I’m far from an expert on backcountry cuisine, but I’ve spent a lot of time backpacking and figuring out what works and doesn’t work (for me at least). I have lots of thoughts on meal planning and dehydrating, so I decided to do a series dedicated to food! I’ve already shared an introduction to dehydrating and I’ve been working on follow-up posts dedicated to meal planning for Breakfast, Lunch, and Supper, so stay tuned!
I’ve been muddling through online resources and recipes over the years, trying existing recipes, as well as creating my own. I’m not a fan of complicated recipes that require a lot of prep, nor am I fan of expensive freeze-dried meals. So I decided to share some of the ideas that work for me. Most of the time I like a quick breakfast that’s “just add water”, but sometimes if I have a bit more time to spare, I get a little bit more creative. Here’s my Go-To breakfasts:
1. Oatmeal with the fixin’s
I know, nothing revolutionary here. There’s a reason oatmeal is a classic – it’s quick, tasty, and timeless! I bring 2 instant oatmeal packets from home that are already flavoured and add my preferred fixin’s and hot water! Usually I just add some of my trail mix to my oatmeal because I’m a big fan of the melted chocolate, but sometimes I’ll also bring brown sugar or freeze dried berries or apple. If you’re looking to add more calories for energy intensive trips, add PB2 (peanut butter powder) or flax, chia, or hemp seeds. I mix it all into one ziploc baggie before the trip.
2. Sunrise Spuds
90% of the time when I’m backcountry camping I alternate between oatmeal and sunrise spuds every other day, but given the choice between the two, sunrise spuds are my favourite. Some people find this one a bit weird, but I learned it from Girl Guides and it’s always a huge hit at my camps, even in the frontcountry. Sunrise spuds is just instant mashed potatoes with fixin’s! Don’t buy the big box of instant mashed potato because it’s unflavoured and pretty tasteless (since it relies on adding butter), instead buy the single serving flavour packets from Idahoan. My favourites are butter and herb and four-cheese. The simplest is to add bacon bits, pepperoni sticks, and hard cheese or babybel to it, but sometimes I also bring sundried-tomatoes and dehydrated chives or parmesan if I’m feeling fancy.
3. Eggs and Hash
This is a tasty meal, but one that I’ll only do if I’m not in a rush. It consists of powdered eggs and dehydrated hash browns. I know a lot of people aren’t a fan of powdered eggs (myself included), but I find they’re much more palatable mixed with the hash browns. You can buy already dehydrated potato flakes from Costco that you just have to re-hydrate and fry. It helps to have a bit of oil for this recipe and then I add some spices (salt, pepper, paprika). It does take a while to fry the hash browns, so start with that and then add the powdered eggs towards the end. The key with powdered eggs is to mix them with water first and then cook. I usually add some bacon bits, sun-dried tomato, and/or cheese. Sometimes I even bring bacon jerky to complete the meal (though pepperoni sticks or Korean BBQ pork from Costco works well too)!
4. Apple Crisp
This is a recipe I really like, but I’ve struggled to master because it is best with freeze-dried apple. I can’t take credit for this recipe, I found it on Fresh Off The Grid, but I’ve made it several times and find it really yummy. Usually I make it as a dessert, but I also find it makes for a nice breakfast. It’s a very easy recipe as all you have to do is rehydrate and heat the apples with some spices and then add the topping, but the apples are the tricky part. Pending where you live, it might be easy to get freeze-dried apples, but I’ve struggled to find them for a reasonable price and resorted to trying to make my own last year (it took about 2 months in my freezer, so I don’t recommend). It can be made with dehydrated apple slices, but it really works best with freeze-dried as they rehydrate a lot better. Fortunately, Superstore recently started stocking freeze-dried apples, which saved me a lot of trouble!
I often make PB&J’s for lunch, but they make a great breakfast too. The simplest way is to take one tortilla and those single packets of peanut butter and jam that you get from diners and breakfast restaurants. If you can’t find those, or you want something more lightweight, I’ve used dehydrated versions for both. PB2 doesn’t really taste like peanut butter when you rehydrate it, but it’s close enough that when you eat it on tortilla with jam it still tastes good (on it’s own it’s not that great). My secret for dehydrated jam is to crush up some dehydrated berries and add sugar. Both powders can be rehydrated with cold water, so it’s a really lightweight option for PB&J.