Instant Weekend Menu

Cooking tips and recipes for easy backcountry meals
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Cooking tips and recipes for easy backcountry meals

Leave serendipity to your next dinner downtown; in the backcountry, you need a plan. Mapping out your menu is the best way to determine how much food you need. Follow these steps to simplify your next weekend escape.

Step 1: PLAN

» Write down the meals you'll eat each day (see example below), including drinks, snacks, dessert, and any special cooking tools (so you don't forget them). Use this as your packing list.

» Choose a staple for dinners (rice, pasta, or quinoa) and breakfast (granola, oatmeal, pancakes) and build the rest of the meal around it. Even simpler: Pick one grain (such as rice) for every meal.

» For lunches, use a grab bag of crackers, cheese, nuts, and dried fruit.

» Pull out the recipes on your meal plan and make a shopping list of all the ingredients and products you need. Quantities depend on group size.

Step 2: PACK

» Repackage foods in zipper-lock bags. >> Mix and bag dry ingredients at home.

» Group ingredients and foods for a meal in a larger zipper-lock; add any directions you'll need in camp (photocopied, written, or torn off packages).

» Stuff supplies into one sack. Keep lunch and snacks within reach. Tip: Use plastic roll-up tubes to carry nut butters, honey, and jam.

» Add one no-cook meal or several energy bars per person for emergencies.

WEEKEND MENU

Friday

Dinner: Garlic Mac & Cheese*; hot chocolate; cookies

Saturday

Breakfast: Corn Pancakes*; orange; coffee

Lunch: Rice crackers (or tortillas or bagels); cheese, nuts, and dried fruit; apple

Snack: Energy bar

Dinner: Noodles with Spicy Peanut Sauce*; herb tea; Sesame Almond Fudge*

Sunday

Breakfast: Oatmeal with walnuts and dates; coffee

Lunch: Rice crackers with peanut butter; leftover dried fruit, sesame almond fudge

Snack: Chocolate-covered almonds

Adapted from Sierra Club's Simple Foods for the Pack, Third Edition, $15

Read on for recipes...

* RECIPES

5-Minute Meal

Garlic Mac & Cheese

¼ pound cheddar or jack cheese, grated

¼ cup powdered milk

1 tablespoon dried parsley flakes

2 garlic cloves, minced (or ½ teaspoon garlic powder)

12 ounces macaroni noodles

salt and pepper to taste

At home Combine the cheese, milk, parsley, and garlic in a zipper-lock bag. Pack macaroni separately.

In camp Cook macaroni and drain. Add cheese-milk mixture and mix until the cheese is melted. Serves two. Variations Mix in steamed or boiled broccoli or zucchini (first-night meal); add canned tuna, shrimp, or scallops; add chopped onion; season with rosemary, basil, or a dash of chili powder; add chopped walnuts; or mix blue cheese with jack.

5-Minute Meal

Corn Pancakes

¾ cup corn flour or cornmeal

¾ cup whole wheat flour

½ cup raw (un-toasted) wheat germ

½ cup powdered milk

2 teaspoons baking powder

½ teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons oil or butter

1 tablespoon honey

1 ½ cups water

extra oil for cooking

At home Mix dry ingredients in a large bowl and transfer to a zipper-lock bag.

In camp Empty contents of bag into a pot or bowl. Stir in oil or butter, honey, and water. Cook pancakes about 2 minutes on each side in a hot, oiled pan. Toppings: honey, or maple or berry syrup. Serves two.

Leftovers? Spread peanut butter on top for a satisfying midday meal.

5-Minute Meal

Noodles With Spicy Peanut Sauce

½ cup peanut butter (creamy or chunky)

2 tablespoons tamari

4 teaspoons crushed garlic

3 tablespoons cider vinegar

2 teaspoons brown sugar

¾ teaspoon dried crushed red pepper

¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro or 1 tablespoon dried cilantro

salt and pepper to taste

12 ounces soba noodles or your favorite pasta

At home Mix together all ingredients in bowl except noodles. Pack in a plastic container or bottle (recipe makes 1 ¾ cups sauce). Note: The sauce will keep for 2 days unrefrigerated; the vinegar in the recipe acts as a preservative.

In camp Cook noodles or pasta; drain ½ cup hot water into measuring cup, and scatter the rest. Empty sauce into pot, add hot water, and toss thoroughly. Serves two.

Variations For a subtle change in flavor, substitute dried chives or grated ginger root for cilantro.

5-Minute Meal

Sesame Almond Fudge

1 cup sesame seeds

½ cup almonds

½ cup cashew butter or peanut butter

¼ cup currants or chopped raisins

2 tablespoons honey

1 tablespoon water, or more as needed to hold mixture together

½ cup shredded coconut (optional)

At home Grind sesame seeds and almonds with a nut grinder, blender, or food processor. Mix all ingredients together thoroughly. Pack in a small container and slice into squares.

Variation Pat fudge into small balls and roll in coconut.