The crisp air rolling in doesn’t mean get ready for hibernation, it means that perfect bug-free weather is here! As summer comes to a close, we don’t have to feel like it’s time to shut up and head in - don’t sacrifice your outdoor time because you have to throw on a sweater! We can still enjoy our well-deserved time outdoors.
If you’re looking for a more adventurous version of camping, then go on a canoe trip. You’ll get to travel all day and stop in different spots to set up camp along the way. So, grab your treasure map, canoe, and a toy 3CPO…nope. Nope, that’s from Without A Paddle (a wicked funny canoe trip movie).
Although, if you have those three things just be prepared for everything and stay away from the hillbillys with guns.
Buy, rent, or build a canoe (if you’re the real-life Ron Swanson that is) and head out to the beautiful river to enjoy a good upper body workout, vitamin D, and the crisp fresh air of the outdoors.
Whatever lies just around the riverbend you need to be prepared!
One of the most important things on a canoe trip that can be difficult to plan is what to eat. It needs to be compact, portable, and non-perishable.
Whether you’re a heavy snacker and you have to bring all types of food or you’re the type that can live off of three solid meals a day (are you even human?) it’s all doable with the proper planning.
This post is aimed to help you prepare your meals for your canoe trip. Whether you are a good ol’ fashioned meat eater, vegetarian, vegan, pescetarian, or Episocapalian this post will help with all of the above…except for that last one.
I am all about healthy, good tasting food that will energize you as well as fill you up–in other words you won’t find any junk food on this list, but just because it isn’t junk food doesn’t mean it won’t taste delicious.
I know when I’m out and about either hiking, canoeing, kayaking, or partaking in any other outdoor activity I definitely don’t like sacrificing my dietary choices or tastebuds.
So, prepare yourself and your cooler and let’s head down the river!
Now, as I mentioned before just because you’re out on the river doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice your food selections it just means you have to get a little more creative.
Don’t feel overwhelmed because you feel like you have to overpack excessive amounts of equipment. Overpacking leads to lugging around a lot of heavy equipment and no one wants to do that. There are plenty of great, compact tools to bring that will create delectable meals on your trip.
First off here is a list of materials you will need to create the perfect menu for your canoe trip.
- A grill. You can choose from either a small portable one or a collapsable one (if campfires are allowed, make sure to do your research). Click here to see what kind of camping grills are out there to pick from.
- Basic cooking utensils including but not limited too unbreakable dishes, a pot and a pan, forks, knives, spoons, a spatula, a stirring spoon, a small cutting board, a good cutting knife, and maybe a can opener.
- Don’t forget aluminum foil, sandwich bags, and some strong garbage bags. You also have to keep in mind of how to keep your food away from bears as well.
- Two disposable lighters because matches will stop working if they get wet.
- Water or a water purifier (keep in mind how much you’ll need to cook and how much water each person should be drinking every day).
- A coffee maker because who can live out in the woods without a great cup of coffee on a crisp morning. Sorry tea drinkers! There’s no better way to enjoy a sunrise, in my opinion.
- Biodegradable dish soap, a sponge/scrubber and of course a dish towel.
Obviously, you can add or take things off this list but it’s all light enough that it can tuck into one end of your canoe and not get in the way of your fun time outdoors.
Also, make sure you plan according to the length of your trip! In quality and in products. Meat, fish, milk, and yogurt shouldn’t go past 48 hours in a chilly cooler without being eaten (and obviously not if you let it sit in the sun).
If you have a kayak keep your food in the bottom of it and stack clothes a-top it. The water will keep the food cool and the clothes will insulate it from the warm air above.
As for vegetables keep in mind their fresh periods and life expectancy.
Non-perishables such as trail mix, granola bars, and dehydrated fruits and veggies are great snacks to bring along.
Preparation is for Prepared People
Prep your food at home! The best way to plan your meals is on a day by day basis. Start off by creating a scheduled meal plan with specific times of day and act accordingly.
It is also advised to bring extra meals and snacks in your supply in case of emergencies or just pure hunger (if you’re anything like me, you’re annoyingly always hungry).
