Quick Tip: Dollar store spice mixes for outdoor cooking

If you have been backpacking or camping for any amount of time, you may invariably wind up with some cooking “spice kit.”  You may have been gifted it as a stocking stuffer, or you bought it to use up the last of your outdoor store gift card, or you just inherited it somehow.

Though not expensive at $8, you do (typically) only get a limited variety and only a small amount of those spices anyway.

From Amazon

But the can be handy on an extended road trip when camping out all the time or even preparing backpacking meals ahead of time.

When I did my road trip at the tail end of 2017 and into 2018, I found these gifted spice kits surprisingly useful.  A few shakes of some spice mix and my camping meals worked out well. I did not have to carry a full kitchen worth of spices to create some yummy dinners when I had limited space. Sure, I’d instead mix and match at home to *my* taste, but when outdoors after a day of hiking, the pre-mixed spice seasoning jars worked just fine.

And they worked equally well for spicing up some backpacking meals, quickly. A little cheese powder, some instant mashed potatoes, powdered milk, some Cajun seasoning, and a can of Hatch green chile peppers as a treat, and I had a excellent backcountry meal.

So, now that I am going to embark another two+ months of roading tripping and backpacking, I needed to restock the on-the-road pantry.

I could go to one of the fine outdoor stores here in town for a similar kit. Or I can hit my friendly neighborhood dollar store. For a mere $1, I get a 4.5 oz jar of spice mixes in more quantity than the pre-made camping spice kits of only ~.5 oz each. And more variety.   The cinnamon sugar will work well for breakfast. And the other types should work fine with a variety of camp meals or backpacking delights.

I would never claim a Dollar Store to be the epitome of gourmet delights (!), for shelf stable food they seem to be on par with the store brand. And the spices, at least the ones I’ve tried, seem no different than the spice kits sold at outdoor stores. Note these jars are the 4.5 oz sizes. Some Dollar Stotes sell only 2.5 oz sizes apparently which is not as good a bargain; if that is the case use this same logic vs. buying a spice kit but purchase at a grocery store instead.

So next time you need a way to jazz your camp meals for backpacking or camping, stop by a Dollar Store.   Your mac n’ cheese will taste a bit better. And you can even use Annie’s Mac and Cheese if you feel the need to establish your hipster outdoor cred. 😉

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