special flask have all found ways into the pack

01-14-2011, 11:30 AM
I have done the mountain house meals for years or ramen but recently have been doing the cave man aka paleo diet (just fruit, meat, and veggies). I was thinking this would be hard or "heavy" to do backpacking but it has been fine. I got a dehydrator and dehydrate all kinds of fruit, veggies, hamburger and rehydrate just like a mountain house meal but without the stuff I don't eat. Also I bring along frozen steak like Rog the first night and often some frozen sausage links for breakfast the next morn then stick to the dehydrated stuff after that. My last trip to cs 17 the other 3 guys I was with were having beer and potato chips around the fire as a snack and I was having red wine and cabbage which was pretty funny. I like being able to adapt that is all part of the fun and challenge of backpacking.

01-14-2011, 12:07 PM
Seems like i have been hanging with the wrong cooks. Usually is just me and my brother in the backcountry and neither one of use will stop long enough to make anything that would take much time. To bussy playing fly fisherman. :rolleyes:

To be truthful even if we had the time i dont think either one of us are much of a cook so we end up bring foods that dont take much time or effort. :biggrin:

We dont get but two or three weeks a year in the backcountry so even though the off the shelf pre-packaged dehydrated food are expensive overall for two or three weeks a year it is not to bad. I would look into making our own dehydrated meals if I ended up doing a couple months a year. :redface:

But like just about everyone here we have used the Mountain House and i dont find it to bad, at least it is easy, quick and a lot better now-a-days as far as taste goes.

Recently we have moved from Mountain House to the Enertia Trail foods.


About the same price, tastes much better in my opinion. Enertia i think uses a different process that does not last as long as Mountain House but seems to taste better.

I think i do remember a long time ago my brother once talking me into not worrying about buying any new Mountain House because he found some at the house that he wanted to use. When it came dinner time and my brother brought out the Mountain House I think it was like 13 year old. :eek:

01-14-2011, 12:26 PM
Tuna Mac is common because the boys love it. I hate cleaning it up though.

Ive made salmon patties:salmon pack, stuffing mix, couple of packets of mayo from the fast food place.

Keeping it simple, freeze a pack of sausages or brats, let that thaw in backpack, cook over roaring fire one a stick, wrap in warm tortilla and enjoy. I thought a pack of 6 sausages would be enough for me and 3 small boys, and I ended up going to bed hungry!

I do cornbread in a sort of "dutch oven". Not one of the real heavy jobs, just an aluminum pot with lid. Line it with foil,add water to the mix, and in 30 or 40 minutes, warm, awesome cornbread.
Cornmeal mix also doubles to bread fish if you caught any and for making hushpuppies.

breakfast, cant beat breakfast burritos! I bring eggs, green onion, cheese, tortillas, and a container of salsa (or packets from fast food), and sometimes a summer sausage to cut up into chunks. Great way to start the day.

Basically anything else you can put in a tortilla works for me. Tortillas are to camp food what duct tape is to home repair.

We do smores in tortillas as well, dont have to worry about crushing crackers.

Grits and summer sausage for breakfast.
PB&J rolls (rolled up in tortilla),also PB& honey dont have to worry about going bad like jelly.
Pepperoni and cheese rolled up in warm tortilla.
quesadillas (taco sauce packets, cheese, packets of chicken meat) warmed in tortilla.
Zatarains jambalaya mix is awesome. If you're making a fire, and not solely using a campstove the 20 minute cooktime isnt a problem.

I think having good food on a trip is a huge boost to morale, and even if it takes longer to make, I find the uplifted spirits from good food is worth the inconvenience (and pack weight).
Besides, it makes for better stories (legends!) later on ;) The boys still talk about our dutch oven brownies and cornbread, stuffed trout, tortilla smores, and breakfast burritoes. Dont hear many stories about how awesome those freeze dried meals (or tuna mac) were.

Speck Lover
01-14-2011, 12:26 PM
Ramps, branch lettuce, morels, & trout make the menu when and where available.

That my friend, is a 5 star meal! I really appreciate all the input so far and hope to see more. The old cogs are turning in my head now. :smile:

