Quick Tip #16

For us outdoorsmen and outdoorswomen colder weather brings more gear to be carried and extra challenges that we gladly face. One thing that is made easier with the colder weather is food preservation. With colder temperatures you can now carry raw meat (properly packaged), cooked meat as well as other foods you would not normally carry during the warmer months. So have fun with the colder weather and carry a nice steak out into the middle of nowhere, with a beautiful view, and cook that steak and fully enjoy some of the benefits of the colder temperatures this time of year. What foods do you take out during the colder months that you wouldn’t normally carry when it’s warmer?

Trail Foods: Snacks

If you are doing any amount of hiking you are going to want and need snacks in between your meals. Depending on the amount and difficulty of your hiking you could be burning a ton of calories and if you don’t replenish with some energy food you will become exhausted and weak. You also don’t want to be overeating or eating things that sit heavy in your stomach because that will also make you feel tired and sluggish. You need to know your body and what types of snacks work best for you. Every hiking, camping or backpacking trip will be different. If you’re just staying around camp you won’t need to eat as much as somebody who is hiking 15-30 miles per day. This is where preparing ahead of time comes in very handy instead of just throwing some food in your bag an hour before you leave.

Here is just a small sample list of some things I use for snacks out on the trail. I rarely just take a big bag of raisins and peanuts or homemade trail mix. If I do take some I make sure to separate it out into portion sizes for each day. This way I don’t end up eating way too much, which is an easy tendency. For me trail mix tends to sit way to heavy in my stomach and makes me feel sluggish. I tend to prefer homemade jerky because of the sustained energy from the protein and it doesn’t make me feel sluggish. If I take trail mix, it is mixed together by me. I don’t buy the premixed kind. I use good quality mixed nuts, a mix of dehydrated fruit and seeds.

Sample List of Snacks

  • Venison Jerky (Homemade)
  • Beef Jerky
  • Granola Bars (Homemade)
  • Homemade Trail Mix
  • Apples (keep at the top of your bag)
  • Fiber Now Bars (Aldis Brand, Cheaper than Fiber Now and better quality ingredients)
  • Cliff Bars or any good quality sports bars ( don’t buy glorified candy bars labeled as protein bars)
  • Cliff Bar Shot Bloks (these are great for quick energy)
  • Homemade Graham Crackers
  • Protein Shake Powder (mixed with water when ready to drink)
  •  Fruit Leather

This is just a sample list of some of the things I use for snacks just to give you a few ideas. I eat the higher calorie snacks for my mid morning snacks since I will be needing the higher calories throughout the day and the lower calorie snacks in the afternoon since my day will be winding down shortly. This works best for me. You’ll need to test and see what snacks and order of use will work best for you. Again this is why preparing ahead of time will help immensely. Keep a journal well you’re out on the trail and write down what works and doesn’t work until you get everything fine tuned. What kinds of snacks do you use when hiking, backpacking or camping? Don’t just enjoy the trip (hiking, backpacking, hunting, boating or camping), try to also enjoy the preparations and anticipation of your upcoming trip.

Trail Food: Dinners

These are just a few of the meal options I use for dinners when I’m backpacking. These meals are very versatile and can be adjusted to your tastes and needs. I adjust my serving portions based on whether I am going to be exerting a lot of energy hiking or if I am going to be staying around camp and spending more time fishing. Generally you are going to want to be taking in more calories if you are hiking all day long.

Meal 1: Hearty

1-2 servings of Instant Potatoes (You will need to add powdered milk as well)

½-1 cup of Dehydrated Vegetables

Dehydrated Meat or Tuna Fish Pouch

Butter Packet (optional)

Just add to hot water when you’re ready eat

*Write how much water you are going to need for the meal, on the baggy when you package it

Meal 2: Soup

1-2 cups of Dehydrated Vegetables

Chunks of Dehydrated Meat or TVP for Vegetarians

Any seasonings or spices you would like

Add to plenty of water to make it more of a soup consistency

* You can also add chunks of potato to make it more like a stew (carry a fresh potato) or Rice

*If I have any dinner rolls left I like to eat one with my soup

Meal 3: Sweet and Sour Chicken and Rice

1-2 servings of instant rice, cous cous or some sort of grain (I prefer Brown Rice)

Some Dehydrated Chicken or TVP

½-1 cup Dehydrated Vegetables

1-2 Sauce Packets (sweet and sour, soy sauce etc.)

