Hiking Food – Packing Healthy Camping Meals
This short intro to hiking food for camping and trekking will assist you in planning healthy and delicious meals for long extended trips.
Calorie intake is regarded as a very important issue when hiking through the back country, especially on longer extended trips. Food provides the body with essential energy and nutrition to keep us going strong on the trails. With a poor managed diet, one can lose the mental and physical attributes that hiking requires for an enjoyable experience.
Planning an extended week long trip menu is very important for the mind as well as the body. Some items the staff and I like to take are dishes that have a very high calorie intake for the weight of the item. The ratio between weight and calories is something that should always be noted. If you’re crazy like me, you can start a nice list in Microsoft Excel detailing all the food you intend to take with their corresponding calories, proteins, sugars or any other relevant information to help organise the diet. While this isn’t a complete guide to food choice it definitely helps you to understand that food choice can make a hiking trip much more enjoyable.
Here is a list of some of the vital points that must be considered when deciding on your trekking food:
- Items that have a large amount of heavy or bulky packaging will greatly increase weight and excess trash. (Anything canned and huge bags of potato chips)
- Recipes and dishes that can be semi-prepared at home will reduce cooking time on the trail. For example, you can replace cumbersome packaging of items such as couscous recipes by placing them in zip lock freezer bags. You can also add your own herbs and spices this way!
- Foods that are not perishable will last longer and are normally much easier to pack. Find alternatives to fresh veggies and meats such as dried or dehydrated food.
- Recipes that reduce the usage of gas and time on the stove will make your gas canister go that extra mile. E.g- couscous, freeze dried, dehydrated.
- Avoid food with high sodium, salt, and artificial additives. You’ll find that many of the freeze dried meals have a huge amount of sodium and preservatives so be aware. This is where your Excel table will come in handy!
Some of the items I like to take:
|Oats||Tuna Packet (Not in a can)||Ben’s Rice|
|Cereal/Powered Milk||Beef Jerky||Couscous|
|Oats Bars/Breakfast Bars||Instant Noodles||Instant Noodles|
|Dried Fruit||Cheese||Sun Dried Tomatoes|
|Instant Pancake mix||Bread/Tortillas/Pitas/Flat Bread||Homemade Dehydrated Veggies|
|Dried Eggs||Peanut Butter||Summer sausage/Pepperoni|
|Instant Mac ‘n’ Cheese|
We try to stress buying the majority of your items at the local Asian grocery store, Coles, or Woolworths. This method will reduce the cost of each meal compared to those pricey unhealthy freeze dried meals.
I have had good success with a budget food dehydrator which can found at Myer or online for more professional models. They offer a hiker a great resource for gourmet recipe building, especially for larger groups. One of these units can pay for itself in a matter of 5-6 batches. Each freeze-dried meal can cost around $12-$14, making a 7 night back country trip more expensive than it has to be. By doing it yourself you can reduce costs, control your calorie intake and enjoy your camping food that much more!
Stay tuned for part II