BWCA bring it vs. outfitter supplied? Boundary Waters BWCA Food and Recipes
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9th Bearded Infantry
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01/30/2013 10:04AM   (Thread Older Than 3 Years)
Hi folks,

I'm curious if anyone has ever done the math regarding cost for bringing your own food vs. getting from an outfitter? We're looking to bring food for the first time and I'm just curious if I'll end up saving money or if it's a wash? Either way, I'm excited to bring our own stuff to have more menu variety. There's also the, "we did this ourselves," factor.

Looked at one of the outfitters and it's estimated at over $200/person for 6 nights/7 days. For our group of 8 guys, that's $1,600! Holy cow. I can't imagine it'll cost anywhere near that to buy ourselves but won't know for sure until I start detailing out some things. What have you all found?

Thanks!
 
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01/30/2013 11:37AM  
For 6 nights and 7 days we have been averaging $80 to $100 per person over the last few trips.

We eat pretty well. Highlights: fresh meat first night, pizza night, taco night, spaghetti etc. We dehydrate a lot of lean ground beef and sauces.

I am interested in what others would say. The outfitters have a lot of labor in putting food together for a trip. I think it is way cheaper to do it on your own.

 
billconner
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01/30/2013 12:15PM  
We estimate 6-8 dollars per day per person but varies a lot from year to year. My biggest reasons for doing it ourselves is I like doing it and experimenting and outfitters always pack too much IMHO.

I suppose if you did all freeze dried trail food, outfitters might not be too much different - but you would still have too much I suspect.

I do spend a lot of time in prep - dehydrating and packaging and shopping - so consider that as well.

My son went to Denali with Scouts and they ran into a soloist who ate freeze dried peas - and that was all - for days. Ate them freeze dried. I'm sure it was economical and efficient.

 
01/30/2013 04:30PM  
I buy my own - that way I get what I like and only as much as I'll eat. I've got it down to where I don't carry a whole lot out, which means I didn't carry a lot of extra weight around. I also don't like to have to pack out leftovers. It costs me maybe half that much. And probably weighs half as much.
 
puckster
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01/30/2013 06:08PM  
I'll join the chorus -- yes, do it yourself! WAY, WAY cheaper, and more fun. And you already nailed the other plus -- the pride of figuring it out yourself.

PLUS, as a newcomer to this site, I have been AMAZED at the number of quality recipe suggestions on this discussion thread. By spending a little time and scrolling through (remember the other pages) lists of questions and ideas, you'll easily fill up your menu with great food.

Bon appetit!

Puckster

 
BRic
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01/30/2013 06:22PM  
I guess it depends on your diet and appetite but it's way cheaper. Personally I think I'm about $5-6 per person per day, but I go pretty minimal.

I also think it's a little healthier than what the outfitters would provide.

 
jeroldharter
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01/30/2013 09:02PM  
A dehydrator is an expense that pays for itself if you want to take your own food. Especially true for a group.
 
DRBOBDERRIG
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01/30/2013 09:13PM  
We pay for it in the extra weight...but it is cheaper and we get larger portions... and that is part of the fun putting the trip together. We bought food from the outfitter the first couple times until we began to start figuring out how it works.

The first lunch on our first trip on the first day (back in 1993 or 94) the desert was 1 piece of hard candy... we had 6 boy scouts in our group and 4 adults (the last year we could have 5 canoes /10 in a group). I thought I was going to have rebellion on my hands.

The second year, we brought a 5 gallon bucket of extras (granola bars, COOKIES) etc to go with the outfitter meals...and that helped a lot.

Once we decided canoe camping was in our blood we worked to become fully outfitted.

drbob
 
01/31/2013 08:08AM  
Think others got it covered, cheaper, bring what you want, pack it how you want. If you are going again and again, buy stuff you can use on future trips, equipment wise.

That being said, outfitter supplied = no time expended at all on above things, show up, good to go,= lots of time saved. That is the cost of using their food. If you don't like prepping/getting for a group, use outfitter food. But if you have multiple family members going out of your wallet, to me its' a no brainer, plan and bring it.
 
01/31/2013 09:14AM  
quote buz: "Think others got it covered, cheaper, bring what you want, pack it how you want. If you are going again and again, buy stuff you can use on future trips, equipment wise.


That being said, outfitter supplied = no time expended at all on above things, show up, good to go,= lots of time saved. That is the cost of using their food. If you don't like prepping/getting for a group, use outfitter food. But if you have multiple family members going out of your wallet, to me its' a no brainer, plan and bring it."


I concur. We used the outfitter completely once and it was fine. Show up and its all ready.

