HOW TO MEAL PLAN FOR YOUR BACKPACKING TRIP

Summer is here and it’s time to get out there and explore.  But planning for a backpacking trip can be daunting.  There’s just so much to think about!  And most importantly, what are we eating? Here are some tips and checklists to make the day before your trip as easy as possible AND make your journey a safe and memorable one.  

Any trip plan should begin with the 10 essentials.  Don’t skimp on these and always be prepared. 

Additionally, it is always a good reminder to recreate responsibly and follow Leave No Trace principles so we can leave the outdoors as good as we found it. 

Through my treks, I have put together a few handy checklists to put you on the path to a great experience.  Check them out below! 

Since I’m an outdoor chef I put a lot of emphasis on the meal plan for the trip.  I know some folks just throw some bars, jerky and a few packaged meals into their pack and call it good, but for me, I’m looking for variety, texture and flavor to help refuel me and my crew with something tasty and satisfying after a long day.  

At MONTyBOCA we cook outside for every trip and almost every meal because it tastes great, it’s totally worth it, and it’s not nearly as hard as you might think it is. 

But, there are a lot of sizes of trips out there.   

How do you plan for a Solo Trip / 2 person / 4 person / 5+ person / Young Family Trip? 

Follow along as we work through common challenges and share ways to help you forge the meal planning river.  

With any trip my first question is:  What’s the water situation? 

Is there water consistently available?   

Yes –  Awesome, you can cook anything and you’ll be nice and hydrated. 

No –  Then you really have to be mindful of water for drinking and packing recipes that are light on water for cooking/coffee/tea. Check out this link for low water specific recipes

My next question is: Dietary restrictions?

They can be a real challenge. Do you make everything Gluten Free or Vegetarian for just one person?  That’s a question you will have to ask your group but I will say it’s always easier to ADD meat and dairy rather than take away. Gluten Free breads/crackers are pretty available now with not too much extra work.  Don’t shake your head at field roast or soy based “meats.”  They are pretty solid and once in a recipe you will never know it’s a soybean rather than a cow.

All recipes shared below are available at www.montyboca.com/recipes 

SOLO TRIP 

It may seem a little scary, but a solo trip is one of the best experiences you can have outdoors (check out this article of my 50+ mile solo trip in 2019).  

The challenge: You, and only you, are carrying everything. Recipes need to be light and versatile. 

Recipe Suggestions:  

Cheddar Grits 

Breakfast Burritos 

Cuban Black Bean Soup 

__________________________________________________________________ 

2 PERSON TRIP 

The challenge:  Not too many.   

A 2 person trip is pretty easy to plan for.   But overall weight and volume of ingredients is something to be mindful of.   

You only need one stove.  Just a few recipes and some snacks to keep you moving. 

Recipe Suggestions: 

Sweet and Salty Asian Noodles (w/ campy chopsticks…whittle some twigs!) 

Apple Pear Crisp 

Breakfast Rice 

__________________________________________________________________ 

4 PERSON TRIP 

The challenge: Everyone’s used to doing their own thing…..coordinating a plan.    

Amount of food to keep everyone full and happy.   

When you get to 4 people, a typical way to trip plan is to pack your own dehydrated foods and use one or two personal sized stoves to boil water for everyone’s bagged meal.  For a cheaper, tastier, and overall better experience, coordinating family style meals is the way to go!  You can have a fresher, heartier flavor than those bagged classics with our CLASSICS ELEVATED RECIPES or theme your recipes for a Mexican or Asian night.  Share the load and cook up something memorable!  Overall weight per person can be around 5 lbs + snacks. 

Pack one large capacity (2+ L) or two smaller capacity (1+ L) burners and pots and share the prep and cooking duties.  Two pots are helpful for mornings – one stove can be for hot water, another can be for starting breakfast.   

Recipe Suggestions: 

Tamale Bowl 

Blueberry Lemon Rice Crispy Bowl 

Mango Fried Rice 

______________________________________________________________________ 

4 PERSON YOUNG FAMILY 

The challenge:  Picky eaters, dietary restrictions, new campers. 

The kiddos barely want to leave the couch let alone their electronics.  Keeping them happy for a weekend camping trip is going to be tough.  Also, meal cooking can take a long time.  When a melt down is happening, you need something NOW or else you might be going home! MONTyBOCA has a bunch of kiddo friendly recipes for fast, tasty meals.  All recipes are ready in 30 min or less! 

If there are dietary restrictions like dairy or gluten, we have some great options to search through.  You know your camper on what they will or won’t eat, but it’s probably NOT the time to go adventuring into the culinary backpack for something fancy. 

Keep it simple.  Keep it tasty.  And rest assured they will be excited about the next trip if their belly was happy on this one.    

Recipe Suggestions: 

Not Boxed Mac and Cheese 

5 Min Marinara 

Chocolate Marshmallow Fondue (with Campy Fondue Sticks…whittle some twigs!) 

___________________________________________________________________ 

5+ PERSON TRIP 

The challenges:   Amount of total food to fill everyone up and keeping everyones’ taste buds happy.   

The main difference between 4 people and 5+ is quantity and meal planning.  You are going to need more of everything to make sure everyone’s belly is happy. It may be easier for everyone to go it alone, but it’s more fun to cook and plan together. Again, the great part about group meal planning is that you can share the load for everything!  Cost, weight, cooking and cleaning duties (this is how most professional guide services operate).  And everyones’ bellies are happier when they’re fueled with better ingredients. 

