Food Suggestions for 2 day trip

I am looking for suggestions for a 3 day, 2 night trip down the South Branch of Potomac (WV). Total miles will be around 28. We will have six 10’ kayaks to haul the gear (4 adults, one 13 year old and one 10 year old). So far, I have the following planned out:

  1. Eat what we catch, so spices to go with it.
  2. No dutch ovens. We will be using a campfire.
  3. Beer and wine will be part of the gear too.
  4. Trail Mix in water bottles for each kayaker.
  5. Water filter bottles for each kayaker.
  6. Linguini Salad in peanut butter jars. Possibly.
  7. Possibly pop tarts for breakfast. I just have to figure out the best way to keep them from getting crushed but not take up much space.

    I don’t want anything extravagant, but we are usually famished by the end of each day. Have taken canned food in the past but its so heavy and bulky. The kids also eat constantly throughout the day. I also would rather not have to worry too much about a cooler.

    Any suggestions are appreciate.

Forget the eat what you catch
Bring freeze dried meals for your main evening meal. Take a look in Wally World, They run about 6 bucks per package and each package will feed two adults. You can’t find any food lighter. They are delicious too.

jack L

Dried bag food
There’s a wide variety of prepared dry foods available at your camping store or on-line. These commonly come in packs to feed 2 or 4. I frequently eat a bag labeled for two people, but I’m a pig. Just be aware that some eaters may not be satisfied with the specified “serving.” At the store, the bags are a bit pricey, but they are very convenient. If you have your own dehydrater, you can make your own, so think about that if you are going to do much of this kind of camping. The advantages of the dried foods is they are light and already well packaged, and when you get to camp all you need to do is boil water and pour it into the bags, no fuss no muss, and you are eating.

You mentioned being hungry when you get off the river. If you want to eat quickly, you probably want to bring a stove. Otherwise, you need to gather wood, get a fire going and get your water boiling, which takes time while everybody is starving. Campfire cooking is also not as easy and fun if it is pouring rain.

You mentioned food in jars. I hope you mean plastic jars. Glass on the river is a bad idea for obvious reasons. And, double bagging in a gallon zip-lock is simple and the trash easy to pack out. Smaller zip locks also works well for each paddler’s trail mix, vs water bottles.

Pop tarts for breakfast? Ewww. Oatmeal packs well, or you can buy dried breakfast dishes while you are at the camping store. However, if you go with the campfire cooking, it will be a hassle to cook, unless you are in the habit of rebuilding your fires in the morning.

Enjoy your trip, that is a pretty stretch.


Get one of these
From any manufacturer - I am not recommending the one in this link, or not, it just came up high in the search. Whisper-Lite camp stove.

Very compact and you can cook up water fast for dehydrated foods. Agree with some above - if you are hungry at the end of the day it will not improve your experience to spend at least an hour dealing with actually scoring the main dish. If you do catch a fish that is extra.

And this means you can do instant oatmeal for breakfast, a far better options than pop tarts. If you must go cold for breakfast, make it whole grain bread/rolls, hard cheese and peanut butter. And bring a few apples and oranges along. MUCH better way to start the day than pop tarts.

Then there is the coffee thing… which I need fast in the morning.

You may need to pick up a lighter weight small sauce pan to work best with the stove, but you can get them inexpensively at most sports stores. You don’t have to buy the full nested set for heating water.

Only 3 days ?

– Last Updated: Mar-25-14 10:21 AM EST –

Eat like kings. Steaks, fresh vegtables, deserts etc. First day you can pack some ice for eggs etc. wine too if you like.

2nd day on you go to vegis and grains which keep a long time. I can't see going to freeze dry survival food for 3 days unless you hate to cook. You will eat more than at home however.

My favorite non perishable food - sweet potatoes / minute rice / bananas.

