By Wild Chef Anders Klint on 2014.02.08 In Packing tips

Preparing meals is an important step in planning a backpacking trip. You want to make sure you pack out foods that can withstand the conditions of outdoor travel, require minimal preparation, provide you with adequate nutrition, and taste good. You also don’t want to forget crucial items, such as your morning coffee. You also don’t want to pack too little or too much. Here are a few tips to keep in mind when planning your backpacking food.

Finding Backpacking Foods

1. Purchase easy to find staples from grocery stores. Some prepackaged foods that make ideal camping foods, such as cereal, trail mix, instant milk powder, couscous, pasta/noodles, and instant rice can be purchased directly from grocery stores.

Harder to find items such as dehydrated vegetables and beans, powdered eggs, vegetable and fruit powders, instant quinoa(dehydrated), fast-cooking split lentils, and healthy, high-calorie meals made with whole-food or organic ingredients, such as instant brown rice, non-dairy milk powder, and whole grain pastas can be found online, at outdoor stores, specialty health stores, and international markets.

2. Read the cooking instructions on each product in advance to determine any additional ingredients required to prepare the dish.  Substitutions can be made for many common ingredients, such as olive oil for butter (look for single serve olive oil packets) and dried vegetables for fresh.

3. Read the nutrition label on each product in advance to determine if it will contain enough calories. Calorie needs depend on type of hiking and individual needs. A good rule is to look for meals containing at least 100 calories per ounce.

4. Look for fast cooking food items by checking the product cook instructions. Look for cook times of 10 minutes or less, especially for longer trips when you’ll need to ration fuel.

Fast cooking/instant does not mean you have to buy the highly processed, empty nutrition foods found in many packaged foods.  Most wholesome foods – with the exception of unhulled grains, uncooked beans, uncooked or partially cooked (parboiled) rice, and thick extruded pastas – can be cooked using the boil water and soak method.


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