Suggestions On Quantities, Sources, and Preparation of Food While Camping
Appetites and tastes vary, but here are a few suggestions from experience on where and how much to buy for a patrol for a weekend, as well as a little on pre-trip preparations. This only includes the most-frequently used items.
Kosher/Halal Foods and Sources: If your patrol includes Scouts who require these items for religious reasons, be careful in your choices of all meats, as well as any product that contains gelatin. Marshmallows and Poptarts both frequently contain gelatin, but labels of other processed foods should be checked (like soups). Wegmans usually stocks Kosher Marshmallows. Some flavors of Poptarts do not contain gelatin (the unfrosted strawberry ones are usually ok; apparently the gelatin is in the frosting). Often families who require these items may volunteer to shop for them because they know where to go. Kosher/Halal Hotdogs can be expensive because of their high quality. Good prices are found at ShopRite (on Rte 1) where kosher chicken hotdogs are available in their kosher meat section. To economize, it is advisable that the food buyer can get just enough of the Kosher/Halal foods for those who require them – and buy lower-priced conventional foods for the others on the trip. Just be sure that the Halal/Kosher foods are well identified and get to the members who need them.
Bagels: One full-size bagel per Scout is enough for breakfast the 2nd day, and makes cleanup and packing go quicker than cooking eggs, etc. Plain bagels, and perhaps some “everything” bagels are good. Bags of mini-bagels are popular on trips as well – the WHITE ones are vastly preferred, but the mini-whole wheat ones do get eaten if no white ones are available. Guys will eat the mini ones as snacks too. Mini bagels can be purchased at many stores; WalMart stocks them for good prices.
Bread: If it is only for lunches, plan at least 4 slices per Scout so that they can each have 2 sandwiches, per lunch. If there are fussy eaters in the patrol, you might get extra so that they can have PB&J for dinner or breakfast. Whole Wheat loaves go over fine with our Troop, but the guys seem to prefer no grains evident (on the crust or in the bread; many Scouts have braces & the wheat berries get stuck!) Store-brand bread from Wegmans is usually cheaper than others, but best prices are at WalMart or Sam’s Club.
Chips: The guys often do not think of these when planning menus, but they sure love to eat them! So that they fill up on nutritional food, keep it to one large bag per lunch per patrol. Corn chips and salsa go over well as appetizers during dinner preparations (again, 1 wide-mouthed jar of salsa and one bag of chips).
Cold Cuts: Check to see if anyone needs Kosher or Halal meats. If so, bring enough for the people who need it. In terms of quantity of conventional meats, ¼ pound per Scout is usually sufficient. You may even want to go up to 1/3 pound per Scout, or more, depending on the planned activity level and age of Scouts. Turkey is always popular, and many guys like cheese as well. (Genoa) Salami, Roast Beef and Ham are less popular but will be enjoyed by many of the guys as they build their “Dagwood” sandwiches. Most guys – unless they are vegetarians – will use only 1 slice of cheese per sandwich. Usually cheddar or American goes over well, though some guys will eat provolone, swiss, etc. Cold cuts sliced fresh at supermarket deli counters allow you to buy specific quantities and are usually also less expensive than the pre-packaged products (unless you’re at WalMart or Sam’s Club/Costco – but then the quantities are often too great for a regular Patrol). For a patrol of 6, a suitable order might be 1 lb turkey, .25 lbs Salami, .25 lbs ham, and ~ .5 lbs cheese (this equals about 1/3 lb per Scout)
Condiments: Many like mayo on their sandwiches, so it is worth packing the smallest jar you can find, or a squeeze jar. Few will eat mustard – you can often grab a large handful of mustard packets at grocery store snack areas, and this will likely be enough. Many guys like to add hot sauce to their meals – a bottle of Tabasco, or other family favorite, adds fun to their weekend trips. If they’re making hotdogs or hamburgers, ketchup is a must-have item.
Cream cheese: Tubs of cream cheese, even whipped cream cheese, are easier for the guys to use than the blocks of cream cheese. Plain and chive are usually preferred over flavors – the sweet, fruit flavors have usually not been used at all on trips. Definitely get more plain than any other flavor
Fruit: A bag of apples will usually get consumed, especially if someone cuts a few up and pulls out the peanut butter (for dipping). Green Apples (Granny Smiths) are surprisingly popular in our troop, and Red Delicious are generally not chosen if there are other varieties available. One bag is generally enough for a weekend, and provides in-between meal snacks as well as extra breakfast food. Please wash the apples at home – it’s usually awkward to wash them at the campsite. Oranges are somewhat less popular, but will get eaten – especially when it is warm out. Easy-to-peel Clementines are also popular.