You're doing this for enjoyment, why suffer with the food. EAT

Group paddling/foor prep

– Last Updated: Mar-25-14 11:26 AM EST –

Based on your comments; you will have 4 adults, and 2 younger paddlers on this trip. You will have 6 kayaks of 10 foot length available to carry gear, and food. It's sounds like you will be eating together as a group? With that type of carry space available you could carry, and eat anything you wanted to eat, including fresh meat, and vegetables.

Why not check with your group of paddlers, and see what they "want" to eat, and "how much" they want to eat?
Whatever that is, they should be prepared to carry it.
Do "they" want to take coolers, stoves, dutch ovens, or not? No coolers means you won't carry certain foods. No stoves means cooking will be done on a campfire.

Pop tarts, trail mix, and bagged meals?
That menu sucks, in my opinion.
When my wife & I camp on the river, we paddle 2 fourteen foot canoes, and we eat & drink anything we want. We carry a cooler, and a stove. We have had fresh steaks, baked potatos with butter, and sour cream, a fresh salad, french bread, and wine for supper.
We have had pancakes with whipped cream and fresh strawberries, bacon, orange juice & coffee for breakfast.
We have cooked on campfires & done without a cooler too. Limits your food options, and is a time killer.
Depends on what you want I suppose.
We consider eating well as part of the fun, and enjoyment of the trip.

You mentioned carrying beer & wine, but no cooler; so you're drinking warm beer & wine? That sounds like something you might live without if space is a concern. You also mentioned eating what you caught; so that means you have room for fishing gear. If you catch no fish, what replaces that on the menu?


Granted storage space is small
Not a lot in those boats, especially after you put the weight of adults into two of them.

Do you have compact clothing/tent etc? Or are you trying to fit food around anything-but-backpack level other gear? I wonder if we are thinking about your having more room for food than is real.

And fruit roll-ups for snacks
Sugary I know, but at least there is also some fruit involved.

To reduce weight and save space…
go with Mountain House freeze dried meals. You can get them online or at Cabelas, Dicks Sporting Goods, EMS and others. They claim that 1 packet will feed 2 people but after a full day of paddling/hiking, etc, 1 packet will feed 1 hungry adult. If you don’t mind a little added weight, go with a pocket stew wrapped in tin foil. Throw the packet on the edge of the fire, poke a few holes in the top and wait for the juices to start sizzling out - takes me right back to boy scouts!

I second jay’s post
Two days? What CAN’T you take with you?

Short trip but minimal storage space
I like your advice, especially for people who like to cook. However, with ten-foot kayaks, storage space is going to be at a premium. The kids may have more room in their boats since the adults will be carrying the tents and most of the other clothing and gear, but it may be good to keep their boats light. I’ve never seen anyone do a two- or three-day trip in a ten-foot kayak without ending up with gear piled on the decks (not saying it has to be that way, but that’s certainly the trend). There’s just not much room in those boats.

We will be taking a jetboil
for the quick heat ups. I forgot to mention that. Beer and wine will be on ice, so no we are not drinking it warm. But if we run out of ice on a hot day and the beer gets warm, oh well no more drinking but I am concerned that too much melting and the food would go bad.

I have heard the freeze dried food is horrible, so that is why I hadn’t planned on it. I am just looking for simple suggestions. I don’t like to cook at home with modern conveniences so nothing elaborate. My husband will do the campfire starting part.

Also someone asked about jars. I am looking to lighten the load, so definitely plastic jars.

Jetboil a great idea
If it’s cold out you might want to heat water for ramen to warm people up and take the edge off hunger. I don’t usuallt eat hot food at lunch on the water, but ramen at lunchtime in cold, rainy British Colunbia really saved my paddling partner and me. Also, peanut butter for lunch is great. Eat it on apple slices, on flour tortillas, on Wasa crackers. Cheddar cheese is good too, and if you have tortillas for a wrap, you can add some sweet or hot pepper slices to the cheese and maybe a green onion. Good-quality sardines (like Wild Planet) are great for lunch, though kids would probably hate them. And they’re messy. But they really satisfy me when I’m paddling.

Potatoes wrapped well in foil cook up nicely in the hot coals of a campfire. (You rake some ove the top of the packet too.) You can put butter and onions in there with them, sliced – or not.