However, doing it myself rewards me in two ways.

1. The wallet. I am a cheap so and so. It gives me a good feeling to save a few dollars.

2. The satisfaction of making it myself, plus, there is some entertainment value as well.
 
saltdog
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01/31/2013 12:10PM  
We supply all our own food for the trip. I agree with the above comments about being cheaper and the satisfaction and joy of doing it all yourself. I would add that we start shopping and preparing for the trip soon after the previous summer trip is over. That spreads out the costs over a longer period of time and it is not such a big hit to the wallet when you get to the outfitter. Besides, I can usually slip a few things into my wife's shopping cart when she is not looking.
 
9th Bearded Infantry
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01/31/2013 01:14PM  
Here's what I'm thinking, but any input would be great. Just got started on this so it'll probably change/upgrade between now and June. Our menu will be relatively simple for our first time bringing it alone. 8 guys over 6 nights/7 days.

Dinners probably looking like steaks first evening, 2 nights of chicken tacos (with the foil packages similar to tuna), 3 nights of mountain house.

For breakfast I'm thinking 2 days of pancakes (shake and pour, repackaged so only bringing one bottle), 2 days of bacon/egg/cheese tacos, 2 days of a big pot of oatmeal.

Everyone will be responsible for their own lunches but I'll be bringing sausage/cheese/crackers, various clif bars, trail mix, etc. Each guy also responsible for their own evening snacks which will be similar to lunch food. Any fish we catch will be seen as bonus.
 
jeroldharter
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01/31/2013 03:31PM  
Sounds good, but I would not have each guy bring his own lunch/snacks/whatever. That is 8 guys with food in as many as 8 packs with 8 different guys farting around each morning packing stuff. An invitation for problems.

I would do just what you plan for your meals. For each of the day's lunch we pack dried fruit, nuts, jerky, Cliff bar, and a Kool Aid packet. Keep it simple for lunch. For evening snacks, bring a variety of candy bars or whatever the group likes, but keep it in the food pack. Although we are not completely rigid, we like to have one guy (in a group of 2-4) who is in charge of the food bag in terms of keeping it clean and organized, dealing with garbage, etc. Eight guys rummaging through food barrels would be an aggravation for everyone.

The only thing we allocate to the individual is alcohol such as a flask of whiskey.
 
01/31/2013 03:52PM  
9th,

You are getting the idea. I usually will pack all of the components of each meal into its own zip lock. One or two gallon bags work pretty well. Then I'll use the types of bags that are trade show give aways or sold at grocery stores as reusable to put my zip locks in.

I usually put all of the breakfasts together, snacks together etc in those bags and then into the food pack. Keeps things fairly organized.

When I go with that large of a group we use 2 food packs.
 
9th Bearded Infantry
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01/31/2013 04:34PM  
Cool. I'm pretty excited about this actually. With the money I'm saving, I'll be covering about half the cost of the barrel and ccs barrel pack I'm planning to buy. Looking more and more like I'll be getting the 60L, but that might be a discussion for another thread.
 
eagle93
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01/31/2013 05:09PM  
Looks like you have a great start. Don't forget the noodle aisle of your store. Chicken helper, hamb helper, knorr sides, uncles ben's beans and rice. I usually pack about a cup of pancake mix/person, but I usually fed hs students. On long days plan two lunch breaks, you need the energy and an excuse to drink water. We would feed a group of 8 for 5 days for $400-$450. And nobody was hungry.
 
DRBOBDERRIG
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02/01/2013 06:56AM  
foil pack chicken seems to get trickier to find....get a good early start. Sometimes the box stores stop carrying it.
 
02/01/2013 08:53AM  
I agree with not letting other food be brought, a mess to organize, and then get in the right place. You can use your planning as a way to get buy in for all the individuals for what is being planned. Let them review the menu/suggest things, you be the master planner/buyer/organizer.

Also for organization in the pack/barrel. Keep all the meals, B/L/D/snacks in some sort of separate labeled/different color/shape bag for each meal. That will immediately cut down on sorting stuff out, breakfast, for example, pull the breakfast bag out, go from there. I have found this to be really important the bigger the group.
 
9th Bearded Infantry
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02/01/2013 08:53AM  
quote DRBOBDERRIG: "foil pack chicken seems to get trickier to find....get a good early start. Sometimes the box stores stop carrying it."

Amazon is going to be my friend as I plan this out.
Valley Fresh Premium White Chicken Cuts, 7-Ounce Pouches (Pack of 12)
 
DRBOBDERRIG
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02/01/2013 10:26PM  
whoa...there you go. not the worst price wise and you don't have to drive all over the place trying to find the stuff. Thanks for solving that problem.
 
