AT Meal Plan: Week 7

3680 calories, 30.9 ounces, $16.85

The last organized dropbox of food is more of a half-and-half:  Half pre-boxed food, half purchased on the trail.  As much as I’d like to go 5 months eating dry foods, trail mix and ramen … sometimes you need some real protein!  So, although it won’t be shipped together, this Week 7 box adds some delicious bagels and a combination of hard and soft cheese.  Did you know some cheeses can last up to a week backpacking? Not everyone does, but stop and look for Laughing Cow products next time you go to Trader Joe’s.  You may be surprised to find it NOT in the cooler section.

Any hard cheese like parmesan or pecorino will also last in the open, as will some wax-encased cheeses like gouda or Mini Babybels.  Food can actually stay relatively cool when packed deep in a backpack or stored at night in a cool place. I’ve even been known to refrigerate cheese by burying them in a cold river at night.  Isn’t backpacking fun? Hello Neiman!

Week 7 Maildrop Menu:

520 calories, 6.3 ounces, $2.86

Breakfast 7: Bagel with Cheese. I read a story of a person that hiked the trail last year on only bagels. They are always a great choice, and probably one of the few things I could eat every day for 150 days myself as well. I’m sure I’ll be stocking up on these during the “non-maildrop” days, but I’ll also have a breakfast planned for them here. Paired with 2 spreadable laughing cow cheeses, you have a breakfast fit for a king.  Some Nescafe Clasico coffee (the only other flavor we haven’t packed yet) and an Emerald nut/berry package round it all out.

1130 calories, 7.6 ounces, $2.79

Elevensies 7: Almond Snickers, Fruit Bar, Trail Mix.  By the end of this trip, I imagine I’ll be extensively knowledgeable on every flavor M&Ms and Snickers available. This week we get the Almond Snickers, another bag of trail mix (this time Target’s Monster Mix), and a That’s It fruit bar.  Different day, same elevensies variety.

830 calories, 8.2 ounces, $5.48

Lunch 7: Babybel Snack.  I’m not sure if every place I stop at will have these, but I did coordinate this maildrop to be in what looks to be the largest cities I stop at (e.g. Damascus). So hopefully I find them, but if not, I’ll improvise with what’s available. Another tin (thank you MREdepot!) of Pilot Crackers pair up with the cheeses. In addition, let me introduce to you a new product at Trader Joes that I LOVE. These “Fruit & Nuts” treats are tiny discs of just that … fruit and nut. In this box, we’ll have 3 of the Apricot Almond flavor (easily the best) per lunch, but keep an eye out for the others. Lastly, a savory snack of Goldfish crackers.

140 calories, 1.2 ounces, $0.60

Snack 7: KIND Bar. I don’t really have much to say about these, I’m pretty sure everyone has had them.  But they taste good and pack well.  I noticed that KIND has come out with quite a few new flavors, shapes and sizes of these in the past year … so at least you have some variety to keep it interesting.

660 calories, 4.7 ounces, $4.77

Dinner 7: Meaty Mashed Potatoes.  Ahh, Idahoan. You aren’t truly a backpacker until you become intimately familiar with these potatoes flakes.  Are they tasty? Yes. Do they come in many flavors? Yes. Will you be sick of them after 3 days of eating them in a row? YES!  I don’t know what it is, but these instant mashed potatoes just never really excite me for more than 1 day. So, I’ve spiced them up here to try and help. For each dinner, we’ll add 1/4 cup of dehydrated Harmony House broccoli florets, 1/4 freeze dried cheese, and 1/4 cup freeze dried ground beef. Throw in an olive oil packet for some more calories, and here’s hoping for a stomachable resolution to boring spuds.

200, 2.9 $0.99

Treat 7: Complete Cookie.  I tried to avoid these as they are usually expensive and heavy, but it turns out they have a smaller version sold at Trader Joes.  The Complete Cookies I found there are half the calories, but also half the weight and cost. So I picked up a few for dessert here.