My Plan to Not Starve

I’m sure this hike is going to kick my ass in all sorts of ways I haven’t even thought of yet, but starving won’t be one of them. At least I hope. I’ve read about meal preps until I thought my head was going to explode – buying bulk and mailing everything, dehydrating, buying in town, breaking every meal down to the number of calories and grams of protein.

After all of that, I settled on my own system that feels right to me. (Mad props to all of you that did manage to dehydrate everything, I’m sure I’ll still be super jealous of your meals.)

So my plan?

I created 6 base recipes that I’ve memorized. They allow for me to substitute ingredients so I can shop at a Whole Foods or a gas station without stressing out too much on every detail. That’s cheesy chicken quinoa in a spinach wrap below. Nom! Other recipes: spicy bacon mac and cheese, chicken pesto wraps with pine nuts, Italian mashed potatoes with pepperoni and cheese…clearly there’s a cheese trend here.


My cooking setup?

I’m opting to only use my jetboil for heating water and instead, cooking all my meals in quart-sized ziplocks held in a koozie. (Huge shout out to Bison from REI in Indianapolis for the cooking koozie idea. It changed my life.) If you’re curious, I took a sun reflector for a car, gorilla tape, and some Velcro for the koozie.


I’ll be buying food as I go, repackaging in zip locks, adding water, chowing down on some amazing combinations, then zipping up the mess and packing it out. Did I mention my tic-tac spice pack that not only rhymes, but adds flavor? (Again, props to the hikers before me for this idea.)


We’ll see how this goes…I’m feeling good about it. I’ll still be taking a multi Vitamin and chugging all the green smoothies I can when I find them to stay healthy-ish, but here’s to some tasty meals in between!

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Comments 6

  • Betsy : Feb 21st

    Ohhhh. Spicy bacon mac??? I wonder if you’d be interested in sharing that recipe! 🙂

    • KT Saunders : Feb 22nd

      You betcha, fellow bacon lover! Keep in mind that this recipe is for cooking in a ziplock bag/koozie. The water ratio would be different if you’re cooking in a pot. 🙂

      Mix all in a quart-sized ziplock bag
      – 1 box mac & cheese (elbow macaroni only, I can’t speak to spirals or shells)
      – handful of bacon bits (I use the “real” ones from Hormel so they soak up water and become actual bacon chunks)
      – 1 Babybel cheese (because more cheese is always better, my fav is sharp cheddar)
      – healthy dash of red chile powder (also works with tabasco pkgs, paprika, taco bell hot sauce, any spice you can find)

      Boil and pour in bag
      – 1 1/2c water

      Let sit for 15-20min, shake and mix together, chow down!

      I’d do a few test runs if you can – every box of mac and cheese is a tiny bit different, but I’ve found this recipe to work across most brands. Enjoy.

  • Tasia Kellogg : Feb 21st

    I heard this idea and loved it, and tried it out on the LT. With my repackaged backpacking meals (Mountain House, etc., portioned out into the Ziplocs to make it appropriate for a short female and to save weight), the system worked really well. With Knorr sides and other dishes not specifically designed for this, I struggled with thorough cooking. I ate slightly crunchy noodles/rice most nights, which shockingly had a big effect on my morale. To be fair to my system, I was using a hat or jacket as a koozie, but internet geniuses swore this was enough. I could’ve also let it soak longer than 10/15 minutes but post 20+ miles, I didn’t care to sit and stare at my food any longer than necessary. I recommend testing this out at home a couple times with different meals, doing everything you can to get the hottest possible water sealed away in your Ziploc/koozie system as fast as possible, and actually knowing just how long you’ll have to wait for non-crunchy noods.

    I heavily weighed the pros and cons of it for my own thru, and I personally chose to deal with cooking and eating (and cleaning) out of my pot over half cooked foods and spending an extra 45 minutes in grocery store parking lots repackaging everything, but there are definitely a ton of pros to the Ziploc system.

    • KT Saunders : Feb 22nd

      I feel your pain! I’ve been testing recipes for a few weeks and I failed every single time on the first attempt. Then there are just some recipes that I’m convinced aren’t made for this cooking system no matter how much I try. I had a breakthrough when I realized that as you boil food in a pot, some of the water is lost to evaporation – when you put it all in a ziplock though, all the water stays. After I paired down the amount of water per recipe, I was no longer eating macaroni and cheese soup! I’ve never tried to do all of this in a hat, but the reflector koozie keeps it dangerously hot so it cooks before turning to mush. We’ll see how this goes in the long run!

  • Yogi : Feb 26th

    Where did you buy that tysons chicken? I haven’t been able to find any packaged chicken.

  • Arlene (EverReady) : Mar 10th

    What kind or brand of zip lock bags are you using? Are you double bagging in case there is a leak? When I did the AT in 2015, I had dehydrated and packaged 10 recipe combos. Rice even instant and precooked then dehydrated took a lot of time rehydrating. I found couscous, dehydrated pre cooked quinoa, rice noodles, ramen noodles, sidekicks and instant mashed potatoes were great. I abandoned my pot and stove in NY as it was summer and I wanted to move away from dehydrated meals and switch to real food. So I relied on PB, hummus, spreadable cheese with bagels, flatbreads, crackers, cheese and salami, snap peas and an apple here and there. The added weight of real food was offset by the elimination of heavier clothes, switching to a lighter sleeping bag, dumping the pot, stove and fuel canister. Also we were hiking the deli corridor by then. Yum!


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