what did they eat?

Rather than the usual “here’s a recipe”, I am curious what expeditioners eat over the long haul. If you’ve gone on a long trip, what did you eat? Were there recurring meals/staples? I’m trying to avoid the “I lived off bagels and peanut butter for two months” diet, but if that’s what you ate, that’s what you ate. --Many thanks in advance!

if you read the journals, blogs, etc.
you’ll find a huge variation in the types of expeditions and consequently a variety of foods. For example some expeditions around some islands place the paddler(s) in a community every 3 to 4 days. In the communities they are ‘hosted’ by friends or people who just like to offer support and while there I’m sure it’s not baggels every day. Other expeditions are certainly more barren-like the one of S.George Island off the coast of S. America where no resupply points existed-another example of this type is the Wilderness Waterway in the Everglades. On the other end of the spectrum is where you can paddle up to a bar at the end of each day, or paddle from B&B to B&B most nights-I think this is quite possible on the Maine Island Trail. It makes you wonder what an expedition actually is and how it is defined.

Maine Island Trail !
Hey Medicineman - have you paddled the Maine Island Trail?

Not exactly a B to B kinda trail. Generally it is camping on islands where there are no B&B’s. It is possible to eat fairly well as there are places to provision if you like to plan but most people I know who paddle the trail plan it so that they are away from civilization for the whole trip.

And back to Bohemia’s question - I have only gone for 5 days at a clip and for that it is easy to eat a varied non monotonous diet with fresh fruits, veg, rice, pasta and potatoes. If you know how to cook. I find the people who don’t cook at home are the ones that resort to the dried foods in packages at the stores.


A pancake is worth 4 miles
Verlen Kruger was fond of saying a pancake is worth 4 miles. He must have eaten one heck of a lot of pancakes (and should have hit up Krusteez or Pilsbury for sponsorship !).

she’s right

– Last Updated: Apr-03-08 10:28 AM EST –

The Maine Island Trail runs from Cape Porpoise in York County to Machias in Washington County--distance of over 350 miles---and the trail, although parelleling some of Maines more famous tourist spots; Portland, Boothbay, Camden, Bar Harbor etc, does not stop at most of them. At most points on the trail there would only be access to B&Bs if you were willing to leave the trail and paddle 10 to 20 miles extra,(Round trip) to and from the trail, everytime you wanted to eat in a restaurant or sleep in a bed.

The only practical way to "do" the whole trail in an expedition type of trip(as opposed to a series of day trips) is to camp out on the islands and bring your own food(and generally water, with you. That way you can replenish your supplies every 5 to 10 days with minimal deviation from your trip plan.

There is a book written by Lee Bumstead(can't remember the name--something about hot showers) that details point to point trips for B&Bs but this does not cover the whole island trail---the only area I can think of off hand where it would be practical to stay at a B&B would be in the Stonington--Isle au Haut area and even there it would kind of a pain in the ass hauling up your kayak, etc. Besides which all the B&Bs I know of require resevations in the summer time---if you were a day late due to weather(which is bound to happen on the Maine coast) you would be out of luck.

donner party stew.

Lots of dried anything
we usually took a lot of dried fruit and vegitables, nuts, homemade meat jerky, smoked salmon, quick oatmeal, dried black beans w/quick rice, pizza-breads-brownies (everything pre-packaged in a zip-lock made in Outback Bake Oven)as well as instant powdered milk/eggs, hard cheeses, those little 12oz boxes of Tofu (no refridgeration needed), pastas, box meals that only require boiling H2o, etc, etc. If you have a good natural food store in your area, you can find a huge source of dried foods, vegitables and fruits in bulk you can pre-package into meals/snacks. Once we get into an area, we scarf up local stuff (like the awsome heavy breads we found in Greenland) that may be eaten in the first few days before going bad. Once in an area, we usually supplement our meals with fresh caught fish, or musssels like we harvested at low tide in Greenland, as well as things like blueberries we ate by the bucketfulls in Ontario. Get creative, no need for bland foods like freeze dried. Break everything down into ziplocks that go into a meal (like perfect pizza dough- 2 cups flour/packet of instant yeast/tsp. sugar which you add 2/3 cup hot H2o + oil to and knead in ziplock).

main meal
Later on in a trip we always seem to end up with the same dinner. This is one of those pasta with sauce powder packs, which we boil in water with cut up carrots, onions, peppers, and whatever other vegetables that have lasted, with a small can of some kind of meat. The stuff is ready at the same time, and it is ladled into a bowl over cut up pieces of cheese. Easy, tasty and filling.


Might depend on who you ask…
I’ve heard of some trips where the answer would be “each other”. :stuck_out_tongue:


What I do

– Last Updated: Apr-03-08 12:05 PM EST –

I don’t know that anything I’ve done would rise to the status of an expedition, but I’ve done a few trips that were supposed to be unsupported for a week to ten days (however,I’ve never been on a trip where we did not run across some source of food that was better than what we were packing.)

