4 Trail Food Ideas With Rethink Waste In Mind


Just because you’re heading out in the wilderness, doesn’t mean you have to eat poorly. It also doesn’t mean you have to throw your Rethink Waste lifestyle out the window. Don’t you find it frustrating when you see that little corner of someone’s Clifbar wrapper that fell out of their pocket along the trail? There are lots of ways to reduce your waste when thinking about what you’re going to eat on the trail. Here are a few of my favorite ways to eat well and keep thinking about waste reduction on the trail.

The two main takeaways for camping, backpacking, or hiking foods:

  • Buy bulk and bring reusable containers to the store with you
  • Avoid purchasing foods in non-reusable or non-recyclable containers when you can
  1. DINNER:
    Curried Cashew Chickpea Couscous – for 2 hungry people on an overnight

    Place the following in a ziplock bag (I re-used one that had sunflower seeds in it from a Natural Grocer’s purchase):
    1 c couscous
    1/4 c cashews
    1 T curry powder
    1 t hot pepper flakes, or as you like it
    salt to taste
    some dehydrated veggies such as kale and scallions

    Boil 1.5 c water. Off the heat, stir in contents of ziplock and let sit for 5 minutes. Fluff with a fork and then stir in 1 can tuna (drained), 1 cup cooked chickpeas, and 1/4 c golden raisins.

    BONUS: Dehydrate your veggies using the heat of your car instead of an energy-intensive food dehydrator! Solar power is free — kale, scallions, and morel mushrooms have worked great for me in Bend. (This only took 2 hours in my brown car parked in full sun from 12:30pm – 1:30pm on an 85 degree day).


    Ok, so oatmeal isn’t very creative. And trust me — it has not always been my first breakfast choice. But it’s lightweight and versatile! I have come to find that my favorite oatmeal mix has dried mango, crystallized ginger, cardamom to taste, and pecans. You can add sugar if you like it sweet, but I think the mango and sugar from the ginger are enough. Just mix it all up in a reusable container of your choice. Boil water, pour in oatmeal, and cook til done! Yum.

    All of those ingredients are available in the bulk section at Food for Less, Market of Choice, and Fred Meyer. You can have your jar tarred at the front register to avoid using the plastic bags. Or you can bring some old plastic bags from home that you have washed out. Boil water, pour in oatmeal ingredients

  3. SNACK #1:
    Trail mix from the bulk section

    Just pick out whatever you like, remembering to bring your reusable jars or bags from home, and mix! This way you don’t have to worry about mining because you will like everything you put in the mix. I like pecans, cranberries, chocolate chips, and crystalized ginger. Again, all available in the bulk section.

  4. SNACK #2:
    Make your own bars!

    By buying ingredients from the bulk section and making bars at home we can monitor what goes into our bars AND reduce the amount of packaging we bring home from the store. Even if we use the plastic bulk bags, at least we can reuse them the next time in the bulk section or, as I sometimes do, use them to clean up after my dog. After the bars are made, you can freeze them and then stack them in a reusable container. When you head out on the trail, you can wrap a few in a beeswax wrap any other reusable container.


Here is a great formula for building your own bars from the No Meat Athlete.

And here is a link for some homemade Larabar hacks.

What is your favorite reduced waste trail meal?





  1. Kelli on June 11, 2019 at 4:36 pm

    I love all of this! I agree –– backpacking and camping are areas that can improve so much in the way of lowering the waste those activities create. I’m going to try dehydrating some veggies in my car.

    • Ani Kasch on June 11, 2019 at 5:34 pm

      Yeah! Thanks Kelli. Let us know how it turns out! The Kitchn blog has some good information for veggies with higher moisture content than scallions and kale.

  2. Josie Hanneman on June 12, 2019 at 10:11 am

    I love this book if you ever want more backpacking food ideas: Recipes for Adventure: https://dpl.bibliocommons.com/item/show/1708743094

    Redmond Library also has a food dehydrator that you can borrow!

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