Plan Ahead: Meals For Multi-Day River trips

My roots are in the mountains, where life afoot requires a compromise between ease of cooking and ease of carrying. But on the river, it’s a whole new ball game. With everything floating downstream, you can rack for bear. That frees you up to high-grade your meals, and with them a big part of your backcountry experience. We’ve recently started doing that by cooking and freezing many of our meals ahead of time.

To be perfectly honest, my wife has driven most of this. Let’s be honest, she’s always had more foresight and industry than I have. This is no exception.

For example, on an upcoming five day, four night float, with six adults and four kids, each family drew lots for meals. We’re responsible for one dinner and two breakfasts.

A time tested chili recipe will cover our assigned dinner. I made the chili ahead of time, measured out portions and froze them in ziplock bags. The frozen zip locks fit neatly in the cooler and effectively double our cooling power. On our assigned night, all we’ll have to do is reheat and add toppings – Fritos, sour cream, cheese, green onion.

For breakfast, my wife pre made egg, bacon and cheese burritos, then individually wrapped and froze them too. Without the worry of messy eggs or spoiled bacon, we simply reheat over the stove and have a great meal sans morning stress. For this particular trip we are also pre making brownies and freezing them along with margarita mix, bread and humus. Again this saves time and to helps keep our cooler cold for the duration of the trip. (Check out a few tips for cooler packing to help as well)

The concept is simple, some leg work on the front end, by cooking at home, will save you time in the field and have you eating better food. The added benefit of having frozen food chill your cooler is also huge. This leaves more time for fishing and relaxing while drinking your favorite cocktail, two of the best things about river trips!

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