When I shop for trip food I usually just wander around the grocery store looking for stuff that is dried, like soup, pasta, couscous, tortellini and rice, or in foil packets like salmon, tuna, chicken, claims and shrimp. The international foods aisle is a good place for things like rice noodles with various sauces and packets of ready-to-eat Indian food. I bring curry paste, pepper sauce, olive oil, parmesan cheese, some dried herbs and a large container of minced garlic.

Citris fruit and onions will last unrefigerated a week or more as will cheese. Tortillas in plastic packages travel pretty well and dried sliced garlic bread travels very well. And don't forget the dehydrated wine (brandy) for after dinner.

For breakfast I mix granola, craisons, pumpkin seeds and dried milk in nalgene bottles (just add water) and make coffee.

When I did the Maine coast we usually tried to hit a restaruant for lunch or dinner. We also bought lobsters from lobster boats. In Newfoundland we bought fresh scollops in the outports. In Alaska we might have made a couple of meals of fresh salmon, but without a license that would have been wrong.

Red and White
Brandy aside I assume you assure there are adequate amounts and types of both red and white to complement any potential menu.

I too find the international/natural food sections of the supermarket great places to find good camping foodstuffs. Having a variety of spices really helps on long trips. You can create many different dishes from the same pasta/rice/bean foundation by using different combinations of a few spices, nuts, dried fruit.

dinners vary
My dinners vary a lot on trips. On a guided (but self supported - no sag boat) week long trip in the San Juans, we had different food each night. On an unguided 10 day trip down the Columbia last fall, we did the same.

From Columbia River, breakfasts was oatmeal with fruits. Not much variation, except changing which flavor and dried fruit to add.

Lunch was some sort of sandwich (PB&J, tuna, etc.).

Dinners varied each night, with no duplications. Pasta, rice, cous cous, or tortillas for carbs. Veggies (various fresh stuff early in the trip, whatever was surviving without going bad mid way, and canned towards the end). Meat was fresh up front, then out of cans (tuna, chicken, etc.) or with preservative (like sausages) later on.

We stopped to refill water every few days, but only stopped at one store for supplies (and that was a very small grocery, so only got some limited stuff, like fresh fruit and veggies).

great question
one month south coast of newfoundland, but do same for local trips. am vegetarian, so that complicates things a bit. breakfast was mostly granola/oatmeal and lunch was bars and dried snack foods. i ate two (same dinner, combined) mary jane farms vegetarian meals every night and was never bored or unhappy. in fact, my companious who were subsisting on couscous and standard freeze dried backpacking meals often looked on enviously. not cheap, but really good food. one other tip, ask each participant on a trip of a week or more to make up one surprise special meal for the group. something to look forward too, and breaks monotony. another tip, make sure that someone brings a single malt scotch for everyone–as i recall it, i brought springbank 21 but it might have been highland park. a last tip, a quart size coffee mug for tea or coffee is really nice when rehydrating in the evening or getting going in the morning.

Invaluable Info for camping food
I have found these websites to be my best source of information. I bought a dehydrator, and I am making all of my own camp meals. We will eat like royalty this summer.




also the cookbook, “A Fork in the Trail”

Good luck


Then and now
Depends on what time of my life we’re talking about, really. Back when I was young, I’d eat just about anything. I had access to government surplus food through an aunt who was on welfare and a neighbor who was on food assistance, and both would give us the stuff they had leftover, or nobody would eat. Ate a lot of instant potatoes, powdered all kinds of things, Tang, peanut butter, and the infamous gov’t surplus cheese on canoe and backpack trips.

Did a live off the land trip once — lost about 10 lbs in a week.

Nowadays, it’s the best you can squeeze in the boat. Much still dried, but greatly better quality. And if we’re car camping, fuggeddaboudit — fresh all the way. I’ve even been known to paddle to a town to buy wine to go with dinner.

There is repetition indeed
Not as bad as “bagels and PB only”, though.

The most food I’ve carried in one stretch is 2 weeks’ worth (don’t have room for more). I’ve never paddled where a town was not reachable by 2 weeks worth of paddling, though one stretch in AK was cutting it a little close for comfort (like if we’d been grounded for a few days by horrible weather).

Lots and lots of dried stuff, and one or two canned items. Didn’t repeat dinners much, but breakfast and lunch were extremely repetitious. And you know what–it didn’t matter. When you’re really hungry and working for the calories, you’re not too fussy about variety. We did stop at whatever towns we could to eat in a restaurant; there were three of them on the way on our month-long trip (which was planned very conservatively to take 6 weeks).

For trips on Lake Powell and Flaming Gorge, I/we stopped at every marina to buy chips, sodas, microwave burritos…you get the idea. FAT. Most dried camping fare is too low-fat. Except PB!

On long trips 26 days +
I go survival mode.

The AJC blogged my meals on the 30 day 512 mile trip and my website has some of the meals blogged but I was fed well by everyone on that 49 day trip.

I prefer ssurvival mode to enjoy the trip. Each meal took less than 10 minutes …start to finish. I found that food wasn’t so important just a necessity.

Paddlin’ on


"survival mode"
What does that mean? Bugs, bark and grass?

2 week trips=dee hi at night,
nuts fruit and jerky and string cheese at lunch and Granola and dried fruit at breakfast. Scotch for dessert.


snakes, preferably big rattlers.