Organize the food

By Wild Chef Anders Klint on 2014.02.09 In Packing tips

1. Repackage ingredients or meals in standard (sandwich size) ziploc bags or heavier freezer bags to minimize space and weight.  Package 1 – 2 meal servings in each bag.2. Label each Ziploc bag with the date, meal name, and amount of water to add or any specific cooking instructions.

The gusseted (stand up) packaging sold by many commercial dried food manufacturers take up too much space.  If you purchase these meals, open each package, take the food out, and repackage them in ziploc bags.  You can flatten the gusseted bags and pack (if you think you will use them).  If not, cut off the instructions and include it with the meal ingredients.

Do not buy a vacuum sealer to package ingredients unless you are interested in storing foods long-term (1+ years).  Sealing food is unnecessary and often problematic for the trail.  Sealing out the air can cause some ingredients, such as pastas, to pierce open the bags. Plus, the sealed bags need to be cut open on the trail and contribute to extra trail trash.  On the other hand, ziploc bags can be re-used while on the trail to organize necessities, trash, or to keep items dry and clean.

3. Group products by meal type into separate size or larger ziplock freezer bags or Odor-proof barrier bags.  Grouping by meal versus day gives you greater flexibility to decide what to eat based on your appetite.

Group all breakfast meals in the first bag, snacks into a 2nd, lunches in a 3rd, and dinners in a 4th bag. Group commonly used ingredients such as sugar, medication/vitamins, dried vegetables, coffee, and condiment packets into separate bags.

I recommend double bagging coffee or separating it from food sources since the scent of the ground beans permeates to other items, which does impact the flavor.

Be careful not to over pack on food! Remember, we can survive 2 weeks without food (or longer depending on our fat reserve), but drinking water is critical.  So, don’t be tempted to take too much food.  If you run out of water, do not eat.  Your body requires extra water to digest food. Plan 1.5 – 2 lbs of total food (including snacks) per person per day.

Packing out fresh foods is fine if you don’t mind carrying the extra weight. Consume on the first or next day before they spoil. Stock up on dehydrated vegetables and fruits for longer trips. Dense breads such as bagels will keep for awhile. Tortilla will also keep well in your pack.

To keep tortilla fresh longer: Insert a paper towel between each tortilla. Repackage them into a zip-lock freezer bag. You can roll them up or keep them flat in your pack. The paper towel prevents them from sticking together by absorbing humidity from the air. This also works for drier climates because the paper absorbs the moisture present in the tortilla and keeps it from drying out.

Consider sprouting for trips of 3 days or more. Sprouts on the trail can last several weeks.

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