January 30, 2018 / Comments (2)

“What’s for dinner?”

From Parent Trap, our family’s favorite movie:

ANNIE:  You sure you don’t want some trout, Mom? Is that okay, by the way? If we start calling you Mom?

MEREDITH:  I think your mother would prefer if you called me Meredith and no thank you, I do not eat trout… for the thousandth time. I’ll wait until breakfast. What are we having?


 * * * * * *

In this post I will try to address meal planning and resupply.  Over the years a general rule of thumb has developed for long distance backpackers – not surprisingly –  in terms of the trying to limit or control the overall weight of meals being carried.  That rule of thumb is two (2) pounds (or 32 ounces) per pay.

I tested or “reengineered” that number by simply arranging a sample day’s menu (what I thought I’d like to take) without regard to weight (but based primarily on experience from 2 to 5 day trips).  Coincidentally (and thankfully)) the weights came out very close to the rule of thumb.  Hence, I stuck with my original, general plan.

And, here it is, my basic plan (which comes in at approximately 35.6 ounces) for eating while on the AT:

BREAKFAST (7.7 oz.)
Breakfast on the trail will consist typically of oatmeal, dried fruit, a protein bar and coffee.  More specifically, this meal will feature 2 packages of instant oatmeal (or, to add variety, instant grits or instant cream of wheat). Supplementing this main course will be dried fruit (like apricots, blueberries or cherries).  I will have coffee each morning (Starbuck’s Via, but for variety, I will sometimes add it to hot chocolate and Starbuck’s have their own instant “Mocha,” “Vanilla Latte,” etc.).  While I’m enjoying a second cup of coffee I will finish off breakfast with a granola or protein bar.


LUNCH/SNACKS (17.0 oz.)

I view “lunch” as essentially an all-day, grazing  affair, hence, “lunch and snacks.”  I will pack two bags of items that are intended to be eaten throughout the day.  These “bags” typically will be dried fruit or M&Ms or protein bar or beef jerky or oat bar or GORP (the later being “good ol’ raisins & peanuts) or some similar “trail mix.”

I plan to stop for a substantial rest (at least 30 minutes during which I will have “lunch,” which will consist primarily of a tortilla wrap with protein (tuna, salami, peanut, and in cooler temperature I can have cheese).  Throughout the day I will drink water, occasionally fortified with electrolyte powder or a flavorer (such as Gatorade, instant Arnold Palmer iced tea, Blackberry Lemonade, etc.)


When I guided canoe trips and was fortunate enough to have a good angler along, we could sometimes supplement our freeze-dried meals with fresh fish caught in the lakes, rivers and streams. Sadly, there will not be panned fried trout for dinner, but I will be having Beer Braised Chicken Stew,  Chili Mac with Beef, and a variety of our gourmet dehydrated or freeze-dried meals.


Before digging into one of my Trailtopia (or other dinner providers, such as Good-To-Go or Mountain House) meals, I plan to enjoy a quick chicken & noodle “Cup-A-Soup,” while the main course is rehydrating in its pouch.  Dinner will be finished off with the same coffee choices featured at breakfast and some modest “dessert,” such as a couple of mini-chocolate bars (although my daughters are promising some “care packages” of my favorite baked treats – so this would be a great time to savor a butterscotch oatmeal cookie after a tough 18-mile day).

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Last modified: January 30, 2018

2 Responses to :
“What’s for dinner?”

  1. If you find yourself getting hungry on this meal plan you could bump up the calories with little increase in weight by adding mayo packets to your tuna, butter of coconut oil powder to your breakfast and butter or olive oil to your dinner.

    In my 2017 VA-MA section hike with my family, I did a full ketogenic backpacking meal plan and my meals average over 180kcal/oz. I wrote about my meals and the science behind it in my blog and my recipe book.

    Planning to do MA to ME in June and July this year, sounds like you will be done by then!

    1. rtkchallenge_w2dqin says:

      Thanks Bryan – very nice (and easy) suggestions. My plans have me in MA, NH and ME in June and July. Best of luck with your hike. I’ll check out your blog. Thanks again. RTK

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