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Gourmet vs simple cooking while backpacking

Hi, Gang!

How fancy does your cooking get while backpacking?

Do go all out frying steaks, simmering chilis and soups, and creating breakfast scrambles? Or is your cooking more simple and utilitarian as you reconstitute freeze-dried meals?

I really like the idea of cooking and eating elaborate trail recipes, but my progress as a backcountry chef is stunted by my lack of interest in clean-up. LOL.

Where do you fall on the backcountry cooking spectrum?

13 Replies

Cabinet Mountain Wilderness Area, MT Menu.


Organic Oatmeal w/ Walnuts, Raisins, and Flaxseed. 

Organic Valencia Orange.

Pre-ground Jose’s Mayan Blend Medium Dark Roasted Organic Coffee.


Apple, Banana and Almonds.


Fresh Caught & Filleted Western Slope Cutthroat Trout, dipped in tempura and fried in Virgin Olive Oil, Wrapped in…

Sonoran White Wheat Tortillas.

Raw Organic Zucchini.

Fresh Picked Huckleberries (Seasonal).

Pre-ground Jose’s Mayan Blend Medium Dark Roasted Organic Coffee, mixed with Swiss Miss Dark Hot Chocolate.


I’m with Hikes_in_Rain: cook gourmet at home (dals, stews, chili, soups, you name it), dehydrate, drop it in a ziplock for quick meals with minimum fuss and minimum gear. 

I'm really humbled by those folks who can work up a gourmet-level meal in the bush.

- my mind is apparently to rudimentary to envision good meals

- I REALLY try to keep my pack weight down

- Just as much, I REALLY had a messy clean up, will try to avoid at all costs.

However, that said, on a very short backpacking trip, I've been know to cook some eggs or pancakes, sausage over my jetboil.  Also, cooking muffins in bake-packer.

I'd post pics here but I believe I posted these food pics only a coupla weeks ago

ps - jeez, I need to read all these before posting, my second post on this topic, lordy, getting old is a bear

REI Member Since 1979

When backpacking or hiking, I generally have an objective that is more important to me than gourmet dining.  I take on food to maintain energy and awareness and get on with the dance.

An early morning cup of coffee is essential, sometimes tea.

Looking at Marc OV AZ's breakfast that is a good start for my usual breakfast in town - to which I add blueberries, raisins, almond milk, applesauce, dried banana slices, and low fat yogurt.

Superusers do not speak on behalf of REI and may have received
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Both, in  a way.  I cook up stuff I like to eat at home (such as the chili you mentioned), and dehydrate it.  Then when on the trail, I rehydrate and enjoy the fruits of my labor.  Lighter, no worries about spoilage, and easy to fix up at the end of the day.

Retired medical technologist and engineer
REI member since 1978
Superusers do not speak on behalf of REI and may have received
one or more gifts or other benefits from the co-op.

I have seriously considered dehydrating my own foods, but there is obviously an up-front cost and a learning curve. After all the inevitable failed attempts at creating a quality dehydrated meal, I question whether there is the risk I never recover my investment! LOL.

you nailed it, clean up is a b*tch and I'm tired at camp, and add lazy to mix (ha! pun not intended)

Sooo, my idea of fancy is adding the crushed fritos from the top of my pack into a zip lock bag of chili mac...I know...pathetic.  sigh

but doesn't it sort of depend on your carry weight, how much fuel a big meal burns, how far you've managed to come, available water, yada yada yada? Not to mention cramming meals into a canister or ursack!

I will say that for very easy and short trips, I have made my self pancakes and sausage, I've even done a fair amount of biscuit or muffin cooking in an old "bake-packer" (get it?) batter basically steamed in a large ziplock.

REI Member Since 1979

I only do freezer bag cooking for breakfast and supper. No mess, no fuss. For the most part, it's just add hot water and stir. When I'm done eating, I just zip up the food bag and add it to my gallon size ziplock trash bag. I don't really desire a gourmet meal at the end of the day, I want something easy. For breakfast, I fix my coffee, then start rehydrating food while packing up sleeping stuff and tent. Lunch is usually "something" on a flour tortilla. Peanut butter, Nutella, etc. 

Superusers do not speak on behalf of REI and may have received
one or more gifts or other benefits from the co-op.

Sounds like my style as well.

aka "Boonerelli"

Superusers do not speak on behalf of REI and may have received
one or more gifts or other benefits from the co-op.