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This page will be used for trail recipes, reviews of commercially packaged trail food and to offer any tips, suggestions and instructions for trail food preparation, storage, packaging, handling or preserving. Please send your contributions to me as e-mail at .

Please Rate All Pre-Packaged Commercially Purchased Food Items According To The Following Scale:

0 - Don't waste your money, this stuff isn't food; its Hazardous Material. I wouldn't eat it, and neither would the dog. I've e-mailed the EPA for guidelines concerning safe disposal.

1 - I ate it, but it probably wouldn't be satisfactory unless you are real hungry. It didn't live up to all my expectations. I probably won't buy it again, unless its on sale. The dog sniffed it for a minute, then took a few bites.

2 - Satisfactory; its not bad. I might take it the next time I go out. The dog ate all the leftovers.

3 - Good; I liked it, it lived up to my expectations. I will buy more of it, and use it on a regular basis. The dog ate all the leftovers, and wanted more.

4 - Very Good; this was better than I thought it would be. It exceeded my expectations. There were no leftovers for the dog.

5 - Excellent; I loved it, highly recommended. Definitely worth the money, won't leave home without it on the next trip. The dog was whining and begging, but he didn't get a bit of it.

Recipes Reviews Tips, Suggestions, Etc.

To see a page showing photos, information and recipes of trail delicasies we have baked using our soda can stove and simmer attachment, click here , then use the Back button on your browser to return to this page.


(Please rate each item according to the scale above)

MRE ( Military "Meals Ready To Eat") Reviews

Submitted By Lone Wolf

Beef & Bean Ranchero
Raing: 1 1/2

The beef and bean ranchero is not bad if you like the consistency of dog food, but it can be made edible by adding one of the packets of MRE hotdogs ( beef franks ). I do not remember what extras come with this meal since I unpackage all of them when Iget them. I feel that all of the packaging is a little much, also. I do not recommend the beef and bean for any thru hiker because of the beans ( not a good thing on a hike because of the gas ).

Scalloped Potatoes And Ham
Rating: 4

Very good; a lot of potatoes and very good ham in somewhat of a chessy scalloped sauce. Has a good taste and would recommend this to anyone. There are no leftovers for the dog; I would fight the dog for this one.

Spaghetti With Meat Sauce
Rating: 2 1/2

Very good: a little saucy for myself but I like more noodles and less sauce. I'm not sure about the meat since there was not a lot of it in the meal. Concerning the sauce, you have to like something besides Ragu to enjoy it all, or have some shelf stable bread to wipe some of it up. Rated "good", maybe a three; the dog got only left over sauce.

Chili & Mac
Rating: 3 1/2

Tthis one is better for me then the spaghetti since I like MEAT. The noodles are regular elbow style and a little soft but good enough with the meat and tomato sauce. It needs to have pepper added for flavor but is a good and filling meal. I would like this one on a hike.

Chicken A La King
Rating: 2

I would not be able to deal with this on a hike, but it is not bad; I just am not a fan of chicken or mushrooms, ( the latter I had to remove, before I could eat it ). With the pepper added I could eat this but i would have to be hungry. For those who like chicken I would say try it before you go, you might like it. (The dog did not like mushrooms, either.)

Chicken And Shells
Rating: 2 1/2

This one i liked better then the A La King since it is more of a chicken patty and shells ( pasta ) in tomato sauce. It needs more pasta, then would be better. (Hint; you need to eat this meal HOT. I ate it just warm and the chicken did not taste as well as when i got it hot.) I added a lot of pepper to this one, also. After I got it hot, I ate the whole thing.

Omelet With Ham
Rating: 3

This gives a new definition to military meals on wheels; I think I should have let this on the truck. This also comes with the Au Gratin potatoes so it made it worthwhile to heat it up ( separately ). The potatoes were great and I wanted more. The omelet with it made me full. The omelet was edible, I'm just not a fan of the eggs. They had a different flavor than mine out of the pan do. With pepper I could deal with this meal for at least a little while.