Add to hot water when ready to eat

These are just some basic recipes to give you a basis with which to start making your own trail dinners. Think of these recipes as a launching point. You can adjust them and vary the recipes in many ways. You can add different meats, vegetables and spices or sauces to make for many different meals. You can also add arrowroot (healthier than corn starch) to your soup to make it thicker for more of a stew consistency. Test these recipes out and have fun adjusting them to your tastes. All my meals are interchangeable, meaning that sometimes I might use a breakfast meal for lunch or dinner or I might use a lunch for breakfast or dinner etc. Have fun with your meals and make them flavorful. You don’t have to eat bland boring food just because you are not in a kitchen. What kind of homemade trail meals do you use? Have you ever put together you own meals for backpacking/camping? I suggest testing any homemade recipes out ahead of time. It’s easier to make any adjustments that need to be made, at home, than it is on the trail. If you work out all of the bugs ahead of time, you’ll end up with easy, healthy, tasty, homemade trail meals that you made yourself.

Trail Recipes: Breakfast

These are the two main breakfast recipes I use when backpacking. My go to breakfast of choice is a mix of granola, powdered milk and dehydrated fruit. I place enough powdered milk to make 12 oz of milk, into a Ziploc bag. Then I add 1 ½ cups of granola on top of the powdered milk. Lastly I add in 1/4 -1/2 cup of any type of dehydrated or dried fruit that I like. Blueberries, mango and pineapple are some of my favorites. Just add cold water (dependant on the amount of powdered milk you use) and your good to go. Here is the granola recipe my wife uses:

6    c rolled oats

1/2 c maple syrup

1/2 c honey

1/3 c oil (coconut is good)

4    Tbsp butter, melted

1    Tbsp vanilla extract

8    oz nuts, chopped

1    c pumpkin OR sunflower seeds

1/2 c wheat germ

1/2 c flax OR sesame seeds

Cinnamon, to taste

Mix oats, nuts, wheat germ, seeds, and cinnamon in a large bowl. Combine wet ingredients (if using coconut oil, be sure to melt it with the butter) in a small bowl and mix thoroughly. Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and stir until everything is coated. Divide evenly between two cookie sheets. Bake at 250 degrees Fahrenheit for 1 hour, stirring every 15 minutes. Rotate cookie sheets half-way through baking.

Add dried fruit as desired.

*NOTE: My wife often substitutes molasses for the maple syrup, almond extract for the vanilla, or add nutmeg, cloves, or ginger to the cinnamon. This is a very flexible recipe!

My second mainly used breakfast recipe is basically a homemade oatmeal recipe. If I want some powdered milk in it I place it in the Ziploc bag first, usually enough for an 8 oz serving. Then I add two servings worth of old fashioned oats into the baggy. Lastly I add in any dehydrated or dried fruit and any nuts or seeds that I might like. I find that raisins, golden raisins and crasins to be the best. I like to add walnuts and flaxseeds as well. I like to place the fruits and nuts on a piece of saran wrap and wrap them up and then place them in the baggy. That way I can cook the oatmeal and then add the fruit and nut mix in after all the cooking is done. This makes a great breakfast for chilly mornings. I just place the oatmeal and powdered milk in 2 cups of water and cook until done. When cooking is done let it cool a bit and then just add the fruit and nut mix and enjoy. You can add things like cinnamon and sugar or other seasonings as well. I just like to keep it simple. These are just a couple easy homemade recipes I use when backpacking. I hope you find them useful and feel free to change them according to your taste.

Here is a quick tip for when you are sealing your Ziploc bag. When you have all the contents in the baggy zip it closed except the last ¼ inch. Insert a straw and suck the air out of the baggy carefully without sucking any of the ingredients out (this is why you want the powdered milk on the bottom of the baggy). Now pull the straw out well zipping the last bit of the baggy closed. This will make it much easier for packing later. Let me know if you found these recipes helpful and let me know how you may have changed them up for your own taste. What do you do for breakfast when out on the trail?

Cheap Healthy Trail Meals

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?