when choosing food for camping trips, you're really balancing between 3 main elements:
- fat: longest lasting energy source, works as a slow burn. use this to give you long lasting energy that will last all day, but be careful of eating too much as it takes a long time to digest and get into your system
- protein: hardest to digest, but will give you long lasting energy. this is the main fuel source getting you through those tough hikes
- sugar/carbs: short pick me ups, and your major source of energy < 4-8 hours. carbs immediately convert to glucose, so don't rely on this to get through long strenuous activity, i'm sure you're aware of what happens when you hit a sugar crash or “hitting the wall”
putting it together: eat protein/fat heavy foods at night after you've made camp. while hiking, eat proteins when you're taking longer breaks where you can at least start digesting a little bit. finally, when you're feeling exhausted or need a lot of energy before a hard part of the hike, eat candy and carbs to pick you up and get you back on track
with those principles, you can pick good camping foods. these are heat tolerant, don't require refrigeration, and are dehydrated since water is dense and can generally be acquired on site (assuming you're not camping in the desert, when bringing extra water in the form of food might be beneficial). be careful about salt content, a lot of preserved or packaged foods use salt in one way or another which can easily add up and dehydrate you without you realizing it.
most canned foods aren't as preferable since they are generally canned in water or oil and generate trash that you will have to hike out. if you don't pack it out, keep in mind that you're far away from civilization and i will find you. lots of canned foods are coming in packages now, which pack down small, don't require an extra tool to open, and can be burned in a fire if they don't contain a foil liner, but are super light to carry out anyways.
some good investments include a dehydrator to make your own beef jerky, dehydrated fruit snacks, and even heavier rehydratable meals like spaghetti. mountain house (and to a lesser extent mres, sometimes you can get them pretty cheap tho) is my nemesis, they're overpriced and mostly aimed at more inexperienced 1-2 day hikers who don't want to plan ahead of time. just keep in mind that you're paying for the convenience. it's possible to buy your own freeze dryer, but you'll have to eat hella meals since i haven't seen them below 3-4k. things like knoll sides or cheaper boxed mac n cheese and stuff will be your friend here to get low fuss, filling meals without the high price tag
finally, don't forget to bring some spices, they really make a difference! just be sure to hang your bear bag a little higher since they can be pungent. i've also seen some people buy small plastic containers to keep cooking oil, which can help with cooking if you're running into burning issues
this will be updated as things go on, so please send me cool recipes you find!
long term meal elements
- summer sausage: due to their size, they work better as protein to be added to a meal to fill it out. they're basically just huge slim jims, but once you open the package be sure to use it all in a couple hours or so
- knorr sides: these quick sides can easily make a base for a camping meal, or as an extra side for variety. these are super cheap (like $2-3 dollars each), tasty, and light, which make them a perfect staple for frequent backpackers.
- mac and cheese, boxed pastas: basically bigger knorr sides lol
- ramen, instant soup mixes: a great base for a meal, beloved by college students and backpackers alike
- instant mashed potatoes: super great for thickening any sort of pasta or soup if you accidentally add extra water. also make cleanup a breeze with silicone utensils
- dehydrated vegetables, sun-dried tomatoes: harder to find, you've probably found these in ramen packs, but can be added to almost any meal and weigh nothing
- instant rice, instant couscous: provides a great filling base for a meal, can be paired with a ton of stuff
- tuna packages, chicken packages: fantastic, cheap source of protein. i like the chicken packages the most, they're starting to be easier to find in stores
larger combos of fat, protein and carbs to refuel you after a long day. these are intentionally just smaller meals that don't require refridgerated items, but keep in mind that freezing a steak or other meat in a small cooler bag/lunchbox and then simply cooking it once it thaws at the end of a day is always still an option!
- dehydrated backpacking lasagna: lots of carbs, super tasty and not difficult to make!
- dehydrated spaghetti: simply make spaghetti like usual, cut it up into smaller pieces with a knife and spread in a thin layer on parchment paper. break into pieces, and rehydrate with boiling water. add protein to fill
- beans & rice frito pie: massive carb bomb and super tasty, great after a long day of hiking. check this out!
- ramen bomb: similar, ramen filled with meat, and instant potatoes for a super well rounded meal
- nachos: super yummy
- cheesy mashed potatoes: instant potatoes, cheddar cheese and bacon bits is a sure classic
snacks high in long term energy, fat and protein. eat these in breaks between hikes throughout the day
- peanut butter packs: easy to open, high in protein, and convenient to pack. this seems to be one of the better brands in terms of not adding a bunch of bs. top pita chips or tortillas for a more well-rounded snack
- slim jims, beef jerky, hard sausages (pepperoni, etc): great high protein snacks, just don't eat too much or it'll be hard on your stomach and ur butthole
- tuna salad packages: can be eaten with crackers or pita chips for a great snack. add relish and mayo packs from fast food or buy those premade tuna salad snacks that come with everything
- nuts, trail mix: nuts are great for protein but can make bowel movements a bit tough. trail mix is a fantastic way to get protein and carbs in a convenient all-in-one snack!
pick me ups and quick energy
- oreos: my favorite :D
- candy, skittles, m&ms
- bread, croissants
- crackers, cheese/vanilla cracker sandwiches
- cookies, brownies
- raisins, dried fruits: homemade with a dehydrator or store bought is great :D
- granola bars, cliff bars: or just granola
- little debbie snacks: a little unhealthy, but they yummy >:D
- instant oatmeal, grits: works better in the morning
don't skip these, they're definitely worth their weight in gold
- tea: loose leaf for the real stuff
- instant coffee
- powdered / dry milk: easy to thicken or add fullness to a lot of dishes compared to just plain water. doesn't work as well to just make milk, tastes off to me
- spices: yes i know i said this already just bring em
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