Beef Franks
Rating: 2 1/2

This is not a meal, but maybe a snack. The 3.8 ounce package works best as a snack or when added to meals like the Beef And Bean to add more meat. Also, this would not be bad with your own can of baked beans.


Submitted By Splash

RATING: 0 - 2 (Depending on the entree)

MRE's, meal-ready-to-eat, are commonly associated with military uses. For those of you unfamiliar with them, they are an already hydrated main course, generally with a fruit side packet and a few other odds and ends like coffee packet or cold drink mix packet. The full meal combination usually also includes things like a plastic spoon, towelette wiper, paper napkin, and salt and pepper packets. The food texture is similar to that of canned foods.

The packaging on mine are tough plastic envelopes that can be heated a variety of ways. I understand new packaging consists more of a plastic tray like thing. Hence one of the major drawbacks of these meals, excess packaging. Other points to consider are: weight of the hydrated foods, scanty portions of the meal, and cost.

I heated my sample foods almost every possible way. The packet can be opened and contents emptied into a pot for standard heating. This defeats the purpose by dirtying a pot. The packet can be put in a pot of heating water. I warm packets in hotel sinks, on the asphalt of my camping spot, on my engine hood, on the dashboard, and on a big rock along the trail.

My experiences with several MRE's follows. As a complete backpacking meal, they definitely don't work. I do think for certain types of trips some of the MRE items would make a nice change of menu, or rounding out of snacks. I especially like the pound cakes which flavors vary by manufacturer run. I currently have orange, lemon poppy seed, vanilla, and pineapple. These are sweet enough to be a good dessert or later evening snack but also plain enough to be a breakfast cake. As they are packaged in this tough plastic material, the cakes do not pick up moisture until opened. None of my complete meals had the pound cakes. I purchased mine separately.

If you choose to buy some MRE's or particular items of the meals, take care to only deal with companies that have new product, NOT surplus, which may be old or have been stored in warm places. Surplus is usually very cheap compared to "new product" but has an unknown history. New product, properly stored can last a long time, as in, at least a couple seasons as long as the packets are not broken or opened.

As stated before, the food had taste and texture similar to canned. My meals had packets inside cardboard covering. I used the cardboard as a cutting board for tomatoes and cheese. Before backpacking, I would remove all outside material except for the single packet itself. Items included in meals can vary by season or manufacturer.

Beef and mushroom sauce: Side of butter noodles, peanuts, chocolate chip cookie, usual extras of lemon-lime drink mix, coffee, creamer, spoon, napkin, wipey, salt and pepper packets. The beef and mushrooms were surprisingly good. The noodles were a little mushy with a funny pastey taste. I missed the fruit. The chocolate chip cookie was ok, crispy. The cookie would make a nice late night snack with a hot drink.

Beef stew: Stew was more like gravy, vegetables, hmmm, a couple mushy green beans. Fair amount of meat. Applesauce. Other usual items.

Meat loaf: Noodles side. No fruit but crackers with jelly, peanuts, and other extras. Meat loaf was packed with a gravy, actually a jelly like stuff. I didn't eat the "gravy". The meat had a highly pepper flavor, not bad, just peppery.

Cheese tortellini with tomato sauce: Pineapple, chocolate chip cookie, cracker and jelly. Usual extras. The tortellini was a welcome change from the beef items. The pineapple was excellent. This is one of my favorite meal packs.

Ravioli with beef sauce: Pineapple, grape jelly and cracker. Usual extras. The ravioli had a nice flavor, texture much like canned but better flavor.

Beans with pork and noodles: Terrible, awful. The noodles were not the separate package of other meals. The beans were non-descript, possibly pinto. The noodles are broken spaghetti in the mess. The pork must have been grease-of-pig. I almost got sick on this. I will eat corn pasta before I ever eat this again. Redeeming feature of the meal combo, pineapple! Also choc. chip cookie, and cracker with apple jelly. My advice, before even taking this meal with you, throw out the "main" dish.

