Meals for canoeing backcountry

As a person in the infancy stages of my cooking skills, planning meals for the backcountry can be daunting when I can hardly plan them for my own kitchen.  That’s why I want to share some of the meals we ate while canoeing the Smith River in Montana.  Admittedly, planning food for a canoe trip is a lot easier and more luxurious than for a backpacking trip but it still takes planning.  We had eleven people total on two rafts and three canoes.  Half of us were out for four nights, the other half for three.  We decided each boat would be on their own for breakfast and lunch then would be responsible for feeding the group dinner one night.


– Night One: Seafood gumbo by the Haack Canoe.  Nate and I thought long and hard for a good dish that could feed a lot of people, no one else will make, and could warm us up (as we’d be paddling in early April in Montana).  Seafood gumbo is a favorite winter dish of ours.  It’s thick and spicy.  We got the recipe from my Wisconsin native sister-in-law so the base is supposed to be heavy whipping cream.  We make it with half and half.  The half and half is the reason we volunteered to cook the first night, even though we are the proud new owners of a Yeti cooler and it probably could have stayed good.  Anyway, we simply had to bring a big pot, a few chopped veggies, a bag of shrimp, a bag of crab, hot sauce, etc. then throw it all in the pot and cook it on the Coleman grill (provided for the group to use by one of the rafts).  Scoop, serve, and eat.  Quick and easy and can also be made on an open fire if you have a pot you don’t care too much about.

– Night Two: Pulled pork sandwiches and coleslaw by the Nevada canoes.  Before the trip, Phil and Lisa made the pulled pork, then vacuum sealed it and froze it.  On the river, all they had to do was boil the full bag of pork in the cook pot.  A squeeze bottle of BBQ sauce and some buns and it’s good to go.  Pete and Brooke provided delicious cole slaw (no cooking needed) and corn on the cob (easily made on the fire) for the sides.

– Night Three: burgers and brats by the Great Falls raft.  This one’s pretty self explanatory.  Keep the meat, cheese and condiments in a cooler.  Bring buns, chips, and sides.  Then just cook on the Coleman grill and serve.  Of course, this is a fishing trip so our best fisherman on the trip cooked us up one of his catches.  Wrapped in tin foil, seasoned, and thrown on the fire, then pass around for sharing.


– Night Four: Hodgepodge by everyone.  The second raft brought spaghetti for dinner.  It was pre-made (cooked noodles, sauce, and meat balls all mixed together already) and frozen in Ziploc bags.  Simply warm and serve.  The two rafts took off early and left us the spaghetti, however, we decided to combine all our leftovers from the trip in the cooking pot and eat that instead.  This way Nate and I were lucky to end up with a bag of the spaghetti when we got home.  It was delicious!  Back to our hodgepodge.  We cooked it on the fire since the Coleman grill left with the rafts.  It included: gumbo, beer, pulled pork, a mixture of veggies, and water.  Surprisingly, it turned out pretty good.


– Breakfast and lunch:  Nate and I have a Jetboil stove for when we’re backpacking.  We brought it along for instant oatmeal and coffee in the mornings.  We packed sandwich makings and a few snacks like granola bars and trail mix for our lunches.  I put our bread in Tupperware containers so it wouldn’t get squished.

– Food Storage: This is bear country.  Our new Yeti Cooler is bear proof.  The food we couldn’t fit in it as well as our trash bag were hung at night.

– To find out how we fit it all in our canoe just check out my previous post.

If you haven’t seen it yet – here’s a short video of the trip:


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