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GLOP Backpacking Meals – Easy to Make, Easy to Clean Up

Glop Backpacking Breakfast - Oatmeal, nuts, fruit
Glop Backpacking Breakfast – Oatmeal, nuts, raisins

Many people like to eat freeze-dried backpacking meals on overnight trips or dehydrate their own food and make freezer-bag dinners because you just add hot water to them and they don’t require any cleanup. But I don’t mind cooking a hot dinner after a hard day of hiking, although I keep my meals simple to make and simple to clean up by eating GLOP.

What is glop? It’s the backpacking term used to describe a soupy, often high calorie meal, made in a cook pot. Mine are usually based on a grain or noodle, like wheat cereal, oatmeal, polenta, instant potatoes, spaghetti, shaped pasta, ramen noodles with nuts, fruit, pesto, thai food sauce, chunks of sausage, butter, olive oil, or butter thrown in.

  • Glop meals are easy to clean up because they’re soupy and the ingredients don’t stick to the sides of the pot.
  • Glop ingredients are often available pre-packed or easy to repackage in snack bags.
  • It’s easy to mix and match different ingredients in real times, based on your mood.
  • It’s easy to save and use anything you don’t eat for your next trip.
  • Glop meals can be cooked with any stove or fuel type.
  • Glop ingredients are easy to resupply on a long distance hike, even in convenience stores and gas stations

Here’s are some glop meal combinations that I typically eat on a backpacking trip.

  1. Wheat cereal, dried fruit, and nuts – 3 packets of instant maple wheat cereal (generic store version of Wheatina), dried cranberries, raisins, mixed nuts. I really load up on the berries and nuts for calories and to improve the “mouthfeel” of the wheat cereal so it’s not boring to eat. It’s not hard to eat 1000 calories like this for breakfast, which will power you for an entire morning.
  2. Oatmeal and berries – 3 packets of instant maple oatmeal and a 1-2 ounces of harmony house freeze-dried berries. Add butter in cold weather, when it won’t melt in your food bag before use.
  3. Ramen noodles, ramen soup mix, olive oil – as simple as it sounds. At 240 calories an ounce, olive oil is a great way to dramatically boost the caloric content of a ramen soup dinner. You can buy olive oil in 1/2 ounce packets or bottle it up in a small 2 or 4 ounce nalgene bottle that you refill at home between trips. Hint – the best way to ensure that a small bottle of olive oil does not open in your food bag is to wrap plumber’s tape around the threads to get a tight seal.
  4. Instant Mashed Potatoes – boring by themselves, but fast to cook. Mix in pepperoni or bacon bits, and grated parmesan to add calories and mouthfeel.
  5. Outdoor Herbivore favorites: Chunky Chipotle Chili, Switchback Soup and Stuffer. Add one cup of instant rice to bulk them out and add a few calories.

I usually only eat one hot meal per day, usually at dinner, so these meals provide me with plenty of variety for the two or three night backpacking trips I prefer taking, once or twice a month.

Written 2017.

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  1. Here it is, 2 AM… I can’t sleep, and now you’ve got me hungry!

    I make GLOP breakfast by putting instant oatmeal, cream of wheat, dried cranberries, strawberries, blueberries, raisins, raspberries, crushed walnuts, almonds, brown sugar, sweetener, etc. into snack bags. A snack bag practically at the bursting point is about right. I’ll dump the contents into some boiling water and it will make one pretty good breakfast. My problem is that I’ll make a bunch of these at home for an upcoming trip and then get into them and have to prepare some more before I go.

    Dinner GLOP is ramen noodles doctored with everything I’ve managed to dry in my dehydrator. Frozen green beans, broccoli, onions, sprouts, mushrooms, bell peppers, and jalapeños all dehydrate well and they go into snack bags. A pinch out of each bag along with some dried soybeans turns the ramen noodles into a feast. I’ve found that canned chicken also dehydrates well and can also be added. Dehydrated canned tuna was a disaster for me–it never reconstituted and remained hard and gritty.

    Sometimes, I substitute instant egg noodles for ramen and add sesame oil, soy, worcester, crushed peanuts and peanut butter for a poor man’s excuse for pad thai.

    I’ve saved a few bags from the croutons my wife puts on salads to use them for freezer bag GLOP. The crouton bags are metallic on the inside, which hopefully will hold the heat better. They are constructed so that they will stand on their own and have a ziploc type top. I guess my finished product there would be considered croutoGLOP.

  2. I forgot to mention the mashed potatoes. They can be doctored easily. Also, Lipton Knorr has many choices of pasta and rice sides, which are a nice base for glopping into. The directions on some of them call for simmering, however, they’ve always cooked well in my experience if just left in a covered pot or insulated coozie for a while. I acquired some dried potato soup a while back that was a very nice starting point for glop.

  3. I mix powdered peanut butter with true lime and chili powder. I add a couple of teaspoons of ramen or pasta with a leftover packet of soy sauce to make Thai type peanut sauce.

    The local discount store carries Bob’s Red mill grits. Add grated parmesan cheese and a squirt of olive oil and it is breakfast.

    There are some smaller meal suppliers that have interesting food but with a little thought you can eat well and cheap.

