My 14 day John Muir Trail thru-hike with my son is just a few weeks away, so I've been busy preparing 28 days worth of backpacking food for us. Making your own is not that difficult, less expensive, and much lighter than buying those individually packaged meals. Are you up for the task?
A healthy hot breakfast is pretty easy. My favorite is couscous, dry milk, dried cranberries, chopped almonds and cashews. 15 1/2 ounces yields 2,240 calories, or seven 320 calorie breakfasts. Add some variety by replacing the couscous with rolled oats, which is a bit heavier but also very nutritious. Pack a weeks worth in a plastic produce bag, which is free from the grocery store and weighs only .08 ounces! Be sure to squeeze all the air out of the bag and tie it off at the end to leave room for the contents to form to your food bag or bear canister.
Now for some dinners. I could eat my Moroccan Delight every night, but my son just might get tired of the same thing after 14 days. So instead I made a huge batch of Delight Sauce (minus the couscous), and I plan to use it with different ingredients for a variety of meals.
I may have gone a little crazy with this stuff, but did I mention that I absolutely love it? 8 batches takes a lot of ingredients! 16 finely chopped green bell peppers, 8 pounds of hot Italian sausage, browned...
...4 huge cans of crushed tomatoes...
...8 white onions, finely chopped...
...all in two giant pots with lots of garlic, basil, black pepper, and whatever else you love! Bring it to a boil, then reduce heat, cover, and simmer for an hour or more.
Then into the dehydrator on parchment paper. If you don't have parchment paper you can use plastic wrap, (just don't use wax paper). I filled my 9 tray bad boy 3 times!
I found the sauce finishes drying better if you remove it from the parchment paper and place it directly onto the drying rack. It gets solid enough to do this about half way through the 24 hour cycle.
You want it to be dry so it will break apart, not like fruit leather. Then get your food processor out again and grind it up into a coarse consistency. This makes it rehydrate much more quickly and completely. Otherwise you end up with large chunks of sauce, or you waste too much fuel cooking it.
And what you're left with is 5 1/2 pounds and 13,500 calories of goodness. That's over 150 calories per ounce, wow! Now you can add it to lots of different things to make some great tasting ultralight backpacking meals with a spicy kick!
That's it for the hard stuff, the rest I will buy and repackage. I'll show you how I put it all together for a 14 day, 2 person, ultralight meal plan in an upcoming post!