A 24 Hour Kayaking Menu

In my most recent blog, 40th Birthday…Fishsticks to Sushi-Style, I talked about Chad’s and my first kayaking-camping trip. We took a short trip for our first time, just less than 24 hours, just to see how it would go. One of the biggest challenges was packing, since we had to fit everything in the kayaks. That meant because we’d have limited space, we would have to avoid over-packing, and since most people I know, including myself, pack WAY more than they need whenever they go camping, I wanted to try and pack as wisely as possible. When got home, I recorded my calories burned and calories eaten, just for fun. (Yes, us dietitians are a wild and crazy bunch!)


Our kitchen: a canister of gas which feeds the stove is surrounded by a windbreak, with pasta cooking in our set of pans.

Even though we didn’t have a campfire to cook on (which we saw some campers use with tripods they set up on the beach,) we did, thanks to my father-in-law Gene, have a gas cook stove. We had used this during a trip to the Grand Canyon years ago, and we had forgotten how great it was! This allowed us to boil water for cooking, which it did very quickly. Also, we had a set of 3 pans, a couple plates and reusable camping utensils. All of this took up less space than 2 loaves of bread. Also, because I am a food snob, I needed to have a bit more access to flavor. My indulgence on the trip? My Mobile Foodie Survival Kit! Smaller than a paper towel tube, this travel spice rack provides a little zing to almost any dish…one of my most dorky possessions, but I LOVE IT!

Knowing what cooking methods were available to us, I designed an easy, mostly-healthy menu:

Letting my dork flag fly!

Letting my dork flag fly!

Lunch (In the kayaks)

  • Kashi Dark Chocolate and Coconut granola bars
  • Mini Baby Bel Light Cheese Wheels
  • Trader Joes 100% fruit wraps
  • Apples


  • Velveeta Shells and Cheese: Chad had the original and I has queso blanco. I wanted to have a hot meal, since our lunches and snacks will all be room temperature. (Something to note; we each ate a WHOLE box, designed for 3 servings! We didn’t have lots of other things with this meal and as you’ll soon see, we did burn a lot of calories. The other concern is the large amount of sodium, but as hot as it was, I was fine to use that sodium to replace what I lost in sweat.)
  • I also added a single-serve pouch or ready-to eat salmon for some extra protein and to be honest, to glam it up a bit! Chad had a hard boiled egg as a “side” with his pasta.
  • My flourish was a bit of dill from my traveling spice rack, while Chad used cayenne pepper.

    Salmon with pasta in white sauce with dill...Ooh La La!

    Salmon with pasta in white sauce with dill…Ooh La La!


  • We brought 3 gallons of water, which turned out to be more than we needed. Chad also brought some Crystal Light concentrated flavor enhancer for his water bottle.
  • Chad made up a Nalgene bottle of Salty Dogs for the evening (100% pink grapefruit juice, vodka and a couple pinches of salt. The salt serves the same purpose as a salty rim.) Refreshing!


  • Coffee: We have a French press, but to save space, we used Starbucks instant Via. (I know, some coffee drinkers will scoff at this, but let me tell you, it hits the spot just fine during a camping trip!)
  • Oatmeal: we used the single serve packets so they were already flavored, and you may notice below I had two packets to fill me up for the morning workout. (But I did have extra cinnamon in my spice rack.)
  • Raisins: to jazz up the oatmeal and give and extra burst of energy in the morning.
  • Hard-boiled Eggs: we boiled and peeled them at home so they were ready to eat, with salt and pepper from the spice rack.

Lunch (At the boat landing)

  • Everything Bagels
  • Mini Baby Bel Cheese
  • Hummus

We also packed some trail mix in case we needed more food; like I said, we weren’t sure how long we would be on the water or how hungry we would get. We were able to pack all the food in just two small, soft-sided coolers, one room temp and one with ice. We obviously could have packed either more healthy food or more junk food, but this menu suited us just fine. (In the end, we came back with just a few apples, cheeses and granola bars.)

Now, let’s also look at my calories burned. For me, myfitnesspal.com estimated I burned just under 900 calories per day. Obviously it depends on how hard we worked, but serves as a pretty good ballpark number. Putting food and exercise together (adding Saturday’s breakfast and Sunday’s dinner,) this is what the weekend looked like:Slide1

Slide2I didn’t try to restrict anything I ate, but I didn’t go crazy with treats, either, and I’m pleasantly surprised with how this worked out! Doing the math, with the 1200 calories I try to stay close to and the 884 calories estimated in kayaking, that gives me over 2000 calories per day. Both days were pretty darn close to that, considering there are lots of estimations here and I didn’t make any effort to count calories during these days. Having said that, since it was my 40th celebration, perhaps I should have tried harder to be bad!

As with the whole trip in general, we now have confidence we could repeat this, or even take a multi-day trip. We have an idea of what food tastes good after a hot day on the water, and know how much we need to pack, so we won’t have to bring coolers full of food just to have most of it go uneaten…but we may want to pack a few more of those Salty Dogs! 😉

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