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Pasta salads have been a big hit. I mix it the night before in a big ziplock and distribute in paper bowls at lunch. I add some ham, green pepper garbanzo beans, salami, provolone & Romano cheese etc. to tiny shell pasta and add some Newman's Italian dressing. Kept overnight in the cooler it's a cold lunchtime treat.
this is a good , cool lunch for a hot day. you can serve in flour torts also, eat by the river, mezzetta pepper rings and balsamic vinegar add a little kick, and sprinkle with italian spices
 

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Canned hummus is available at your local market...while not a good as sabra its doesnt leak or get waterlogged or need a spot in the cooler. I skewer and grill some Lebanese style chicken before heading out and keep it in the a ziploc. Pair it with some fresh veggies if ya want...throw it in a pita if you must...or just grab a pickle and chow down.

I eat hummus, pretzels,and a pickle everyday for lunch btw...still love it
 

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I like to do a few of things:

1. Pizza. I will order a couple of large pizzas then place 2 slices in a sandwich bag, repeat until I run out of pizza slices. Throw them in the cooler.
2. Bagels, veggie cream cheese, and smoked salmon. Note, I purchased "fresh" bagels once with no preservatives. DO NOT DO THAT! They are tastier and probably better for you but, on the river, they mold FAST! The store bought preservative filled bagels are a multi-day trip requirement.
3. Always have hummus and carrots as well as peanut butter and apples/celery.
 

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I pre cook a bunch of chicken and bacon and vacuum seal and freeze ,depending on how late in the trip my meal is. Then we have chicken bacon ranch wraps.
 

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Luck-of-the-Draw

Quart size zip lock bags, each is unique to give some variety, all packed into a 5-gallon gamma sealed bucket:
Sardines (many varieties), salmon foil packets, mini-salami, peanut butter mini-tubs, jerky, spam, etc...
Half-tube saltine crackers or the 9-grain multi-harvest crackers.
Cheese sticks or "baby-bells", dried fruit portions.
Candy packets: endless options.
Even throw in a preferred surprise/luxury item such as liquor-miniature or cigar. and a few pull-top cans of fruit or pie-filling at the bottom of the bucket, without labels, of course.

These long shelf life options work well on 18 day grand trip, or even keep a few handy for a short notice self-support hike or kayak foray. items can be traded to others for favorites. Include a napkin, plastic ware, or crushed red pepper packets if needed and reuse the zip-lock for the trash, after rinsing the sardine cans.
 

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Baby Bells?

I have been wondering about baby bell cheese. I am doing Labyrinth Canyon in a couple weeks sans cooler. Have you done a trip with baby bells, where you don't keep them in a cooler? I figure cheese is already preserving milk, and since it is wrapped in wax, it should be fine, right?

I experimented by leaving one in my car for a few days and eating it. It was a bit warm and slimy, but tasted fine. Anyone have more experience with this?
 

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We are planning to use it for English muffin pizzas, a la lunchables, and a little mozzerella would make the meal.

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Another thought that may or may not work well for heating a can of beans or chili for the walking tacos. When I go hunting, I usually have a can of soup that I heat up in my jet boil. I use the jetboil as a double boiler...add a little water in the jetboil, then open the can and set the can in the water in the jetboil. It heats up fairly quick, and doesn't generate a mess, and jetboiks are not a hassle. The big limitation would be group size.

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Option #1 Open face cold pizza sandwich. 1 slice of bread, spread your favorite sauce(red, green, white), favorite toppings(pepperoni, cheese, etc), shove in mouth.

Credit should be given to the wife. She came up with it. She's also made them in advance as well so they have melted cheese, and are then thrown in fridge to cool before packing in cooler.

Option#2 This isn't the healthiest, but I've been known to pick up cold fried chicken from the grocery store that's closest to the river. Specifically wings. Cold breaded wings are surprisingly good. ...and of course they go great with a cold beer!

I also like the idea of tortillas or some other flatbread instead of a loaf of bread for sandwiches. A lot less chance of squishing the flatbread in a drybox.
 

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I always plan for at least 1 "Mediterranean finger food buffet".

1 jar roasted red peppers
1 jar kalamata olives
1 jar pepperocini
1 tub Feta
1 jar pickled asparagus
1 package of really high quality - gourmet - cured meat of your choice
1 container hummus
crackers or pita

Feeds 5-8 - adjust volumes for group size

little bites - huge flavor... and it is amazing to have that kind of party on your taste buds on day 4 or later and it doesn't hog up cooler space
 

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Black Bean Salad Wraps

Black Bean Salad wrapped up in a tortilla:

canned blackbeans
corn
chopped tomatoes
scallions or red onion
cilantro
lemon or lime juice.

Chop/prepare ingredients at breakfast, mix in a ziplock bag, serve with a spoon out of the ziplock at lunch. Add some chicken or carne asada from the previous meal if you need meat.
 

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Chicken Chipotles wraps

My favorite lunch are wraps. We typically use sun-dried tomato and spinach tortillas.
My favorite variation uses mesquite smoked deli chicken as the protien.We use a sealed bottle of coleslaw dressing, and a bag of coleslaw. We add two or three pieces of Chipotle peppers with a couple teaspoons of adobo sauce.* to the bottle dressing. The chicken and coleslaw and be used to fill the tortillas in whatever proportion you like. Pretty yummy!


*Chipotles in adobo sauce comes in a can in the Mexican section.
You can trow the leftovers in with the meat filling, if you make tacos or burritos later in the trip.
 

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river lunch

GAZAPACHO!
Regular tomato juice, spicy V8, cilantro, garlic, worchestershire, some crutons or dried bread, canned corn, a diced onion, maybe a chopped cuke, add a pint or two of sour cream and some canned baby shrimp or crab at the last minute.:cool:
 

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That's better than our Grand Trip in 06...Hummus, hummus, hummus, hummus, and oh for a change individual cans of Vienna sausage for each person...chuckle

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I'd vote for gazpacho if I was doing a group lunch. A big jug of premade gazpacho served in cups to sip...very nice on first or second day of a hot trip. After that it gets strong. I now lean (and others on my trips are agreeing) that BYO lunches are the best...with one caveat...you pull over to eat. There are so many people that like breakfast and nonlunch or vice versa, that having everyone "just do lunch" (isn't that a dating site) works really well. Besides, my son and I just can't agree on the Pringles...original or flavored...the argument still rages.

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