The Quest for Peanut-free GORP and Budget Drop Boxes


Mail drops have have been the second most difficult aspect of planning for my thru hike attempt after gear.  Where to send them?  How many drops? Do I rely on them or just use them for supplementary items? When do I mail them?  An additional food consideration for me has been my  severe nut allergy.  I am allergic to all nuts except pecans and walnuts and the worst part about it is just lugging the extra ounces of an EpiPen all the way to Katahdin.  No, I have never eaten X or Y nutty-yummy-necessary food.  No, I do not feel like my life quality has been compromised from lacking it.

This dietary adjustment knocks out a lot of hiker diet staples including most energy bars, peanut butter, many candy and chocolate bars, granola with any nutritional value, and pre-made GORP.

Enter my quest to craft drop boxes so I can avoid subsisting off raisins and chocolate chips for 5-6 months.  I don’t even like raisins.

I’m planning to send myself 6-7 drop boxes that have multiple days worth of food as well as 3-4 supplementary boxes that include some protein sources other than bagged tuna.

The result?  The following list of budget backpacker food staples as well as a bonus round of some nut-free finds I came across in the process.  I’ve listed price as well as calories per meal that I’ll get out of each item and any other relevant information.

If you don’t shop at Aldi, you’re missing out.

I came home from Aldi spending $110 and the trip is (literally) the meat and potatoes of the drop boxes I’ll be sending.  If you like saving money on staple foods, Aldi should be your first stop. There were many other viable backpacking food options but these were the ones that suited my palate best.  Aldi also has many overstock big-brand foods that are available in limited quantities.  All prices listed are from my local Aldi and may be different where you live.

  • Northern Catch Pouch Tuna- $0.89 for 80 cal, 16g protein in Plain, Spicy, or Lemon Pepper flavors
  • Chef’s Cupboard Dehydrated Soup Mix– $2.49 for two 440 calorie servings.  Tortilla, Chili, Chicken Noodle, Creamy Potato, or Minestrone
  • Earthly Grains Boxed Couscous- $1.29 for 600 calories and 24g protein per box.  Plain, Parmesan, or Roasted Garlic & Olive Oil
  • Simms Beef Jerky- $3.29 for a 3 oz, 39g protein per pouch. Original, Teriyaki, or Peppered.
  • Simms Beef Sausage Snack Sticks- $3.49 for 8oz
  • Chef’s Cupboard Mashed Potatoes- $0.75 for 440 calories in a hiker-friendly pouch.  Original, Four Cheese, Loaded, or Buttery.
  • Spices!  Selection of plastic-bottled spices for $0.99 each
  • And much, much more!

Trader Joe’s

Mecca of fairly priced GORP supplies as well as some other treats I will greatly appreciate getting boxes of during my hike.  Again, pricing may vary.

  • Palak Paneer- $1.99 for 320 calories in a shelf-stable pouch
  • Shredded Sweetened Coconut– $1.99 for 6 oz, 140 cal/oz
  • Super Seed & Ancient Grain Blend– 8 oz, 130 cal/oz.  Perfect oatmeal topper with protein, fat, and fiber.
  • Brownie Crisps– $2.99 for a 5 oz, 500 calorie bag
  • Raw Shelled Hemp Seed- $5.49/ 8 oz.  180 calories, 10g protein/oz
  • Sunflower Seeds Butter– $4.99/lb.  Substitute for peanut/almond butter.
  • Sunflower Seeds– $1.99/2 lb.  Nut free!
  • Dried Cranberries- $1.79/8 oz. Also come in orange flavor.
  • Pecan Pieces- $3.99/8 oz.  The only nut I can eat!  Dozens of nut types and flavors to choose from for those of you not gifted with allergies
  • Soft and Juicy Dried Mandarins– $2.69/6 oz
  • Dried Pineapple Rings– $3.99/8 oz
  • Dried Wild Blueberries– $5.99/6 oz
  • Triple Fruit Treat– $3.99

These are just a sampling of some of the dried fruits, seeds, and other items found at TJ’s!  You wouldn’t still be reading this if I made a complete list.

Nut-free Bonus Round

Here’s a sampling of some of the granola/nutrition bars I’ve found that are nut-free.  Please note that these ingredients may change and always check individual bars/boxes before purchase!

  • Bonk Breaker Nutrition Bars- Apple Pie, Blueberry Oat, and Fig flavors
  • Original Clif Bars– Chocolate Brownie, Hot Chocolate, Coconut Chocolate Chip, and Apricot
  • Luna Bars– Lemon Zest and Smores
  • Clif Protein Kid Z Bars- Chocolate Chip and Chocolate Mint
  • Honey Stinger Waffles– All original flavors
  • Kind Healthy Grains Bars*- All flavors except Peanut Butter.  No traces of nuts but they are made in a shared facility with them.

Have you found any other nut-allergy backpacking food hacks or have any other grocery goldmine finds? Leave me a comment and I’ll add them to my lists!


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Comments 1

  • Kira Thornley : Feb 19th

    Plantain Chips have pretty Great Cal/oz and are available at TJ’s! (they don’t have the “processed in facility that also processes tree nuts” or anything like that on the packaging. I know because I am eating them in my cubicle right now! I use them as crackers and put cheese, or PB&J on them (since I’m not adverse to nuts) but I’m sure there are many more hiker trash ways of preparing them I haven’t thought of yet…


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