Pasta with vegetables and alfredo flavor sauce: Good, kind of mushy. Vegetables (carrots, peas, and a few green beans) are way overcooked. Had a peper like taste. Bonus-- the cracker came with strawberry jelly. The cookie was a chocolate covered oatmeal cookie. Nice idea but the chocolate coating comes off in warm weather. The chocolate chip cookie is much better.

Pork chop and noodles with Jamaican sauce: The meat is a good sized chunk, even if you eat meat a lot. Taste was good, especially if you eat pork. The texture was slightly cardboardy but not terribly so. Sauce had a bite to it and may be too hotly seasoned if you are an acknowledged heat whimp. Noodles good and a good texture. The fruit bar which I was looking forward to actually turned out to be a Nutri-grain raspberry bar. I was hoping for a cookie like thing. Applesauce was ok of course, but the apple jelly for crackers should have been grape or strawberry. Usual extras. This meat packet would be worth it for a backpacker who really must have meat.

Black bean and rice burrito with Spanish rice: The burrito texture was like eating compressed beans, very dense. Taste and texture dry. Tortilla seems to be a corn based one, which has texture of being steamed to point of being wet. The Spanish rice in a separate packet was excellent. It was ever so slightly chewy with super good spices. If I can get these packets separately, I will use them for dry camps or stoveless camps. Texture may not be for everyone, I loved it.

My samples had one other meal combo I haven't tried, beef and bean ranchero. After my experience with the beans and pork with noodles, I just can't bring myself to open this one.

Corn Pasta

Submitted By Splash


I first read about the supposed benefits of eating corn pasta in Ray Jardine's Pacific Crest Trail Hikers Handbook. Living in California I am accustomed to health claims or disclaimers to just about everything edible. Corn pasta was just another fad to try like seaweed, sprouts, and tofu.

I bought a 12 ounce package of corn pasta, the smallest sold. I cooked it exactly by the instructions. It goes from undone texture like jerky to overcooked very quickly. The texture of my trial was perfect. I drained the pasta and sampled a piece. It was non descript. I took a cereal bowl full and added olive oil, garlic powder, salt, and pepper. It was all right, very filling. Suddenly there was three forkfuls left and I gagged at the sight of the corn pasta. I barely choked it down.

Twelve ounces of pasta is a lot. Being brought up not to waste food, I rinsed my bowl, then put some pasta in to take to the dog. The dog tentatively sniffed the bowl and stepped back. I said, "Go ahead". He suspiciously licked a piece, chewed it and left it. He stepped away from the bowl and looked at me with very sad eyes. In pity I took the bowl and tossed the contents to the cattle outside the fence.

The cattle jostled each other and the bull came up. He sniffed the remaining pasta, nibbled at it, then pawed the ground. I don't know if he was mad at his treat getting trampled or if it tasted bad. I went back in the house and about half the leftover pasta was gone. My 17 year old nephew had a dishful of it plain, eating happily away. It made me queasy to watch him.

I give corn pasta a BIG ZERO. In its defense, it is very filling and I missed dinner because of an emergency and I wasn't hungry until about 9 pm. Try it before you buy a case for your hike!

Lipton Rice and Noodle Dinners

Submitted By Rainmaker


I have used these dinners off and on for many years. They come in a foil package and there are many different flavors. In fact, I used them every day for the first few months on my thru-hike of the AT in 1992. However, one evening at a shelter in Virginia, I took one out of my food bag and my stomach got queasy at the sight of the package. It was time to change to something else. I don't think I ate another one for the remainder of my hike.

However, I use them now on an occasional basis. They are relatively inexpensive (about $1.29 in the southeast) and tasty, and the package will feed one hungry long-distance hiker, or perhaps 2 normal people.

I like the taste well enough. They contain a lot of sodium, and they can taste, to me, a bit "heavy" and salty. However, on a long hike, a lot of sodium can be a plus.

I think the cooking times range from 8 - 13 minutes, depending on which dinner you select. If cooking time is a problem, you can cut down on it a bit by allowing the contents to rehydrate for 15 minutes before cooking.