Pack compact. Cardboard boxes take up a lot of room so pack your pasta, rice and other grains should all be put into bags. If you can break up any food that is cumbersome then do it!
Do not chop your fruits and vegetables beforehand because they will rot faster. But if you’re bringing any salmon, meat or cured cheese than chop and vacuum seal them before. You can go into a deli to buy these products and ask them to vacuum seal them for you.
If you’re super, super, nice to them you could ask them to also vacuum seal your delicious pasta sauce because jars are heavy and cumbersome like boxes.
Don’t forget your foods that belong in the pantry. You could bring all of your favorite condiments, spices, butter, cream, and maple syrup. I like to put all of them in high quality zip lock plastic bags rather than bringing the original containers. I give myself permission to use the plastic bags because canoe camping is carry in – carry out so I can recycle them when I get home.
Keep in mind you can also buy powdered eggs and coffee creamer.
For breakfast think eggs, bacon, fried potatoes or even a bagel. Just lather on that peanut butter. If you’re vegetarian or vegan you can easily make oatmeal, pancakes or french toast. Check out vegan french toast here!
There’s always fresh fruit, yogurt and granola as well for a good filling and protein filled breakfast.
I always boil lots of eggs and bring them for snacks.
Lunch is easy since it’s mostly sandwiches, either deli, tuna or peanut butter and jelly. However, those can get old after a few days so fill up on granola bars, dried fruit, nuts, hummus and jerky. You could even bring some Jiffy Pop to pop over the fire (only if fires are allowed).
Snacks are the easiest to overpack but can be great healthy, energizing middle meals. Click here for a list of great healthy snacks for paddle days.
Dinner tends to be the hardest meal to plan. You can make steak, potatoes, rice, pasta, ham, macaroni and cheese, dinner rolls, frozen vegetables, and even stir fry if you plan accordingly.
Here are some more great recipes for your paddling trip.
If there are dietary restrictions for yourself or anyone else in your party keep in mind that it’s easy to simply replace certain ingredients instead of changing your menu entirely.
Instead of tuna fish you could do garbanzo beans or instead of eggs you could bring tofu (as long as you treat it like meat and keep it cool).
Pancakes can be made with almond milk and applesauce instead of milk and eggs which are both easier to keep fresh.
Gluten free is another easy change by switching to a rice pasta, gluten free bread (or lettuce wraps). Whatever restrictions or diet you have, just alter a few ingredients instead of altering your entire menu.
It’s easier to remain creative and functional than to start from scratch.
I Lied – Here are My Junk Food Suggestions
As much as I try to eat healthy 24/7, I fail. When I am outdoors all day and especially when I am camping, snacking is king.
Yes, I eat my fair share of nuts, dried fruits, and seeds but let’s face it folks, sometimes you just need a bit of dark chocolate or a Cheez-It.
So, without much ado, here’s my junk food list
- Individually wrapped chocolate (it won’t be such a mess if it melts)
- Cookies – homemade with great ingredients then you won’t feel so guilty
- Hard candy
- Marshmallows – don’t leave home without them!
- Fruit – yup it’s healthy
- Pretzels – they will go great with your canned beer too (please don’t bring glass)
- Donuts or cinnamon rolls for breakfast – invite me if you bring those!
You’re Finally Ready!
At this point of your preparations you should be quoting spongebob, “I’m ready, I’m ready, I’m ready, I’m ready, I’m ready!”
Calculate how many meals a day you need according to how long your trip is and pack accordingly. The key is to pack smartly and not over-zealously.
You can still pack extra food without adding too much weight or taking up too much space if you pack smartly. If you’re anything like me you’re the king of over packing and over snacking but when you have limited space then all of the above is of utmost importance.
Make a wish list and then make a reality list. Place both lists next to each other and mash them together to create your perfect menu. This way you can enjoy your food just as much as if you were home and not be dragged down by your abundance of unnecessary food.
You’re officially ready for your canoe trip so get off the Internet already and get moving!
Photo by Madeline Heising on Reshot