St Croix River Association To Protect, Restore, and Celebrate the St. Croix River and its Watershed

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Food & Meal Planning

What about food?

This is probably the most often asked question we get regarding multi-day paddles. The first thing to do is not make it complicated. The paddle is supposed to be a fun adventure, not a stressful event, so leave the thoughts of gourmet eating for home.

However, uncomplicated doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t make a plan. The best thing to do is plan a menu, then reexamine it a couple of times to think about how hard it will be with limited resources. Once you plan the menu, shop for only what you need for that menu plan. If you’re planning on eating out, don’t plan food for that night. Please adhere to the NO GLASS rule, broken glass is a real hazard and is simply not permitted. While we ask you to think about the amount of waste generated each day, we will take care of garbage disposal every day. Coolers are permitted, but you’ll be taking them on the water with you in your boat. So give plenty of thought what you really need, and only bring enough food for six days.

You are fully responsible for your own food. Several meals will be included in the registration, but special dietary needs will not be accommodated (possibly vegetarian options). A camp kitchen will be set up daily. There will be cook stoves, a grill, pots & pans, utensils, salt & pepper, oil, and a few other staples available for your use. (IF YOU USE IT, YOU CLEAN IT). Dish washing supplies will also be provided.

Energy/granola bars, nuts, dried fruit, non-melting candy, etc. are all good to have along on-river. Some of us forgo a “lunch” for snacking on river. Powdered Gatorade is a good idea to carry with you on river too.

Just remember, you’ll be sharing a stove, so anything that is “just add water” works best. If you have stuff to mix up like pancake batter, we recommend you pre-measure all the dried ingredients and package it at home in meal size quantities in baggies; minimal packaging, minimal prep time. With some forethought, you’ll eat some pretty tasty meals without a lot of fuss. After all, you’ll want to be out enjoying the sunset, not spending the night over a hot stove and cleaning up a lot of dishes.

And finally, because of wild animals, no food is allowed in tents or left outside overnight. For your convenience and safety we’ll have all food items and trash stored in the transport vehicle. What that means is you should plan on a separate bag (labeled) for your food. The best measure is if food for one does not fit in a backpack, you have too much.


Meal Ideas

Generally, you can find good dried meals; they are light, take up little space and provide calories. A couple of websites with ideas for those of you that want to create your own meals or find dried meals:

You can also wander through the aisles of the grocery store and find plenty of “just add water” or “open the can and heat” meals. Every paddle we’ve done, people end up sharing meals and helping each other. If you’re new to cooking your own meals, DON’T WORRY, someone will help you figure it out.

Breakfast ideas:

Instant oatmeal, cream of wheat, grits-powdered milk works fine in these if you want more protein; granola/breakfast bars, dried breakfast foods, bagels & peanut butter.

Lunch ideas:

Bagel, tortilla, pita (sturdy bread), hummus, peanut butter, nutella, pouch tuna or other pouch fish/meat, packaged snack crackers with cheese, apples, dried fruit, pretzels, slim jim & cheese sticks, fig newtons, animal crackers.

Dinner ideas:

Canned foods are OK to bring-canned meats work well if you need animal protein-think spam! mac & cheese with tuna is a favorite (can be made with oil), soups, pasta, rice & beans, ramen noodles, flavored potato mixes, couscous with dried fruit/veggies & canned meat is pretty tasty.

I strongly encourage you to make a menu, shop for the menu, and pack for the menu.

No need to bring extra food; plan ahead and eat what you planned. People almost always bring too much food. After a full day on the river, anything you cook is going to taste good.

Gorp Ideas: 

Make ahead for each day and put in sealed containers for on-river. Everyone has their own nutritional and taste-related needs, these mix ideas are without set ratios or measurements. There are no rules for trail mix — combine whatever sounds good!

  1. Simple and Sophisticated: Almonds, dried cherries, M&Ms, sea salt, cinnamon.
  2. Old-School GORP: Peanuts, raisins, M&Ms.
  3. Savory Seeds: Almonds, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, garlic powder, onion powder, cayenne pepper.
  4. Tropical Mix: Cashews, Brazil nuts, dried mango, coconut flakes, banana chips.
  5. Raw Energy: Walnuts, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, cinnamon, nutmeg, sea salt, dried apricots, dried cranberries.
  6. Fall Flavors: Pecans, dried apples, maple granola, pumpkin seeds, nutmeg, cinnamon.
  7. Power Mix: Goji berries, pistachios, dried blueberries, flax seeds, M&Ms.
  8. Nuts for Nuts: Almonds, walnuts, peanuts, cashews, pecans, raisins.
  9. Beachy: Macadamia nuts, Mango, dried pineapple, coconut flakes.
  10. PB&J: Peanuts, dried strawberries, peanut butter M&Ms, shredded wheat cereal.
  11. Exotic: Peanuts, raisins, puffed rice, pretzels, curry powder, chili powder.
  12. Spicy and Savory: Almonds, wasabi peas, sesame seeds, dried ginger, Chex cereal.
  13. Movie Night: Popcorn, peanuts, M&Ms, dried cranberries.
  14. Monkey Munch: Banana chips, peanuts, sea salt, almonds, M&Ms, raisins, coconut flakes.
  15. Cereal Lover: Bran flakes, shredded wheat cereal, puffed rice, granola, cashews, dried cherries, dried cranberries, dried blueberries.
  16. Cajun Blend: Almonds, pecans, walnuts, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, sea salt, garlic powder, chili powder, ground cumin, cayenne pepper.