Packing food and ice for a week-long river trip is both art and science! Thankfully, I’ve always had seasoned river pros along to do the packing! And I can honestly say we eat really good on the raft trips!

While each raft is responsible for the breakfast and lunch meals in their raft, they are also responsible for one evening meal that is prepared for the camp (the exception is Ken’s raft — his raft will take two evening meals).

Below is a list of ideas for your breakfast/lunch items, as well as some ideas for the evening meal.

Breakfasts – Although lots of huge, hot breakfasts sound exciting, we only do this on our layover day. Ken’s raft will bring enough food for everyone to enjoy a hearty, hot breakfast on layover day. So what about all the other mornings? Keeping it simple is best, especially as we tend to put on the river pretty quickly…and early (although there are differing opinions on this!). If you’d rather be drinking coffee, looking at the view or getting a head start on rigging your raft for the day, you will want to have easy items like granola bars, instant oatmeal, cold cereal, bagels w/cream cheese and fruit on hand.

Lunches – Variety is nice, but you will want to fix sandwiches (in the morning) as we will not want to set up the kitchen during the day. The beauty of a sack lunch is that you can eat whenever you want! Some ideas include ham or turkey sandwiches, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, tuna sandwiches or meat and crackers. Chips, cookies and fruit can round out your midday meal.

Snacks– Don’t forget to bring crackers, chips, granola bars, fruit, nuts, trail mix and other fast snack items that are easy to get to in the dry box.

Dinners – Dinners on the raft trip can be quite fun (especially when it’s not your turn to cook!). They can also be a bit competitive, so those who try to show up with SPAM will likely be ridiculed (Jeff!). 

A few tips as you think about the meal you are going to prepare:

Try to keep your meal simple! Pre-made meals that simply have to be warmed work best. Cooler space is at a premium, so try to keep that in mind as well. You will need to prepare enough food for 12 people — we try really hard not to have leftovers or over pack food items.

If you decide to prepare a salad, let us know in advance. When we assign cooking nights, we try to put folks up front who have more perishable meals.

If you are struggling with what to bring, the following suggestions may help:

  • Spaghetti
  • Tacos/buritos
  • Chile
  • Soup
  • Hot dogs/hamburgers

No one has ever gone hungry on a raft trip — so I promise you won’t starve!

It’s also worth mentioning that if you have food allergies, let me know and we’ll be sure to get that information to the chefs. If there are certain foods you dislike, keep in mind that there are always alternatives at any meal.

Desert is definitely appreciated, but purely optional. Again, consider items that can go into the dry box (cookies, licorice, brownies, etc.).

We will supply pots/pans, knives, cutting board, etc for your meal preparation.

And lastly, so we don’t end up with four nights of spaghetti (or SPAM), let me know what you’ll be fixing in advance. I’ll publish the updates in the next newsletter.

For what it’s worth, Ken and I will be preparing fish (that we caught!) on our layover night. Sue Brooks has a delicious breading recipe, but if fish isn’t your thing, let me know and we’ll make sure there is some SPAM available for you (just kidding!). Thankfully, Rob and Wade are along so we know they’ll catch enough fish for us all!Karlene Cameron, romance novelist fishing with her husband.

Use your leftovers – While we try to keep leftovers to a minimum, there are times when you can use leftover items for other meals. Toasted bagels or english muffins leftover from breakfast give great variety at lunch or provide a good mid morning snack. If breakfast doesn’t call for bagels but you know you have extras from a previous meal, pull them out!

If I’ve left anything out, feel free to comment below or shoot me an email (info@karlenecameronbooks.com).