No-Cook Food Plan

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    Amy Lauterbach
    BPL Member


    Locale: San Francisco Bay Area

    We gave up cooking on backpacking trips ~15 years ago. On trips of 2 to 4 days I just carry deli food. On trips of 5-11 days, I have a food packing list, and after each trip we tune the list. Our current list has been through 30 or 40 iterations and is now finely tuned to what works for the two of us. I'm sharing it here in case others want to try a no-cook trip and aren't sure where to start. (I don't regularly read the food forum, and my apologies if this is essentially repeating info that others have already posted.)

    Amounts are per day for two people:

    5-6 oz hard or medium-hard cheese (2 meals per day, 2.5-3 oz per meal for 2 people)
    5 oz meat (2 meals per day, 2.5 oz per meal for 2 people. Favorites: Costco turkey and beef jerky (which do not have nitrites), Boar's Head Turkey Pepperoni, thickly cut prosciutto.
    5-6 oz crackers (2 meals per day, 2.5-3 oz per meal for 2 people)
    5 oz nuts (2.5 oz per person per day (pppd)
    5 oz dry fruit (2.5 oz pppd)
    5 bars (2.5 bars pppd. ClifBuilder & ProBars are favorites)
    3.5 oz (1.5-2 oz pppd) chocolate and chocolate covered coffee beans
    5-6 oz Tang or Lemonade mix
    0.5 oz Trader Joes Wasabi Peas (or some other crunchy compact flavorful thing)
    0.5 oz tic tacs, lemon drops, life savers, etc

    Total of 25 oz per person per day.

    Cheese, meat, crackers, Tang, Wasabi Peas = we get those out for lunch and dinner.
    Nuts, fruit, bars, chocolate, candy = we apportion each share each evening and eat throughout the following day.

    It's optimized for protein and fat (calorie dense), enough fiber to keep the system working (dry fruit, crackers), compact packing, and flavor. Noodles and rice and potatoes are not calorie efficient (4 grams per oz vs 9 per oz for fat), have little protein or fiber value, often require cooking (which takes time and a pot) and we don't find them as tasty as good crackers (which often have enough fat to raise the calorie/oz value).

    Not much diversity, but by carrying different cheese for each meal and different crackers for each meal, and mixing up the meat selection, we don't get bored. Also, we carry 5 or 6 different kinds of dry fruit. Hmmm, sitting down to a meal of prosciutto, Ig Vella Dry Jack cheese, Trader Joe's Raisin Rosemary Crisps, dry pears, and candied pecans – hard not to like it. If only we could replace the Tang with a bottle of Port!

    I carry all the food that needs to stay cool. Jim carries the food that can get warm. In the bottom of my pack is our sleeping quilt. The food bag sits on top of that, with clothing surrounding it. In addition to my own clothes, I carry Jim's down jacket, which gives me more insulation to work with. I never expose the core of my pack during the day. So all that food has at least an inch of insulation around it. At dinner time, I open the food bag and put the following day's breakfast and lunch food into a separate ziplock, which I can subsequently access without opening the core my "ice chest". We've used this menu on 10 day trips in southern utah, where daytime temps were in the high 80s, and still kept the chocolate from melting! We eat the medium-hard cheeses in the first 5 days (things like P'tit Basque) and the hard cheeses later in the trip (like Ig Vella Dry Jack).

    Prosciutto can be stored at room temperature:

    We carry hard-boiled eggs instead of meat for the first two lunches. They are too heavy/fragile/perishable for subsequent days.

    Our entire kitchen gear is one spoon (used to apportion nuts, tang, and wasabi peas). Everything else is either pre-packaged in saran wrap or baggies into single servings (meat, cheese, crackers) or counted (fruit, bars, chocolate). In addition to however many platypus bottles we need for water capacity, we each carry a wide-mouth gatorade type bottle to mix the tang – the wide mouth is necessary in order to get the powder in; we don't carry any cups or bowls.

    And finally, we sometimes opportunistically plan outings just two days before we leave, based on a good weather forecast and lack of conflicting work obligations. So it's important to us to have a quick-to-assemble list of food. I can buy and package everything for a week's trip in one day of effort.

    Amy and Jim, Palo Alto

    Marc Eldridge
    BPL Member


    Locale: The here and now.

    I've used this menu with a few modifications for the last two trips, one a 4 day and the other a three day. Works out really well. Seems to be just enough food. Thanks Amy.

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