Refueling your body is one of the most important things you can do while hiking. Consuming enough food and drink offers a much needed energy boost and helps you guard against injury or illness while on the trail. What you eat or drink is as important as quenching your hunger and thirst.
Poor nutrition can undo many of the positive benefits your body receives from hiking. You need to consume more than energy bars and jerky if you are staying in the wilderness for more than a day. It will do your body a world of good.
You also need the proper stoves and cooking utensils to help you prepare your warm meals.
What sort of food should you pack along for the journey? Consider these five meals as a good starting point for building your personal hiking menu:
College students are not the only people who can survive on ramen noodles. These inexpensive noodles also provide a cheap and easy meal for hikers. A single package of ramen noodles takes up little space in your backpack and it can be prepared using only water.
Pour two cups of water to a small pot and heat it on a camp stove. Add the block of ramen noodles when the water comes to a boil. Cook for 3-4 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent the noodles from sticking. You can mix the flavor packet into the water and have it as a soup or drain the water and eat the noodles. The flavor packet adds a lot of sodium, so you can create your own blend of seasoning to mix with the noodles or combine them with a small amount of fully cooked meat like tuna or summer sausage for a heartier meal.
Tuna is always a good option for a quick-fix meal. It comes in easy-to-pack small pouches and does not need to be refrigerated. The best part about tuna is that it is a low calorie food and is an excellent source of protein. You can still eat healthy while doing a healthy activity when you choose to dine on a little tuna fish.
If you want to do something more than eat plain tuna, spread it across a tortilla and roll it up to create a wrap. Tortillas are easy to pack and a wrap offers a nice lunch that you don’t need to cook. You can also pack string cheese, small pouches or mayonnaise or anything else you think would enhance the flavor of the tuna wrap. If you prefer a pita over a tortilla, pita pockets are another nice option. You can fill these with tuna to make a tasty sandwich.
Nothing beats a good breakfast if you’re planning to camp overnight during your hiking trip. Oats are a good source of fiber. You can pack plastic storage bags filled with measured servings of rolled oats. Just add water to the oats in a small pot and cook over your camp stove. It doesn’t take long to fix and offers a much better alternative to a pastry or granola bar.
If you want to avoid sugar, a tasty option for adding flavor to your oatmeal is honey. Dried fruits or nuts are also great options for adding flavor to oatmeal. Fruits add a sweet flavor and pack a nutritional punch. They are loaded with essential vitamins and nutrients that naturally boost your energy level. Nuts are an excellent source of protein, which helps muscles recover and cells regenerate after your hike is finished.
If you want to enjoy a nice hearty meal at the end of the day, chili is always a good option. The good news is you don’t have to worry about hauling cans in your backpack either. Many companies now manufacture chili pouches. You can simply empty the chili into a pot, heat it up on your camping stove and enjoy.
Many varieties of chili are high in fat and sodium. The best bets for a healthy version of the dish are turkey or vegetarian chili. Both types of chili are typically lower in fat and sodium than either beef or chicken chili and they taste just as good. A chili pouch is also a good option for sprucing up other food. You can combine it with low-fat turkey hot dogs and buns for an excellent chili dog.
Instant Mashed Potatoes
The best thing about instant mashed potatoes is they are lightweight to carry. These dried flakes are stored in pouches that take up little room in a backpack. Instant mashed potatoes also come in a ton of different flavors. You have tasty choices ranging from sour cream to cheesy to garlic.
Cooking is optional with instant mashed potatoes. You simply need to add water to rehydrate them. Still, heating them up on a camping stove provides a better flavor. Mashed potatoes are not designed to be eaten alone. They always work better as a side dish. You can serve up some instant potatoes with pouched meat like SPAM or tuna to create more of a complete meal.
Snacks & Hydration
Beyond items for meals, be sure to include an array of healthy snacks on your hike. Choose things that are high in proteins or carbs but lower in fat and sodium. Good snacks include foods like dried fruit, nuts or granola. You can combine these snack items into a delicious and healthy trail mix for convenience in packing.
Planning what you will drink is as important as your meal plans. Too little water can lead to muscle cramps and dehydration. Bottled water infused with electrolytes is a good option since sports drinks often contain too much sugar. If you want to add a little extra flavor instead of drinking just water the entire day, blending in a pouch of sugar free drink mix like Crystal Light will do the trick. If you need something warm for when temperatures drop, bring along hot chocolate, cocoa or cider pouches. Just add water to the mix and heat on your stove.