Affordable 3 Day Backpacking Food Preparation

Louis and I take eating pretty seriously, we love a good meal. When it comes to backpacking, we’ve always had trouble finding the right food. The ideal meal for us are light, affordable and tasty meals. We started out with Mountain House freeze dried food and were pretty happy with the taste, however, at $7-$9 per bag, it was a too expensive for us. For our upcoming three day backpacking trip, I decided to try something different. I decided to dehydrating fresh produce and scavenge through Walmart for cheaper ready made packaging food.

Dehydrating Fresh Produce 

Two nights before we set out for our backpacking trip, I looked through our fridge and pulled out fresh produce that’s likely to spoil during our absence and came up with two green bell peppers, two ears of corn, several Roma tomatoes and a handful of strawberries. After chopping the produce into small pieces, I preheated the oven on the lowest temperature possible, in our case, it was 170 degrees. I laid the fresh produce on a flat sheet and left it in the oven for 6 hours. Depending on the oven, more or less time may be needed to dehydrate fresh produce.

Here’s a daily breakdown of what I packed for both of us:

Friday Night:and Saturday Morning 

To get a head start Saturday morning, we decided to drive to the campsite Friday night and camp at the trail head. With our campsite Friday night so close to our car, we packed fresh fruits, bagels, two boil eggs and Thursday night’s leftover dinner for food.

Sunday and Monday Breakfast:

  • Oatmeal with dried cranberries, dried milk, 1Tbs of sugar and oven dried strawberries at 1 dollar for two days if you buy everything in bulk.
  • Hot chocolate and tea at $0.50 for two days if you buy everything in bulk

Saturday through Monday lunch:

  • PB&J sandwiches and tuna sandwiches. I found dollar pack aluminum packets of tuna at Walmart and decided to give it a try. Total for lunch is approximately 3 dollars.
  • Dried fruits and nuts trail mix at $2 if you buy everything in bulk

Saturday Night Dinner:

  • Two packs of instant Knorr Rice at one dollar each. At 270 calories for 2.5 servings per packet and 29% sodium, this is about the same nutritional value as the Mountain House Spaghetti with Meat Sauce. The only thing lacking from the Knorr Rice dish is protein, there was only 6 grams of protein compared to 11 grams per serving for the Mountain House. We figured our beef jerky and tuna would compensate on the lack of protein. The rice meals does take a little longer to cook, we found they taste the best being cooked on an open flame for 7-10 minutes because dousing it with boil water cooks it unevenly.
  • One pack of Idahoan Loaded Baked Mash Potatoes at one dollar per pack. These mash potatoes are delicious and super easy to make. All you need to do is dump 2 cups of boiling water into serving bowl and let it stand for a couple minutes.

Sunday night dinner:

  • Two packs of instant ramen noodles with oven dried corn, bell peppers and beef jerky at less than a dollar for a pack of ramen noodles
  • One pack of Idahoan Loaded Baked Mash Potatoes at one dollar per pack.

In the end the total cost of food for a 3 day backpacking trip between Louis and I cost less than 15 dollars since we utilized our leftovers.

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