02/02/2013 01:38PM  
Here are some idea's that seem to work pretty well for this ole geezer.
Dehydrate Hamburger: Brown it, drain off grease, rinse with Hot water, and put it in a dehydrator. dehydrate 16 - 24 hours.
Keep track of how much you dehydrate per rack ( I put 1 lb of meat per rack) I figure 1/3 - 1/2 lb per person per meal.
When I pack it in zip locks, I put a folded over paper towel in the zip lock first, and then put the hamburger in the middle and keeps dried burger from poking through bag. \
I then deyhydrate Spaggetti Sauce out of a bottle or can. Comes out like fruit roll up. Tear it up and put in zip lock.
I then get some spaggetti or small elbow macaroni.
Boil Water to use to rehydrate Spagetti Sauce, and Reydrate Hamburger.
1/3 lb of Burger per person. Let sit and rehydrate 20 - 30 minutes.
Then boil water for Small elbow macaroni, drain water, add hamburger, then add spaggeti sauce. take some parmesian cheese also in small zip lock. Meal for Kings!
Another idea, Kraft Mac and Cheese 1/2 pkg per person is a good size portion. I take hot dogs and cut them up and add to this.
The hot dogs will last several days. ( I would use them like the 2nd or third day to be safe) I package in zip locks not in the box they come in, for packaging ease and pack space.
Knorrs side dishes: My favorite is Teryaki Rice (and I add Chicken.) 1/2 package of Knorrs per person. I then dehydrate can of Swanson White Meat Chicken or add the foil pouch stuff. I also dehydrate broccoli: Cut it up, blanch it for 5 minutes, and dehydrate it. I take an extra foil pouch of Terryacki Sauce (dry stuff in grocery store in Oreintal food Isle)
This adds much more flavor.
Another idea is Hormel Hard Salami for lunch already sliced, and get so Ritz Crackers. Great Lunch. (Jerky and Salted Nut rolls (the little ones at the grocery store) and little kids fruit chews are good also)
Single Pack LifeSavers are also one of my favorite after a portage or a couple after lunch (small treat)
I take Insant Oatmeal, 1 Plain & 1 Flavored and Mix em together. per person. I add Freeze dried Strawberries, Really makes a nice touch and weigh NOTHING. (for an added touch, I always take HONEY and put it on my oatmeal for flavor and energy)
Cooked Breakfast: Pre-Cooked Bacon, Hungary Jack Hashbrowns come in a little milk carton looking box in HyVee grocery store. 1 Carton feeds two guys. Repack into zip locks. Rehydrate hashbrowns 10 - 15 minutes, drain water, and cook them, then add pre-cooked bacon pieces to hashbrowns and stir, now you have hot hashbrowns and warm bacon.
eggs optional but I always have scrambled eggs for two breakfasts.
2 eggs per person, Google Ova Easy Eggs they are Egg Crystals and good!!!
email me with questions! I like food :) hope that helps.

SunCatcher
Goolash
Freeze dried Stawberries rehydrating
Knorrs Teryaki Rice with Chicken and Broccoli added (Doctored UP)
hasbrowns and bacon

Also like the hashbrowns for the first night with the steaks...enjoy
 
02/02/2013 04:10PM  
I have noticed that our
local Target has a lot of dried food, including strawberries and other fruit. Also, many dinner options
 
DRBOBDERRIG
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02/02/2013 07:35PM  
I tried dehydrating spaghetti sauce once....did something wrong because it wanted to stick to the tray.... stuff comes in plastic jars so that is the way I bring it rather than dehydrating it.
check out large elbow macaroni rather than small sometime.
Also check out bagels...they hold up for a long time are filling and can do a lot of things with them...I haven't brought bread for years.
French toast flavore bagels make a decent breakfast.
Soft Taco shell (kind that doesn't fall apart easily) is pretty useful for meals.
 
luft
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02/03/2013 12:56AM  
quote 9th Bearded Infantry: "
quote DRBOBDERRIG: "foil pack chicken seems to get trickier to find....get a good early start. Sometimes the box stores stop carrying it."

Amazon is going to be my friend as I plan this out.
Valley Fresh Premium White Chicken Cuts, 7-Ounce Pouches (Pack of 12) "


You can also find these chicken packets at Target, Walmart, and even Menards if you have those near you.
 
Frenchy
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02/03/2013 05:43AM  
I have always made all of our own food. I know what is in the food, and have more choices than the outfitter menus. It does take some time and planning, but that is all part of the experience.
I know we do it much cheaper than the advertised costs at an outfitter.
 
