I've had a few long distance multi day hiking and camping trips to get to know what works for me with my food options. I'm definitely not fully prepped for my long distance hike next year but enjoying trying out new DIY ideas. There are loads of freeze dried / vac packed meals that just need boiling water added but at £5-£9 a meal, this isn't an economical option over the extended period. I won't knock it until I've tried them though (I'll save that for another blog).
I need to plan to eat 4,000 calories a day when im Hiking upto 20 miles a day with a 13-15kg backpack. It turns out I'm a bit of a princess when it comes to what I want to eat. I've written about my food challenges before but maximum calories, light weight, balanced nutrients and easy to eat are the key criteria.
I hike with an MSR pocket rocket stove plus the suitable fuel cannister, boiling water in a few mins to rehydrate foods is a good option to prepare meals with minimal equipment. The other options are the no-cook meals which are cold rehydrated or need no rehydration or heating.
Here's my list of top interesting food items that have worked for me so far.
1. John West creations rice and fish pouches.
These come in a variety of flavours and make a really easy and tasty no-cook meal option. Weighing 180g some might argue it's not lightweight enough for what im doing but there is no need to rehydrate which means less water weight needed.
I enjoyed these for lunch as no prep needed. They are really easy to pack as virtually no air and they are suitable for long ambient storage.
Per pack these are only 258kcal so I would need to add some other high calorie items to my meal. I'm thinking cheese, nuts, boiled eggs or something porky.
Also - these are just £2 a bag but will I find something like this in the states?
2. Pork Pies
Again not a player in the lightweight options but a 140g pie gives 486kcal. Has there ever been a better reason to eat a whole pork pie guilt free?
Not sure I'll l find the Great British Pork Pie in the states though.....
3. Chocolate Protein Flapjacks
Full fat please! I found I haven't got bored of these whichever brand or variation. I've eaten allot of TREK bars but im sure they are all similar. 50g bar provides 227kcal which is comparable to a snickers bar but the difference is a protein flapjack has a higher protein content and made from more "natural" ingredients.
4. Cofffee Bags
Individually wrapped coffee bags are perhaps a luxury that I won't compromise on. I am a coffee addict and will take it in whatever form it comes. Boiling water for my coffee bag after my lunch was a perfect little break for me.
I used Lyons Go Joe compostable coffee bags (10 bags weigh 70g) but kept the rubbish anyway as i don't think they degrade quick enough to litter the trail.
This is definitely something I will be posting ahead for my resupply stops next year.
5. Breakfast Oat Mixes
I had some fun making up a variety of bags pre-portioned with a selection of porridge oats, ground almond, coconut flakes, flax seeds, milk powder, brownie cake mix, nuts, chocolate chips and dried fruits.
Easy to eat cold and rehydrated with water or warmed up like porridge.
I'm feeling confident allot of these ingredients will be available in small resupply towns along the trail next year so I'm hopeful this idea is a keeper.
6. Cous Cous Combos
This took me a while to master but cous cous is very light weight when dry.
I added dry flavour sachets like bolognese with dry soya protein and crispy fried shallots in pre portioned bags. Adding cheese, dry cured meats and oils like olive or coconut made it a bit more interesting and increases calories as cous is relatively low in calories (36g dry cous cous 130kcal).
7. Boiled Eggs Boiling a few eggs before you hit the trail and have access to water was an easy option to get normally fragile eggs into a travel ready form. I kept them in their shells for 3 days during October in the UK. I expect they would need to be eaten quicker in warmer climates.
8. Jackfruit and sauce sachet
These are really tasty and ready to eat in a vac packed pouch. 150g only provides 126kcal so arguably this isn't a great option for increased calorie, fat or protein intake but a good option to get some extra micronutrients if pack weight allows. I ate mine cold with ready to eat rice. I'm sure a bit of peanut butter in the mix will help with that calorie problem!
On another note, I'm thinking about the pros and cons of packing dry staples like rice vs ready to eat rice pouches. As an example, for 57g of dried rice I would need to carry 300ml of water to make 180g of cooked rice compared to carrying a 250g pouch of ready to eat flavoured rice. Assuming water sources are widely available the dry rice option wins on the lightweight front but requires time and fuel to cook plus the extras you want to make it a complete meal.
I've got allot more to explore here. The key is planning resupply routes on the trail knowing what foods I need to carry, what might be available locally, how many miles I can walk in a day and what water sources are available. I'm sure I'll look back on this post in a year and have allot more to add.
Feel free to leave ideas and advice in the comments box below.