BWCA Meal progression from fresh to dehydrated Boundary Waters BWCA Food and Recipes
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member (22)member
09/01/2020 07:34PM  
In the early 1980s I was in a 23 day program at the Colorado Outward Bound School (COBS). Food in the program was austere and as I organized my own trips later as a solo backpacking young adult I shifted towards the prepackaged, dehydrated meals that remain the culinary mainstay of backpacking.

Nonetheless there are certain lessons from those days that remain relevant. Chief among them is the strategy of starting the trip on heavier, perishable foods and moving to lighter, more storage-tolerant foods as the trip progressed.

1st night with a large group, tacos.
2nd night with 9 people, cheese pizzas and salad.
3rd night, spaghetti with fried zucchini.
4th night, rice and beans.

The solo backpacking I did in the 1990s had weight constraints not present for family/group canoe trips that I contemplate today. There's ultralight gear that didn't exist then, weight is less a problem on group trips than solo ones, and weight on a BWCA trip is simply not as critical as it is while backpacking in the mountains.

Are there books or other resources for exploring this approach to food? At COBS we carried tomato paste and made it into spaghetti sauce; it's cheaper than powder and not much heavier. Things like bringing frozen meat for the first night or two are well understood. What works for you?
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09/01/2020 09:42PM  
Yes...there are books and probably some YouTubes. I think there are some books in the BWJ (Boundary Waters Journal) in the store section. Buy a dehydrator....they're not hard to use. Burger, shredded chicken, spaghetti sauce...all easily done. Go to the store and get creative as you walk the aisles. You can assemble good, lightweight meals easily. Yes, its not as critical as backpacking, but weight and space are still an issue depending on length of trip and rugged portages. There are a lot of good ideas in this forum if you dig deep enough.
distinguished member(1962)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
09/03/2020 12:25AM  
Even on family trips, I am very unwilling to carry much fresh food other than my salami and cheese for lunches. My tripping history with trips up to 40 days was different than COBS in that we just didn't carry fresh foods for dinners, so I have adopted that model and enjoy it since I make/mix my own dehydrated meals.

But you bring up an interesting concept for people who want fresh food.
senior member (84)senior membersenior member
10/03/2020 06:52PM  
You might want to check out the book "The NOLS Cookery." I was an instructor for Voyageur Outward Bound School (VOBS) for a number of years, and we would definitely bring a combination of fresh food and staple foods (pasta, rice, oatmeal, etc). Our trips were often 21+ days, and I felt like we ate well. Now that I trip with our family (5 kiddos ranging from 10 to 2.5 yrs), we do an approach similar to what you are talking, but our trips are shorter at this point. Block cheese can last far longer in the summer than most people think. NIDO powdered whole milk is awesome and commonly found when searched. Potatoes, onions, carrots, and even cabbage will last a long time in a food pack. I saved all my menus from days at VOBS (along with group sizes and how accurate our packing was) and have modified to meet our needs.
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