Just Add Water And Stir

Written by: Kevin D. Nickson - 58th Toronto Venturer Company - Sunnybrook

So you want to go camping or hiking and don't want to lug along forty or more pounds of tin cans, jars, frozen foods, vegetables, ice and coolers. Well, then why not go back to the basics, as Scouters went camping seventy or eighty years ago.......


Almost everything that you would normally have at camp now is possible to still have at camp, by using dried or freeze-dried foods and a little preparation. For example, the following items are the basics, and simplest to start out with.

FRUITS - Dried apples, dates, raisins, bananas, apricots, papaya, figs, currants, and any type or nuts or seeds.

CEREALS - Oatmeal, cream of wheat, cracked wheat, bran, trail mix, granola bars (homemade - less fat), peanut butter and coconut bars.

BREADS - Muffins, tea biscuits, breads, pancakes (all made from scratch, no eggs needed), crackers, rice cakes, snackin' cakes.

DRINKS - Juices, coffee, tea, hot chocolate, powdered milk, herbal teas.

SOUPS - Bouillion cubes or prepared packages, macaroni, dried vegetables. Use prepared packages (Cup of Soup, Knorr), Knorr sauces - tomato, etc.

STAPLES - Rice (quick cooking), pasta (macaroni, spaghetti), instant masked potatoes, scalloped potatoes, beans, grated cheese.

MEATS - Cooked dried meats (round steak, roast, etc.).

SPICES - Salt, pepper, seasoning salt, garlic, onion powder, celery salt, or an all-purpose mix.

OR - As a last resort, use the many different brands of prepared freeze-dried foods. These can be expensive, but simple, they come ina wide variety of meals, but are not as fun to prepare. Most are not as tasty as you would expect a meal to be, and only require the most rudimentary of skills (boiling water).

If the menu is well thought out, your boys will thoroughly enjoy preparing and eating meals. Some meals will take quite a while to prepare, but if it tastes good and the boys enjoy doing it, why not take them back to the basics?


Commercial processors market hundreds of dehydrated and freeze-dried foods, though you can dehydrate your own meat, fruits, and vegatables in an oven at home. Here's how.

To make beef jerky, slice a pound of lean beef into strips about 1/4 inch wide, cutting with the grain. Season the strips with a little salt and pepper, then drape them over the bars of a rack in the oven. Place a cookie sheet underneath to catch any drippings, and leave the oven door open just a crack to let moisture escape. Turn the oven's temperature control to its lowest setting - around 120 degrees and let the meat dry for about 8 hours until it is shrivelled, chewy, and delicious. Seal the jerky in plastic bags and you've got a great addition to your backcountry larder.

You can dehydrate vegetables and fruit in much the same way. Begin with fresh, ripe produce. Wash it well, remove cores and stems, and slice it thinly. Next, break down natural enzymes that could speed deterioration by briefly steaming the fruits and vegetables in a colander or vegetable steamer placed in a large pot containing 1/2 inch of water. Cover the pot, put it on a burner, and bring the water to a boil. In a few minutes the produce should be limp and ready for oven drying.

To prevent slices of fruits and vegetables from falling through an oven rack, tightly stretch cheesecloth or a tea towel over the rack and secure it with safety pins. Spread the slices on the cloth, then set the oven at its lowest temperature and leave the door ajar, just as you did for making jerky. In 8 hours, sample a few slices. When they are dry but not brittle, pack them in plastic bags. During a trek you can eat them as they are, add them to dishes you are cooking, or soak them a few hours in water to restore their original sizes and shapes.



President's Choise Sun Ripened Tomatoes
PC 2 Minute Miracle Entrees
Lipton Rice and Vegetables or Noodles and Vegetables
Crisco Golden Shortening instead of butter
Beatrice 2% Milk (not refrigerated) or use powdered instead


Stir together 2/3 cup of curn starch, 1/2 cup of dry instant beef or chicken bouillion, 2 tablespoons dried parsley flakes. Store in an airtight container. To make gravy at camp, melt 1 tablespoon of butter (or lard) in a saucepan, stir in 2 tablespoons of mix and 1 cup of water. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly and boil about a minute. Makes 1 cup of gravy.


You need 3 cups of flour, 3 cups of cornmeal, 3 cups of oatmeal, 2/3 cup powdered milk, 1/2 cup of sugar and 1 tablespoon of baking powder. Mix with water to make a dough, then fry it, or bake it (baking pan or reflector oven) or bake on a stick over a fire. Add raisins and cinnamon or dehydrated apple chips and cinnamon for a pleasant change.
(Psst... Here's an easier way....use Brodie's Self-Rising Cake and Pastry Flour.)


  1. A bed of hot coals is the thing. Never use a flaming fire, except when using a reflector oven.
  2. Always add shortening, fat, butter or bacon to package before cooking.
  3. Cooking times will vary with wind strength, type of firewood and many other factors. All times are approximate, of course - a fire has no thermostat!
  4. It's a good idea to turn a package at approximately half its cooking time.
  5. Package must be crimped carefully for complete sealing to keep in moisture - to assure "pressure cooking".
  6. This package is placed right on the coals. When the food is cooking, the three crimped edges can be torn off in zipper fashion. The contents are then eaten from the wrap, doing away with a dish or plate.
Beef Hamburger 8 - 12 min Beef 1" cubes 20 - 30 min
Chicken pieces 20 - 30 min Wieners 5 - 10 min
Lamb chops 20 - 30 min Pork chips 30 - 35 min
Fish (whole) 15 - 20 min Carrot sticks 15 - 20 min
Corn (cob) 6 - 10 min Potatoes (whole) 45 - 60 min
Potatoes (sliced) 10 - 15 min Apple (whole) 20 - 30 min
Banana (in skin) 8 - 10 min Pineapple (whole) 30 - 40 min
Biscuits 6 - 10 min

- With a combination of foods, use the time for the item that takes longest to cook.

Just Add Water And Stir