GDT Food and Meal Planning

We have finally finalized our meal plans (as much as we can anyways), so I can stop teasing with posts about us buying food and give more details on what we actually plan on eating.

Calories and Nutrition

Natasha and I don’t need a lot of calories hiking usually. We have planned for 3600 calories per day each, on average.

We are planning on shipping most of our food to trail as part of our resupply. We choose to buy cheese and fresh sausage (or whatever we can find) in each town as needed. We also plan on supplementing our planned food as needed. Major revisions to our food plan or resupply boxes will be handled by our friend who is shipping our resupply boxes (you know who you are!). On zero days and/ or resupply days we will eat what we can in town. I’m hoping for ice cream!

Nutrition is simple. We try to be balanced, and to get plenty of protein. We do eat lots of chocolate but we also have baby food pouches that we will share every day – we will be relying on those for some key vitamins. We will eat veggies and fruit in town when available. Our breakfast choices are bars and instant breakfast, but varied enough to balance what we can out. We are keeping track of our tuna intake – and I supplement with smoked salmon instead at times to keep mercury consumption in check.

Recipes

We have a few recipes we have used with success in the past but we are always refining them and mixing them up!

In my experience the most important thing to focus on with food when hiking is making sure you actually want to eat it and will get some enjoyment from it! I find that some food (cough, trail mix, cough) is fine on day one and I want to eat it but quickly lose my appetite for it. When that happens I struggle to get calories down and end up carrying food weight that I’m not consuming. If I enjoy the meal then it is easier to stomach (or straight up tasty) when I’m exhausted, hot, and frustrated. This is a nice feedback loop!

On the GDT we will be typically eating the following:

  • Tuna salad for lunch
  • Peanut butter
  • Snickers
  • Hershey’s milk chocolate and almond Bars
  • Reeses peanut butter cups
  • Sausage
  • Cheese
  • Pesto noodles
  • Skurka’s beans and rice
  • Sjurka’s peanut noodles (simplified)
  • Tuna or salmon mac n cheese casserole

Our specific meal lists are shown below. We both rotate between some set “days” but that’s really just used for planning. We eat what we feel like and don’t worry about what we specifically planned for that day.

Pesto Noodles

This is a pretty simple recipe, and is super easy to make.

Pesto Noodle Recipe

It’s a pretty “easy to eat” meal that sticks with you. Most of all the leftover broth isn’t a chore to drink – it’s just a nice, hot meal.

You can add to it if you want but we usually keep it as is. If we have leftover sausage we sometimes will add it, or bacon bits.

Tuna Salad

This one is new for us. We are no stranger to taking tuna hiking but we used to use it as an ingredient in dinner. Recently we started eating it straight from the bag for lunch and add some mayonnaise. This gets some protein mid day and also makes it so we don’t have to clean fish residue from our pots and cookware. I drink my greywater when washing my cookware with water; drinking soup of cold fish residue from our cookware isn’t my favourite so avoiding that but still eating tuna on trail is a huge plus for me.

We bought a lot of individual packaged mayonnaise – this is working great. I think three packs of mayonnaise are about perfect for a good mix. The foil packages of tuna we get in Canada do not have olive oil in them – just a small amount of vegetable broth – so the tuna itself is fairly dry. The mayonnaise really helps and doesn’t make it too liquidy.

Beans and Rice

This is my new favorite!

Beans and rice recipe

Basically, I like everything about this. A big part of what I like of it is just how consistent the texture and cooking time is across all ingredients. They cook together perfectly – no over or under cooked parts.

We bring sausage and cheese already usually so this is a good excuse to eat more cheese. It just works with food we already bring on trail as snacks (cheese, corn chips) so I don’t have to be precise about how many chips I use… I’ll eat them eventually anyways.

It can be a bit spicy, so that is a nice kick in a world otherwise dominated by chocolate bars.

In general I love tacos and nachos (the taco shop across the street from our apartment is my jam!) so this appeals to me even off trail!

Peanut Noodles

I’m not a fan of peanut sauce. I’ll eat a spoonful of peanut butter on trail… but a peanut sauce isn’t my favourite. So I haven’t planned on bringing this meal, but Natasha is planning on eating this meal on the GDT. She has tried the recipe while hiking on the SCT this year and has given it her seal of approval!

Peanut noodles recipe

Salmon mac n cheese casserole

This is only for me. But it’s tried and true. I supplement this with what I can, including fresh cheese to mix it up. The trick is to ensure not to use too much water or it becomes cheese soup! On the SCT I also added corn chips (leftover from the bean and rice) and the added texture of the corn chips was nice – almost like bread crumbs in mac and cheese.

salmon mac and cheese recipe

Note that using fish in a cooked meal leaves an aftertaste in my cookware but in limited amounts it is manageable and worth it.

Final Words

While many of these recipes are tried and true we have tried to add enough variation to not only keep things interesting but keep our diet balanced.

Overall, I think this is a good baseline, but I am sure we will have to supplement, remove or add food as the hike progresses. We will be sure to let you know what we think of it while on trail!

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