Quick Tip #17

Here are some simple stocking stuffer ideas for the camper, bushcrafter or outdoor enthusiast in your life.

 

Ferocerium Rod (fire starter)
Magnesium block (fire starter)
UCO stormproof matches or any matches you can find
Bandana or Survival Bandana (Survival Tips printed on it)
Cordage (550 or 850 paracord, 1000# Paramax, bank line or even Jute twine which can also be used as tinder for starting fires.
Small lengths of fat wood
Compass
Pocket knife or Hobo Pocket Knife
Emergency Fishing Kit
Pocket Chainsaw
Emergency Whistle
Carabiners
Emergency Blanket
Emergency Candles
Books (Survival, Tracking, Weather Patterns, Edible Plants, Shelter Building etc…)
Trail Maps
Pre-packaged Camp food or snacks (Jerky, Mountain House, Backpacker Pantry ect…)
Mora Knife
Flashlight or headlamp
Duct Tape
Small Pocket or small camp stove
Emergency Rain Poncho
Emergency light sticks
Hand and feet warmers
Water Filter

 

These are just a few ideas for those that are not sure what to throw in their outdoor enthusiasts Christmas stocking. There are plenty of other small useful things that will fit in a Christmas stocking but if you are not sure what to fill that stocking with feel free to use this list to help you out. What outdoor themed things are you putting in a Christmas stocking this year that may not be on this list?

Trail Food: Dinners

These are just a few of the meal options I use for dinners when I’m backpacking. These meals are very versatile and can be adjusted to your tastes and needs. I adjust my serving portions based on whether I am going to be exerting a lot of energy hiking or if I am going to be staying around camp and spending more time fishing. Generally you are going to want to be taking in more calories if you are hiking all day long.

Meal 1: Hearty

1-2 servings of Instant Potatoes (You will need to add powdered milk as well)

½-1 cup of Dehydrated Vegetables

Dehydrated Meat or Tuna Fish Pouch

Butter Packet (optional)

Just add to hot water when you’re ready eat

*Write how much water you are going to need for the meal, on the baggy when you package it

Meal 2: Soup

1-2 cups of Dehydrated Vegetables

Chunks of Dehydrated Meat or TVP for Vegetarians

Any seasonings or spices you would like

Add to plenty of water to make it more of a soup consistency

* You can also add chunks of potato to make it more like a stew (carry a fresh potato) or Rice

*If I have any dinner rolls left I like to eat one with my soup

Meal 3: Sweet and Sour Chicken and Rice

1-2 servings of instant rice, cous cous or some sort of grain (I prefer Brown Rice)

Some Dehydrated Chicken or TVP

½-1 cup Dehydrated Vegetables

1-2 Sauce Packets (sweet and sour, soy sauce etc.)

Add to hot water when ready to eat

These are just some basic recipes to give you a basis with which to start making your own trail dinners. Think of these recipes as a launching point. You can adjust them and vary the recipes in many ways. You can add different meats, vegetables and spices or sauces to make for many different meals. You can also add arrowroot (healthier than corn starch) to your soup to make it thicker for more of a stew consistency. Test these recipes out and have fun adjusting them to your tastes. All my meals are interchangeable, meaning that sometimes I might use a breakfast meal for lunch or dinner or I might use a lunch for breakfast or dinner etc. Have fun with your meals and make them flavorful. You don’t have to eat bland boring food just because you are not in a kitchen. What kind of homemade trail meals do you use? Have you ever put together you own meals for backpacking/camping? I suggest testing any homemade recipes out ahead of time. It’s easier to make any adjustments that need to be made, at home, than it is on the trail. If you work out all of the bugs ahead of time, you’ll end up with easy, healthy, tasty, homemade trail meals that you made yourself.

Trail Recipes: Lunches

I’ll start off by saying that these are just a few lunch ideas that I use. These are not my only lunch “recipes” but may give you some extra ideas for your own trail lunches. In general I don’t like to stop for too long a period of time when I’m stopping for lunch. Because of that I try to eat something that doesn’t need to be warmed up or cooked unless it is going to be cold and I know in advance that I will want something to warm me up.

For quick lunches I like to pack homemade flour tortillas or homemade dinner rolls. I keep these at the top of my bag so that they don’t get crushed. Bread products do actually last for awhile on the trail. It just depends on how hot it is going to be. I then pack peanut butter packets, jelly packets and sometimes some honey. The honey is also great to have to sweeten your tea at night or possibly coffee. I squeeze these onto a roll or tortilla shell and I’ve got a sandwich. This way I can also keep hiking well eating if I would like. I bring a small baggy to place the used packets of peanut butter, jelly and honey in so I don’t end up with a mess in my pack. Sometimes I will also bring tuna fish that is in the pouches and mayonnaise packets so that I can make a tuna fish sandwich. Here are the recipes for the tortilla shells and dinner rolls I use.

