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My wife and I float remote arctic rivers in Alaska each summer/fall. On fly in trips, weight/volume are always obstacles when planning meals. Also, if you are not carrying a cooler, you have more to factor in. While there are many ways to do things, some work better than others. Each float trip, we revise our food choices, holding on to what worked last time, and improving on food choices we were not so happy. Below is a brief run down of how I do things. Perhaps some of this information will generate some thought to help you better plan food on your next float trip.

For breakfast, we like bagels with the precooked bacon packs. The Boars Head comes in two seperate pouches which is convenient. Oscar Meyer comes in one bigger pack. We like block cheese and Harvest Food eggs (see their website for all kinds of great products). I use their powdered oil/shortening in my dutch oven. Works just like regular oil but without the weight/mess. We also take hot oatmeal and recently discovered Richmoor cold cereal. Just add water type. It comes in granola with strawberries and granola with raspberries. Both are delicious. I am 6' 6" and weigh 300 lbs. So I will buy 4 packs of the cereal and vacuum seal. 2.5 for me and 1.5 for my wife. If you eat a 2,000 calorie a day diet normally, perhaps one pack would be enough for breakfast. They taste great. I buy mine from www.wildernessdining.com This site sells lots of other great food items. Check out their website for all kinds of food related items. Great selection of hard to find items. I get the peanut butter and jelly individual packs there too. Great for putting on flour tortilla wraps or bagels for snacks/lunches. Very convenient. Comes with strawberry or grape jelly. These are larger packs and have plenty to make a sandwich or bagel. They also sell cheese in packs like this. That with some pilot bread would make a great snack/lunch.

For lunch we take Mountain House Pro Paks. Vacuum sealed and slightly smaller portions than the regular Mtn House meals, they pack small and light yet are plenty for lunch. They come in about 10 different types. Chilli-Mac, spaghetti, and Lasagna are my favorites. Go to the Mountain House website and order there. One nice thing about having these meals for lunch everyday is that it makes things simple. No meal planning. Save that for the dinners. Keep it simple. Just boil some water riverside and have lunch. This route also saves weight compared to many other food ideas.

For dinner, we go through more trouble. For the purpose of good morale perhaps. We take Darn Good (brand) dried chilli bags and make Jiffy cornbread in the dutch oven. We also make grayling gumbo. We take Zatarains Gumbo (dry mix) and slivers of about 2 lbs of grayling. Cook slow while the Bisquick garlic biscuits cook in the aluminum GSI 10" dutch oven. It only weighs 4 lbs and can be found on the wilderness dining website above. Also at Campmor.com. We cook fish for about 3/7 meals too. Usually dolly vardon (arctic char). We get Idaho instant potatoes (garlic is our favorite). We will make garlic bisuits in the dutch oven to go with. We also make mac and cheese to go with fish. Simple things like that. Some of the easy to make Suddenly Salad brands are nice too. They have a ranch and italian cold pasta salad. Great sides for a fish meal. We have also packed the 10" pita pizza deals. Take the pizza sauce in the bags and some block cheese to grate. Two person may be enough. And of course the pepperoni. In a pinch, we will just have one of the extra Mtn House Pro Paks. Maybe too tired to cook or got into camp late. Bad weather and such. I always carry 2-3 extra Mtn House Pro Paks. One tip, tape a disposable plastic spoon to the lasagna packs. The cheese in them is nearly impossible to get off your standard Lexan spoon. We burn the disposable spoon with the bag the meal was in. Dishes done.

Save the clean lexan spoon for stirring the 100 proof peppermint schnapps into the hot chocolate. Also, Captain Morgans rum and hot apple cider is a good camp fire drink. For other times of the day, we take Crystal Light sticks and perhaps one gatorade packet per person/per day.

For deserts, we take the Backpackers Pantry (brand) cheese cake and cream pie (same things). I love lemon, but chocolate mousse, strawberry, banana, and dark chocolate are great. Just add and stir some cold water into the bag, then sprinkle the graham cracker crumbs on top (included in the pack) and then let it sit and think for about 10 minutes. This desert must be tried. Amazing stuff.

For snacks, the normal fare. Dried fruit and beef jerky vacuum seals to very small packs. Leave out the mango and apricots as it makes everything sticky. We love Cliff bars as they can get squished and are not effected by heat. Comes in about 20 flavors. And of course some home made gorp with the larger size M&M's.