What I really like about these dinners is that they are so simple to prepare. Regardless of what the instructions say, you don't need to add any additional ingredients to most of the dinners. Just dump the contents into your pot, add 2 cups of water, and bring to a boil. Cook according to the instructions, then remove from heat and allow your dinner to cool for a few minutes. That's all there is to it. I'll rate them a 3.


Chicken Stew

Submitted by Lone Wolf

1 package chicken noodle soup ( 1.5 - 2.0 ounce package ).
2 - 3 tablespoons Wondra flour (gravy flour)
1 can 6.0 ounce canned chicken ( drained )

Prepare the chicken noodle soup as directed. After it is rehydrated, add the flour and stir consantly until it starts to thicken. Then add chicken and continue to stir until it reaches desired consistency. If a thicker stew is preferred, use a little more flour; if you like your stew thinner, use less.

Add some cajun seasoning and pepper, if wanted. No additional salt is needed, since the mix already has enough.

This is a very big meal for one, and may serve two, especially if bread is also on the menu.


Submitted by Brawny


1 1/2 cups milk
2 cups white flour
2 cups whole wheat flour
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons salt

Mix the ingredients into a dough and roll out to a thickness of about 1/2 inch. Cut into squares, place on greased cookie sheets, and prick with a fork.

Or, you can grease a jelly roll pan, and simply press dough into it. Cut into squares while in the pan. Prick the dough with a fork. Bake at 375 degrees for 20-30 minutes, until golden brown.

If they are cooked well, they will last a long time. Supposedly, Union soldiers had hardtack from the War of 1812 when they marched south in 1861.

We tried them, and they are quite tasty. Just be careful not to break a tooth biting a chunch off.

Appalachian Rattlesnake Jerky

Submitted by Rainmaker & Brawny

How This Recipe Came To Be

Before I go any further, let me emphasize that I would never kill any animal unnecessarily. (Okay; I do trout fish occasionally, and I'm not swearing off turkey hunting, either) . However, when hiking, I do not harm any animal in the wild, and I'm very content to share my property with any critters not exhibiting hostile intent. However, I draw the line at poisonous snakes in the yard and driveway; they have to go.

In early June 2000, Brawny had her sewing machine set up on our back porch when we heard a strange buzzing noise. At first, we thought it was from her sewing machine. However, when she stopped sewing, the buzzing kept going. It took me a few seconds, then I realized what it was; a large rattlesnake directly under the floor. The boards on the porch floor are separated slightly to allow for drainage, so I managed to "coax" the snake to leave by pouring hot water between the boards. When I had a clear shot, I killed it with a shotgun. Believe me, it didn't suffer.

The snake was just under 3 feet long, and had 12 rattles. After severing and burying the head and removing the rattles and skin (I'm getting a hatband, and Brawny is opting for a bracelet), we were left wondering what to do with the rest of it. We live in the Appalachian mountains, so we decided on . . . . . . . .

Appalachian Rattlesnake Jerky*

One mature rattlesnake
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon packed brown sugar
1 dash garlic powder

Take one large, mature, dead rattlesnake. Discard head and rattles. Skin, remove innards, and wash well. Using a sharp hatchet, chop into 3 inch lengths. Place in a quart sauce pan, cover with water, and bring to a boil. Continue cooking for two hours, replacing liquid as necessary.

Do not worry about it getting tender. These suckers never do. Remove from stove, discard liquid, and allow to cool.

Using a sharp paring knife, gently scrape from the backbone outward to remove meat. Most of the flesh will be found along the spine, in thin strips. Take care to avoid the hundreds of tiny rib bones.

Place meat in cereal bowl. Add soy sauce, brown sugar, and garlic powder. Mix well, allow to marinate for 15 minutes.

Place snake meat on "liquid" tray of dehydrator. (This is the insert that has no holes). Use the "Meat" setting (145 degrees). It takes about 4 hours to completely dry.

Yield: Approximately one ounce

You deserve a snake today!

*Warning: the Surgeon General would probably determine the harvesting of rattlesnake to be hazardous to your health.

