Taters Made Portable: 10 Recipes For Hiking & Prepping

Potatoes have gotten the short stick in the past few years in the healthy eating discussions, but there is something enduring about them for backpacking recipes and food prepping. The massive hit of potassium helps prevent painful nighttime cramps if you have exerted yourself during hot days. Which, when it happens in a tight sleeping bag sucks beyond belief. But outside of that, there is something so comfort food about potatoes on the trail. These recipes are great for hiking, camping, backpacking and as always, for prepping meals. You can store all the recipes in glass mason jars, sealed tightly for use in emergencies. Just add hot water, and you will have a meal quickly. Be sure to mark either your bag or jar with how much water is required.

Over the years we have written 5 cookbooks for the great outdoors. We showcase 3 ways of preparing meals outside: FBC (Freezer Bag Cooking), using an insulated mug, or doing it one pot style (I will be writing a post soon about each of the methods). If using these recipes for emergency or prepper meals, you can always just add the hot water to the mason jar – or add the dry ingredients into your pot. For storage, if using them for emergency food, storing in mason jars will keep the ingredients fresh for a long time. Those with dry dairy should be used up within a year of dry mixing.

In no order, here are 10 recipes we love that feature potatoes that come from our many years of developing backpacking and outdoor cooking recipes:

Alfredo Mashers

In a quart freezer bag:

¾ cup instant mashed potatoes (plain)
2 Tbsp dry milk
2 Tbsp shelf stable Parmesan cheese (green can)
1 Tbsp dry Alfredo sauce mix
¼ tsp granulated garlic
¼ tsp ground black pepper

Also take:
1 Tbsp or 1 packet olive oil

FBC Method:

Add 1 cup near boiling water and the oil, and stir well. Seal and let sit until cool enough to eat. Stir before eating.

One Pot Method:

Bring 1 cup water and oil to a boil in a small pot. Take off heat. Add in dry mashed potatoes, stir well. Let cool a bit before eating.

To make heartier with a dose of protein, add a 3 to 5 ounce can (make sure it has a pop top), or 7 ounce pouch, of chicken breast (include any broth) with the water.

Serves 1.

Dry weight is 4 3/8 ounces. If adding in a 7 ounce pouch chicken, 11 3/8 ounces.

Recipe is from Freezer Bag Cooking: Adventure Ready Recipes.

Bacon & Corn Chowder

In a quart or gallon freezer bag (see notes):

1 cup plain instant mashed potatoes
1 cup freeze-dried corn
¼ cup dry milk
¼ cup Parmesan cheese (green jar type)
1 Tbsp dried parsley
1 tsp granulated garlic
1 tsp Old Bay Garlic & Herb blend or similar
1 tsp dried dill weed

Also take:

4 packets broth concentrate
1 packet olive oil
3 ounce bag shelf-stable bacon (see notes)

FBC Method:

Bring 4 cups water to boil. Set aside while adding the oil and broth concentrate to the freezer bag. Put bag in a cozy, slowly add water while stirring. Seal tightly and let sit for 5 minutes.

One Pot Method:

Bring 4 cups water, oil and broth concentrate to a boil. Add in dry ingredients, stir well and cover tightly. Take off stove and let sit for 5 minutes. In cooler temperatures or at higher altitude, use a pot cozy to retain heat.

Serves 2.

Notes:

Why the bag sizes? Quart bags only hold about 2 cups water reasonably. If you want to do FBC, use a gallon bag – or divide the dry between two bags, so each person has their own bag. Either way.

Plan a breakfast to use the other half of the bacon the next day, or if you like it extra bacon-y, use the whole bag!

Grab a couple of small round rolls of sourdough or french bread at your grocery store bakery before leaving town. They are easy to cut off the top, rip out the bread and use them for “bowls”. Often stores sell them two per bag. If that fails, a few crusty rolls packed on top of your pack are nice.

Cheesy Bacon Mashers
Ingredients:
1½ cup instant mashed potatoes
1⁄3 cup dry milk
3 Tbsp cheese sauce powder
¼ tsp ground black pepper
3 Tbsp shelf stable bacon or bacon bits

Instructions:

At home pack everything in a quart freezer or sandwich bag. If using shelf stable bacon, pack it separately.

