The word “gourmet” is relative. Especially when it comes to long distance backpacking. As a foodie and a long distance backpacker, I struggle to find a compromise. Here is a sample of one of my recipes that takes a little extra time to make, but the reward is worth it!

Potatoes Au Gratin

Here’s a cheesy, oniony, bacony backpacking version of one of my favorite comfort foods. It also packs in the calories! Freeze dried potatoes are the only way to make this recipe with substance. Otherwise, you can use dehydrated mashed potatoes.


  • 1.5 c. Freeze dried potato dices
  • 1 packet (or about 3-4 T.) cheese powder (can use from a mac n’ cheese box)
  • 1 T. Whole milk powder
  • 1/2 c. Freeze dried (or dehydrated) shredded cheddar cheese 
  • 1/2-1 t. Dried minced garlic
  • 1/2 t. Ground black pepper
  • 2 green onions, chopped, dried (or about 2T. Jarred chives)
  • 1/3 c. French fried onions
  • 4 slices shelf-stable bacon, chopped (1/4 c. Bacon bits could also be used)
My favorite cheese powder

My favorite cheese powder

Optional Ingredients 

  • 1/4 c. dried green chiles

At-Home Preparation

Place first 6 ingredients in a pint or quart freezer ziplock bag. Place bacon and fried onions in a snack bag.


On-Trail Preparation

Bring 1 c. water  to a boil. Pour over potato mixture and let sit 5-10 min, until potatoes are tender. Stir in bacon/onion mixture. Eat!

The finished product (minus a few bites)

The finished product (minus a few bites)

Makes about 2c., has 980 calories, weighs 5.8 oz. with baggies.

If you liked this idea, check out my other “Gourmet Trail Recipes”.

No way you would put this much work into trail food? Check out my articles entitled “Favorite Easy Trail Recipes”. New recipes coming soon!