This menu was another product of my scrapped GDT planning. I have been refining my food planning over the years, and this is another evolution in that process. I have had issues in the past taking too much food, and food that I ended up not wanting to eat on the trail. With the GDT, which required shipping food boxes and long food carries, it was really important to get my food nailed down to only what I needed and what I would be able to tolerate on the trial, in addition to making sure it was calorie dense to bring the weight down. Since that trip and all of my test trips were scrapped, this was my first time trying out my new strategy.
In addition to the above factors, I tried to balance salty and sweet, limited cooking (and by that I mean boiling water) to once per day, and come in under 1.5lbs per day. This particular menu also happens to be gluten free for those to whom it matters.
For this trip, I went with the following menu:
I really enjoyed the ‘coffee shake’, which was a new concoction. I don’t like eating breakfast on the trail, but I also need to get some calories in or I pay for it later in the morning, so this was my solution. All I need to do in the morning is pour the powder into my clean bottle, shake it up, and let it sit while I pack up camp. It was very easy to put together too, 60g of instant whole milk powder and 5g of instant coffee powder. It might be sacrilege to ‘real coffee people’, but it worked really well for me!
The variety was good too. Adding more salty things to my daytime snacks really helped getting me eating through the day. I prefer salty to sweet generally, and get very sick of granola bars very quickly. My only complaint here was a logistical issue with the chips: they were very hard to eat! I crushed them up to save space, but made a mess trying to shake them into my mouth. I ended up using my spoon to eat them. They were a solid addition to my menu, but I need to come up with an easier way to eat them.
I enjoy the system of ‘all snacks + dinner’. All of my food for the day fits into my hip belt pocket, so it is easy to access throughout the day without needing to take my pack off. This really encouraged me to eat regularly, before I crashed. I struggle with menus where I plan a lunch that needs prep work (a past typical one is dehydrated hummus and naan). I don’t really want to stop to prep and eat it, so snacks I can eat on the go work better for me.
The pepperettes held up well, as I expected (I’ve had those out on longer trips than this), and while the cheese melted a bit on day 1, it was only a cosmetic issue. It was totally fine the rest of the trip, it just looked a bit funny. On a hotter trip, I would take parmesan or similar to avoid that issue.
Two of the dinners were new recipes for me. The mashed potatoes and beans and rice were both solid. The curry I mis-made in my haste to get out of the bugs and didn’t add quite enough water. It was not super great that way. I will be giving it another chance later this summer though, and will be re-adjusting my bagging amounts to have less sauce per bag. I enjoy the simplicity of meals that only need boiling water added. Even when the bugs are not bad, I don’t enjoy spending a ton of time making dinner when I get to camp, and I don’t like doing dishes. Boiling water, using half the water for my meal (in the ziplock bag) and half the water for my hot drink (drank out of the pot) works really well for me. On future summer solo trips I would look at going no-cook again, as you don’t get simpler than that! And in the summer it is so hot having a hot meal and drink is not terribly appealing to me. No-cook has a greater limit on how long the food stays good for, is heavier, and takes up more volume, so there are trade offs to that.
Overall, this is as close to an optimal menu as I have come so far. The amount of food was perfect. I was never hungry but still ate everything allotted to me for the day (ie not carrying a bunch of food I wasn’t eating).