Planning a canoe trip can be just as fun, if not more exciting, than going on the canoe trip. Ontario offers so many interesting, and unique tripping experiences that the anticipation of traveling a new route and exploring a new lake is fun in itself.
One important aspect of our trip preparation is meal planning. Now, if you choose to take the same meals and snacks for every trip, I can see how you wouldn’t find meal preparation that exciting, but the TwoCanoe crew does like to experiment and try new things. We also like to prepare all of our foods ourselves. An easier route in meal planning is to buy pre-dehydrated or freeze dried foods from your local outdoor store, but that takes part of the fun out of planning your next trip, and a chunk out of your wallet.
Choosing the food items for your trip depends on the length of your trip, how much you may be required to carry over portages, and what your general tastes are. We like our foods to be light, to take up little space, and still hold tons of nutritional value while tasting great. When you are in the sun all day, paddling or carrying your gear, it is rewarding to have great food to refuel you along the way.
Below you will find a sample trail menu for a 3-day trip.
We dehydrate items such as our spaghetti sauce, ground beef, fruit, beef jerky, refried beans, and vegetables. These items can be purchased dried if you don’t have a dehydrator. The only items required to prepare these meals on the trail are a pot set, a stove (we use the MSR Whisperlite), and water.
B: Oatmeal with dried fruit – raisins, cranberries, and apples
S: Trail mix bar
L: Foil packed tuna, crackers, dried fruit – pineapple, kiwi, banana chips, etc.
D: Spaghetti with meat/veggie sauce and egg noodles
B: Bacon and egg wraps (Tortillas, powdered eggs, ready crisp bacon, cheese and salsa)
S: Beef Jerky
L: Dry sausage, cheese, crackers
D: Beef burritos (Ground beef, refried beans, tortillas, cheese, salsa)
B: Dry Cereal, powdered milk, dried strawberries
S: Yogurt covered raisins, pretzels
L: Bagels with peanut butter, GORP
S: Granola Bars, M&M’s, or remaining dried fruit
D: Instant Potatoes with gravy, dehydrated carrots, stovetop stuffing.*
* We are usually back at our cars by dinner on the last day of a trip, or on route, paddling out of the park. Therefore, we don’t stop to cook a meal. This meal is often our backup meal for the entire trip, but will be prepared if we have the extra time.
The possibilities for your meal plan are endless. Be creative and bring foods that you will enjoy and will reward all of the days efforts. We would love to add some extra recipes to our cookbook, so please share your meal ideas in the comments section.
Below are some additional tips and advice for your backcountry meal planning.
- Plan early! Don’t wait until the last minute. Doing so will often force you to take less than desirable meals and they will be heavier in weight as you scramble to have enough food.
- Think hard about portion sizes, how much food you think you will eat. Food is added weight, only take what you are willing to carry, but make sure you bring enough.
- Eat heavier foods first, this will help reduce your packweight earlier on.
- Eat perishable items such as dry sausage, cheese, etc. during the start of your trip.
- Save more complex breakfasts for short travel days.
- Ensure you have enough snacks throughout the day to provide you with plenty of calories for energy. Examples are nuts, dried fruit, chocolate, gorp, etc.
- If you are dehydrating your own foods, dehydrate enough for multiple meals. It will save you some prep time for your next adventure.
- Vacuum sealing your food is a great way to save space by removig the air from your packaging. It also helps to extend the shelf life of your food.
- When cooking pasta on the trail, egg noodles are a great option because they only require 5-7 minutes of cooking time while boiling. Also, simply adding boiled water to the noodles for approx 10-15 minutes will provide great rehydrated pasta and saves on fuel consumption.
- If you are trying a new meal, try it at home first. You don’t want to be on the trail with a meal no one is willing to eat.