 

DINNER ROLLS

3 ½ to 3 ¾ cups all-purpose or bread flour

¼ cup sugar

¼ cup butter, softened

1 teaspoon salt

1 package regular or quick active dry yeast (2 1/4 teaspoons)

½ cup very warm water (120-130 degrees)

½ cup very warm milk (120-130 degrees)

1 large egg

 

1) Mix 2 cups of the flour, the sugar, ¼ cup butter, salt, and yeast in a large bowl. Add warm water and warm milk and egg. Beat with electric mixer on low speed 1 minute, scraping bowl frequently. Beat on medium speed 1 minute, scraping bowl frequently. Stir in enough remaining flour to make dough easy to handle.

2) Place dough on lightly floured surface. Knead about 5 minutes or until dough is smooth and springy. Place dough in large bowl greased with shortening, turning dough to grease all sides. Cover bowl loosely with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place about 1 hour or until double. Dough is ready if indentation remains when touched.

3) Grease rectangular pan, 13x9x2 inches, with shortening.

4) Gently push fist into dough to deflate. Divide dough into 15 equal pieces. Shape each piece into a ball; place in pan. Brush with butter. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rise in warm place about 30 minutes or until double.

5) Heat oven to 375 degrees.

6) Bake 12-15 minutes or until golden brown. Serve warm or cool.

 

FLOUR TORTILLAS

4 cups all-purpose flour, plus additional for the counter

2 teaspoons salt

1 teaspoon baking powder

2 Tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 1/2 –inch pieces

4 Tablespoons nonhydrogenated vegetable shortening or lard, cut into ½-inch pieces

 

1) Combine the flour, salt, and baking powder in a large mixing bowl. Add the butter and shortening, and rub them into the flour mixture with your hands until you have pea-size lumps. Slowly add 1 ½ cups of warm water to the mixture, tossing with your hands as you go. Add an additional 1 tablespoon of water at a time (but don’t use more than 4 additional tablespoons) until you have a slightly sticky dough. Lay a clean, damp dish towel over the bowl. Let the dough rest for 10 minutes.

 

2) Flour the counter and divide the dough into 16 balls, each about 3 inches in diameter. Cover the balls with the damp towel and let rest for 5 minutes. Start heating a dry skillet on the stove over medium-high heat. (If you have two skillets, use them both.)

 

3) Use the rolling pin to roll out your first tortilla to 8 inches in diameter and 1/16 inch thick. Put it in the skillet and cook for 1 minute on each side, or until it is bubbly and starting to brown. Use the spatula to remove the tortilla from the pan. Repeat with the other balls of dough. Serve immediately or store covered, in a warm oven or under a warm, damp cloth until ready to serve.

For a warm meal I take a Ziploc bag and place 1-2 servings of instant potatoes in it. Then I add enough powdered milk to cover the needed milk for the instant potatoes (dependant on how many servings of instant potatoes you use). If you want butter in the potatoes just bring some butter packets to use. Now just add some dehydrated vegetables and some dehydrated meat of your choosing (or maybe TVP if you are vegetarian) and you’re all set. Just add to some hot water and allow it to sit for 5-10 minutes and you’ve got a wonderful warm lunch. I also use this for my dinners once in awhile.

Feel free to use these recipes or come up with your own but just know that you are not stuck having to buy trail food from your local sporting goods store. I do use mountain house meals once in awhile but I can’t imagine the cost of eating those strictly well on long hikes and they are generally full of sodium. I like to save money and I rather enjoy putting my own healthier meals together. I hope this post helps encourage you to come up with your own trail meals instead of settling for prepackaged. What meals do you make for lunch well on the trail?

Trail Recipes: Breakfast

These are the two main breakfast recipes I use when backpacking. My go to breakfast of choice is a mix of granola, powdered milk and dehydrated fruit. I place enough powdered milk to make 12 oz of milk, into a Ziploc bag. Then I add 1 ½ cups of granola on top of the powdered milk. Lastly I add in 1/4 -1/2 cup of any type of dehydrated or dried fruit that I like. Blueberries, mango and pineapple are some of my favorites. Just add cold water (dependant on the amount of powdered milk you use) and your good to go. Here is the granola recipe my wife uses:

6    c rolled oats

1/2 c maple syrup

1/2 c honey

1/3 c oil (coconut is good)

4    Tbsp butter, melted

1    Tbsp vanilla extract

8    oz nuts, chopped

1    c pumpkin OR sunflower seeds

1/2 c wheat germ

1/2 c flax OR sesame seeds

Cinnamon, to taste

Mix oats, nuts, wheat germ, seeds, and cinnamon in a large bowl. Combine wet ingredients (if using coconut oil, be sure to melt it with the butter) in a small bowl and mix thoroughly. Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and stir until everything is coated. Divide evenly between two cookie sheets. Bake at 250 degrees Fahrenheit for 1 hour, stirring every 15 minutes. Rotate cookie sheets half-way through baking.

