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Backpacking with Mashed Potatoes

Backpacking with Mashed Potatoes

How to change up basic instant mashed potatoes to enhance your backcountry menu.

Instant mashed potatoes are a staple of cost-effective backpacking dinners.  It is a common item to be seen on many menus and checklists for cheap backpacking food. 

If you like plain mashed potatoes, that is fine, but I find that I need to “enhance” any basic recipes I use. 

Good tasting food tastes better outside.  Bland food is still bland. Outdoor adventures are more fun if more if your stomach is happy.

Each of the ideas listed below is carried in a pint or quart-sized Ziplock freezer bag and rehydrated in a homemade cozy that nests with my cooking pot.  A DIY tutorial on how to make a cozy is coming soon.

Cooking set with homemade cozy

Below are some of the ways to spice up a basic hiking meal without spending a fortune or carrying standard freeze-dried meals that are too big, too much, and too heavy.

Cheesy Mash Breakfast


  • Four Cheese Mashed Potatoes
  • Shelf-stable bacon
  • Freeze-dried chives. 

  • Use half a pack of potatoes, half of that little bag of bacon, and about a teaspoon of those dried chives and put them in a pint-sized freezer bag. Please make sure you use a bag designed for freezer use. Heat up a little more than a cup of hot water and carefully pour this into the freezer bag. Carefully stir or massage the ingredients from the outside. Place in your cozy (see a future article on the benefits of a cozy) to rest. Eat after just a few minutes. 
  • This is my favorite trail breakfast.  On multiple occasions, I have been sitting around with a group of people eating breakfast in camp before heading out on the trail unhappily choking down their bland oatmeal of weird-tasting egg and bacon meal out of a pouch while I am happily noshing on my savory breakfast.

Thanksgiving Dinner

  • Instant Mashed potatoes
  • Stove Top Stuffing.

This one will certainly give you all the carbs you need.  Half a pack of potatoes, half a pack of instant Stove Top Stuffing in a quart-sized freezer bag.

Carefully pour about 2 cups of hot water into your baggie. Carefully mush the baggie to distribute and place it into the cozy for about 10 minutes to rehydrate. Add some freeze-dried chicken bits and dried cranberries in there to add some needed protein and turn it into Thanksgiving Dinner. 

Comfort Food!

Truly Fully Loaded Mashed Potatoes

Loaded Mashed Potatoes Other Ingredients: Vegetable adds: Freeze-dried broccoli (Trader Joe’s sells this as a healthy snack and it rehydrates well), dried kale chips, spinach, chives, fried onions, dried mushrooms, and peppers.

Protein adds: Cut up pieces of cheddar or grated parmesan cheese you have carried in a separate bag, add some shelf-stable bacon, or spam or cut up pieces of summer sausage. 

See what your spice cupboard or pantry has that seems fun. 

Wander the condiment aisle at the grocery store.

Whatever ingredients will make you happy will make your stomach happy.

Be creative, think of things you like and combinations that seem to go well together.

What other ideas can you come up with to make instant mashed potatoes a memorable meal for you?

Backpacking with Mashed Potatoes