A backpacker’s guide to dinner on the trail

For those of us who start thinking about lunch before even cleaning up from breakfast, planning dinners for a weekend backpacking trip can be… discouraging. Freeze-dried food is tolerable (just barely) for longer trips requiring heavier packs, but for a one- or two-nighter, you can do better.

On a recent trip into the Olympic Mountains, my boyfriend and I succumbed to one of these just-add-water-and-wait teriyaki rice packets for our second night, but we couldn’t bring ourselves to buy more than that. So instead, we reverted to an old tried-and-true favorite of my parents (who, admittedly, have decided that carrying fresh pasta and wine up 5,000 feet is worth the weight!) I recommend this basic, one-pot meal to all mountaineers looking for something that is significantly better than the worst, hearty, and protein-rich.

IMG_3335Backpacking chicken rice
Serves 2

1 ½ cups white Minute Rice
1 packet Lipton Onion Soup Mix
½ cup dehydrated vegetables (often sold in bulk)
1 packet of chicken (similar to canned chicken, but it comes in a packet. Tuna also works)
Black pepper

1. Before hitting the trail, mix the dry ingredients (rice, soup mix, dehydrated vegetables, and pepper) into a plastic baggy. Using a sharpie, write cooking instructions, found on the Minute Rice box, on the bag for later reference.

2. Once you have settled into camp, prepare the dry ingredients by following the rice instructions. It is a good idea to add a tablespoon or so of extra water to account for the dehydrated vegetables. Once the water is absorbed add in the chicken, and, voila! Dinner.

For you die hards wondering about liquid refreshment, I recommend a small plastic flask of gin with dehydrated lime powder (found in the energy drink section.) This is an especially good idea if you are headed into snow/glacier country. It’s not gourmet, but picture this:

Tired legs, hungry bellies, a flat rock overlooking an alpine lake at dusk, and a warm bowl of chicken and rice followed by a cup of gin-on-ice. Sounds picture perfect to me.

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