My suggestion for the 5-8 person trips is to take TWO high capacity (2+L) stoves 

This helps for a couple of reasons: 

  1. Morning beverages are fast with larger capacity pots.  
  1. You can double up on recipes or theme night your meals to feed your group.   

Example:  We went on a MONTyBOCA testing trip with 6 people.  We packed two stoves and spread the weight of ingredients evenly across the group.  One night, we doubled up on a Stroganoff Recipe that fed the whole crew no problem (most MONTyBOCA recipes are meant to produce 4 servings).  Another night we had an Asian night with mango fried rice and wonton dumpling bowl.  Then warmed up some sake for a campy night capper.  Amazing. 

Recipe Suggestions: 

Lasagna w “meat sauce” 

Jambalaya 

Pad Thai 

Caramelized Banana Nilla Wafer Bowl 

Lastly, always ALWAYS remember to pack it out!   All recipes available at www.montyboca.com/recipes 

No –Then you really have to be mindful of water for drinking and packing recipes that are light on water for cooking/coffee/tea. Check out this link for low water specific recipes.My next question is: Dietary restrictions.They can be a real challenge. Do you make everything Gluten Free or Vegetarian for just one person? That’s a question you will have to ask your group but I will say it’s always easier to ADD meat and dairy rather than takeaway. Gluten Free breads/crackers are pretty available now with not too much extra work. Don’t shake your head at field roast or soy based “meats.” They are pretty solid and once in a recipe you will never know it’s a soybean rather than a cow. Added bonus: pretty bulletproof hanging out in your pack for a couple days.All recipes shared below are available at www.montyboca.com/recipesSOLO TRIPIt may seem a little scary, but a solo trip is one of the best experiences you can have outdoors (check out this articleof my 50+ mile solo trip in 2019). The challenge: You, and only you, are carrying everything. Recipes need to be light and versatile.Recipe Suggestions: Cheddar GritsBreakfast BurritosCuban Black Bean Soup__________________________________________________________________2 PERSON TRIPThe challenge: Not too many. A 2 person trip is pretty easy to plan for. But overall weight and volume of ingredients is something to be mindful of. You only need one stove. Just a few recipes and some snacks to keep you moving.Recipe Suggestions:Sweet and Salty Asian Noodles (w/ campy chopsticks…whittle some twigs!)Apple Pear CrispBreakfast Rice__________________________________________________________________4 PERSON TRIPThe challenge:Everyone’s used to doing their own thing…..coordinating a plan. Amount of food to keep everyone full and happy. When you get to 4 people, a typical way to trip plan is to pack your own dehydrated foods and use one or two personal sized stoves to boil water for everyone’s bagged meal. For a cheaper, tastier, and overall better experience, coordinating family style meals is the way to go! You can have a fresher, heartier flavor than those bagged classics with our CLASSICS ELEVATED RECIPESor theme your recipes for a Mexican or Asian night. Share the load and cook up something memorable! Overall weight per person can be around 5 lbs + snacks.Pack one large capacity (2+ L) or two smaller capacity (1+ L) burners and pots and share the prep and cooking duties. Two pots are helpful for mornings –one stove can be for hot water, another can be for starting breakfast. Recipe Suggestions:Tamale BowlBlueberry Lemon Rice Crispy BowlMango Fried Rice______________________________________________________________________4 PERSON YOUNG FAMILYThe challenge:Picky eaters, dietary restrictions, new campers.The kiddos barely want to leave the couch let alone their electronics. Keeping them happy for a weekend camping trip is going to be tough. Also, meal cooking can take a long time. When a melt down is happening, you need something NOW or else you might be going home! MONTyBOCA has a bunch of kiddo friendly recipes for fast, tasty meals. All recipesare ready in 30 min or less!If there are dietary restrictions like dairy or gluten, we have some great options to search through. You know your camper on what they will or won’t eat, but it’s probably NOT the time to go adventuring into the culinary backpack for something fancy.Keep it simple. Keep it tasty. And rest assured they will be excited about the next trip if their belly was happy on this one. Recipe Suggestions:Not Boxed Mac and Cheese5 Min MarinaraChocolate Marshmallow Fondue (with Campy Fondue Sticks…whittle some twigs!)___________________________________________________________________5+ PERSON TRIPThe challenges:Amount of total food to fill everyone up and keeping everyones’ taste buds happy. The main difference between 4 people and 5+ is quantity and meal planning. You are going to need more of everything to make sure everyone’s belly is happy. It may be easier for everyone to go it alone, but it’s more fun to cook and plan together. Again, the great part about group meal planning is that you can share the load for everything! Cost, weight, cooking and cleaning duties (this is how most professional guide services operate). And everyones’ bellies are happier when they’re fueled with better ingredients.My suggestion for the 5-8 person trips is to take TWO high capacity (2+L) stoves. This helps for a couple of reasons:1.Morning beverages are fast with larger capacity pots. 2.You can double up on recipes or theme night your meals to feed your group. Example: We went on a MONTyBOCA testing trip with 6 people. We packed two stoves and spread the weight of ingredients evenly across the group. One night, we doubled up on a Stroganoff Recipe that fed the whole crew no problem (most MONTyBOCA recipes are meant to produce 4 servings). Another night we had an Asian night with mango fried rice and wonton dumpling bowl. Then warmed up some sake for a campy night capper. Amazing.Recipe Suggestions:Lasagna w “meat sauce”JambalayaPad ThaiCaramelized Banana Nilla Wafer BowlLastly, always ALWAYS remember to pack it out! All recipes available at www.montyboca.com/recipes