Jim Casada
01-14-2011, 12:48 PM
Since my wife and I have written a number of cookbooks (one of them, The Remington Cookbook, has a section on backcountry meals), I'm keenly interested in this subject. Also, those of you who know me in person might be tempted to say my profile suggests I've done plenty of primary research on the subject:smile:.
Let me add some thoughts, beginning with a statement that trout all dressed up for a feast in cornmeal dinner jackets, and accompanied by a salad of "kilt" branch lettuce and ramps (if you don't know what "kilt" is, it refers to using hot bacon grease and bits of fried bacon as a dressing for the salad), makes might fine fixings.
I personally think the weight of fresh potatoes and onions worth the effort. Cook the potatoes until they are almost done in a microwave before leaving home, then slice and fry them and you can have crusty hash browns in a hurry.
A grand dessert, and here the weight factor is low, can be made from dried apricots, dried cherries, dried peaches, or dried apples. Put them in water to soak before heading out for a day of fishing. They will be nicely rehydrated by suppertime. Place in a frying pan, dot with butter or margarine, cover with some crumbled brown sugar, add Ritz cracker crumbs, and heat until bubbling. At that point add a few dollops of dark rum, gently stir, and serve. Guaranteed to bring tears of pure joy to a glass eye!
After the first night, which usually features a frozen steak or chop, as others suggest, I lean toward fried fish at night. Maybe one night will be a slumgullion featuring noodles in a fettucine sauce with a can of tuna or chicken added, along with dried green peas which have had all day to rehydrate.
Breakfasts are usually grits or oatmeal along with blueberry pancakes and fresh egs (as with taters, I think the eggs worth the weight and trouble, and the same is true for a pound of bacon).
Lunch is gorp, dried fruit, PBJ, summer sausage, or most anything which is high energy. Someone else mentioned Pita bread. It packs far better than sandwich bread, is not as prone to crushing, and tastes every bit as good.
I've got lots of other recipes/approaches and generally plan out a full menu before the trip.
Jim Casada
www.jimcasadaoutdoors.com (http://www.jimcasadaoutdoors.com)

01-14-2011, 04:13 PM
Pretty basic for me. Oatmeal and freeze dried meals, lots of instant coffee, and some snack crackers and cookies.

Rog 1
01-14-2011, 04:42 PM
I am like Jim C. in that a little extra weight cannot diminish the taste of fresh food early and late....most of my backcountry trips are not long hikes so the little extra effort pays off...my buddy and I used to do a lot more camping than now...like Jim I love fresh eggs and bacon in the morning and fried fish at night...we would build a weir or mini spring house in the stream to keep the food cool...would cover the rock base with a large flat stone....only problem we ever had was one year a mink got into the butter and eggs and once it started to rain one evening before we could cook and stashed our trout in the "fridge"...rained all night and when we got up our food was under three feet of new water....mother nature has a way.

01-14-2011, 11:22 PM
We tried the freeze dried stuff and it wasn't that bad. My wife is in charge of the backcountry meal planing. We usually have blueberry pancakes and pre cooked bacon in the mornings. For lunch I prefer trout but if that's not an option I'm not too picky. Dinners usually consist of some flavor of soup followed by Zatarain's Jambalaya with Tyson's chicken in a pouch or enchilada's with the chicken.

01-14-2011, 11:31 PM
I have a 1.3 liter pot and it has a pot cozy some reflective bubble wrap I fry keilbasa sausage the night before a trip and freeze it and I carry a pack of Zatarans red beans and rice I boil the beans and ride slowly for about 8 minutes then add the sausage keep simmering for another 3-4 mins and then I set the pot in the cozy for 15 mins and it finishes cooking and it's very very yummy! I also taken a ribeye before wrapped in some foil and I pre fry it a bit at home then add some butter to keep juicy then freeze til the next morning then I usually toss it on top of my beers which the small cube of dry ice keep cold. Yes I take 4-6 can beers in a softside cooler. I also take a piece Texas toast wrapped in foil as well. Toss some canned corn in ziplock doubled up and you have a gourmet dinner.

01-15-2011, 11:49 AM
......neither one of use will stop long enough to make anything that would take much time. To bussy playing fly fisherman. :rolleyes:

That's how it ends up for me too. Plus I'm to lazy to clean the pans and what not after a meal. I take freeze dried bags; bars, dried fruit for snack and breakfast; and pouch 'o tuna for lunch.

But on the way home, its a double Whopper and fries!! Those taste so good after 3 or 4 days in the backcountry.

01-15-2011, 12:06 PM
I usually rely on MREs as they are filled with calories. They are a bit heavy, but they are great for less than 4 day excursions. They also have toliet tissue, coffee and some other interesting items in each pack. In addition to the MRes, I will take some dried fruit and beef jerky and instant oatmeal.

01-15-2011, 09:41 PM
Flavored instant mash potatoes
hard cheeses
beans and rice
dried fruit
mac and cheese
pancakes, regular and potato
power bars
hard salami or pepperoni
pre cooked bacon
Peanut butter and honey
fruit cake
foil pack of tuna and chicken
dry soup mixes
bull's eyes, jelly nuggets, and a big bag of oreo cookies :biggrin:
If I'm lucky, a few rainbows

I really don't want to do much cooking. Most trips I take now days I only spent 2 or 3 nights out anyway.

01-16-2011, 02:58 PM
Good stuff Steve. Those items don't weigh too much and yet they are very hardy. I guess it is all up to how much the person is willing to carry. I intend to try incorporating some of the instant mashed potatoes into my backpacking menus this year.

