Backcountry Meal Prep

Wanna level-up your backcountry culinary skills?  Maybe you’re getting tired of playing pre-packed meal roulette?

 “Is this one as good as it sounds?” 

Or maybe you’re like me and you find yourself looking at the trash packed out after a trip and think to yourself:

”There has to be a better way.”

Sure, using pre-packed foods is quick and simple.  I still use them for those evenings when I know I’ll want a no-fuss - boil water - kind of meal on trail.  That being said, getting a dehydrator to prep your own food for backpacking not only saves money, it saves on packaging, (less packaging is lighter) and it is definitely a more environmentally sensitive option for backcountry meals.

There are quite a few fruits, vegetables and meats that dehydrate and rehydrate well on trail. The key to success is thin slices and if you plan on storing dehydrated foods longer, opt for completely dry over slightly moist/chewy.

Here is a list of foods I’ve had success dehydrating and rehydrating to make meals in trail that in my opinion have turned out way better than any pre-packed meal I’ve had to date.

  • Apples
  • Strawberries
  • Peaches
  • Pineapple
  • Sweet Peppers
  • Cherry tomatoes (sliced in half)
  • Asparagus
  • cooked spaghetti squash
  • Broccoli (blanch it first and slice thin)
  • Cooked chicken (the key is to shred it thinly)
  • Cooked Pork (again shred!)
  • Cooked hamburger
  • Cooked Shrimp
  • Sausage
  • Pork&Beans from a can (use the fruit leather sheet)
  • Black Beans (canned or cooked)
  • Fruit leathers (so many options here)
  • Onions
  • Mushrooms

Added Tips: 

  • If you want to attempt any hard/crunchy vegetables - make sure to blanch/cook them a bit first. 
  • You can also make really good jerky in a dehydrator that can be eaten on the move and can also be hydrated the evening and used in meals.
  • Rehydrating? - soak items in cool water in your pot for 20 min or so before bringing to a boil. This helps them to absorb water before the cooking process begins.

Yes, prepping meals in this manner does take a bit more work and planning but in the end, the meals will taste better and be more nutritious on trail. When you have a ready stock of ingredients your menu options become much more interesting. Like curry? Pack some curry paste, salt, a pack of dehydrated coconut milk, throw in some dehydrated veg, pack a bit of ginger root and some freeze dried cilantro and maybe some shredded chicken along with some stir fry noodles and - bam! Dig pasta? Pick up some powdered tomato sauce or better yet - experiment and dehydrate some of your own, add ground beef or sausage, peppers, tomatoes and/or mushrooms.

With a dehydrator and a bit of experimentation and research, you can definitely up your backcountry master-chef skills, fuel your body better and reduce the extra packaging that comes with single/double serve - pre-packed dehydrated meals.

Bon appétit :)

Jenn @ thebackcountrycollective

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