Add dried fruit as desired.

*NOTE: My wife often substitutes molasses for the maple syrup, almond extract for the vanilla, or add nutmeg, cloves, or ginger to the cinnamon. This is a very flexible recipe!

My second mainly used breakfast recipe is basically a homemade oatmeal recipe. If I want some powdered milk in it I place it in the Ziploc bag first, usually enough for an 8 oz serving. Then I add two servings worth of old fashioned oats into the baggy. Lastly I add in any dehydrated or dried fruit and any nuts or seeds that I might like. I find that raisins, golden raisins and crasins to be the best. I like to add walnuts and flaxseeds as well. I like to place the fruits and nuts on a piece of saran wrap and wrap them up and then place them in the baggy. That way I can cook the oatmeal and then add the fruit and nut mix in after all the cooking is done. This makes a great breakfast for chilly mornings. I just place the oatmeal and powdered milk in 2 cups of water and cook until done. When cooking is done let it cool a bit and then just add the fruit and nut mix and enjoy. You can add things like cinnamon and sugar or other seasonings as well. I just like to keep it simple. These are just a couple easy homemade recipes I use when backpacking. I hope you find them useful and feel free to change them according to your taste.

Here is a quick tip for when you are sealing your Ziploc bag. When you have all the contents in the baggy zip it closed except the last ¼ inch. Insert a straw and suck the air out of the baggy carefully without sucking any of the ingredients out (this is why you want the powdered milk on the bottom of the baggy). Now pull the straw out well zipping the last bit of the baggy closed. This will make it much easier for packing later. Let me know if you found these recipes helpful and let me know how you may have changed them up for your own taste. What do you do for breakfast when out on the trail?

Cheap Healthy Trail Meals

Like most hikers/backpackers I’ve tried using expensive freeze dried food (Mountain House is the best I’ve ever tasted) or cheap prepackaged foods like ramen noodles or some form of pasta and cheese dish. Neither of these are a very healthy option so I decided to make my own prepackaged meals without all the preservatives and without tons of sodium.  If you have a vacuum sealer you can seal each of your meals individually. I usually just put my meals together a few days in advance so I don’t have to bother vacuum sealing each of them. I just place each individual meal in a sandwich size Ziploc bag and then place all the meals in a larger size Ziploc bag. If it’s a longer trip you will have to use a couple larger Ziploc bags. I place all my meals in order so that my next meal is at the top of the larger bag. I also place my prepackaged snacks in with the meals as well. Everything is in order so that I won’t have to unload the larger bag every time I want to eat. I like everything to be in order and this makes it a much quicker process at meal time.

For breakfast I generally fill a small Ziploc bag with homemade granola, fruit that I dehydrated and some powdered milk. That’s it! Just add cold water when you’re ready to eat. It tastes great and you know what’s actually in what you’re eating as well as saving a ton of money making your own dried food. If it’s colder I like to make up a bag with oatmeal and some of my dehydrated fruit. Sometimes I will add a little powdered milk as well. By making your own bag of oatmeal instead of using the prepackaged bags you’ll save a ton of money, be able to give yourself a bigger portion size and be able to add whatever you want, like fruits and nuts.

For lunches and dinners I’ll make either some form of pasta dish, rice dish or soup with rice or pasta in it. That way I’m getting some carbs for energy. I place all the dry ingredients as well as any spices in the bag and seal it up. This way when it comes time to eat all I have to do is add water and heat it up. For meat I either add dehydrated chicken, venison or a pouch of tuna fish. Tuna fish is the one thing I do buy prepackaged. It is easy to carry and they have a lot of flavors available now. I like to have some form of protein at every meal for sustained energy. You can also take homemade bread products that were just made fresh. You would be surprised how long they will last on the trail, if you don’t eat them first. I like to take homemade tortilla shells. They are awesome!  Just add a package of peanut butter and a package of honey or jelly and you’ve got a sandwich.

Obviously nuts and raisins make a great snack but I also like to take homemade granola bars and homemade graham crackers. Once you have homemade graham crackers you’ll never want another prepackaged one again. I also make my own jerky, which is great for snacking on well on the trail and easy to carry as well.

I hope this gets you thinking about having more control over what you’re eating on the trail as well as enjoying what you’re eating. You can actually enjoy your food, well saving money and being imaginative with what you’re eating. What things do you like to eat on the trail?