For me, I'm pretty lazy about carrying extra lbs, so I like to go on the lighter side. My staples usually include grits, re-fried (dehydrated) pinto beans, rice, and some sort of tortillas or bagels. The beans and rice together are really hearty and a few trout on the side will have you stuffed. If you want, you can use the leftover beans and rice to make some burritos that work great for a mid stream lunch the next day.

I always include a few special items that are worth the weight as a special treat (for me this means an avacado, maybe some bananas, and some almond or peanut butter. If its colder I might take some yogurt and plenty of real butter for my grits).

And most importantly I always take plenty of gourmet dark chocolate (dark snicker bars work pretty well too).

PS: you can take this light weight stuff as far as you want. My brother and I met a guy on the AT eating TVP and rice couscous hydrated together in cold water in a Ziploc bag! That would get old.


01-16-2011, 03:25 PM
The groceries might add to the weight going in but if you eat it, you won't have to pack it out. Good topic here.

01-17-2011, 11:33 AM
Usual dinner: Cut up a small amount of carrots, celery, and broccoli before I leave. Saute up the veggies in the grease pot, add water, spices, and bring to a boil. Pour mixture into a bowl of instant cous cous and add a packet of tuna or can of chicken. Can't forget the king size candy bar for dessert. I'm partial to Milky Way or Zero.

Breakfast is my favorite meal even though if is pretty basic. There is just something about being in the backcountry in the morning...The light, the temperature, the quiet, etc while I'm easting a bowl of hot oatmeal with banana chips and walnuts thrown in and drinking a cup of coffee.

01-17-2011, 01:29 PM
We've started scrambling several eggs and then freezing in a big ziploc bag. Ready to go by morning and helps to keep the beer cold in the process!


01-20-2011, 10:51 AM
Surprising what you can do to make a backcountry trip enjoyable! I find this thread to be very interesting. Thanks to all for the tips. I had a friend that, many years ago, felt that roughing it was staying in a motel with black & white TV!

Rog 1
01-20-2011, 04:56 PM
Surprising what you can do to make a backcountry trip enjoyable! I find this thread to be very interesting. Thanks to all for the tips. I had a friend that, many years ago, felt that roughing it was staying in a motel with black & white TV!

Once when I told a member of a committee that I was an advisor to about my upcoming backcountry fishing trip her response was that roughing it to her was a hotel without room service....now how far back will those Domino deliveries go?

01-21-2011, 01:51 PM
i second the steak and a few charcoal pieces. I also do bratwurst some.

craisins works well for me as a dessert filler. lots of breakfast bars, beef stick and tuna............ but the most important thing is the bourbon and streaam water........ dont forget the cigars either.

01-21-2011, 09:42 PM
the most important thing is the bourbon and streaam water........ dont forget the cigars either.

Your Cardiologist said to send me all the cigars:biggrin:

01-22-2011, 04:30 PM
I think on my next backcountry trip I will serve up a big mess of otter. Anyone have a good recipe? :biggrin:

01-22-2011, 06:13 PM
A good cigar always tastes best while sitting around a campfire.

01-28-2011, 02:01 PM
this year, i've been doing a bunch of filet mignons.......and pieces of chicken........

maranate them.......put em in foil............put in coals in fire.....

makes a great meal...........and one of our group typically brings potatoes to do in fire, and another will do noodles........so, it's a feast......

01-30-2011, 08:26 PM
Been a bit since I have visited the forums. Planning several trips down in coming months, and this is a great topic. Whiskey and cigars are a must for me!

My last trip down in October, I really enjoyed the Enertia Trail Foods (http://trailfoods.com/index.html) brand dehydrated foods. They seem to use more spices than other brands of backpacking meals, very nice flavor. They area all vegetarian, yet still have plenty of protein. I still added meat, such as canned lump crab meat to the Allegheny Alfredo noodles. The Max Patch Mac and Cheese was really enjoyable, I enhanced it with Hormel pepperoni minis and hot sauce packets (from Skyline chili).

I also still really like theMountain House Pro-Pack Lasagna with Meat Sauce, but the cheese in it turns to sticky cement, and I can't manage to get it off my spork until the dishwasher at home. I use this as dinner the last night of a trip.

Clif bars make good snacks and I carry them with me while fishing. I still enjoy instant Oatmeal for breakfast.

01-31-2011, 12:23 PM
Rog 1, I can see the Domino's folks- Does anyone know where Campsite 24 is located in Maryville?

03-25-2011, 06:52 PM
I have backpacked in CRAB LEGS, SHRIMP, CHICKEN STIR FRY and STEAK. The Mountain House beef stew is very good! I make breakfast burritos alot. Brats are good too! On my very last campout (last Friday) we had steak, ribs, crab, shrimp and salad. I do not ultralight backpack! I have carried heavy skillets and pots without trouble. On my Minnesota canoe trips I have baked brownies and pizza using a cardboard oven over charcoal. On those same trips we make breakfast burritos for breakfast, flatbread sandwiches for lunch and bagel pizzas for dinner. I have a big list of food for camping!