Grand Canyon food pack, continued! - Mountain Buzz

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Old 12-17-2018   #1
Bozeman, Montana
Join Date: Mar 2011
Posts: 96
Grand Canyon food pack, continued!

Hey everyone! Thanks for all the great suggestions in this thread: I have a few more questions that are related but different, so I thought I'd start a new thread.

I've decided that we are going to do our own food for the trip. 8 people, 24 days, April 1.

At first, most of us were going to come from Bozeman which would make the shopping and packing a lot easier. However, a few of the original people just dropped out and I was able to re-assemble an all-star crew with 4 rafts in the last couple days. Only problem is that we are now spread across four different states. I can plan the menu, but buying it all and getting it to the put-in isn't an option in the limited truck space.

So here's my idea... I am thinking that each boatman can take 6 days of the menu, buy and prep the food for those 6 days, and freeze it in their own coolers before the trip. Those with the shittiest coolers will have the earlier part of the trip. Costs will be recorded and everyone will eventually pitch in their fair share.

Any other suggestions for how to get 24 days worth of food into four boats in four different states?

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Old 12-17-2018   #2
MT4Runner's Avatar
Kalispell, Montana
Paddling Since: 1997
Join Date: Apr 2012
Posts: 3,052
Seems that if you answer the normal meal prep/rotation questions, you're most of the way there.

Can everyone generally agree on meal quality? (foodie vs. subsistence fare)

Originally Posted by Electric-Mayhem View Post
I think the main thing people were questioning was that he wanted to put the frozen/chilled stuff for each persons meals on their boat. For shorter trips where keeping ice that isn't a big deal but on a July trip, its pretty much required to only be using stuff out of one cooler at a time or you stand to loose all your ice after the first week. With each boat carrying its own food for its own meals, and spreading the meals evenly throughout the trip... that makes it challenging to keep good cooler etiquette.
Since this won't work...likely you'll have people cooking meals that someone else shopped for and prepped, but that's not really that different from buying food packs from an outfitter. Seems that using a really robust spreadsheet like Rick A or co_bjread posted including quantities and volumes of each food supply per meal will help minimize confusion.
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Old 12-17-2018   #3
St. George, Utah
Paddling Since: 1974
Join Date: May 2011
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With four coolers I would suggest you have a dairy and vegi cooler separate from your meat and dinner frozen coolers. You don't want to have everything for 6 meals in one cooler. Save the good coolers for the most valuable meals. You will be consolidating coolers in the latter part of the trip. It will be a challenge to get everyone on the same page and the menu planning should be done by one person who then supplies shopping lists to the other trip participants.

We use the system you suggest for shorter trips and it works well, but having done the food for many Grand Canyon trips I think you are asking for trouble if you don't have a central person doing the menu.