For coffee, only Peet's arabian mocha java or major dickisons blend will do. Order online from Peet's and specify that you want press pot grind. You do this when finalizing the order. Get a french press to take on the trip. I have a stainless model that I got from Campmor. I think they quit carrying that model, but REI and others carry it. GSI also makes some lexan french presses. They work fine, I just preferred the stainless model. Point is, this makes great coffee and it is the perfect way to start a day on a float trip. We get small 16,8,4 ounce nalgene bottles (campmor) and put the coffe, powdered creamer, and sweetener in them. Good stuff man.



So how do you guys/gals do it. I am always looking for new food ideas.
 

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MRE's.
 

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Only thing I would add is a good variety of different spices, too change things up from day to day for whatever dish you serve up. Tabasco sauce is one I must carry for me.( a must have for MRE'S)
 

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The time I brought MREs on an overnight as the main dinner, I was lucky I didn't get wrapped in duct tape and tossed into Skull hole...

I used to try to get really extravagant on the river then realized I was spending too much time preparing meals in a place where my time is limited - "I didn't spend all this time and effort getting here to chop celery." I've since tried to go with relatively simple but tasty dishes that require minimal on-river prep. A Seal-a-Meal is great for doing the prep ahead of time but remember to bring ziplocs for leftovers. I've even gotten away from bringing the Dutch Oven on trips just because its a large item to bring unless you're going for a few days or more.

-AH
 

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The time I brought MREs on an overnight as the main dinner, I was lucky I didn't get wrapped in duct tape and tossed into Skull hole...

I used to try to get really extravagant on the river then realized I was spending too much time preparing meals in a place where my time is limited - "I didn't spend all this time and effort getting here to chop celery." I've since tried to go with relatively simple but tasty dishes that require minimal on-river prep. A Seal-a-Meal is great for doing the prep ahead of time but remember to bring ziplocs for leftovers. I've even gotten away from bringing the Dutch Oven on trips just because its a large item to bring unless you're going for a few days or more.

-AH
Some people just can't take a joke.
 

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Dan,

Instead of mac and cheese with your fresh fish, try couscous. I like the boxes of flavored couscous - lentil couscous, sundried tomato couscous etc. Just add boiling water, cover, let sit a few minutes, and there it is. It goes great with fish!

In a pinch, and/or if you are broke, try 2 packs of shrimp-lime ramen and a pack of tuna (try the sweet and spicy tuna). Sounds icky, but it is damn good, cheap, and filling.
 

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For long trips (10 days or more) or without a cooler, I take a few pre-pack freeze-dried meals, for bad weather or epic days.

But for the most part it's pretty efficient to pack staples in bulk (couscous, pasta, rice, dry milk, dry hummus, freezedried vegs and fruit & refried beans, peanut butter, olive oil, etc.) Many different kinds of meat & fish come in those flexible pouches, which pack really well. Tomato sauce, garlic, pesto, and other goodies come in tubes. Tortillas and bagels pack well. I also take small crackers in those clear-plastic square jugs (dry-roasted peanuts) and squeeze cheese (many flavors including cream cheese).

The idea is to take more weight in food and less in containers. Also, to be able to vary your menu and portion sizes.

Sounds like the fishing and foraging is good. That adds to the fun, if you're in a place that can stand it.

Have you read Make Prayers to the Raven by Richard Nelson? Lots of good info on the food resources of interior Alaska, plus it's a good book about the native people.
 

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Couscous rocks for an easy side dish. I take it backpacking too. A trick for for the back country is to re-package it in a freezer bag, then all you have to do is boil water and add to the bag. (I'm not a fan of 'cooking' in plastic, but make an exception here.) Nothing to clean up.

Andy - No DO?!?!?! I just got one this year and am digging it.

French Presses - I'm not a fan of the GSI french press. The plastic around the screen is not durable. I'm on my second one of the small version. Bought the larger size (the new and improved version w/a burgandy insulated sleeve instead of the black, older version) for a recent trip and it was brought to me in four pieces on day 3. I'm now looking for a press with a plunger that doesn't have any plastic on the plunger.
 

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French Presses - I'm not a fan of the GSI french press. The plastic around the screen is not durable.

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We use a stainless model that is very durable. I tried to find it online, but had a hard time. Sold out or not made, can't say. Link below to the model we have. Perhaps you can find it online. I did see it on Amazon, but not at the other stores. REI and Campmor used to sell it. Perhaps check with www.wildernessdining.com Link below....

X-Press Stainless Steel French Press at REI.com
 
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