Simple Meal Planner

The best part of a river trip should be the food. Plan it well with this sheet!

Simple Meal Planner

The best part of a river trip should be the food. Plan it well with this sheet!

Group meals might just be one of the best things about rafting, helping to spread the cost, responsibility and storage load on river trips. Leave it to chance, however, and you can wind up with duplicate meals, allergies that aren’t considered and overall confusion.

Spaghetti? Again!? Why can’t we ever just have, like, a salad or something?

This sheet is designed to help you anticipate how many meals need to be planned for your trip and give your participants a single, easy place to input their dietary restrictions (the groover is better for everyone if the lactose intolerant are considered during meal planning), sign up for meal responsibilities and see what else people are bringing.

How to use the RTP Simple Meal Planner

The Simple Meal Planner is organized into two primary pages (see the tabs at the bottom of the sheet to toggle between them) and an additional “SAMPLE” tab that’s been filled out for your reference.

Meal Calculator

The “MEAL CALCULATOR” page is a quick, easy tool for trip leaders to see how many meals need to be planned altogether and how many meals each trip participant needs to plan. To fill it out, input numbers into each box, including how many people are coming, how many days are you on the water and whether lunches are going to be planned as group meals, or individual.

At the bottom of the boxes, the sheet will automatically calculate how many group meals need to be planned and how many each individual should be responsible for during the trip.

This tool provides a very general overview and may or may not help you with planning your trip. Feel free to skip it if you don’t think you need it.

Meal Plan

The “MEAL PLAN” page is where you and/or your participants can sign up for meals, see what other people are planning and inform the group of any dietary restrictions they need considered. Each day, there is a signup slot for breakfast, lunch and dinner, along with columns for jotting in the meal and any relevant notes.

Depending on how structured your trip is (see our Master Chores List), we recommend filling it out one of two ways:

  1. First-Come-First-Serve – Send the sheet out and people can fill it out on a first-come-first-serve basis.


    • People can sign up to prepare for their favorite meals
    • Your most organized participants are rewarded for signing up early


    • It may not jive with your chore list, if you’re doing one
    • Easier for people to slip through the cracks
  2. Assigned Meals – With or without the help of your chores list, assign people or couples to meals prior to sending the sheet out.


    • You can help make sure everyone has a meal assigned and control that distribution


    • People don’t get the option to pick and choose the meal(s) they’re responsible for

Prior to sharing this sheet with your participants, it helps to let them know how many meals everyone is responsible for and communicate that, so you don’t wind up with open slots.

Sample Meal Plan

The “SAMPLE” page has been filled out with a theoretical meal plan so you and your participants have a point of reference as you fill out your own.

As you organize meals, feel free to add or remove days to match your trip length, and add rows for cocktails or dessert if you have more people than meals to plan. Prior to the trip, keep an eye on the allergies column and confirm that everyone is aware before they prep/pack their ingredients.

On the River

After all of the meals have been assigned to your liking, print out at least one copy of “MEAL PLAN” to keep in your kitchen box or captain’s bag to reference during the trip. You can even print out a copy for each boat, so you don’t have to whip out yours every time someone wants to check.


  • Meal planning is a simple way to keep your trip organized
  • Use the “MEAL CALCULATOR” to get an overview of trip meals needed
  • Use “MEAL PLAN” to organize your meals and collaborate with your participants
  • Keep printouts handy during the river trip so you have a source to reference

The best part of boating is eating like gourmand in the backcountry. Plan it well!

Love it, hate it, have another idea?

Let us know! We’re always looking for ways to do better.

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