Oatmeal: Some scouts love it, and some refuse to eat it. Only buy Instant Oatmeal, and a mixed-flavor box is good. Plan for 2 packs each per breakfast for the guys who will eat it. Store-brands are fine
Peanut Butter and Jelly: If they eat peanut butter, most Scouts will eat smooth peanut butter. Many are fussy and will not eat the chunky style. They’re usually not wild about natural peanut butter, either – and if it is cold at all it is difficult to stir. For a patrol that has cold cuts planned for most guys, a 16 oz jar is enough for a weekend trip. A squeeze-jar of grape jelly usually is fine, but is rarely finished (you may want instead to grab a bunch of free jelly packets if you can find them – they’re next to the coffee creamers and sugar at Wegmans)
PopTarts: normal box sizes have 4 pouches in them, with 2 ‘pastries’ each – but check box labels to be sure. Store-brand ones are much less expensive and as usual WalMart has good prices. Flavors with chocolate are popular, and usually a Scout will eat both pastries from one pouch. Be sure to provide some without gelatin for those Scouts who need that (see Kosher/Halal discussion above), otherwise a selection of ½ chocolate flavors, ¼ fruit (they like strawberry) and ¼ brown sugar/cinnamon will work well.
Pasta: Large quantities take a surprisingly long time to cook when outdoors, and somehow the guys often burn it. Consider pre-cooking it at home, and packing it in a plastic zip-lock baggie(s). Then it just needs to be warmed up on the trip, and you end up saving water in the woods (so you don’t need to carry it as far!). A regular box/pack is 16 oz, and can likely feed 4-5 Scouts (depending on how filling the sauce is and what else accompanies it).
Chicken: Because raw chicken can spread disease, it’s preferable to have it cut into pieces before the trip so that the contagion is minimized. It can also be pre-cooked and warmed at the campsite. If intended for burrito filling, it can even be cooked then shredded at home and packed into ziplock baggies for the trip. Be sure to determine if Kosher/Halal meat is needed.
Beans: Definitely stick to the canned ones rather than cooking dried ones, WalMart has them at good prices.
Rice: Rice also can be tricky for the guys to cook at the campsite. “Real” rice can also be pre-cooked at home and brought in ziplock baggies to be warmed up at the site, OR Minute Rice works well at the campsite. For Minute rice, just boil 3 cups of water then add 3 cups of rice to it, remove from heat and cover with a lid. Let it sit for 5 minutes or so, and it will be done – no burning or sticking. (Increase or decrease the quantities in a 1:1 ratio). It’s a good accompaniment to burrito dinners or chili, or any others.
Desserts: Often the patrols neglect to discuss dessert! A Tupperware bin of home-baked chocolate chip cookies is devoured if available….some packaged cookies, or home-made brownies, would also be welcomed. Patrols can elect to prepare dessert, and can also plan to bake in the Troop Dutch Ovens if they would like to. S’Mores are often enjoyed (but provide Halal/Kosher marshmallows as needed).
S’Mores: How much to buy? Kids really shouldn’t eat more than 3 each, and can be limited to 1 or 2 full S’mores each. Scouts can then roast extra marshmallows to eat plain after enjoying their one or two S’mores.
Marshmallows: A 16-oz bag of conventional marshmallows will have ~ 40 in it, so one bag is plenty for a patrol. (Patrols could even share a bag).
Graham crackers: One box of is usually plenty as well (it would make about 32 S’mores) – the guys sometimes snack on the extra graham crackers at breakfast.
Chocolate: regular milk chocolate Hershey bars are traditional – thicker bars don’t melt as well. Each bar provides enough chocolate for 4 S’mores – they only need 3 little squares each. So – one bar per 2 guys will likely be enough, but you can get some extra. Guys will try to sneak chocolate during the evening…
Drinks: Scouts should all be drinking water from their own water bottles as their primary source of fluids.
Milk: 1% or 2% Milk pleases most Scouts, and 1 gallon per 6-guy patrol is usually enough. If you know you have milk drinkers along (and cookies!), or if you need it for a recipe, then you may want to plan on 2 gallons. Milk is dramatically cheaper at Wegmans (~$2.69/gallon). Freeze the milk on Thursday night to make it last longer, and it can then provide most of the cooling for the ice chest.
Gatorade: many LOVE Gatorade and a case of the ‘ice flavors’ will be popular (be sure to have one bottle per guy, at least). Good prices at WalMart and Sams/Costco. You can economize by supplying a tub of powdered Gatorade.
Juice: Orange Juice is appreciated for breakfast, but if provided the guys will drink less milk, so plan accordingly. One half gallon, frozen ahead of time to stay cool, is enough for a patrol. Cider may be good in the Fall as a seasonal treat. They should all be drinking water at breakfast.
Hot Chocolate: One packet per guy per night is usually enough, but be advised that the brands containing “mini marshmallows” are probably not Halal/Kosher. Some patrols may plan this for the morning, too. Often they don’t get around to drinking it at night.
Soda: please do not supply this no matter what the patrol votes on.
Tea: Non-caffeinated tea is popular with some boys, but is certainly not essential. It can be handy if someone has an upset stomach or sore throat. It is unwise to allow caffeinated tea or coffee consumption by boys on trips – they need their sleep.