Dirtbag (holiday) Dinner

Having often been a solo traveler, I know there are a few creature comforts that are easy to miss while embracing life on the trail.  Aside from family, friends, and social interaction it’s easy to miss food/meals that are beyond the typical trail fare.  I like trail food as much as the next person, but even classy gastronomy like ramen and hot chocolate can only satisfy the tastebuds for so long.  (Speaking of tastebuds, that would be a great name for a food show or blog about friends who travel around trying different cuisine from different places.  This week on Tastebuds catch Lauren, Hopper, and Kristof as they head to Buenos Aires for the local alfajores and the fiesta del año)

So, with the holiday’s approaching I am here for the backpackers, the climbers, the hikers, and cave dwellers with a couple of lightweight, cost friendly, easy to cook recipes to capture the nostalgia of family dinners and holiday meals.

These recipes can be both vegan and non-vegan depending on your preference.  Each ingredient comes in a vegan option.

Main Course = Holiday Bowl.

  • Instant Potatoes
  • Instant Stuffing
  • Dried Cranberries
  • Turkey Gravy Mix 
  • Canned Chicken/Tofurkey Slices (optional)

Heat water to hydrate the potatoes/stuffing/Gravy.  Once hydrated, add ingredients to a bowl.  Add in desired quantity of cranberries, and meat.  Cover and let ingredients mingle.  Grab a titanium spork (or other trail utensil, a stick perhaps) and allow this simple dish to warm your belly and the cockles of your heart!

Dessert = Holiday Bowl (but sweet)

  • Instant apple cinnamon oatmeal
  • Dehydrated apples
  • Granola
  • Crushed Walnuts
  • Brown Sugar (Instant brown sugar oatmeal will work if you have no brown sugar)
  • Cinnamon
  • Dried Cranberries

Heat water to make the oatmeal and rehydrate the apples.  Once complete, add a scoop of brown sugar, a pinch of cinnamon, a handful of granola, walnuts, and cranberries, then mix ingredients together.  If you have the opportunity to be extra boujee add a pad of butter to the apples while rehydrating.  And if you want to be extra extra boujee, get your hands on a scoop of vanilla ice cream to top your mixture.  It would be insane if you were on a trail and somehow came across some ice cream, but if you do, the result will cause you to dance and convulse in jubilation.

Some of my most memorable trail-life experiences come from the times when despite living and looking like a dirtbag, I was able to eat like royalty. Now, I’m not sure these dishes would constitute a royal feast, but they sure beat nothing.

So, if you are off on the trail this holiday season, these recipes won’t bring you closer to your loved ones, but hopefully they will at least get you closer in spirit. 

25 Replies to “Dirtbag (holiday) Dinner”

    1. I’m not sure how I feel about that…on the one hand it’s freeze-dried ice cream. On the other hand it’s ice cream. I need to try it, and I am cautiously excited.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. To be honest, being on a trail would be a real treat – even if I had to forego the traditional Thanksgiving dinner. Yours doesn’t sound bad at all. I hope you all have a fabulous Thanksgiving!

    Liked by 1 person

      1. It does make a difference when we can eat a meal we truly enjoy. It does bring the spirits up.

        You brought up some good choices. One can never go wrong with potatoes. The granola, cinnamon apple oatmeal- and cranberries! All are very healthy too!

        Walnuts are great! I wish I could eat them again regularly. I became allergic to them during my teenage years.

        Apples in any form are always good!

        Liked by 2 people

      2. My favorite apple “Granny Smith” of all time along with “Red Delicious” and Golden Delicious” all ranked on the “Pure Shit Apple” list! 🙈😭🙉😹🙊

        Liked by 2 people

  2. Tramping Tiramisu

    Chocolate Instant pudding mix (White if can be found)
    Milk Powder
    Instant Coffee
    Kahlua (if wanted)
    Chocolate Block

    This works only on cold weather trips to set the pudding. First layer ladyfingers in a bowl, make a strong coffee and pour that and kahlua over the biscuits to soak in. Mix up milk powder and make instant pudding. Pour over the soaked biscuits. Let it sit outside in the cold to set and then shave chocolate over the top. Eat and Enjoy.

    It has the same flavours and some of the texture of a Tiramisu. And when you are tramping, any dessert is amazing. The only ingredients that are additional to my normal food packing are the Ladyfingers and Pudding Mix. Both are tiny and weigh nothing.


    1. Pete, this sounds completely amazing…Thank you for sharing the recipe, I cannot wait to try it! The pop of caffeine is a real game changer! I love the name too!


