Crunch Time for The Foodie!

By Aaron Owens Mayhew, MS, RDN, CD

Updated January 7, 2024
This post may contain affiliate links.
Backcountry Foodie Blog Crunch Time for the Foodie Backpacking Nutrition image

This post was originally written in February 2017 for the Trek as I prepared for my Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) thru-hike attempt. Like many first-time thru-hikers, I felt the crunch time as my start date neared! In the original post, I shared the homemade meals prepared for my trek to inspire other hikers to think outside the box.

Little did I know many of the same meals prepared for my PCT hike would later be consumed by hikers worldwide! Our recipes and meals can now be found on our…

In this updated post, I also share backpacking meal prep tips based on what I learned hiking the Pacific Crest Trail, Appalachian Trail, Oregon Coast Trail, Colorado Trail, and Condor Trail.

BF Blog Banner Image - Ultralight Recipes

Then…

T-minus 37 days… It’s crunch time for the Foodie!

Here’s what’s going in my pack…

backcountry foodie blog crunch time for foodie 5 rows food
  • Vegan Chili 177 cal/oz
  • Wasabi Pad Thai 141 cal/oz
  • Parmesan Pepper Pasta 128 cal/oz
  • Sweet and Savory Couscous 109 cal/oz

Now…

Vegan Chilli

Vegan Chili – 196 cal/oz

Spicy Italian Pasta

Spicy Italian Pasta – 138 cal/oz

Sweet and Savory Couscous

Sweet & Savory Couscous – 124 cal/oz


Then…

backcountry foodie blog crunch time for foodie 6 rows food dark background
  • Cherry Lime Quinoa Salad 150 cal/oz
  • Chocolate Peanut Butter Shake 147 cal/oz
  • Raisin Pecan Breakfast Ramen 135 cal/oz
  • Lemon Pepper Bean Spread 120 cal/oz
  • Peppermint Latte 118 cal/oz
  • Vegetarian Burrito 108 cal/oz

Now…

Cherry Almond Quinoa

Cherry Almond Quinoa – 123 cal/oz

Sunrise Ramen

Sunrise Ramen – 139 cal/oz

Bean & Cheese Burrito

Bean & Cheese Burrito – 123 cal/oz


Then…

backcountry foodie blog crunch time for foodie 6 rows food light background
  • Pesto Pine Nut Hummus 175 cal/oz
  • Tropical Trail Rice 163 cal/oz
  • Vanilla Spiced Milk 139 cal/oz
  • Sun-Dried Tomato Couscous 133 cal/oz
  • Coconut Ginger Smoothie 129 cal/oz
  • Coconut Cherry Almond Oatmeal 125 cal/oz
  • Strawberry Coconut Almond Oatmeal 124 cal/oz
  • Apple Cinnamon Pecan Oatmeal 108 cal/oz

Now…

Pine Nut Pesto Hummus

Pine Nut Pesto Hummus – 168 cal/oz

Sun-Dried Tomato Couscous Backcountry Foodie Ultralight Backpacking Recipe

Sun-Dried Tomato Couscous – 130 cal/oz

Coconut Ginger Milk

Coconut Ginger Milk – 157 cal/oz


Then…

backcountry foodie blog crunch time for foodie 5 rows food dark background
  • Choco-Cherry Muesli 146 cal/oz
  • Raisin Pecan Granola 137 cal/oz
  • Mango Coconut Granola 117 cal/oz
  • Honey Nut Cherry Muesli 109 cal/oz
  • Apple Cinnamon Pecan Granola 108 cal/oz

Now…

Banana Nut Muesli

Banana Nut Muesli – 138 cal/oz

Cranberry Muesli

Cranberry Pecan Muesli – 136 cal/oz

Overnight Groats

Overnight Groats – 121 cal/oz


Then…

backcountry foodie blog crunch time for foodie 4 rows food dark background
  • Mango Chia Pudding 143 cal/oz
  • Double Chocolate Pudding 139 cal/oz
  • Vanilla Bean Pudding 135 cal/oz
  • White Chocolate Coconut Pudding 133 cal/oz
  • Trail Tapioca Pudding 129 cal/oz
  • The Foodie’s Gorp 127 cal/oz

Now…

Mango Chia Pudding

Mango Chia Pudding – 139 cal/oz

Double Chocolate Coconut Pudding

Double Chocolate Pudding – 147 cal/oz

The Foodie's Gorp

Foodie’s Gorp – 127 cal/oz


Backcountry foodie Blog Banner Image - Resupply

That’s not all, folks!

Then…

More ultralight backpacking recipes on the docket…

  • Apricot Coconut Oatmeal 164 cal/oz
  • Tri-Berry Granola 154 cal/oz
  • Cherry Walnut Breakfast Couscous 131 cal/oz
  • Cheese Grits 130 cal/oz
  • Coconut Quinoa Cereal 117 cal/oz
  • Eggplant Parmesan 163 cal/oz
  • Garlic Parmesan Ramen 145 cal/oz
  • Raisin Pecan Rice Dish 138 cal/oz
  • Red Lentil Curry 167 cal/oz
  • Sweet Potato Mash 142 cal/oz
  • Tropical Fruit Salad 135 cal/oz
  • Parmesan Pesto Pasta 157 cal/oz
  • Vegetarian Spaghetti 153 cal/oz
  • Black Bean Spread 137 cal/oz
  • Garlic Lentils 127 cal/oz
  • Garlic Mashed Potatoes 146 cal/oz
  • Italian Couscous 127 cal/oz

Now…

backpacking recipe membership laptop image

Six years later, I’m still creating trail-tested recipes, packing in as much nutrition as possible in the least amount of weight. New recipes are added to our Ultralight Backpacking Recipes online platform each month.

