When I first got into backpacking, I asked a salesman at the local REI what backpackers ate. He pointed to the huge display case of freeze-dried backpacking meals, and said “if we can afford it, we eat these, but most of us make our own.” At the time, six or seven dollars per meal didn’t seem like much, and making my own meals seemed crazy. Here’s the story about how I changed my mind and started making my own home made backpacking meals.
Why I make Homemade Backpacking Meals
A few months ago, I took a course on eating clean and really started fixing up my diet. I cut out all the manufactured junk and started preparing all of my own meals. As a result, I lost 40 pounds, started sleeping better, and had more energy than ever before.
On the trail, I continued to eat unhealthy packaged meals and energy bars, telling myself that I was burning off so much energy that it didn’t matter. Usually by the end of the weekend, I would feel the effects of this mistake in many unpleasant ways.
The fact is, if what I eat has such a huge impact on my performance, doesn’t it make sense that I must eat clean when performance matters most? For me, that meant really cleaning up my trail food. I’ve done exactly that, and the benefits are noticeable. I now have more energy throughout my hike, I sleep through the night, and bathroom breaks are much more pleasant.
Examples of Homemade Backpacking Meals:
- 1 Cup of plain oatmeal
- 1 Cup dried bananas
- 1/2 Cup dried Blueberries
- 1/4 Teaspoon brown sugar
- 1/4 Teaspoon cinnamon
- 1 packet of honey
- 1 packet of almond butter
- dry mango
- dry bananas
- dry pineapple
- dark chocolate covered espresso beans (just a few!)
- 1/2 Cup of quinoa
- 1/2 Cup of sun-dried tomatoes
- 1 Cup of dry kale
- 1/4 Cup of diced hard salami
- 1/2 cube of chicken bullion
- Spice as desired with cumin, curry, celery flakes, and cayenne pepper
I make the breakfast and dinner meals in Cook-in-Bags from PackitGourmet. These bags stand up to boiling, but don’t contain heat as well as the mylar lined bags that comercial freeze-dried meals come in. I now carrya small padded packing envelope to insulate my food while it is rehydrating.
For snacking throughout the day, I carry apples and oranges. Bananas will keep as well, if stored in an outside, breathable mesh pouch on your backpack. I also carry along dried hard salami for extra protein, and to share with others in camp.
What do you like to eat while hiking or backpacking?