Make Good Backpacking Food
What exactly is backpacking food? If you’ve never been backpacking before, or you’re relatively new at it, you might feel confused about what exactly this is. What food is the best to bring with you? How much food should you bring? Let’s discuss your options.
Many people who are new to backpacking think that “backpacking food” means those foil pouches at the sporting goods store.
I know at first my husband and I did!
So let’s talk about those foil pouches to start with, and then give you some alternatives to consider.
Freeze-Dried Foil Pouches
Freeze-dried food is simply food which has had the water removed. You simply add boiling water to it to give you “instant” food! Sort of like instant coffee, but in solid form.
You can divide freeze-dried food into two groups: individual ingredients (for example, a bag with just peas in it) and complete meals. You can buy bags with each ingredient for a meal you want and combine them to create your own backpacking meals if you don’t like the complete meals available to you.
There are many different manufacturers of freeze-dried food, and a wide variety of meals out there. Some taste significantly better than others. Try the ones you plan to bring before your backpacking trip, just to make sure you like them and that they agree with you.
If you have a dehydrator, you can dehydrate food for backpacking yourself!
I have an Excalibur dehydrator myself. I absolutely love it and use it all the time.
In conjunction with my dehydrator, I found a fabulous book on the subject of backpacking food written by fellow adventurer Chef Glenn McAllister. It’s called “Recipes for Adventure: Healthy, Hearty and Homemade Backpacking Recipes” and is by far the best resource I have found for preparing trail food yourself.
With my dehydrator and the fabulous tips I found in “Recipes for Adventure,” I have really expanded my horizons as to what can be made to be suitable backpacking food. For example, did you know you can dehydrate breads, cakes, entire cooked meals, and sauces? I certainly didn’t!
Your Grocery Store: A Great Place For Backpacking Food!
You can buy lots of things at the store to for backpacking trips that are light, filling, and require no refrigeration. Here are just a few suggestions:
- Boxed dinners that only require water to cook
- Instant rice, instant oatmeal, instant drink mixes, coffee/tea, cereal, etc.
- Powdered milk, butter, spices, and eggs
- Pancake mix that only requires water to cook
- Crackers, hard cheese, and hard sausage
- Hard fruits and vegetables which last several days at room temperature, such as carrots and apples — don’t cut these until you’re ready to eat them
- Peanut butter and bread (buy a small loaf, and put the bread at the top of your backpack, so it won’t get squashed!)
- Small cans or foil pouches of meat or fish
- Nuts, dried fruit, trail mix, and jerky
It’s best to eat the fresh items during your first few days out. These tend to be heavier and more likely to spoil. Save the dry stuff for later in your trip.
To reduce weight (and reduce the amount of trash you’ll need to pack out), remove any packaging which isn’t absolutely necessary and put the ingredients into a Ziploc bag. Make sure you include the instructions!
You may want to bring a small plastic bottle of cooking oil, or a small bottle of syrup for your pancakes.
Bring more than you think you’ll need! The worst that could happen is that you bring too much food and some of it gets put back on the shelf for your next backpacking trip. As you become more experienced, you’ll see what you’ll need for your appetite and tastes.
I hope this has given you some ideas. You can use any and all of these ideas together to create the backpacking food you love to eat most. Make your meals fun.