FBC method:

Add the bacon and 2 1/4 cups near boiling water. Stir well and let sit till cool enough to eat.

Mug method:

Add the bacon and 2 1/4 cups boiling water. Stir well and let sit till cool enough to eat.

Serves 2.

Notes:
Find cheese sauce powder online, or in some grocery stores – often sold in the popcorn aisle. Cheese sauce powder from boxed mac n’ cheese can be used instead, or dice up 1-ounce of cheddar cheese, add with hot water.

Mashed Potato Burritos

Ingredients:
¾ cup instant mashed potatoes
1 Tbsp dry milk
1 Tbsp butter powder
1 Tbsp sour cream powder
2 flour tortillas
2 packets salsa
1 ounce cheddar or co-jack cheese

At home:

Bag the dry ingredients in a pint freezer bag, mark “Add 1 cup water”. Put the tortillas in a tightly sealed plastic bag. Tuck in the salsa and cheese with everything.

Freezer bag method:

Add the hot water to the quart freezer bag. Stir well, seal and let sit while you prep the cheese.

Insulated mug method:

Add the dry ingredients to your mug along with the boiling water. Stir well and let sit while you prep the cheese.

For both methods:

Slice the cheese up. Lay down a section of clean paper towel. Place your tortillas down. Spread the mashed potatoes between the two tortillas. Top with cheese, then salsa. Roll up and eat.

Serves 1.

Creamy Potato Soup (Bulk Soup Mix)
Ingredients:
2 cups instant mashed potatoes
1¾ cup dry milk
½ cup shelf stable parmesan cheese (green can)
2 Tbsp lower sodium bouillon powder (veggie, beef or chicken)
2 Tbsp diced dried onion
1 Tbsp dried parsley
1 tsp dried garlic
½ tsp ground pepper
1 tsp dried thyme

Instructions:
At home mix the ingredients in a large bowl. Divide the soup mix up by ½ cup dry portions. Depending on if you will be using freezer bags, or a mug to have your soup in, pack in quart freezer bags or sandwich bags.

FBC method:

Add 1 cup near boiling water to the bag and stir till smooth. Let cool a bit.

Mug method:

Add 1 cup boiling water to the dry mix in your mug and stir till smooth. Let cool a bit.

One pot method:

Bring 1 cup water to a boil, take off the heat and stir in the dry mix until smooth. Let cool a bit.

Makes 8 servings.

Notes:
Creamy Potato Soup mix is a great way to get a potassium rich meal into you when you are so tired you can’t face eating. It is easy to mix up, and quite affordable. Carry a packet or two with you in your food bag, as a backup for cold evenings as well. It rehydrates easily in a freezer bag or in your mug.
You can add a couple Tablespoons shelf stable bacon, or a 3 ounce packet of smoked salmon to make a hearty dinner.
For extra richness add in a packet of olive oil with the water. Season to taste with salt and pepper as desired.

Potatoes and bacon for a breakfast backpacking recipe? Potassium from the taters will have you ready for hot days.

Breakfast Taters

Ingredients:
½ cup instant mashed potatoes
2 Tbsp cheese sauce powder
1 Tbsp dry milk
3 Tbsp shelf stable bacon or bacon bits

Instructions:
At home pack everything in a pint freezer or sandwich bag. If taking shelf stable bacon, pack separately in a small plastic bag.

FBC method:
Add ½ cup near boiling water and mix well. Add a bit more water if needed. Let cool.

Mug method:
Add ½ cup boiling water and mix well. Add a bit more water if needed. Let cool.

Serves 1.

Notes:
When hiking in very hot weather, a good helping of potatoes will help you absorb water better and can ward off painful leg cramps.
Cheese sauce powder can be found online or in some grocery stores, in the popcorn section. You can use cheese sauce powder from boxed mac and cheese, or use 1-ounce cheddar cheese, diced up, and added in with the water as well.