You could also take frozen steaks or frozen chicken thighs for the first night. Chicken seasoned with cumin and maybe a few onion slices can be wrapped well in a foil packet and set on a grill over a campfire. Let them cook gently. Pretty easy. You just open the packet when they’re done.

Finally, not all dehydrated dinners are created equal. Mountain House is good. I like their pasta primavera and their beef stroganoff. And, yes, a 2-person dinner feeds one – unless you have a starter like cheese and crackers. Hey! You could take some mixed nuts to eat with your nightly wine! Sounds like a good trip.

Suggest you practice-pack those 10-foot kayaks. Not much space, so figure it out at home, and you’ll be glad. But definitely take the wine! Bota Box is the best-tasting boxed wine i’ve found. Also you can decant wine from a glass bottle into those thick plAstic water bags (forget the brand names).

Have fun!

If space is limited
If you have plenty of storage space just about anything will keep for a 2 day trip.

If you need to conserve space freeze dried meals are not at all bad and are very easily prepared. All you need is drinking water, your Jetboil, and a spoon. I concur that Mountain House tends to taste the best.

Trail mix need not taste bad. I make my own using fresh raisins, mixed nuts, peanuts, and M&Ms. Makes an easily accessible snack that one can eat in the boat.

Also concur with box wine which certainly packs better than bottled and weighs less.

Either flat bread or tortillas resist crushing. Hard salami and hard cheeses should easily last a couple of days even without refrigeration, and make quick sandwiches requiring only a pocket knife to prepare.

Instant cocoa is always good for cool nights and is usually popular with kids.

Why not bars?
Why hasn’t anyone mentioned food bars like Cliff and ZBar? You got to find what you like as they are all different, but I’ve settled on ZBars lately: not too sweet, not too many unnatural things in them. And my daughter likes a couple of the flavors.

Individually wrapped, waterproof, lightweight relatively, to me - taste good, and healthy enough (especially the organic and well made variety, not the bad fatty and sugary stuff)…

So why no one mentioned these? Cost?


– Last Updated: Mar-25-14 4:32 PM EST –

Cliff bars are ok as a snack or emergency food BUT I sure wouldn't want them as a main meal. That's why no one has mentioned them would be my guess. I always take a bunch of Cliff bars in case I get wind bound on an island.

why not ziploc bags?
The thick ones are tough, and you’re not stuck with a solid shape as you are w/a jar.

Freeze-dried meals have come a long way. If you can eat Ramen noodles, these will taste like a gourmet meal. Go to Dicks or the other big boxes and check them out. Get one that sounds good and try it at home.

Ice? Use your wrapped frozen food as a cooler for the beer and wine (chilled wine?). your boat and the water will keep it cool unless you’re paddling in midsummer or later.

Well, trail mix is in the same category
Not a “main meal”. People recommended all sorts of things like pop tarts etc. Not to mention wine and beer (on ice, no less), which is no meal at all and would not even cross my mind to take on a trip…

I can easily substitute one meal and a snack or two a day with bars vs. a sandwich or pasta-based meal for instance. A matter of taste, I guess… I like them and use them even during more “civilized” trips and quite often replace one meal a day with some bars and a fruit.

breakfast suggestion
forget the pop tarts and take bagels, cream cheese, and precooked bacon. the cream cheese and bacon will keep for several days in cool weather if kept out of the sun. get the thin bagels that don’t take up as much room. one or two of these sandwiches with a cup of coffee make a nutritious and filling breakfast. Use strawberry cream cheese if you want to get fancy (yes, it’s delicious with bacon), or cook up some dehydrated eggs to add some variety.

Eggs do not need refrigeration
Crack a couple into a ziploc bag and drop in boiling water for scrambled eggs. You can preload the ziploc bags with chunks of whatever to make an omelet. Write contents of omelette on bag wih a sharpie, it won’t come off in the water.

Black Box is pretty good wine in a box. Use the box for fire starter or throw it away before starting.