We offer over 200 recipes catering to the following special diets…

  • Vegetarian & Vegan
  • Dairy-free
  • Soy-free
  • Gluten-free
  • Low-Sugar
  • Low-sodium
  • Bariatric-friendly
  • Reflux-friendly

Here are a few samples available on our blog…


Do the plastic baggies in the photos above make you cringe?

I’m embarrassed to share that over 400 plastic baggies were used to prepare and store meals for my PCT hike. I have been on a mission since 2017 to find a more sustainable backpacking food pouch option. Here are a few options that I tried…

  • Wash & reuse plastic baggies
  • Store meals in recycled baggies and prepare the meals in food-safe silicone bags
  • Store meals in recycled zipper-top ingredient baggies and prepare the meals in a cookpot or cold soak jar

While the above strategies reduced the number of new plastic baggies used, they created new problems…

  • Food-grade silicone bags are expensive, heavy, retain the color and smell of the food, and are hard to clean
  • Silicone bags eventually end up in the garbage anyway
  • Preparing meals in silicone bags, cookpots, or cold soak jars results in gray water scattered in the backcountry.

There had to be a better way!

Introducing our Biodegradable Food Pouches! After searching for more sustainable backpacking meal food storage options, I found biodegradable bags manufactured by TekPak Solutions in Ontario, Canada. The last three years have been spent trail-testing the bags. I’m excited to share that we now sell biodegradable pouches in our Build-a-Box shop.

food pouch screen shot

A Few Quick Ultralight Meal Prep Tips

Nutrition Information

Then…

Do not assume that the nutrition information in cookbooks and/or on web pages is accurate. It was only after making a large batch of oatmeal that I realized what I thought was an ultralight recipe was not ultralight at all. This explains why some of the meals above are less than my minimum 125 kcal/oz goal. The recipes continue to be included in meal plans as I do truly enjoy them. Because of this, it took a bit more creativity to make up the calories elsewhere.

Now…

I continue to focus on the accuracy of nutrition provided by our recipes. We review the recipes annually and make adjustments as the nutrition provided by purchased ingredients can change without our knowledge.

Recipe Analysis

Then…

As a result of the possible inaccuracy of nutrition information, I recommend inputting recipes into a recipe or meal planner app of some sort. Personally, I really like the Recipe Builder PRO app by Wombat Apps LLC. It’s easy to use, saves recipes within various categories, and allows custom foods to be entered. Although, there are many apps out there that one might prefer.

Now…

As a commercial food business, we now use ESHA’s Food Processor for creating and maintaining our recipe database.

Labeling Foods

Then…

After handwriting names, nutrition information, and preparation instructions on hundreds of bags, I realized how much time printing labels would save me.

  1. Choose a label size that works best for your packaging
  2. Type in the information desired
  3. Auto-populate the remainder of the labels on the sheet
  4. Save the file for the next time the same meal is prepared
  5. Print and affix to the packaging

Now…

backcountry foodie pdf recipe with food label template

All recipes included in our recipe membership have coinciding downloadable PDF food labels.

We’ve done the work for you.

  1. Download the food label PDF.
  2. Print onto 2″x3″ Avery labels.
  3. Affix to the packaging.

Does preparing resupply boxes feel completely overwhelming?

You’re not alone! After preparing resupply boxes for each of my long-distance hikes, Backcountry Foodie now offers a Resupply Coordination Service that can be tailored to your specific needs. Let me do the heavy lifting so you can focus on putting one foot in front of the other, not where to ship your next box.

backpacking resupply service laptop image

Let me be your…

✔️ Personal Shopper & Chef

✔️ Resupply Box Packer

✔️ Shipment Coordinator

✔️ Personal Dietitian


Wait! There’s more…

After my first Resupply Coordination Service season, we quickly realized that Backcountry Foodie could solve another problem: providing easy access to healthy backpacking food and necessities in a one-stop shop.

We created our Build-a-Box shop to make meal planning as quick and easy as possible. Inside our shop, you will find…

I hope you’ve enjoyed reading how we have evolved here at Backcountry Foodie since my first steps on the Pacific Crest Trail in 2017. We look forward to continuing to expand our services, eliminating the stress and anxiety associated with meal planning for your outdoor adventures. Please reach out anytime with questions. I’m happy to help in any way that I can. You’ve got this!


DISCLOSURE: Some of the links on this page are affiliate links, which means we may receive a modest commission if purchases are made through those links. This adds no cost to our readers and helps us keep our site running. Our reputation is our most important asset, so we only include links for products we use ourselves.


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ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Aaron Owens Mayhew, MS, RDN, CD, is a registered dietitian and ultralight long-distance backpacker with over 20 years of nutrition and backpacking experience. She’s also the founder and owner of Backcountry Foodie, an online ultralight recipes and meal planning platform for backpackers. She also enjoys teaching hikers about backpacking nutrition via virtual masterclassesYouTube videos, and podcast episodes. You can follow Aaron’s adventures in the kitchen and the backcountry via Instagram and Facebook.

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