Blustery Day Double Potato Chowder
Ingredients:
1 cup dried instant hash browns
¼ cup diced dried onions
4 tsp low sodium vegetable or beef bouillon powder
1 tsp dried parsley
¼ tsp diced dried garlic
¼ tsp dried thyme
¼ tsp ground black pepper
½ cup instant mashed potatoes
¼ cup shelf stable parmesan cheese
½ cup fried onions
1 Tbsp olive oil or 1 packet

At home:

In a sandwich bag, pack the hash browns through black pepper. In a second bag, pack the mashed potatoes through the fried onions. Tuck in the oil.

In camp:

Add the vegetable/seasoning bag and 4 cups water to your pot. Cover and set aside for 15 minutes for the vegetables to rehydrate. Add the oil, stir well and bring to a boil. Lower the flame to low, cover and simmer on a low boil for five minutes. Turn off the stove and the contents of the cheese/potato bag to the pot. Stir well, taste for seasoning and more pepper and salt as desired.

Serves 2.

Shepherd’s Pie

Ingredients:

2 lbs lean ground beef, bison or venison
8-ounces (half a bag) of frozen mixed veggies (use small cut)
2/3 cup ketchup
3 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
Salt or seasoned salt, pepper, and dried onion flakes to taste

You will also need:

2 pouches of “just add water” instant potatoes.

Directions for the at home prep:

Brown ground meat, then drain any remaining fat. Mix in veggies, ketchup, Worcestershire sauce, and seasonings, then put into a casserole dish. Bake covered on 350° for about 25 minutes.

Spoon the “pie filling” onto dehydrator trays lined with parchment paper. It usually takes about 12 to 16 hrs to fully dehydrate (dry at your meat setting, usually 145* or higher). You’ll have to check it about halfway through, and maybe mix things around a little so they dry evenly.

Once the meat mixture is dried and cooled, separate into 1 cup servings and pack in quart freezer bags. This rehydrates at about a 1:1 ratio.

In a second quart freezer bag, add ½ cup of instant potatoes. (1 bag potatoes per bag of filling)

In camp:

Add 1 cup of near boiling water to the meat mixture. Seal tightly and let “cook” in a freezer bag cozy for about 15 minutes, or until meat is tender. Pour potato flakes over the meat mixture, then add an additional 1/2 cup of water (less if you have water left over that wasn’t absorbed by the meat). Stir and enjoy! (Or you can prepare the potatoes in the second bag and then top the sauce with them.)

Note: Don’t package the meat mixture and potatoes together! The potatoes will magically absorb most of the water and you’ll end up with soupy potatoes and crunchy meat…

Italian-ish Double Cheese Taters

Ingredients:
2⁄3 cup instant mashed potatoes
2 Tbsp sun dried tomatoes, sliced thin (air dried, NOT oil packed)
1 Tbsp dry milk
1 Tbsp butter powder
1 Tbsp shelf stable parmesan cheese (green can)
¼ tsp granulated garlic
¼ tsp Italian seasoning
5 ounce can chicken breast (with pop-top lid)
1 packet string cheese

Instructions:
At home pack the dry ingredients into a quart freezer bag for FBC, or a sandwich bag for the insulated mug or one pot methods. Write “1 cup water” on the bag. Tuck the chicken with the bag and pack the cheese stick before leaving.

FBC Method:

Bring 1 cup water to a near boil. Add the chicken with broth to the mashed potatoes, then the water. Stir till well mixed, making sure there is no powder in the corners. Seal tightly and let sit in a cozy for 5 minutes.

Dice up the cheese and add in.

Insulated Mug Method:

Bring 1 cup water to a boil. Dump the potato mix into your mug, add the chicken with broth to the mashed potatoes, then the water. Stir till well mixed, making sure there is no powder in the corners. Cover tightly for 5 minutes.

Dice up the cheese and add in.

One Pot Method:

Bring 1 cup water and the chicken with broth to a boil. Take off the heat, stir in the potato mixture, stirring well. Cover tightly and let sit for 5 minutes. In cooler weather use a pot cozy to retain heat.

Dice up the cheese and add in.

Serves 1.

