How backpacking meal planning has gone digital

Backpacking Meal Planning - Great Outdoors Food - Garage Grown Gear

We’re excited to review and have a giveaway from Great Outdoors Food, an online service for camping and backpacking meal planning and food delivery.

Like all all the businesses we feature, the story of Great Outdoors Food is grassroots. All the food the company sells ships from a Texas home.

***The entry form to win a $50 gift card to Great Outdoors Food is at the bottom ***


Quick summary of Great Outdoors Food:

–          Offers a wide variety of food and brands, including vegetarian options

–          It helps organizes meals with a checklist system called “Build a Meal”

–          “Build a Meal” also prevents forgetting condiments, dessert and other miscellaneous items like handi-wipes

–          It tracks food weight for each meal

–          It tracks nutritional information, including calories, fat, carbs, fiber and protein

–          It delivers food in pre-packaged, clearly labeled meals in three business days


–          While it tracks food weight for each meal, it does not track food weight for the entire order

–          The price of the food is a bit more expensive

–          You don’t get the human interaction of going into the local outdoors store


Full review of Great Outdoors Food:

I have to admit I was a little skeptical when I first arrived at the Great Outdoors Food website, an online service for camping and backpacking meal planning and food delivery.

While I saw the site offered a variety of brands I often use, like Cliff Shots, Starbucks Via, and freeze-dried backpacking meals – I usually buy those items in bulk at the start of the season, either online or at local stores.

But as I began to use the website I realized its benefits. It helps organizes meals with a checklist system and tracks weight and nutritional information. It also delivers the food in pre-packaged, clearly labeled meals.

Great Outdoors Food founder Laura Gallenbach launched the website in January after watching her husband and friends go to multiple stores multiple times to gather all the food they needed for a trip. Then they still had to break it down into meals and place it in baggies. To help alleviate the time commitment required for food preparation Laura searched out an online service, but couldn’t find one. So she designed her own.

My first stop on the Great Outdoors Food  website was the “build a meal” feature (see screen shot below). It guided me through picking a protein, a side vegetable, condiments, beverages, a dessert and a snack. I could even add on a handi-wipe to each meal for five cents.

Backpacking Meal Planning - Great Outdoors Food - Garage Grown Gear (3)

I am never that organized with backpacking meal planning, and what often happens is I end up with too much food (and extra weight I didn’t need to carry) or several imbalanced meals. It made it simple to start with day one, meal one, and then go through a checklist.

As you build each meal the site tracks calories, fat, carbs, fiber and protein, as well as some other nutritional information. This means you can easily figure out if you have the right nutritional intake for each day.

As I’ve gotten older and my trips have gotten longer and harder, this is something I have begun to pay more attention to. It not only makes me feel better and improves performance, but it also makes a trip more enjoyable. There is something luxurious about having a balanced meal – complete with something sweet – when you are tired, sore and days away from civilization.

The Great Outdoors Food website also tracks the weight of each meal. I am terrible about considering food weight when traveling in the backcountry. It often seems too time consuming, yet I know what a difference going lighter can make.

My one suggestion for improvement for the website: calculate the total weight for the customer’s whole order. Yes, it’s pretty easy to add up the totals from each meal (provided by the website), but it would be nice to get the finally tally at a glance.

The price of food on the website is a little bit more expensive than prices I’ve seen elsewhere. However, there is a fair amount of variety. For example, there were 12 vegetarian options for main meal proteins, in addition to those made with beef and chicken.

I only ordered a few items, but I do have to say it was far faster and easier than tracking them down at a brick & mortar store. My order arrived promptly in the promised three business days.

Each meal you create comes custom labeled (For example, you could specify “Dinner #1” etc.) and prepackaged together tightly in a clear bag ready to throw in a pack.

The one thing you miss on the website, as you do with any online shopping, is the human interaction. I actually love heading into my local outdoor shops to buy food for my trips because it’s a chance to get opinions on the best tasting gels or freeze-dried meals and also gather beta on where I’m headed.

I’m most likely to use this site for longer trips when the food logistics are such a pain and weight and nutrition really matter.

Bottom line: Great Outdoors Food website saves a lot of time when it comes to backpacking meal planning for longer trips. Also, the prompts on the site – like offering a selection of condiments – make sure you don’t forget anything, including dessert

What’s your favorite food to take into the backcountry? Why?

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12 Comments on "How backpacking meal planning has gone digital"

  1. Christopher Sorel | June 4, 2014 at 1:52 pm | Reply

    jerky is the best to take and great to mix in with food packs that have little protein or flavor

  2. Any type of macaroni. Chili Mac is the best. It just satisfies that down home food, but out in the backcountry.

  3. I like the desserts as a treat. It’s something great to top off the night. Maybe some freeze dried ice cream or BP cheesecake!

  4. Terry Priedt | June 4, 2014 at 4:52 pm | Reply

    Thai noodle soup. Hot, tasty and easily prepared. Plus we grow all the vegetables and herbs that go into it.

  5. JenniferAnne | June 5, 2014 at 3:45 pm | Reply

    I like to take granola and fried fruit because it’s good and easy to carry. ~JenniferAnne

  6. Pad Thai, high calories and delicious!

  7. Dehydrated potatoes – love mashed potatoes while I’m camping!

  8. Dried dinners that I have personally made!

  9. Apples. They’re delicious with peanut butter.

  10. Diane Richards | June 9, 2014 at 6:31 am | Reply

    Beef Jerky. Tasty and easy to carry.

  11. jerky + swedish fish

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