Billy and I are planning a camping trip to Yatesville Lake in Kentucky. Our site is a boat-in site, so we’re bringing our kayaks. We’ll need to pack light so we can fit everything into our kayaks’ hatches. There is an access trail to our site, but we think it would be more fun to boat-in with all our gear. Our campsite is primitive, but within the state park there are also sites with RV hookups, hot showers and even a golf course. I keep joking that I am going to sneak off and take hot shower while Billy is roughing it.
If you’re headed out to the backcountry or you just want to pack light, dehydrated meals are the way to go. I am planning on bringing an assortment of dehydrated meals for our trip. I don’t want to weigh our kayaks down with heavy cans and jars of food. I’m dehydrating a jar of our favorite spaghetti sauce right now. It’s really easy, and when it’s done dehydrating, it will be small enough to fit in my pocket.
You don’t even need a dehydrator to make dehydrated foods. You can just use your oven on its lowest setting, with the door cracked slightly. If you don’t mind spending a little more, REI has some freeze-dried meals that are pretty good, though I tend to prefer my own cooking. I think the Mountain House meals are the best of the bunch. I really enjoyed their dehydrated eggs when I went backpacking in Sequoia and King’s Canyon National Parks. I just topped the eggs with some Taco Bell taco sauce and they were awesome. The Mountain House Pasta Primavera was decent as well. Another option is to find dried foods at the supermarket or bulk food store.
Readily Available Supermarket Dried Foods
- dried tortellini
- soup packets
- dehydrated chili mix
- ramen noodles
- sun-dried tomatoes
- wasabi peas
- dehydrated onions (spice aisle)
- dried fruit
- cous cous
- minute rice
If you decide to dehydrate foods at home, there are three rules you should follow.
3 Rules of Dehydrating
- Prevent Spoilage: Keep all dehydrated foods in the freezer until you are ready to head out. Oil causes dehydrated foods to quickly become rancid. Try to cook with a minimal amount of oil. Rinse greasy foods like ground beef with water before you dehydrate them.
- Don’t Mix Flavors: For example, don’t dehydrate bananas at the same time as onions – you’ll end up with banana-y onions and onion-y bananas. Nasty!
- Use the Right Temperature: Foods like meats have to be dehydrated at a higher temperature to make them safe to eat. Other foods like fruits and vegetables can be dehydrated at a lower temperature. Refer to the manual that came with your dehydrator for the exact settings.
Hungry yet? Here are some recipes that look especially tasty.
Dirty Gourmet has a lot of really good recipes for dehydrated meals and snacks including this Coconut Curry Soup.
Ramen noodles aren’t just for broke college students. Check out Dirty Gourmet’s Not Your Average Ramen.
These Maple Olive Oil Apple Chips look delicious as well.
Dehydrated Bushwalking Food has some great dinner ideas, including this Tikka Masala.
Check out this savory Roasted Red Pepper, Garlic, and Goat Cheese Rotini from Happy Tramper.
Or try this healthy Lentil Soup from Powered by Plantz.
Laurie Ann March authored two backpacking cookbooks. Take a look at her recipe for Sunny Garlic Hummus.
Backpacker’s Packable Dehydrated Salads look great if you can’t live without salad when you’re on the trail .
Their Spicy Curry Noodles look great as well!
This One Pot Vegetarian Chili mixes wet and dried ingredients and looks incredibly healthy.
Check out YouTube for tons of step-by-step videos on food dehydration.
Do you have any go-to recipes for packing light? I’d love to try them out on our trip!