Heat & Serve Quick Dinner

Submitted by Rainmaker

This is an old stand-by dinner that I never seem to get tired of. All the ingredients were cooked (before you bought them), so all that is necessary is rehydrating your dinner to make it palatable, and heating it to make it taste good. The Knorr Black Bean Soup is the kind that comes in styrofoam cups at supermarkets.

The following portions will satisfy one hungry long-distance hiker, or maybe 2 normal people:

1 package Ramen noodles
1 cup instant rice
Several ounces Knorr Black Bean Soup Mix
Spices / seasoning of choice
1 ounce (or more) Parmesan cheese
1 1/2 - 2 cups water

Combine all ingredients in your pot (except the Parmesan cheese), and let it soak for 15 minutes. This will allow all contents to rehydrate. I don't like Ramen seasoning packets (any of them), so I generally discard them. My favorites spices for this meal are curry powder, garlic salt, lemon/ pepper and/or a packet of Lipton Instant Cup-O-Soup.

If you are in a hurry for dinner, mix all the ingredients and let them rehydrate while you are putting up your tent and unpacking the rest of your stuff.

After rehydrating, bring contents to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 2 or 3 minutes. Remove from heat and allow it to sit for 5 minutes, then garnish with Parmesan cheese and enjoy. What could be easier?

Cream Of Potato Soup

Submitted by Brawny

1/3 cup instant mashed potatoes
1 tablespoon instant dry milk powder
1 chicken bouillon cube
1/8 ts. garlic powder
1/8 ts. sage
1/4 ts. minced onions

Add one cup of hot water to this mix in a 12 ounce mug or bowl. Stir to disolve bouillon cube.

This instant soup mix can be enhanced with butter, croutons, and shredded cheese for a heartier meal. Other things that would taste good in this soup would be instant rice, dried vegetables, crumbled dried meats and black bean soup mix. This is a quick satisfying side dish and can be enjoyed while the main food is cooking.

Microwave Granola

Submitted By Brawny

In a large microwavable bowl place:
5 tablespoons margarine
1/2 cup packed brown sugar.

Set time to 12 minutes, full power.
Microwave margarine and brown sugar for about 45 seconds. Remove bowl from microwave and stir in:
4 cups oatmeal
1 cup wheat germ
1 1/2 cups sweetened coconut

Continue microwaving and cooking granola for the remaining time. Every few minutes, remove and carefully stir, especially the bottom to promote even browning. When 10 minutes of microwaving time have elasped, check and stir more frequently. Granola will crisp and darken as it cools.

After 12 minutes are done, more or less depending on your microwave, remove bowl from microwave and allow granola to cool. Stir to permit steam to escape.

You may add dried fruit at this time. I always add 10 ounces of raisons to mine. When totally cool, store in airtight container.

*****Tips, Suggestions, Etc.*****

Fruit Dehydrating

Submitted By Brawny

Dehydrating fruits is very easy to do . If you have ever had home made banana chips, or dried apples you will probably agree that they are far tastier than the products sold in stores.

An important key to delicious dried fruits is to have ripe fruit to start with. Many grocery stores mark down "past prime" fruit. This is the time to bring out the dehydrator and take advantage of the sale.

Dried Bananas

Start with as many ripe bananas you can get . Bananas are best dried when they have a lot of brown freckles on them. Peel and slice them to about 1/4 inch thickness onto the dehydrator trays. If your dehydrator has settings, choose the fruit temperature. If yours doesn't have a control dial, don't worry. They will still be fine.

Place banana slices close together, but not over lapping. After about 4 hours, rotate trays so that the bottom tray is now on the top. Once the slices shrink noticeably, you can consoladate the banana chips onto one or two trays, and fill the now empty trays with more fresh slices. Allow to dry until they are almost brittle. We like ours just a little chewy, and bag them at that stage. For safest storage, put in ziplock bags, and store in the freezer.

Dried Apples

Dried Apples are a definite treat anywhere, but especially while hiking when fresh fruit is hard to carry. With no additives, preservatives or artificial colorings, they are extremely healthy. In spite of that fact they still taste great!