Also I would think about going cooler free for at least half your meals. I have seen the food take over trips too many times. I would never cook something on the river that I wouldn't cook at home. Not worrying about loosing ice takes all the stress out of meal planning. It is only 3 weeks you will survive and have more camp time with simple meals.
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Old 12-17-2018   #4
Salt Lake City, Utah
Paddling Since: 1969
Join Date: Apr 2009
Posts: 401
Don't make it complicated. April 1 launch you should have zero cooler issues unless all your coolers are old style Igloo/Gott/etc. with 1inch walls. If you have any of those, use for your first week's food - they'll last. Use your best coolers to freeze into for weeks 2&3, and plan no cooler meals for your last 4-5 days - shouldn't be a challenge.
Root veggies (cabbage, potatoes, onions, carrots, turnips, etc. + cukes, and even tomatoes) require no refrigeration with your launch date and in fact will do better down in a drop bag or dry box. Anyone who carries them is responsible to check condition (dry if they get wet, cycle ones starting to "funk" into menus, etc.) daily and advise food crews so menus can be adjusted. Fresh veggies will last 10-12 days, iceberg lettuce (though tasteless) will last longer than Boston or Romaine (for the truly daring lately) - there are tons of options. You can buy big plastic box of dried mushrooms @ my local Costco, they are great in everything from omelettes to spag to quiches.
Just don't make it hard. You can grow sprouts really easily after all fresh veggies and lettuce is gone, they're great on tuna or chicken salad (from cans) Day 21/22/23.
Cream cheese lasts forever, black olives/asparagus/artichokes in cans, there's no end to what you can do cheaply, simply, and with little prep. KISS, and bring salty snacks for if it's hot and some quick and fast fillers if cold/rain (instant soups, chili or ?). Crackers last longer than bread, torts should make it through your whole trip. Canned fruit dunked in a drag bag tastes great on top of pancakes Day 21 breakfast!
Not so long ago (o.k., before self-fillers and most of you reading this were born) some of us went down there for even longer, ate well, hiked everywhere, and had fun. 4 boats for 8 people/24 days? Try 4 boats (three of them Udisco's), 16 people, 20 days to Diamond - and cooking on Colemans. Two coolers. Did that - and had fun. (1984, steady 45k flows which you will never see... )
You're not going to starve and if you're flexible about changing menus to accommodate what needs to be used there's no reason you can't eat fresh for at least 2 weeks, even given travel time for folks coming from four different states. Page is a bustling metropolis with HUGE grocery stores today - a little different than when we did food for 30 pax commercial trips late 70's/early 80's by grabbing two shopping carts per boatfolk and yelling at each other as we pushed them around "I'm doing salmon/cluck/steaks/spag/ham&pineapple - what you got?"
Point is you can do this - and cheaper/easier than if you paid to have it done. It's food, not rocket science. Spreadsheets? Really?
(Georgie White used to bring canned spag/chili/ravioli/stew and other disgusting "food", tear the labels off the cans and throw them in a plastic tub or pit in the sand and everyone got to dumpster dive for their night's meal - and heat it over wood fire. Not saying that's healthy or wise, but made her "wealthy" - relatively - and few complained.)
You're there for the experience - food is part of it, but not by any means the most important (as long as no one is hungry). Looking back over Grand trips spanning 5 decades, it's not even the great meals that are part of my memories. Folks, hikes, weather and water are...
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Old 12-17-2018   #5
Bozeman, Montana
Join Date: Mar 2011
Posts: 96
All good suggestions, thank you! Another thing I forgot to ask is, what do you do with all your trash when you aren't using the rocket box system? I'd like to keep trash to an absolute minimum, but I know it'll accumulate. We probably will have quite a few nights that we don't have a fire to burn it. I've heard of putting it in coolers but won't that make them smell awful forever?
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Old 12-18-2018   #6
Salt Lake City, Utah
Paddling Since: 1969
Join Date: Apr 2009
Posts: 401
Trash can get out of hand quickly so you need a few minutes talk before launch to get everyone on same page (among other topics). I like to save safety, itinerary, and how to deal with rapids for on the water (Lee's to 6 Mile is plenty of time), but you need to have a plan for trash from the moment you leave those dumpsters on the boat ramp behind...
Cans get rinsed and crushed every night or morning, you can get so many in a standard rice bag (polyethylene sand bags) that it's heavy to lug around. I separate alu (drinks) from steel (food) for recycling, but you can throw together if just making a donation...
Three larger poly bags in kitchen every night, labeled: "Burn" "Plastic" & "Orgo" (even better to use a bucket w/gamma lid for orgo, lined with a trash compactor bag - that's another suggestion, carry trash compactor bags instead of garbage bags since they're thicker/stronger). Plastic gets rinsed (have a slop bucket for garbage separate from the one for dishes, strain both into river & put residue into "orgo") and carried in its bag until it gets obnoxious, then use tin snips to cut up and stuff into wide mouth jars. That's a job for a fire night, usually accompanied by suitable beverages, and find the right diameter stick to mash with - not too sharp, and keep an eye on the garbage meister/operator. It's astonishing how much plastic you can compact into a big mayo jar...
Fire every other night or every third or even fourth, burn your paper and cardboard and
when it's roaring, add orgo as possible. Orgo on a grate will reduce down to close to 10% original volume and no longer smell. Re-burn when you can.
Glass containers get rinsed and go back where they came from. You can pack clean plastic and even orgo into them, if worried a shot of bleach or organic preservative will kill odor.
You don't need to carry a lot of wood or charcoal (April 1 is outside wood collection season) to have a good hot fire every third or fourth night. Pack your charcoal inside trash compactor bag in spare groovers - you will use it ahead of the need for the groover. Bring a quart of LBS (liquid boy scout, i.e., charcoal lighting fluid).
Keep ahead of your garbage and it won't run you out of space. Get rid of as much packaging as you can before the trip or on the boat ramp, but remember you need to carry a lot of beer for the cardboard so you can start fires...
Hope this helps.
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Old 12-18-2018   #7
sledhooligan's Avatar
Craigamerica, -
Join Date: Mar 2009
Posts: 165
Think people try to over complicate food for a Grand trip. One person being in charge of all the food? Fuck that noise. You shouldn't have to baby sit people to get there shit together for a Grand trip.