02/11/2013 01:10PM  
quote Frenchy: "I have always made all of our own food. I know what is in the food, and have more choices than the outfitter menus. It does take some time and planning, but that is all part of the experience.
I know we do it much cheaper than the advertised costs at an outfitter.
"


I did this last year as well and it worked out well for our crew. I tend to do all of my own foods since I have a nut allergy. It's not something I want to mess with deep in the woods.
 
florida
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02/18/2013 05:07AM  
quote DRBOBDERRIG: "I tried dehydrating spaghetti sauce once....did something wrong because it wanted to stick to the tray.... "


Have you tried to line your trays with parchment paper or spray trays with a little vegetable oil.
 
02/18/2013 06:49AM  
I just got done doing 2 large jars of spaghetti sauce{rague me thinks the kind with the garden combination veggies, couldn't do the mushroom one because two of my boys don't eat mushrooms, anyway their mother says their mine but every time we have mushroom anything and they wont eat it I wonder. I spray my solid tray sheets with a light coating of olive oil and the dehydrated sauce slides right off. Did a big bottle of taco sauce, no problem, slid right off. FRED
 
billconner
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02/18/2013 10:18AM  
quote florida: "
quote DRBOBDERRIG: "I tried dehydrating spaghetti sauce once....did something wrong because it wanted to stick to the tray.... "



Have you tried to line your trays with parchment paper or spray trays with a little vegetable oil."


I just do parchment paper liners for everything. Works great.
 
02/19/2013 07:08AM  
I have only used an outfitter on one occasion. My decision is super clear. I found that even with the best food, regardless of expense, our outfitter did not go through each and every item with us. I would not have expected it either. However, when it came time for our breakfast there were no muffins for our breakfast sandwiches, no oil for eating fish, or tartar sauce. No saw or hatchet, amongst several other things that we ordered. All of these things I own and could have taken with us. It was just easier going fully outfitted because the other groups didnt have all the items necessary. It was just easier to have the outfitter arrange our needs, or so we thought. In summary, we managed and ultimately it was really no big deal. But we did pay for the items and could have rested more easily if we were responsible for our own packing. As some of you are thinking right now, the outfitter was highly recommended and maybe just had a lazy employee packing our things.
 
02/21/2013 07:33PM  
I second the bagel idea...we used to try to bring french bread or crackers but bagels are tasty,filling and hold up well. They can be bounced around all week in the food pack and are none the worse for wear. Nothing like an Everything bagel spread with peanut butter and a couple slices of sausage for a hearty lunch - with some gorp and dried fruit.

Last year we brought tortillas for the first time and they will be with us on every future trip. They also work with peanut butter and sausage, but we brought several dehydrated breakfasts with us (Huevos Rancheros were awesome) and rolled them up in a tortilla...delicious. Worked so well we were rolling dinner up in them too. Also, slide them down the front of the pack and they are fine all week.

We do fresh food the first night and then the next morning. After that we use a combination of dehydrated dinners and our own concoctions using rice or noodles and some type of meat. I have rarely been disappointed with food up there; tastes plenty good. Oatmeal is a staple for a couple breakfasts a week. We usually manage to have a meal or two of fish but we bring enough just in case we get skunked...doesn't usually happen. So we just eat extra towards the end of the trip.

Even if I was doing some rentals with an outfitter, I don't think I would do the food because it is so readily accessible, cheaper and I can pick what I want.
 
03/01/2013 10:50AM  
I have always averaged $40/man for a 7 day, 6 night trip. We eat pretty bsic, but very good. Includes 3 nights of fish.

I buy it all and repack it all in one night. Always look forward to that night because the trip is close...

Winner
 
Swampblaze10
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03/01/2013 01:21PM  
I agree with what many said about outfitters food. Did it all myself on the last trip with 4 people, spent $563 for 10 days. That's 140 per person..not including the $120 dehydrator or my jerky cure. You need to be organized and leave plenty of time to prep. You also might want to purchase a vacuum sealer, although zip locks are fine. We like to eat and we like to eat well. We prefer a blend of a few different types of food. Fresh, dehydrated, stuff you find in the supermarket. Fresh steaks, cooked spiced chicken breasts both vacuum sealed & frozen in a small soft lunchbag style cooler. I made a cold/wet bag out of an old pair of jeans. Then we get into dehydrated food. Some dehydrated food is bought, some I make myself. We love jerky-beef, venison, salmon-I am waiting on a box of cure from Nesco right now! Where are you UPS man?! Making jerky alone has more than paid for the dehydrator, I love it..although when I am on a tear...I noticed my electric bill goes up a bit.

