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mrkstvns

The Frugal Camp Menu

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In another thread, several scouters said that their typical campout food budget is $10 per person. 

As an exercise in frugality, I've been thinking about how LOW I could get the cost for a reasonable menu that won't leave anyone hungry. For a patrol of 6 campers, I came up with the following menu that I can buy at my local Aldi (selecting their private labels)  for $2.55 per person for 4 meals (2 breakfasts, 1 lunch, and 1 dinner).  Note:  prices vary at different Aldi stores, even within the same market

Can any of y'all beat my menu?

 

Breakfast:  (this is enough for 2 meals --- both breakfasts)

  • Steel-cut oats, 25oz carton, Millvale (or for another 50 cents, could buy enough Quick Oats to serve the 82nd Airborne Division), $1.88
  • Cinnamon, 99 cents
  • Dried apples, $2.99

Cook oats:  sprinkle with cinnamon and stir in dried apples.  Total cost:  $5.86, or $2.93 per meal

Lunch:

  • Peanut butter, $2.49
  • Jelly, $1.09
  • White bread, 79 cents
  • Ranch chips, bag, Clancys, $1.09

Make PB&J sandwiches with chips. Total cost:  $5.46

Dinner:

  • Spaghetti, 1 pound, 69 cents
  • Spaghetti sauce, marinara, Reggio, 89 cents
  • medium yellow onion, 40 cents
  • pepperoni slices, Mama Cozi, $1.99

Prepare pasta. Sautee chopped onion in sauce pan. Add quartered pepperoni slices. Add sauce to pan and heat. Serve sauce over pasta.  Total cost:  $3.97

Total food budget:  $15.29 for 6 scouts, which works out to $2.55 per person

 

Am I the king of the frugal camping menu, or can any of y'all ladies knock me down? 

Lay on, McDuff!

Edited by mrkstvns
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My son's patrol sometimes likes ramen --- especially on backpacking trips.  At first glance, that might seem to be a cheaper lunch or dinner, but in practice, it's often not.

The reason is because ramen by itself is not particularly satisfying. When the boys have ramen for a meal, they virtually always mix in something: occasionally dried peas, but more often, diced chicken (like Sweet Sue, which sells for about $1.50 per pouch).  If you buy a pouch of chicken for every scout and 2 packs of ramen, you're up to about $10 for a patrol of 6 scouts (though the ramen itself is a small fraction of that total).

The REAL ramen meal is thus more expensive than other cheap alternatives.

Edited by mrkstvns
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9 minutes ago, mrkstvns said:

... The REAL ramen meal is thus more expensive than seemingly cheaper alternatives.

Things a scouter wishes he could unsee: that wild-hungry look in the eyes of too-reliant-on-ramen scouts when you pull out a spare bag of oatmeal and peanut butter on day 3 of the hike.:eek:

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I love the challenge. I will try to remember to visit my local Aldis and see what I can come up with. Besides cost, I will also look to calories and nutrional value. Easiest way to do it is to put everything into an online recipe calculator and run it as though it was one recipe. Off to the store...

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One half jar peanut butter, raided from home: Free

Foraged ground apples from local farmer's orchard: Free

One snicker's bar, melted but edible: 35 cents

Wild blackberries: Free, although may have created a calorie deficit caused by running from bear. 

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13 hours ago, yknot said:

One half jar peanut butter, raided from home: Free

Foraged ground apples from local farmer's orchard: Free

One snicker's bar, melted but edible: 35 cents

Wild blackberries: Free, although may have created a calorie deficit caused by running from bear. 

A frugal scout should also be able to find a local pizzeria whose dumpster contains several perfectly edible burnt pies.  Free

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13 hours ago, yknot said:

One snicker's bar, melted but edible: 35 cents

Not sure what time machine you've used, but unless you're talking "fun size" that price is way off.  

Hey, it's near Halloween. Forage that way. LOL

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Well I didn't beat you. But I met my goal of keeping the total under $20 and also trying to not have anything the same as yours. I figured this would provide more variety for folks reading

Total: $16.87

2 Breakfasts: Pancakes, butter, syrup

lunch: grilled cheese & tomato soup, bug juice

dinner: chili

dessert: choc chip cookies

shopping list: see instacart screen shots

 

Screenshot_20191005-180727.png

Screenshot_20191005-180704.png

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Or the "untrained scout version"

2Breakfast: poptarts

lunch: hot dogs

dinner: hot dogs and cookies

snack: smores

Total: $15.14

 

 

Screenshot_20191005-182400.png

Screenshot_20191005-182342.png

Edited by DuctTape

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On 9/30/2019 at 1:07 PM, mrkstvns said:

In another thread, several scouters said that their typical campout food budget is $10 per person. 

As an exercise in frugality, I've been thinking about how LOW I could get the cost for a reasonable menu that won't leave anyone hungry. For a patrol of 6 campers, I came up with the following menu that I can buy at my local Aldi (selecting their private labels)  for $2.55 per person for 4 meals (2 breakfasts, 1 lunch, and 1 dinner).  Note:  prices vary at different Aldi stores, even within the same market

Can any of y'all beat my menu?