Colcannon Mashers

Ingredients:
¾ cup instant mashed potatoes
2 Tbsp butter powder
2 Tbsp dry milk
2 Tbsp shelf stable bacon or bacon bits
2 Tbsp dried shredded cabbage
1 Tbsp diced dried shallots or onion
1 tsp dried parsley
1 tsp ground black pepper

Instructions:
At home pack everything a quart freezer or sandwich bag. Mark bag “Add 1¼ cups water”.

FBC method:

Add 1¼ cups near boiling water to the bag. Stir well, getting into the corners. Seal tightly and put in a cozy for 15 minutes. Stir again before serving.

Insulated mug method:

Add 1¼ cups boiling water to the dry ingredients. Stir well, cover tightly and let sit for 15 minutes. Stir again before serving.

One pot method:

Bring 1¼ cups water to a boil. Turn off the stove and in the dry ingredients. Stir well, cover tightly and let sit for 15 minutes. Stir again before serving. In cold temperatures you may want to put your pot in a pot cozy.

Add salt to taste, if desired.

Serves 1.

Notes:
The bacon can be left out for a vegetarian version, or for a more “meatier” version use a 3 or 5-ounce can of chicken, added with the water.

~Sarah

Pantry Staples: Instant Chocolate Cake In A Mason Jar

Microwave mug cakes have been a hot trend for years, however it’s even easier if you make the dry mix in advance. If you get a sugar craving, grab, add in the liquid items, stir, and 70 seconds later you have a warm, melty chocolate cake. The charm of my recipe is I cut back the sugar & the fat. A single serving cake doesn’t need a ¼ cup or even 2 Tablespoons sugar, nor does it need 2+ Tablespoons oil!

Instant Chocolate Cake In A Mason Jar

Ingredients:

  • ¼ cup all-purpose flour (or half AP/half whole wheat)
  • 2 Tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 Tbsp granulated sugar* or coconut sugar
  • 1 Tbsp dark chocolate chips
  • ¼ tsp baking powder
  • 1/8 tsp fine sea salt
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 1 Tbsp avocado or similar neutral oil

Directions:

Add the flour, cocoa powder, sugar, chocolate chips, baking powder, and sea salt in a pint wide mouth mason jar, stir well to mix.

Seal tightly and store in pantry until needed.

To prepare:

Open up mason jar.

Stir in milk and oil until all dry ingredients are mixed in.

Put in microwave uncovered and cook for 70 seconds.

Take out, let cool enough to enjoy and eat.

Makes 1 cake.

*Lets talk about sweetness. Originally, I made the recipe with 2 Tablespoon sugar which made a conventionally sweet cake. We have cut back on how much sugar we use, so I took it back by half and really enjoyed it with 1 Tablespoon sugar. It gives it a semi-sweet bitter flavor. So, if you have a sweet tooth, you may want to increase the sugar!

Not-So-Basic Pumpkin Spice Rice

Pumpkin spice gets mocked a lot once fall starts showing up, but it has so much to offer. You wouldn’t think of pumpkin spice rice, but you should. It’s savory, with the tart sweetness of the dried fruit, and plenty of chicken for protein. It’s not basic, and it’s very tasty! Gluten-free and dairy-free as a bonus.

While this recipe works perfect for long-term food storage, prepping and having around, it shines for backpacking meals. All 3 methods are listed below for cooking on the trail while backpacking.

Not-So-Basic Pumpkin Spice Rice

Ingredients:

2 cups instant rice
¼ cup dried cranberries
2 Tbsp dried apples, chopped up
½ tsp candied ginger, thinly sliced
½ tsp ground cinnamon
¼ tsp ground allspice
¼ tsp fine sea salt
1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
Pinch ground cloves

Also take:

7-ounce pouch chicken
1 Tbsp or 1 packet olive oil

Directions:

At home pack the rice, cranberries, apples, ginger and spices into a quart freezer bag (for FBC) or in a sandwich bag, seal tightly. Mark “Add 2 cups water”. Tuck in chicken and oil with it.

