Like most hikers/backpackers I’ve tried using expensive freeze dried food (Mountain House is the best I’ve ever tasted) or cheap prepackaged foods like ramen noodles or some form of pasta and cheese dish. Neither of these are a very healthy option so I decided to make my own prepackaged meals without all the preservatives and without tons of sodium. If you have a vacuum sealer you can seal each of your meals individually. I usually just put my meals together a few days in advance so I don’t have to bother vacuum sealing each of them. I just place each individual meal in a sandwich size Ziploc bag and then place all the meals in a larger size Ziploc bag. If it’s a longer trip you will have to use a couple larger Ziploc bags. I place all my meals in order so that my next meal is at the top of the larger bag. I also place my prepackaged snacks in with the meals as well. Everything is in order so that I won’t have to unload the larger bag every time I want to eat. I like everything to be in order and this makes it a much quicker process at meal time.
For breakfast I generally fill a small Ziploc bag with homemade granola, fruit that I dehydrated and some powdered milk. That’s it! Just add cold water when you’re ready to eat. It tastes great and you know what’s actually in what you’re eating as well as saving a ton of money making your own dried food. If it’s colder I like to make up a bag with oatmeal and some of my dehydrated fruit. Sometimes I will add a little powdered milk as well. By making your own bag of oatmeal instead of using the prepackaged bags you’ll save a ton of money, be able to give yourself a bigger portion size and be able to add whatever you want, like fruits and nuts.
For lunches and dinners I’ll make either some form of pasta dish, rice dish or soup with rice or pasta in it. That way I’m getting some carbs for energy. I place all the dry ingredients as well as any spices in the bag and seal it up. This way when it comes time to eat all I have to do is add water and heat it up. For meat I either add dehydrated chicken, venison or a pouch of tuna fish. Tuna fish is the one thing I do buy prepackaged. It is easy to carry and they have a lot of flavors available now. I like to have some form of protein at every meal for sustained energy. You can also take homemade bread products that were just made fresh. You would be surprised how long they will last on the trail, if you don’t eat them first. I like to take homemade tortilla shells. They are awesome! Just add a package of peanut butter and a package of honey or jelly and you’ve got a sandwich.
Obviously nuts and raisins make a great snack but I also like to take homemade granola bars and homemade graham crackers. Once you have homemade graham crackers you’ll never want another prepackaged one again. I also make my own jerky, which is great for snacking on well on the trail and easy to carry as well.
I hope this gets you thinking about having more control over what you’re eating on the trail as well as enjoying what you’re eating. You can actually enjoy your food, well saving money and being imaginative with what you’re eating. What things do you like to eat on the trail?