While on a recent backpacking trip in the gorge, as we waited for our water to boil to prepare dinner, my friend said: “Dinner is the best part of backpacking!” After a long day of hiking, little compares to a warm, filling meal. But do you have to settle for the conventional dehydrated brands with their frightening ingredients and lack of flavor? NO! The aisles of LifeSource are full of great ideas for your next hike, whether you’re heading out for a day or a week.
Calories count! An unfortunate result of our dysfunctional relationship with food in the U.S. is that we’ve been trained to fear calories. We forget that calories are simply a unit of energy, which we need a lot of while hiking! One consideration while packing is how high in (healthy) calories a food is relative to its weight.
For breakfast, oatmeal is lightweight and provides great morning fuel. But it sure can get monotonous! Mix single servings of your own instant oatmeal before your trip. Try cinnamon, chia and hempseeds, and dried berries one day, banana chips and coconut flakes the next, or chocolate chips and peanuts—the possibilities are endless, especially when shopping our bulk section. Mix any of our wonderful granolas with powdered milk—dairy, soy and coconut are available in bulk, and then just add water. The Just Tomatoes brand of freeze dried fruits are very light and are great with breakfast. Try Mount Hagen instant organic coffee.
Lunch? Tortillas rule! They are a durable vehicle for whatever ingredients you choose—I enjoy almond butter and dried fruit. Quesadillas make great lunches and you can just rehydrate some refried beans from the bulk department to put on them. Cheese and crackers are another easy, satisfying lunch. Sesmark sesame thins, Doctor Kracker varieties, and gluten free Crunchmaster are crackers that won’t turn into a pile of crumbs along the trail. Dry cheeses are the best choice. If you’re headed out for a day hike, you’ve got a world of lunch options. A hummus and veggie wrap tastes best at the top of the mountain, as does an organic turkey sandwich.
One of my favorite no-fuss dinners is quinoa with a package of Tasty Bite poured on top. These Indian food packets just need to be heated, and we stock a great variety, from Punjab Eggplant to Jaipur Vegetables. The whole line is vegetarian, and there are vegan, gluten free and kosher options. Because Tasty Bites contain liquid they are not the lightest choice. Quinoa is a winning backcountry grain because it is high in protein and takes less time to cook than rice. Dehydrated soups from the bulk section also make tasty nutritious dinners. We have split pea and curried lentil, along with dehydrated refried beans. Add Just Veggies brand freeze dried spicy veggies to any of these for a kick.
There are plentiful options for snacks. If you haven’t visited our chocolate section lately, I recommend it! We’ve got lots of chocolate bars, as well as Justin’s and Equal Exchange candy bars and peanut butter cups.
Our new Epic bars come in three varieties, grass fed beef, grass fed buffalo, and all natural turkey. Tanka buffalo bars also make great snacks. Primal bars provide vegan protein and energy. We also have an extensive selection of energy and fruit/nut bars. ProBars are filling enough to be a meal or a snack. Kit’s Organic, Skout, and Larabar are some of my favorites. Of course we have many mixed nuts and trail mixes to choose from in bulk, including my favorite: cashew curry trail mix.
Cheese and salami make great snacks or meals. We have more than a dozen dry salamis to choose from. Choose a harder, low moisture cheese. They can last a long time without refrigeration, while soft cheese only has a few days. Parmesan, aged gouda, pecorino romano or sardo, and manchego are great trail cheeses.
The recipe below is a bit luxurious (read: heavy) but worth it! It’s great for kayak and canoe camping where carrying extra weight is a breeze. I made it for my parents in the backcountry, and my dad is still talking about it!
So pack your gear, plan your menu, kiss your MREs goodbye and hit LifeSource for the best trail food!
- 2-3 servings of your favorite whole grain pasta
- 1 small tub pesto (you could also use a dry pesto mix and rehydrate it)
- 1 can tuna (I’m a big fan of the Wild Planet)
- grated parmesan to taste
- pinenuts and sundried tomatoes from bulk dept
- Boil water, add pasta, cook according to directions on package, drain.
- Add pesto, tuna, tomatoes, pinenuts, and cheese.