I found a kit of veggies from Harmony House at REI called backpackers essentials, it won backpackers magazine award in 2007. A huge assortment of food to add to dishes, all individually packaged. You can now buy just a single veg at REI, like corn or green beans etc. Lipton noodles or rice & sauce with added veggies and dehydrated meat-shrimp, crab, ground beef, chicken or pre-prepared tuna pak. Bring tortillas and you can make it into wraps. While I find Mountain House okay, I mostly stick to their desserts. Their meals, which can be good in a pinch..can also be loaded with sodium. Not a big deal unless its your main nourishment for a few days on end.

Why not try out a few of the meals at Cache Lake before you go, so you know what they are like. Their fryin pan breads, soups and wild rice salads are great for breakfast, lunch & dinner. I haven't found anything we haven't liked so far, each time i place an order i pick up a few new things and they end up on our menu. My next try is their chicken pot pie casserole-even though I make a version myself, I want to see how theirs compares. I have not tried their complete meals...yet...since I dehydrate my own stew and a few of their lunch meals use tvp-just not my thing. Their powdered french toast mix is ridiculously good...I'll never carry eggs again. If you have room for a loaf of cinnamon raisin bread (16 slices) you're good to go with 2 packs of FT mix. We are forgoing the pancakes altogether for the FT next trip. Bread is something we crave...their fryin pan breads are totally awesome and are good for any meal as they have sweet & savory types. We try everything before we hit the trail.

One of our favorite meals is one pot sweet & spicy tuna, which you can place in wraps for something different. Here is the recipe, change it up to suit your tastes, I found it on YouTube. Good for 2. Lipton rice & sauce taco rice flavor, Starkist sweet & spicy tuna in a foil pak, assorted rehydrated veggies, individually wrapped mozzarella sticks cut up. Make the rice, heat it all together. Enjoy the silence.

If you need a good tutorial on dehydrating, check out Tinny at minibulldesigns on YouTube. This guy helped give me the confidence I needed to get started by demonstrating everything.

http://www.harmonyhousefoods.com/Backpacking-Kit-18-ZIP-Pouches_p_1866.html

http://www.cachelake.com/

Good luck!
 
jeroldharter
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03/01/2013 04:20PM  
Double post
 
jeroldharter
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03/01/2013 04:20PM  
I have been playing with my large sized Bakepacker steam oven.

So far, good success with:

2/3 of a boxed Krusteaz crumb cale (coffee cake) mix baked for 40 min
1/2 box of Pillsbury moist chocolate cake mix with a handful of chocolate chips baked for 40 min
Bakepacker Irish soda bread recipe baked for 40 min

The guys I go with are coffee hounds and I go insane waiting for them to wake up and sip the evil bean. My only way of coping is to bake a coffee cake. Not a bad strategy.
 
DaBurgh
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04/14/2013 12:26AM  
It is cheaper to do it yourself(especially if you have a dehydrator), but if your traveling a long distance (I'm coming in from Pittsburgh) I think it is worth the extra bucks to have the outfitter do it all.

First solo trip in May can't wait for my vacation
 
04/14/2013 08:30PM  
quote DaBurgh: "It is cheaper to do it yourself(especially if you have a dehydrator), but if your traveling a long distance (I'm coming in from Pittsburgh) I think it is worth the extra bucks to have the outfitter do it all.


First solo trip in May can't wait for my vacation"


I have a slighty different view. Do you fly or drive? I drive and I come from farther away than you (WV), but I still buy and bring my own rather than have the outfitter do it. This assures that I get what I like and I don't get portions sufficient for an NFL lineman, which I'm not. I don't take the time to dehydrate my own, but I do buy what I want from various suppliers rather than the outfitter. Of course, if you're flying...that's a little different.
 
analyzer
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04/14/2013 09:13PM  
If you've never made your own jerky, I recommend it. Although it is time consuming, I find it alot cheaper, delicious, and rewarding. You really don't need anything special. It takes me an hour or so to cut into strips and mix in the spices and cure. 24 hours later, I take the cut strips and hang them on an oven rack with toothpicks. You can do it while watching tv. (Careful, don't run out to help the compost truck guy with your brush pile, while the rack is in easy reach of your Golden Retriever... not that I've done that).

A couple hours at 200 degrees with the oven door slightly ajar, and walla, you have jerky.

Just look around at the grocery store, or even Menards, and they will have jerky boxes. It's very easy to do. Gives you a great way to use those Venison Roasts too.
 
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