Skills & Techniques

How to Cook Leave No Trace Sweet Potato Tacos

Susy Alkaitis - July 7, 2019

It’s summer once again! It’s a great time to get outdoors and enjoy all that this season has to offer. At the end of a long day of summer activities, nothing is better than winding down and making a delicious camp meal.

You don’t need to be a master chef to make great food outdoors, and Leave No Trace can help you take care of your outdoor kitchen! Try your hand at responsible outdoor cooking this summer and read on to learn how to make one of our favorite camp recipes: shredded sweet potato tacos—Leave No Trace style.

Set up Your Camp Kitchen:
Place a piece of scrim cloth or tarp below your cooking area to catch any food scraps that fall while cooking. This makes it easy to pick up and pack out small pieces of food from the ground.

Watch this video for more advice on setting up a frontcountry camp kitchen!

Grab Your Ingredients:
Plan ahead to bring enough food for everyone in your group. This recipe usually makes enough to feed two hungry Traveling Trainers with some leftovers! Be prepared to finish leftovers or bring a way to pack them out.

1 Sweet potato
1 Package of taco seasoning mix
2 Tbsp butter or oil
1 Cup water
4 Large tortillas
Toppings (cheese, avocado, veggies, etc.)

Coarse vegetable grater
Frying pan
Large plate
Tupperware (for leftovers)

Have a Grate Time:
You have all your ingredients, now it’s time to get shredding. Use the grater over a large plate to catch the shreds and pick up any pieces that might have missed the plate.

No Potato Left Behind:
After you finish grating, pick up any potatoes that escaped your plate and pack out any scraps. Food scraps left on or around camp can attract animals and habituate them to humans.

Time to get cooking:
Before you turn up the heat, make sure that you know about local fire regulations and burn bans that may be in effect. Consider using a camp stove to cook your meal. It’s faster and easier than building a fire and reduces the need to collect wood that animals use for food and shelter.

Cook with a Level Head and a Level Stove:
If you’re using a camp stove, make sure to place it on a secure, level surface. This helps prevent accidental tipping or spilling while cooking. We love our Primus Profile dual-burner stove because it has a stable cooktop and allows us to easily adjust the heat when cooking.

Turn up the Heat:
To start cooking, preheat the pan on medium high heat with 1 tbsp of butter/oil. Then add your pile of shredded potatoes.

Push the potatoes to one side and add 1 cup of water.

‘Tis the Seasoning:
Add the package of taco seasoning to the water and stir. 

Trash your Trash:
Make sure to pack out the wrapper from the seasoning package including the small corners which can easily be dropped or lost and become microtrash.

Mix It up:
Slowly fold the shredded potato into the water and make sure it’s well mixed.

Let It Simmer:
Let the potatoes cook on medium heat for 10-15 minutes stirring occasionally. Then stir in 1 tbsp of butter/oil. Let the mixture cook for another 5-10 minutes, until the potato has the color and texture of ground beef.

Top It off with Toppings:
You’re almost ready to eat! Add your toppings and get ready to feast. These tacos go great with cheese, avocado, and grilled veggies. If you have any leftovers, make sure to keep them out of reach of animals by storing them in a hardtop car, bear locker, or by using another approved storage method.

Time to Wash Up:
Now that your belly is full, it’s time to wash up those dishes. Cooking pots or buckets are great to help collect you grey water. A little soap goes a long way and it’s best to only use as much as you need. Most dishes can be washed with just water and a little elbow grease.

Scrap your Scraps:
Food scraps in your grey water can be unhealthy and harmful to wildlife. Strain your greywater with a screen, bandana, or strainer to pack out those scraps and keep animals safe.


Enjoy Your Tacos, Enjoy Your World, and Leave No Trace!

Leave No Trace’s Cameron Larnerd and Nick Whites are part of the 2019 Subaru/Leave No Trace Traveling Trainer Program that provides free, mobile education to communities across the country. Proud partners of this program include Subaru of America, REI, Eagles Nest Outfitters, Deuter, Thule, Fjällräven and Klean Kanteen.

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