  3. Usually cook in the VeeDub (camper van) and that’s a kind of luxury on two gas ring options. Hiking will be a culinary challenge if I read you correctly. So. Going to get a little notebook to write some collective recipes and ideas down before choosing which ingredients to gather and take on each jaunt. Minimalism by cooking on a Trangia flame, one saucepan above it and a bowl to put it in. Thanks for nudging thoughts about this in the right direction. Beats opening a can of various flavoured lentil dhal every time. All the best.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. We’ve been starting to organize some more recipe ideas along this line, we’ll have to start organizing them more seriously though. I don’t know if you saw Pete’s Tramping Tiramisu comment, but it sounds amazing!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yes. I did read the comments. It does. I’m a massive coffee fan. And my wife bought some Italian strength 4 organic coffee bags from her shop a couple of days ago. Perfect for dropping in your ‘hydrating’ bit of the recipes with easy removal. I’ll keep an eye open for your future suggestions. Cheers.


  4. A long time ago, the good X and I rented a small motorhome with thoughts of going to the Grand Canyon (we were snowed out). We had a lot of adventures other than the Grand Canyon — and one of them was cooking Thanksgiving dinner in the little RV — turkey breast with packaged dressing, gravy, and a pumpkin pie. We were here: https://www.blm.gov/visit/painted-rock-petroglyph-campground

    It was so much fun that we bought a 1979 VW camper van with a pop top. THAT was fun, more fun than a tent except, maybe, for the gasoline fumes from the rear engine which was under the bed. Not bad, and not always. BUT on the way up to Big Bear to ski, the block cracked, leaking oil. The van was smoking like a Mofo. People stared at us. We pulled under a bridge and looked. Yep. Crack and oil. We limped back to San Diego and traded it for a Peugeot. OH well…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I checked out the site and the place is fantastic. $8 a night…camping is seriously one of the last real deals left (although some would say camping should be free).

      That is such a great memory, it takes a little time to understand how “great” experiences like really are, but once that perspective clicks, it makes it really tough to have a bad time on an adventure. I would love to have a VW camper with a pop top. Seriously a dream vehicle!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I don’t know what it’s like NOW but in the 80s it was great. You drive through cotton fields to get to it, which is interesting, all watered by the Salado River which is partly covered to prevent evaporation. I loved that place. That trip that never got to the Grand Canyon also introduced me to Arizona’s Verde Valley which is one of my favorite places. Sometimes not getting what you want is the best thing.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. My mom lived in the Verde Valley for nearly 20 years. It was so great being able to spend Christmas and Spring breaks in the Red Rocks. Unfortunately I was able to witness the commercialization of nature over the years. Charging for day hiking became the norm as the roads switched from 2 to 4 lanes and the mom and pop hotels were gobbled up by Marriott and Hyatt. I’m sure there are still plenty of spot to pack the camper, but definitely not for $8. Edward Abbey would not approve!

        Liked by 1 person

      3. I don’t approve, either. I drove through there on my way here when I moved back. I was shocked and I wish I could have been surprised. Everyone but me and a select few should live in high-rise condos with Holodecks that simulate nature and in which they could litter, poop, and spray paint graffiti without ruining anything.

        Liked by 1 person

  5. I like hot cocoa on a chilly night so I carry cocoa powder, sugar, and dry milk. One night on the trail I thought about chocolate pudding and said, “what’s chocolate pudding except thicker cocoa?” I added cornstarch, cooked it for a few minutes, and let it cool. It set up to a nice pudding consistency.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I agree, there is something about hot cocoa, on a cold night outside! I never thought to pack dry milk though, that sounds like a real game changer…then going all out for pudding. I need to make a camping spice/dry goods rack. That turns everything up a notch!

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Biolite is great. You can cook and freeze good, hearty food and it’s small and packable and fairly simple to light up to warm food.

    Btw, is that Cranberry Island (first photo)? The boardwalk and view looks a lot like a picture that I have from summer.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I need to make more food on the Biolite. I have one and really like it, but I just need to be a little more patient, because it really is a great tool. Thank you for reminding me to pull it out!

      I’m not sure where this photo was taken, I think it was from the Pacific Northwest. I just thought it looked to fit the post. But I just looked at some hiking photos from Cranberry Island, and it really does look similar! Maybe I need to add it to the destination list!

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Yes, it does take time. I am love gathering the sticks though. I think Mount Desert Island and the surrounding area is one of my favorite places that I have visited

        Liked by 1 person

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