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Prepackaged backpacking meals like Good To-Go or AlpineAire are great, but if you’re headed out for several days at a time their weight (and cost) can add up. Creating your own dinners for backpacking can be a creative and fun endeavor. Try out these ideas next time you hit the trail.
Quinoa Marinara Casserole
Quinoa is a great food for backpacking, not only because it is light but it’s also high in protein, magnesium, and fiber. A single cup usually generates 3 cups of fully cooked quinoa, so you won’t have to carry very much for a single meal.
Marinara sauce leather or powder
To cook the quinoa, you need 1 part quinoa to 2 parts water. Once you get your quinoa boiling on your camp stove, mix in the marinara leather or powder, vegetables, and freeze-dried beef. Sometimes I’ll carry a small bottle of olive oil (for additional fat) and mix that into my meals as well. Depending on how much fuel you have and the type of stove you’re using, you can let this mixture simmer until done, however if the weather is warm, I will usually take my covered pot off the stove and let everything rehydrate in the hot water for 10-15 minutes. Top it off with parmesan cheese and enjoy!
Ramen with Instant Mashed Potatoes
I admit, ramen and mashed potatoes sounds like something you might’ve eaten on a dare in college. But for a thru-hiker, this high-calorie meal really hits the spot after a long day (after day) on the trail.
1 package of ramen noodles (any flavor of your choice)
½ package of instant mashed potatoes
1 single serving package of greens powder (to make this meal at least look healthy)
Nearly all these ingredients can be found at your local grocery store, making it as easy to shop for as it is to prepare. Boil however much water the ramen calls for (usually 400-500 ml) and drop the ramen noodles, seasoning, vegetables, and beef in. Turn your stove off and let sit for 3-5 minutes (or until the noodles are soft). Mix in your mashed potatoes and powdered greens. Let sit for another minute or two then dig in!
Mac n’ Cheese Casserole
I originally got the idea from BackpackingChef.com’s Beef Stroganoff Recipe that calls for Annie’s stroganoff powder. Like the above ramen dish, this will be another hearty meal for big days. Mix the powdered ingredients, beef and veggies at home before you hit the trail to reduce the number of separate ingredients you have to carry.
1 box of Annie’s Mac n’ Cheese
1-2 TB powdered milk
Dehydrated ground beef
Bring 300-400ml of water to a boil. Stir in the pasta, vegetables, and beef. Again, if it’s warm enough outside, you may be able to let your noodles rehydrate off the burner. If not, simmer, stirring frequently to keep the noodles from sticking. Once the noodles are soft, mix in your remaining ingredients. If the concotion is too soupy, add in more powdered milk to thicken it up.