When you’re heading out into the great unknown, the last thing you want to be eating is same old camping food. With a food dehydrator (an oven on low heat works well, too) and a few mix-and-match ingredients, even the ultralight campers among us will find themselves excited to set up the camp kitchen.

Let’s get right to it.

To dehydrate in the oven, you’ll need parchment paper, something to prop the oven door open (a whisk or wooden spoon), and a baking sheet. Turn oven to lowest setting (typically 160 degrees or “warm”). Place parchment paper on baking sheet, then layer the food you want to dehydrate over the parchment paper and place in oven. Use a wooden spoon or other device to prop open the door to allow for air flow. It usually takes about 12 hours to fully dehydrate food.

Since the oven will inevitably cook the food slightly, it’s best to blanch vegetables ahead of time rather than cook them thoroughly, so that their nutrition is optimized. You don’t have to worry about that with a dehydrator because it uses a very low heat and your food won’t cook.

Once you get everything prepped, store your food in airtight Ziploc bags until you’re ready to show off your backcountry cooking skills with one of the recipes below.

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Pack dehydrated food that you can make yourself to keep the load light and still enjoy tasty camp meals. Will Saunders/Gregory Mountain Products

1. Thai Curry Rice

  • Instant rice or dehydrated rice
  • 1 ½ tablespoons powdered coconut milk
  • 2 teaspoons curry powder, or to taste
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ¼ cup carrots, chopped
  • ¼ cup white onion, chopped
  • ¼ cup potato, chopped
  • ¼ cup red bell pepper, chopped
  • ¼ cup corn, blanched and decobbed
  • 1 small head garlic, chopped

Prep : Blanch carrots, onion, potato, pepper, and garlic in large pot with salt and about 3 cups of water. It’s helpful to blanch corn on cob before shearing off. Drain, dehydrate as directed above, and store in Ziploc bag.

At camp : Soak vegetables 10 minutes. Boil water with salt. Add rice and cook per package instructions or until barely soft. Add vegetables and let sit for five minutes. Add powdered milk and curry powder and stir until well mixed, adding additional water as needed.

For an added flavor and protein boost, add some tofu jerky.

2. Protein Pancakes

At home : – 2 cups all-purpose whole wheat flour – 2 scoops plain or vanilla protein powder – 1 teaspoon baking soda – 1 teaspoon baking powder – 2 teaspoon salt

At the campsite : – 3 cups water – 3 tablespoons (or more) vegetable oil

Prep : Add all “at home” ingredients in heavy-duty freezer Ziploc bag.

At camp: Shake mix, then slowly add water, mixing by squeezing bag. Add vegetable oil but leave a tablespoon aside for frying. Shake bag to mix. Once batter is just mixed, let it sit for about five minutes while pan heats up. Add oil to the pan, then pour pancake batter appropriate to pan size, flipping the pancake once the top gets bubble and edges look dry and matte. Cook for another couple minutes and serve as you please.

3. Vegetable Soup with Rice

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A hearty vegetable soup can go a long way after a cold day on the trail. Will Saunders/Gregory Mountain Products
  • ¼ cup carrots, chopped
  • ¼ cup white onion, chopped
  • ¼ cup potato, chopped
  • ¼ cup red bell pepper, chopped
  • ¼ cup corn, blanched and decobbed
  • 1 small head garlic, chopped
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 cup rice

Prep : Blanch carrots, onion, potato, pepper, and garlic in large pot with salt and about 3 cups of water. It’s helpful to blanch corn on cob before shearing off. Drain, dehydrate as directed above, and store in Ziploc bag. Prepare rice as directed above and store separately.

At camp : Mix veggies and rice and soak for about 10 minutes. Cook on medium-low heat for about 5 minutes or until tender, and season as desired.

4. White Beans with Rosemary

  • 1 cup white beans, cooked, rinsed, and drained.
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 ½ teaspoons of rosemary
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil

Prep : Mix ingredients, spread over parchment paper or dehydration tray, and dehydrate as directed above.

At camp : Soak beans in about 1 C water for 5-10 minutes while you set up your camp stove. Add water and beans to heat and cook for about 6 minutes until rehydrated. Drain and enjoy. Serve on a tortilla with beef or tofu jerky to make a heartier meal.

5. Velvet Elvis Taco

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Eating together is one of the best parts of a backpacking trip. Will Saunders/Gregory Mountain Products
  • Tortillas
  • Nutella
  • Peanut Butter
  • Banana chips

This super-easy and packable snack is perfect to make on the trail. Simply spread Nutella on one half of one side of a tortilla and peanut butter on the other half. Place banana chips on one half of the tortilla, fold in half, and enjoy.

As an added flair at camp, warm tortilla over an open fire or cook snack in a frying pan on the stove.

6. Tofu Jerky

  • 1 block tofu, drained, sliced, and wrapped in paper towels to absorb more water

Marinade : – 2 tablespoon Braggs Liquid Aminos – 1 tablespoon honey – 1 tablespoon sriracha – 1 tablespoon oil – 1 teaspoon paprika – ½ teaspoon garlic – ½ teaspoon salt

Prep : Soak tofu in marinade overnight (it helps to flip tofu at some point so that the marinade is absorbed evenly). Dehydrate in an oven or dehydrator for roughly two hours. If using the oven, check on tofu regularly because it dehydrates more quickly than other foods. Allow to cool and store in Ziploc bag.

On the trail : Eat up!

7. Mushroom Risotto

  • 1 cup of dehydrated Arborio rice
  • 1 cup of dried mushrooms (choose whatever you like, but porcini, portobello, and cremini are good choices)
  • 1 vegetable bouillon cube
  • 1 teaspoon dried parsley
  • ½ teaspoon dried thyme
  • 4 tablespoons Parmesan cheese
  • Salt and pepper to taste

The Arborio rice offers a nice change of pace from traditional rice for campfire cooking.

Prep : Mix the rice, mushrooms, bouillon cube, and herbs and store in a Ziploc bag.

At camp : Add the rice mixture to a pot with 2 cups of hot water and let it soak for 10 minutes. Place the pot over medium heat and bring to a boil, stirring until all the liquid is absorbed. Finishing with salt, pepper, and Parmesan cheese (Note: bouillon cubes can be quite salty, to taste before adding additional salt.)

8. Beef Alfredo Pasta

  • 1 cup dehydrated pasta (macaroni or shells work well—stick to smaller noodles)
  • 1 cup beef jerky or freeze-dried beef mince
  • 3 tablespoons freeze-dried, powdered cheddar cheese
  • 2 tablespoons freeze-dried, powdered Mozzarella cheese
  • 1 tablespoon milk powder
  • 1 teaspoon all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 teaspoon ghee

Dehydrating pasta might seem like overkill, after all it’s already dried when you buy it, right? But if you do cook and dehydrate it at home, you can save time and fuel on the campsite—and avoid having to drain the pasta water when cooking. Plus, you can store the dehydrated pasta with the other ingredients to save space. Of course, if you want to use traditional dried pasta, that’s fine, just reserve a cup of the cooking water before draining and adding the remaining ingredients.

Prep : Mix dehydrated pasta and beef jerky and store in a Ziploc bag. Do the same for the cheeses, milk powder, flower, and garlic powder.

At camp : Soak pasta mixture in 1 cup of hot water for five to 10 minutes. Bring to boil until absorbed. Add the second bag’s ingredients and mix to combine. Add ghee (also known as clarified butter, which is easier to store and keep than traditional butter) and season to taste.

Written by Carolyne Whelan for RootsRated Media in partnership with Gregory Mountain Products.