Food rarely tastes as good as it does when you are active outside for many hours. And you burn a lot of calories when your are trekking. You therefore need to refill your reserves with both proper meals and quicker snacks, such as nuts and dried fruit. If you want to trek with as light a pack as possible, you should buy freeze-dried meals. These days there is a large selection to choose from and they are quite tasty. But if you are interested in cooking, it is possible to make extremely good food on your own. Here are some things to think about when you are planning food for your trek:
Think in grams
If you are going to be out for a few days or more, a significant portion of your pack - both in terms of weight and volume - will consist of food. This is why it is important to choose ingredients that will give you lots of energy while at the same time weighing as little as possible. Therefore, canned goods, which contain a relatively large amount of liquid that is immediately poured off, are not such a good idea.
Most of the energy from the freeze-dried meals comes from mashed potatoes, rice, pasta, etc. These form a good base for your own cooking, in addition to a long list of delicious grains and produce that add variation – couscous, polenta, quinoa, noodles and more.
Think in minutes
When choosing which base ingredient to use in your recipes, look at the cooking time. Rice that needs to cook for 20 minutes burns a lot of fuel - which adds to the weight of your pack and takes up space. It is better to go with instant rice, which only needs to cook for a few minutes. The cooking time for different types of pasta can also vary significantly.
Think in degrees
When trekking, particularly in the summertime, it is not possible to keep food cold. Most of the food we are used to eating at home – meat, cream, cheese, butter – go bad quickly. For this same reason, it is not such a good idea to prepare meals at home to warm up several days later.
But that does not mean that cooking in the outdoors has to be boring - there are many interesting ingredients in the store if you look closely: dried mushrooms, sun-dried tomatoes and other vegetables and spices, just to name a few. Cheese-in-a-tube can last several days unchilled and, in addition to making a great crispbread sandwich, it is a tasty topping on spaghetti. Smoked or air-dried meat – bacon, parma ham, hot dogs – keep well, but should not lie in direct sunlight or in a hot tent. The same applies to hard cheeses like pecorino and parmesan.
Prepared foods such as powdered soups and pasta are the perfect base for your own recipes – just add a fistful of noodles or cous cous and turn your soup into a hearty lunch. Another tip is to dry the ingredients yourself, which is really simple to do. Simply search the Internet for “drying food” and you will find a large number of links that can help you get started.
Think it through at home
In order to simplify cooking in the outdoors, it is advisable to start the preparations at home. Think about the menu, meal by meal, and prepare small bags with all of the ingredients you will need. Weigh and place the proper amount of dry ingredients into a bag and place it in a larger bag together with the other ingredients. If you need a recipe to remember what to do, put a small cheat sheet in the same bag. Last, but not least, mark the bag so you know which meal it is. Leave all unnecessary packaging at home.
Spices and extras that you use often – salt, pepper, sugar, spices and cooking oil – are packed in their own small bag or container. Spices and oil in glass jars/bottles should be transferred to lighter, more sturdy containers made from plastic.
Think about nature
It is not possible to avoid the fact that you will be carrying a great deal of packaging into nature with you. Make sure that you bring it all back to civilisation – there are rubbish bins at major trail junctions, mountain stations and cabins. Staniol paper, plastic and the burned skeletal remains of one-time grills do not break down in nature, but remain on the ground as unattractive litter. Only leave behind natural remains that quickly decompose, such as leftover vegetables or uneaten porridge, and preferably bury them so they are not visible. “Pack it in, Pack it out” is a good motto.