A Backpacker Travels on his Stomach

Since my wife gave her blessing, I’ve spent a lot of time trolling the aisles of my grocery store trying to identify foods that readily translate to the trail.  Breakfast, lunch and snacks are easy, but dinner options fall short of ideal.  While there seem to be carbohydrates in abundance, vegetables and  protein are a bit harder to come by or at least in a light weight, easy to cook form.  On my shorter trips, I would buy an assortment of one or two serving freeze dried dinners and be done with it.  They are light and tasty and easy to prepare.  I love being able to cook by simply adding boiling water and waiting for a few minutes.  Prepared freeze dried dinners will not be universally available.  So I’m faced with the challenge of coming up with a workable alternative to this ideal.   This is what I’ve come up with.  Since things like instant rice, instant cheese grits and ramen are available almost everywhere, I’m planning to package freeze dried meat and dried vegetables to mix in with these commonly available staples.  I frankly can’t figure out why one of the big companies doesn’t sell something like this!  I ordered freeze dried meat and dried vegetables in bulk and oxygen absorbers (those little packets you have to fish out of prepared freeze dried dinners) through Amazon.   Harmony House Foods is another good source for the vegetables.


Ready to go to work!



I measure out a quarter cup of freeze dried meat and a cup of vegetables. I start with a quarter cup of beans, but after that I try to be totally random to provide some variety.


Vacuum seal the meat, vegetables and an oxygen absorber

Vacuum seal the meat, vegetables and an oxygen absorber

The finished product!

The finished product!

I standardize the measurements to keep things simple on the trail.  One of my packets and three-quarters of a cup of instant rice requires two cups of boiling water.  I add half of a bouillon cube for flavor to the two cups of water.  When it starts to boil, I pour in the instant rice and my vegetable/meat mix, stir briefly, remove from heat and let it set for 10 minutes.  On my shakedown hike last summer I found that adding a tablespoon of instant potatoes with cheese and bacon coated the rice, thickened everything and gave it a flavorful kick.  There are many commonly available items to provide other variations to this basic meal. Pesto, sauce mixes, cheese packets from Mac and cheese… I like this plan because my food drops will only include items not commonly available in grocery stores and since I’m cooking in the pot, there is less packaging to carry out.  Unit cost including postage is about $5.

I picked up flat rate boxes at the post office this afternoon.  Their medium box easily holds ten of my packaged.  I can’t imagine ever starting a leg of my journey with more than this.

It’s starting to get real, folks!


I thought I would update this…I’ve been on the trail about 6 weeks.  I’ve learned that my portions are off.  I’ve cut the veggie/meat mixes dow no three-quarters of a cup and only use a half cup of instant rice.  

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Comments 6

  • Brian (The Chief) : Dec 23rd


    Digging the set up! Will have to file this one away in the memory banks for sure! Can’t wait to hear success stories!

    • Joseph V Lathrop : Dec 30th

      Im Just in the planning Stage for mine and have been thinking of Getting the Vacuum Sealer for home use, this Just Gives me one more reason i should LOL

      • George Turner : Dec 31st

        Joseph, this will be the best money you ever spend. Vacuum seal anything you put in the freezer and it will last forever. Vacuum seal partially consumed bags of chips, they keep fresh and the sealer work on the bangs they come in. Silver, vacuum seal it and you never have to polish it!…

  • Ashley Schellhase : Dec 24th

    Love this, George! Thanks for the tips.

  • Claudia Wilson : Dec 27th

    This is almost exactly what I’ve planned, already have the fruits and vegetables and the meat’s coming tomorrow. At 62, I’m less tolerant of an unclean diet.

  • Katina : Jan 19th

    I just posted an entry about my food prep–which mirrors your preparations too. Nice article.


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