  4. Some hippie food stores (sometimes whole foods has them) sell freeze dried soups in bulk. Berkeley Bowl in the SF Bay area has them for sure (http://www.berkeleybowl.com/bulk-foods-cooking-fantastic-world-foods http://www.berkeleybowl.com/bulk-foods-cooking-taste-adventure). You can get split pea, lentil, black bean, refried bean, vegitarian chili, and corn chowder. For our PCT hike last year we did 75% of our dinners by just doing a 1:1 ratio of instant rice and the bulk soup and then add whatever salt/spices/oils we want. Then it is just boil water and dump in glop mix. Not exactly a culinary delight, but cheap, easy, and relatively tasty. You know… GLOP.

  5. I love the plumber’s tape hack for sealing! I never thought of it and I can also use it for my air travel liquids! Thanks!

  6. My “GLOP” breakfast is usually a good sized serving of granola and Nido in a Ziploc bag. I add the requisite amount of water (cold or hot), shake it up, eat.

    I will experiment with dried fruits and nuts as an addition.

    Definitely going to add the olive oil to meals this year. Good, cheap and tasty calorie addition.

      • +1 on olive oil.

        I’m big on Glop too, oat or potato based. Hot coffee with a cold breakfast in the morning, snacking all day, and a hot meal at night.

        I’ve been wondering if pouring boiling water into a cozied quart Ziplock bag holding the makings of GLOP and letting it sit for half hour would work. Would mean using less fuel and no clean-up afterwards.

      • In my experience, letting something sit for a while in a cozied ziploc bag substitutes just fine for additional coiking time.

      • Grandpa, good to know it works. After reading what you said I did a little looking and find out this has been a thing for a while. In fact there’s a long thread at Andrew Skurka’s site where he posted March 2016 “Freezer bag cooking: No, thank you”. Lots of information there, with some friendly back and forth. Cleaning the pot seems to be no big deal for him, so not worth eating out of a plastic bag since he prefers eating out of the pot. And then there’s the extra food-scented trash to haul out. My solution has been after a GLOP dinner, adding a little water and seasoning to the pot and putting it back on the fire to make a broth out of what’s left. Maybe not anywhere else, but a drink like that can taste pretty good after a day of hiking.

  7. Not being a big fan of highly processed foods, I dehydrate my own Pinto beans, brown rice and even steel cut oats now.
    In the morning, I mix all the dry ingredients and seasonings together in a Zip-Lock bag or container, add water and let it soak all day. At dinner time I add the soaked GLOP into my pot and heat. Fuel use is minimal and the whole grain ingredients are completely rehydrated.
    With the abundance of Salmon at the market these days, I have been dehydrating that too, after marinating in a smoke flavored sauce. At dinner time, I add that to the GLOP. Tastes just like savory bacon bits and is also very tasty in garlic mashed potatoes along with peas and carrots.
    A big thanks to Caps for the Berkeley Grocers link. That area is renown for ghetto gourmet innovation.

  8. Great post. I have been glopping it for years at breakfast and dinner…I love simmering a meal and use a wood stove option on my Caldera Cone to allow for more hot meals supplemented with alcohol stove option when needed. My base is usually a rotation of quick cook barley, rice, or pasta with a selection of home dried veggies to throw in as I see fit, and soup mixes and seasonings along with bacon bits etc to round out the meals. I love the flexibility of getting to camp and figuring out what flavor I would like to eat. But for the occasional night when I want something quick, I usually carry one Pack it Gourmet meal as a backup.

    Beakfast glop is often bannock bread mix with a varied amount of water and either raisins, cheese, or something else thrown in to vary it up.

  9. Got my dehydrator and other junk to glop and it took huge amount of time, energy, space and money. Found for 20 days a year I can afford freeze dried meals and a few throw ins like nuts and butter. My lux item is a few oz of peanut butter that I put into almost everything. Oats are steel-cut, Boil water at night toss in oats, turn off, cover and they are fresh and ready when I wake up with no cooking required when it is cold plus they help keep my tent warmer at night.

    Big meal going in and a huge meal coming out. I plan gourmet restaurants in the area so I can get off to a good start and dream of my huge feast waiting at the end of the trail.

  10. Of all the names in all the world, why glop? Or have I missed something

  11. Any kind of glop suits me as long as it is in a ziplock freezer bag. Licking my spoon is my version of cleanup.

  12. Try couscous. Comes in bulk packages at most supermarkets, cheap, cooks in a minute and can easily be seasoned. Drop in a bullion cube for flavor and some salt replenishment.

  13. GLOP seems to be a manifestation of the “one mile rule.”

    A mile from the pavement, anything tastes good!

    • At home, there’s no 5 second rule. If it falls on the floor, it gets a thorough cleaning before consumption. In the woods, my wife or I will pick it up, dust it off, mutter “camp clean”, snd toss it down the hatch. Related mindset to your “one mile rule”.

  14. Angelhair pasta is a 5 minute standby at home and on the trail. Orzo (rice sized and shaped pasta) ought to work as well. Pesto pasta sauce with cheese and pine nuts, in small leakproof container. I like it enough that I can eat it for two or three days in a row. Fixings bought at the local Italian grocer.

  15. I often cheat. Commercially bought backpacker meals (Mountain House, Packit Gourmet, etc.) can also be doctored up in the ways described by Phillip and others to pack more nutrition and calories, taste better, or feed more people. Grocery store dehydrated soup mixes often work well. I add powdered milk to all kinds of things to make them creamier and add calories and protein. I’ve been meaning to try dried coconut flakes. Experiment at home. Don’t try something new for the first time on the trail, where an unappetizing meal can be such a letdown.

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