Have you even opened your backpacking food bag and lost your appetite at the prospect of eating the same boring meal again? Do yourself a favor and increase the variety of food you bring on backpacking trips. Develop a menu that keeps you interested in eating, so you can refuel with the calories you need.
Here are some tips I can recommend for keeping your food interesting:
Don’t Repeat Dinners
Dinner is usually the biggest meal of the day for a backpacker and quite possibly the only one that you sit down and kick back for. Do yourself a favor and don’t eat the same meal more than once every three weeks. If have a favorite Mountain House meal, I guarantee you’ll grow to hate it if you have to eat it once a week for 20 weeks on a thru-hike. Twice in two weeks is bad enough!
Bring Dinners You’ve Never Eaten Before
A backpacking trip is an adventure. Shouldn’t your dinners be too? Bring foods you’ve never tried before on your trips. You’d be surprised at how a little novelty can enhance your dining experience. Having a hard time thinking up novel meals? Volumes of backpacking recipes have been written that you can get recipes from. I recommend you get Recipes for Adventure and Freezer Bag Cooking, which are two of the best backpacking cookbooks written by backpackers for backpackers.
Hearty Soups and Sauces
You can eat simply but still have a lot of variety. For example, I carry packs of ramen noodles and instant rice and simply mix them into hearty soups or add rich sauces to create a wide variety of meals. It’s the reason I like Outdoor Herbivore’s prepackaged soups and sauce meals so much but you can make your own or mix up ingredients in camp. These also cook and clean up very easily which is an added bonus.
There’s no denying that instant oatmeal, hot wheat cereal, or granola make a fast and easy breakfast. But you can add an infinite variety of mix-ins to add calories and make them taste different every day. Try packing up 21 days of different combinations of nuts and dried fruits that you can mix into morning cereal and give it some interesting “mouth-feel.” Almonds, cashews, raisins, cranberries, dried apples….it’s quite easy to mix and package these breakfast helpers in snack bags.
Lunch and Snacks
Variety is the name of the game with lunch and snacks to0. Nuts, dried fruit, protein and snack bars, sausage, cookies, jerky, and candy. It’s pretty easy to assemble a wide variety of options without any repeats (even if you resupply in towns).
- Mars Chocolate Singles Variety Pack (Snickers, Twix, Milky Way, 3 Musketeers)
- Planter’s Nuts Variety Pack (Salted Peanuts, Honey Roasted Peanuts, Salted Cashews)
- Kind Bars (Dark Chocolate Nuts, Dark Chocolate Cinnamon Pecan, and Maple Glazed Pecan)
- Nature Valley Granola Bars (Oats ‘N Dark Chocolate, Peanut Butter, and Oats ‘N Honey bars)
- Probar Variety Pack (Original Blend, Almond Crunch, Berry Blast and Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip)
The easiest way to find these is to go to Trader Joes and stock up on the wide variety of food they have. Amazon also has a very wide selection and you can save by buying variety packs in bulk.
How do you keep your backpacking food varied and interesting?
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