 

Breakfast:  (this is enough for 2 meals --- both breakfasts)

  • Steel-cut oats, 25oz carton, Millvale (or for another 50 cents, could buy enough Quick Oats to serve the 82nd Airborne Division), $1.88
  • Cinnamon, 99 cents
  • Dried apples, $2.99

Cook oats:  sprinkle with cinnamon and stir in dried apples.  Total cost:  $5.86, or $2.93 per meal

Lunch:

  • Peanut butter, $2.49
  • Jelly, $1.09
  • White bread, 79 cents
  • Ranch chips, bag, Clancys, $1.09

Make PB&J sandwiches with chips. Total cost:  $5.46

Dinner:

  • Spaghetti, 1 pound, 69 cents
  • Spaghetti sauce, marinara, Reggio, 89 cents
  • medium yellow onion, 40 cents
  • pepperoni slices, Mama Cozi, $1.99

Prepare pasta. Sautee chopped onion in sauce pan. Add quartered pepperoni slices. Add sauce to pan and heat. Serve sauce over pasta.  Total cost:  $3.97

Total food budget:  $15.29 for 6 scouts, which works out to $2.55 per person

 

Am I the king of the frugal camping menu, or can any of y'all ladies knock me down? 

Lay on, McDuff!

I like this menu very much.  I detest overly processed food with excessive packaging, tons of sodium and sugar.  This menu is very affordable, and the food is relatively nutritious.

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New challenge: Try to do the same thing but you have Scouts and/or leaders in your troop with Celiac, dairy sensitivity, and  nut/peanut allergies. 

I'm presenting the challenge before I try to actually accomplish the menu. Give me some time to work on it too. :D 

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Menu for 9 scouts, $50.36, gluten, dairy, nut, and peanut free. Also, I serve a fresh fruit or veggie with each meal because I'm like that. $5.60 per person.

Breakfast menu (2 breakfasts): Hard boiled eggs, Cream of Rice hot cereal, Fresh Fruit (oranges or bananas)

Lunch: Carrots, "Beanie weenies" (baked beans and turkey franks)

Dinner: Dutch Oven Drumsticks (with seasoning), Baked Potatoes, Broccoli Florets. 

858215474_ScreenShot2019-10-06at12_28_07PM.png.6a5f439e6add98d8082c48b1058d5fda.png863360101_ScreenShot2019-10-06at12_28_28PM.png.cb707886a68f002734c6b14425f8a5b7.png

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Frugality is not the issue there, safety is. Depending on severity, I would assign scouts with those issues to self budget and self prepare and show personal frugality. 

That is the problem with all the food allergies and issues today -- economy has to go out the window. And to some degree, the boy led facet as well. I feel like I need a food safety officer more than a range officer. 

There are also food preferences to consider. It's not just vegan but people who are concerned about sustainability, organic origin, packaging, etc. It gets pricey and complicated to try and accommodate.  

There are some good MRE options for many of these issues but they are costly. 

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8 minutes ago, yknot said:

Frugality is not the issue there, safety is. Depending on severity, I would assign scouts with those issues to self budget and self prepare and show personal frugality. 

That is the problem with all the food allergies and issues today -- economy has to go out the window. And to some degree, the boy led facet as well. I feel like I need a food safety officer more than a range officer. 

There are also food preferences to consider. It's not just vegan but people who are concerned about sustainability, organic origin, packaging, etc. It gets pricey and complicated to try and accommodate.  

There are some good MRE options for many of these issues but they are costly. 

Yes, having the kids do individual meals does help, and that's more or less what we've usually done. But it's not the most frugal option. Individual servings of food tend to cost more.

When my older kids were still Scouts, we had an entire patrol we put all the kids with food allergies in. They all had their individual mess kits, backpacking stoves, and did their own individual meal planning. But they didn't have the advantage of learning to cook together as a Patrol. It worked, and I might do it again faced with the same challenges in a future troop, but it's not without its disadvantages. 

Food preferences should be considered a burden of the individual Scout. But actual medical dietary restrictions CAN be accommodated in a group setting without going crazy. Whether it always makes sense to do so is another question, but IMO it makes sense to do it at least sometimes. It is good practice for the kids. 

 

Edited to add: It's important to understand how dietary restrictions affect kids socially and emotionally too. Having that one kid who always has to stay out of the kitchen area and eat his meal away from the rest of the patrol is not a good way to foster a sense of belonging. 

Edited by Liz
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You are absolutely right, it's hard to be frugal. You can have them still organize and cook for their patrol with items that are safe for them, but a price adjustment is needed and the scout needs to be willing to underwrite that. 

Food allergies, medical issues, and preferences are burgeoning and if we want to recruit and retain scouts in the future, I think BSA needs to look at better ways to manage this. In our local units, we've lost nice scouts because the food management systems aren't good from the top down to the unit level. This is also one area where dialing back a bit on boy led is called for, because food can be a deadly weapon just as much as a rifle.  

And absolutely, you can't segregate kids based on food issues but frequently people still do so. That will be a future headline: "My food allergic scout had to sit outside the tent and eat alone..." 

 

 

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