FBC Method:

Bring 2 cups water a boil, turn off stove, put freezer bag in your cozy. Add in the chicken and oil, then the water, Stir well, seal tightly and let sit for 15 minutes. Stir again and serve. (Make a second “bowl” out of another freezer bag, cuffed down)

Insulated Mug Method:

Add all ingredients into a large insulated mug, add 2 cups boiling water over. Stir well, cover and let sit for 15 minutes. Stir and serve.

One Pot Method:

Brings 2 cups water, oil, and chicken to a boil in a 1.4 liter or bigger pot. Add in rice, stir well, put on lid, turn off stove. In cooler temperatures, or at altitude, insulate the pot in a pot cozy. Let sit for 10 to 15 minutes. Stir and serve.

Serves 2.

Notes:

If you like a saltier rice, leave out the sea salt and add in 2 packets broth concentrate with the water.
Brown rice can be used in the one pot method, simmer on a very low flame for about 5 minutes, then insulate for an additional 10 minutes.

Pantry Staples: Instant Pot Dehydrated Vegetable Soup

Instant Pot dehydrated vegetable soup combines the simplicity of Instant Pot cooking with one of the best methods of pantry stocking.

One of the easiest methods of preserving your garden’s harvest is to dehydrate the produce. I often have our dehydrator running for days in summer, processing produce from our gardens or from good deals in season I pick up.

Come the middle of winter, as canned goods dwindle down, you might look into your pantry and see jars of dried food staring you down, asking you to use it up. Because it’s pretty easy to preserve, you don’t quite know what to do with it.

One caveat of dehydrated food is the longer it sits, the longer it can take to rehydrate. If you don’t get it rehydrated enough, it can cause your tummy to not like you, as it’s harder for it to digest. This easy soup recipe fills the belly, and more so, the quick cooking process makes it last-minute friendly. And the pressure cooking process allows the vegetables to rehydrate perfectly.

Add in garbanzo beans at the end, or cooked chicken, for a heartier soup, if you like.

Side note: This recipe fits into a quart mason jar, tamping down between each dried vegetable. Make a few up for last-minute meals to tuck into your pantry.

Instant Pot Dehydrated Vegetable Soup

Ingredients:

Directions:

Add 16 cups water, broth powder, and dried vegetables to Instant Pot (we use an 8 quart model).

Close and lock the lid of the Instant Pot, position the steam release handle to Sealing. Press the “Manual” or “Pressure Cooker” function and adjust the time to 7 minutes.

Once done, let count down 10 minutes, then do a manual release. Check for valve being down, open carefully.

Stir well, taste for seasoning.

Time taken:

It takes about 30 minutes for the pressure cooker to come up to pressure, then 7 minutes to cook, and 10 minutes to cool, and another 3 minutes or so to vent. So, while not truly instant, it takes around 50 minutes to cook, and you don’t need to be involved for 99% of the time. The other benefit between pressure cooking and slow cooking is the vegetables stay firm in texture and don’t get as mushy. You also don’t lose broth to evaporation over the 6 to 8 hours.

Slow Cooker Method:

Add everything to a large slow cooker, cook on “Low” for 6 to 8 hours.

Ranch Dressing Dry Mix

Looking for healthier alternatives to dry mixes? Salad dressing is a great start. Dry mixes (and premade) contain a wide range of cheap oils, sweeteners and questionable thickeners. It’s easy to make your own and have it on hand in the pantry for a quick solution.

Ranch Dressing Dry Mix

Ingredients:

  • 2 Tbsp dried parsley
  • 2 tsp dried onion
  • 2 tsp onion powder
  • 2 tsp granulated garlic
  • 1½ tsp dill weed
  • 1 tsp fine sea salt
  • ½ tsp ground black pepper

Directions:

Add the ingredients into a small mason jar, seal and shake to combine.

To make dressing:

  • 1 Tbsp dry mix
  • 1/3 cup plain greek yogurt
  • 1/3 cup buttermilk

Directions:

Add yogurt to a small mason jar, stir in dry mix. Add buttermilk, seal jar and shake to combine.

Let chill for a few hours before using.

Makes about 4 batches of dressing.

Note:

This makes a thick, dip like dressing. For a salad dressing you may want to mix in a bit more buttermilk, or mayonnaise, to make it easier to drizzle.