Pre-Trip Food Prep

ArticleMay 23, 2011

Bacon, sausage and hamburger create lots of grease. Cooking them in camp not only creates waste that attracts critters, but also makes a mess that is hard to pack out. Cooking them before the trip solves the problem and speeds up meal prep.

Simplify your kitchen.Nothing goes better with grilled meat than a baked potato. If you’ve got cooler space, partially baking them at home works well. If you have to bake them in camp, cut down most of the way through them 3-4 times, put butter in the cuts and double wrap them in aluminum foil—this really speeds up the cooking over the coals.

On our recent Grand Canyon trip, Alan showed us a neat trick. He grilled hamburger patties at home, wrapped them in foil and reheated them in our folding camp oven. Burgers in a hurry—no fuss, no mess.

Reclosable freezer bags (ziplock-type) work fine for lots of things but in a cooler, down in the melted ice, even the best of them will leak. A Seal-A-Meal-type unit gives a watertight (though non-reclosable) seal and some of these units also vacuum seal.

A no-mess way to fix meals like saucy pasta dishes is to seal them in plastic at home and drop the packets in boiling water to reheat. Making them in individual portion sizes works for smaller parties. Yes, it’s plastic and probably non-recyclable but you’re not wasting food or heating the extra water to clean messy pots and pans.

Speaking of recycling, be sure to recycle all the cans and plastic beverage containers. Cut down on pack-out waste by removing as much of the packaging from food items as possible—and recycling the packaging.

e-News subscriber Kathy sent in the following meal prep tips:

Keep a place at home to store plastic jars of various sizes that you might want for storing food items on a trip. That way you can measure out a cup of sugar or whatever and label it to indicate that it is for your meal #2.

Only put liquids in a container that originally contained a liquid.

You can spread a bag of frozen stir-fry vegetables (or most any other frozen vegetable) on your dehydrator. Cut the pieces that look too large for good drying into smaller pieces. Dry, then store in freezer zip locks. Store in freezer until time for your trip. Use to thicken soups or add to freeze dried dinners. This is a tip for backpackers or self-supporting trips without rafts.

Zucchini dries well. Slice with a cuisinart, if available. Dry in dehydrator. Store as above.

Pam, a fellow NRS Associate, adds this excellent way to make omelets:

Before the trip, prepare ingredients like chopped veggies (onion, bell pepper, tomato, mushrooms, jalapenos, cilantro, basil, etc), cooked ham/bacon/sausage, shredded cheese, etc, etc—let your imagination run wild! Store the goodies in freezer zip locks or other tight containers.

In camp, let everyone put the amount of egg (or egg beater-type product) they want in a zip lock bag, then customize their omelet with their chosen ingredients, along with salt and pepper to taste. Drop the bags in boiling water and voila, in a few minutes they have a tasty omelet-in-a-bag!

Eat the delicious dish right out of the bag or put it in tortillas for fine breakfast burritos. Add hot sauce and/or salsa for extra zip.

No mess, no dishes, just quick and easy eating!