View Full Version : Food for First Timer
Wife and I doing a short (3 day / 2 night) backpacking trip on AT in CT. We section hike and are doing our first overnighter... we're going to go with a jetboil since no campfires are allowed in CT... we're looking for food recommendations... we've seen the mountainhouse and the sodium content is scary... thoughts?
Section hikes are overnights. You guys have been dayhikers. If you've got the money but want to keep it simple, Look for MaryJanesFarm organic backpacker meals. You can order 'em online from REI. Otherwise, get a backpacker cookbook from the library or Amazon or poke around the grocery store and look for instant noodles, mashed potatoes, foil-sealed meats, bagels, PB & J, and stuff that won't disintegrate or rot in your pack: hard cheese, dried sausage and fruit.
A great site is www.trailcooking.com (http://www.trailcooking.com). Lots of good stuff.
But if you are going with a Jetboil, you can look at Freezer Bag Cooking. same site: www.trailcooking.com/taxonomy/term/7%2B8 (http://www.trailcooking.com/taxonomy/term/7%2B8)
It is sort of like making your own Mountainhome packages. Just add boiling water. I use FBC for all my trail cooking now.
Or, if you want to buy your food prepackaged, I recomend www.hawkvittles.com/ (http://www.hawkvittles.com/).
Good luck, and have fun!
All great sources.
If you want some extra snacking items that are simple to prepare-
Peanut butter (I prefer crunchy for the extra texture) and honey on tortillas
Snickers bars taste absolutely amazing sometimes (cliff bars are also tasty)
Laughing Cow cheese (individual pieces in wax, keeps VERY well and tastes great!)
My gorp mix: cashews, soy nuts, brazil nuts, almond slivers, walnuts, pistachios, raisins, craisins, and banana chips - Everything is no salt added, some items are honey roasted or just roasted or raw. Soy nuts are especially good for you (complete protein) but can taste bland by themselves. To me this gorp is delicious and I change it often, If you want some chocolate, add some M&Ms!
Instant noodles, mashed taters, foil sealed meats (especially chicken) can taste very bland and be heavy on the sodium side.
Some of the freeze dried meals are pretty heavy on the sodium, but if you stay within your daily limit it's really not so bad (And some taste really good, actually!). It depends on what else you eat throughout the day! Also some meals/brands are heavier on the sodium than others. Generally for pre-packaged it's the trade off for ease of use, cleanup, and weight.
If you have a dehydrator, or willing to invest in one, your options are pretty much limitless. If I could afford the setup (and the time investment), I would definitely go homemade freezer bag cooking.
Be sure to eat regularly in order to keep your metabolism going consistently. A few times I didn't eat properly, and by dinner time, nothing looked appetizing.
2nd MaryJane Farms products, expensive, but much better taste IMO
Try, as much as is practical, to eat a lot of the same foods you normally eat and know you like. If you are not crazy about oatmeal or tuna-in-a-pouch in normal life, there's a good chance they won't be appetizing on the trail either. So I drink protein shakes (mix water with the powder) and eat a lot of nuts, raisins and Cliff bars on the trail and I know I will like them because I consume a lot of this stuff off trail too!
Map man is totally right, although I have been known to only consume some foods ON the trail so I don't get sick of them OFF of the trail. Oh and for Oatmeal I put quick oats in a baggie with brown sugar, cinnamon, and raisins... I don't care who you are, that's a yummy breakfast.
Here's one more place to order up pre-packaged meals for the trail that I've heard is good - I admit I haven't tried them yet.
One of my favorite meals is to take a Stove Top dressing mix and cook as directed (which is essentially just adding boiling water and some butter), then add either a can or a pouch of chicken. (If you don't know, you can take the "squeezable" butter on the trail in a small bottle - it's O.K. for 2-3 days.) I usually cook a package of dehydrated vegetables (peas or carrots) in addition to the chicken & dressing.
Another thing I've done is to take something for the first day's meal (at night) in by freezing it, then when you have hiked in and it's time to cook, it's thawed and ready to go. I take fish or spaghetti sauce like that - it's nice to have a really good meal after hiking all day.
I'm doing my first backpacking trip this week...
whole wheat couscous - (1:1 water ratio) - add boiling water and any sort of add-in like fried fruit, nuts,garlic powder...foil packed chicken isn't too bad in it...
I am generally not a ramen noodle fan, but i take the noodles and make my own seasoning of mixed dried seaweeds, dried mushrooms and any other seasoning you like (i've used Trader Joe's instant miso soup and bonita flakes(fish) - really yummy)...
clarified butter (milk solids removed by heating and straining, similar to brown butter) adds flavor and keeps longer than regular butter - a great add-in as well...
I put nuts in my homemade oatmeal ziploc bags (along with brown sugar, cinnamon and dried fruit as recommended above) - can add a dash of vanilla as well!
Day hikes are section hikes too :)
Keep it simple. You'll have enough of a learning curve with the rest of your hike.
Pasta with olive oil+herbs+balsamic and a foil packet of chicken, pita bread+PB&J.
trail mix with granola+nuts+dried fruit
energy or granola bars, a candy bar or two for a treat
oatmeal+powdered milk+dried fruit for breakfast
fig newtons are a great breakfast, as are honey buns and big texas cinnamon rolls. you can tie a pack of bagels on your pack and have one with PB in the AM.
lunch is all about gorp and snickers for me. occasional cheeses, pepperoni
dinner. i keep it simple. starch+protein: ramen noodles + tuna, uncle bens instant rice + salmon, instant mashed potatoes + spam singles
Sodium isn't such a big deal when you are sweating all day. Those specs on the back are for a 2000 calorie diet. I know when I was doing my thru last year, I was probably burning about 6000 a day, so I basically disregarded nutritional info. I would just buy groceries, much cheaper and probably a lot better for you.
Tomato Lentil Near East Couscous, olive oil, salmon packet, Broccoli (cut into proper size at home). Add Broc, oil & seasoning packet to the water before you boil it, add couscous and salmon once the water hits a boil, leave on stove for 15 seconds more, turn off stove, cover, wait 5 min, eat.
it takes 10 days for my hunger to kick in so i take very little on small jaunts. just take things you really like.