By Sharon Brodin
If you love extended paddle trips, learning to make your own dehydrated food can save you money and add a ton of flavor to your camp meals.
Whether it’s a weekend kayak trip, a 2-month packrafting expedition, or anything in-between, you have a few different options for food:
- You can bring “real” food (fresh veggies, cheese and crackers, chicken breasts)
- You can buy pre-packaged dehydrated meals (either the grocery store kind or those marketed to backpackers)
- You can make your own dehydrated meals.
- And, of course, you can do a combo of these
Why Dehydrate Your Own Paddle Trip Meals?
YOU CAN CUSTOM-MAKE YOUR MEALS TO YOUR TASTE AND BUDGET
This is the reason most decide to dehydrate their own food for their paddling trips. It’s not only cheaper than buying the pre-made sort (unless you stick with grocery store highly-processed packaged foods), it’s likely to taste better.
You can tweak seasonings, protein, veggies and other ingredients to suit you and your group. And it’s super easy to follow peoples’ diet restrictions with the DIY approach.
IT’S A FUN OFF-SEASON PROJECT
If you live in a climate with long winters and frozen water like I do, you have plenty of off-season time to investigate recipes and give it a try. Plan a day or two during the winter to spend on this. Find find recipes that look good to you, buy your ingredients, borrow a dehydrator and go for it.
YOU CAN DEHYDRATE YOUR MEALS FOR A WHOLE SEASON—OR A FEW YEARS
Because dehydrated food has a shelf life of several years, you can batch your dehydrating and get a lot done in a short amount of time. Then you’re set for the whole season or the next couple of seasons.
(photo courtesy of @williammccluskey)
What Will You Need to Dehydrate Your Own Paddle Trip Meals?
Time is the trade-off for great taste on a lower budget—your time. Don’t wait until the day before your trip to gather your ingredients and supplies!
This is a think-ahead project. If you’re a procrastinator or if you have zero wiggle room in your schedule, this may not be your best option.
Before you buy a dehydrator, consider borrowing one from a friend or use your oven.
Once you decide, yes, this is amazing, then you’ll want to invest in a dehydrator that will meet your needs. Not only will it use less energy than your oven, it won’t tie up your oven for days at a time.
Cabela’s has a nice range of price and quality to give you an idea of the investment.
I confess I’ve not made my own dehydrated meals yet. But my brother-in-law, Thaddeus, has. He recommends these two websites to get you started on your food dehydrating journey (and he’s an excellent cook so I trust his advice!):
- BackpackingChef.com—Free digital recipes, an email newsletter and several cookbooks full of all you need to know to dehydrate and prepare your own paddle trip meals. He also covers how to pack and store your meals once they’re made, and cooking on your trip.
- TheYummyLife.com—The owner of this site is married to a serious backpacker, so she’s developed all kinds of recipes along with tips on packing, storing and preparing. No more boring and sketchy-tasting camp food!
Spend some time on these websites and you’ll be itching to try it yourself.
I’m glad there are foodies out there who love developing recipes for those of us who want easy, budget-friendly and delicious meals for all our paddling trips!
(photo courtesy of Brad J.)
Happy paddling and bon appetit!
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