Gala apples make the best dried apples I have ever tasted. They are very sweet, and firm. Also, they don't turn as brown as other varieties. Any variety will do, and actually the bottom line is cost and availablity of the apples you are working with.

Start with ripe, firm apples. Avoid soft mushy or grainy apples. They will not slice well. Wash, and dry. I don't peel or core my apples, but like to slice them starting from the stem and working down. This will make a nice star pattern in the apple ring. As they dry the seeds will fall out.

After about 4 hours, rotate trays, and respace the individgual slices on the trays. Depending on your dehydrator and the amount of fruit you have in it, it may take between 12 to 24 hours to complete. Remove, and allow to completly cool before bagging for storage. Apples will crisp up also as they cool.

Dehydrating/Vacuum Sealing

Submitted By Wildplaces

Have you tried dehydrating your own foods? I use a dehydrator to dry fruits and vegetables, and I'd like to try stews and/or meats that could be rehydrated if they're vacuum packed. Supposedly, good home vacuum packaging units are available for $100 to $200 over the internet.

Food List

Submitted By Rainmaker

Here's a list of some of the foods I like to eat while on the trail:


Pop-Tarts, Instant Oatmeal, Instant Grits, Breakfast Cereals, With Sweetener And Powdered Milk (Grape Nuts, Cracklin Oat Bran, Granola, Shredded Wheat)


Instant Rice, Cous-Cous, Knorr-Type Soup/Bean Mixes, Ramen (Cooked), Ramen (Instant), Stove Top Dressing, Canned Chicken, Sardines, Tuna, Instant Mashed Potatoes, Pasta, Lipton Noodle or Rice Dinners


Bagels, English Muffins, Pitas, Flour Tortillas

Lunches, Snacks & Desserts:

Granola Bars, Toaster Pastries, Cookies, Trail Mix, Fudge Cakes, Peanuts, Dried Fruit, Peanut Butter, Instant Pudding, Fig Newtons, M&M�s, Sunflower Seeds, Hard Candy, Crackers, Candy Bars, Cheese


Coffee, Kool-Aid, Instant Juices, Instant Hot Chocolate


Sweetener, Parmesan Cheese, Vegetable Oil, Butter Buds, Lipton Instant Soup, Bouillon Cubes, Hot Sauce, Soy Sauce, Powdered Milk


Salt, Pepper, Lemon/Pepper, Italian Seasoning, Minced Onion, Cinnamon, Garlic Salt

Hikers Stew

Submitted By Brawny

Dehydrating vegtables and meats for stew mixes is a great way to use leftover cooked foods. Place well drained cooked vegetables on the dehydrator trays closely together. These will shrink remarkably, so its a good idea to have a large quantity to make it worth the effort. Any kind of vegetable makes a good candidate, including brocoli, cauliflower, sliced or cubed boiled potatoes, onions, and beans. Peas become almost invisible when dried, but they can still be used.

Meats for stew mixes may be done at the same time, on another tray. Slice the meat into small 1/4 inch strips. Roast beef, hamburger, chicken, and turkey are some favorites to use. Use cooked meats for the stew mixes. Dehydrating raw meats is fine for jerky, but it doesnt rehydrate well in stew.

Place vegetables and meat pieces on dehydrator trays. Choose the meat setting,or hottest setting, if your dehydrator has one. I have used a simple machine with no blower and it worked fine. The key is to rotate the trays because the bottom tray will dehydrate faster than the top one, and especially with meat it is important to encourage even drying . This prevents bacterial growth.

When all the vegetables and meat are dry, combine and divide into snack size zip-loc bags. You may want to break the meat into smaller chunks at this time.

Into each bag place:

1 unwrapped boullion cube

1/4 ts. garlic powder

1 tablespoon cornstarch

pinch of black pepper.

Pour contents into 2 cups of cold water, stirring well to disolve cornstarch. Bring to boil, stirring while cornstarch thickens and bubbles. Ramen noodles, instant rice, or croutons maybe added at this time.