The march trip I TL for my girlfriend this year we had 5 boats with 11 people. I found out what kind of coolers each person had and went from there. No shared shopping no shared meat dairy bullshit. Just each boatman getting what days they have and them shopping and packing there coolers. The last thing I want is to be paired up with someone 500 miles away and trying to coordinate,shop then pack it at the ramp.
One of our group is a retired couple that was travelling a lot so they decided to rent a boat from Mo and have them do there portion of meals. I gave them the last 6 days worth of meals since they had a 220 and being able to freeze it.
I made a simple google doc showing whats days everyone had. My other rule was any trash accumulated on your meal days was your responsibility.
I repack and vacuum seal all my stuff so my trash for 5 days was two 20/30L drybags.
Groover duty ran opposite of meals. so if you had meal duty first part of the trip your shiter cans didn't get used to the end.
No one cares that you are a river guide
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Old 12-18-2018   #8
Electric-Mayhem's Avatar
Lakewood, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1993
Join Date: Jan 2004
Posts: 1,476
If you can't manage to get it all done and in a truck by your idea is to show up to Flagstaff a few days early and do the food buy, prep, and pack there. This will be schedule permitting, but its very common to do it that way. Just get an Air BNB or rent the River House from Moenkopi.

If you can't manage to come to Flagstaff a few days early, it really comes down to the people doing it on whether I would trust them to do it right on their own. Probably good if they submit their meals to the group, and state what their purchase quantities and portions will be. If you don't cook for a group very often, it is hard to get portions right sometimes.

You'll definitely need to do some cooler coordination. Like MTRunner quoted me as saying from the other thread... you only want to use one cooler at a time and leave the others shut till you are ready for them. April will be a little bit easier then mid-july, but its still gonna be in the 80's to 100's in the middle of the day some days, so good cooler etiquette is still important. Definitely take Dsrtrat's (that is hard to type) advice and plan some meals towards the end of the trip that you don't have to keep cool. One key to success is canned meats. I make a badass canned chicken Thai Curry that I leave for the end of the trip. Lots of other options for that kind of meal too.
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Old 12-18-2018   #9
Salida, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1986
Join Date: Jun 2012
Posts: 958
DIY is a shit-ton of work but very rewarding.

Please post a summary of your experience after the trip. I'm especially interested in how it goes with the no rocket box system and how you accounted for shitty coolers!

I can say my 8 person/24 day trip in 2013 with Moenkopi was closer to 1100-1200 each with shuttle and toilets and boats and food and everything, so I'd also be thinking a little differently at 2000/head.

Have fun!!!
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Old 12-19-2018   #10
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Kalispell, Montana
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Join Date: Apr 2012
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I like to eat well, but with a couple (2?) shitty coolers out of four, you're really hamstrung for 24 days.

Shitty coolers should be "OK" for maybe 6-7 days, but you'll still have to religiously manage them, keep covered with damp towels, etc. Once you start opening your "good" coolers they're maybe good for 5-7 days when they're opened regularly.

Like B4otter said, plan on canned supplies and meals.

Perhaps set up a plan with cooled supplies days 1-7, canned food days 8-11, then crack your first good cooler for days 12-16, canned 17-19, and cold supplies as a treat 20-24?
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