View Full Version : food on the trail seeking advice!

01-12-2006, 00:35
Hey folks,

seeking thoughts on food for an AT thru hike that is 1) lightweight, and entails minimal prep and fills one up. Even at home..my cooking is never more than a 3-4 step process.. add to boiling water or follow brief directions on box. I know it is all about calories..but if I had a 1000 calories of chips or of ramen noodles.. that isnt gonna keep the engine stoked is it? I mean no nutrition there.

My thoughts at this point are oatmeal and/or pop tarts for breakfast, lipton noodle sauce mixes perhaps with tuna or cheese tossed in for dinners and lunches might be snicker bars, bagals w/pb and J or cheese. or cheese perhaps fresh fruits if straight out of town. When I was on the LT in Vermont I made a point of having Vermont Chedd cheese (yummy!)... but in the south that option won't work cause..well it's not exactly Vermont is it? Of course I will be sure to have plenty of Hot chocolate a long..perhaps occassional apple cider. I am not a coffee drinker.

I will do my "dining" in towns.. just want to simply eat on the trail as my cooking skills are limited anyway. I am not inclined to dehyrate a lot of stuff.

so any ideas for food i may bring that are not listed here? things to add or modify?

also if I go into a store and buy some peanut butter and jam say... I don't want the whole jar...what do folks to in these cases? sounds very heavy unless one splits it up into several containers..

What are your stand bys for on trail food?


01-12-2006, 01:45
i like a peanut butter burrito for lunch. add what ever else you can find like: rasins, dates, jelly, nuts and such. the cheese/slim jim burrito ain't bad either.

01-12-2006, 09:16
I was going to ask a similar question this morning, so I will just glom on to yours. I am a noob and I am asking a question, not answering one.

Here is my idea of packing for 5 days (the first day or two before these 5 days should be fresh food):

Breakfast: oatmeal, raisin and sunflower seed gorp
Lunch: tortillias or crackers with squeeze cheese or peanut butter
Snacks: Breakfast, Lunch foods and chocolate bars
Supper: make bean rice and jerky burritos, option to make a peanut butter sauce with rice

Pack list:
5 cups instant brown rice
5 x 1/3 cup black bean soup
spices, dried garlic, onions, bell peppers, etc.
olive oil
4 packages tortillias
1/2lb jerky

small jar peanut butter
5 x 2oz cheese - squeeze packages or baby bell one serving
3 or 4 tubes of ritz crackers

5 cups - oats, raisins, sunflower seed mixture

chocolate bars

Does this sound survivable?

01-12-2006, 09:42
Does nobody take dried milk anymore? And what about the semi-sorta-new 'foil' packages of tuna?

01-12-2006, 10:08
SPAM singles are a good cheap way to keep some meat in the diet. Not the greatest tasting but its all good when your hungry.

01-12-2006, 10:13
While on the Trail: http://www.whiteblaze.net/forum/showthread.php?t=8039&highlight=salmon

01-12-2006, 10:24
Here is what we ate on our thru-hike. We were big eaters and always hungry - this worked for us:

First - Don't worry about the weight of peanut butter; it's worth its weight in gold. One of our buddies carried a family size jar...

Breakfast: Poptart w/ energy bar covered in peanut butter.
Mid morning snack: snickers, granola bars, dried fruit

Lunch: (Option 1) Pepperoni, cheese, soft tortilla w/ hot sauce (Option 2) Peanut butter and Jelly w/ more snacks

Mid day snack: same as mid morning

Supper: (Option 1) Lipton side w/ tuna, cheese, hot sauce, herbal blends, pepperoni, olive oil (Optoion 2) Ramen w/ above ingredients or whatever else you can get your hands on to spice it up.

Hope this helps... Good luck!

Spirit Walker
01-12-2006, 10:24
Oatmeal gets old really fast. We usually just buy dry cereal - the denser the better (Quakers 100% Natural, Raisin Bran, granola, etc.) with dried milk.

Morning snack is usually a granola bar, occasionally a pop tart, dried fruit or gorp.

Lunch is usually cheese or peanut butter - occasionally sausage or spam or tuna and cookies.

Mid afternoon snack is chocolate of some kind, gorp or dried fruit.

Dinner is tomato soup, a Lipton type dinner, crackers, cookies and maybe a hot drink if it's cold outside.

01-12-2006, 14:06
One thing I like to do do to keep the fat and calorie levels up is to buy cans of dinty moore stew and freeze them, so that when I leave town and hike they slowly thaw, being ready to eat that evening. Helps you squeeze in an extra big meal, which will only help you down the trail. I also carry glucose tablets and never leave town without a nice bag of fresh fruit. It weighs a little in the pack, but it's gone by the end of the day and gives you a boost like you wouldn't believe. Instant mashed potatoes are great for dinner, too. You can get them in 2 serv. bags, which you will scarf entirely with ease at the end of a long day.

01-12-2006, 14:11
I don't think that there is neccesarily a need to choke down pounds of gorp and poptarts, but I like to keep a bbag of dry fruits, nuts, and bars to supplement. Just be creative, you'd be suprised and how good you can keep youself fed if you put a little thought into it, and your body will thank you.

01-12-2006, 14:16
my cooking is a matter of boiling water and having oatmeal for breakfast and rice or couscous or pasta for dinner,i also enjoy cocoa and herbal teas its as simple as boiling water adding what you want to water,stiring it letting it set a few minutes then consuming it:cool: neo

01-13-2006, 09:58
All good suggestions above.

When it comes to food choices, look for the calorie per ounce ratio. Look for foods that have at least 100 calories per ounce.

Breakfasts: Oatmeal, dry cereal, breakfast bars, etc.

Lunches: pita bread or bagels, with peanut butter, meat spreads, cheeses, etc.

Dinners: pasta and rices, such as mac & cheese or Liptons. Always one pot. Heat 2 cups of water to a boil and add something.

Snacks: Snickars bars, gorps, dried fruit, nuts, etc.

01-13-2006, 10:13
Dave, Your food plan is about what mine was during my thru. Peanut butter is great. You can buy the small jars that are plastic. I don't think I would go with the jelley. It can get quite messy.
I started out using instant oatmeal for breakfast. When the weather got warmer,I switched to dry cereal and powdered milk. Bagles are good and keep for quite a long time. The same with hard cheese. I think I at about 200 Snickers bars during my 201 days on the trail.
Just eat well in town, get your salids and fruit and you will be just fine.:sun

01-13-2006, 10:41
Consider adding this as a dinner option: Stove Top stuffing mix (chicken) and a foild bag of chicken chunks. Thicken it with some garlic or 4 cheeze potatoes.


01-13-2006, 12:47
Don't forget a jar (or three) of Nutella!

01-13-2006, 23:38
hmm...i just lovvve nutella..so chocolaty!!

But isnt 2-3 jars worth rather heavy? i mean how much of the stuff can one really eat in a couple days?

yeah I absolutely love nutella.

Is there a risk of bringing more food than one can eat? carry three jars of nutella? a whole jar of peanut butter? a full bag of bagels? But I in most cases will be at another re-supply point in 4-5 days.

so what do I do with all the extra food?


01-14-2006, 00:03
my goals in the wilds are to eat as closely to my city diet as possible.anything your bringing out there cannot be somthing you never eat simply because it is packaged and made and proportioned perfecttly for the wilderness.we need foods witch are perfect for us and gettable out there.the solution lies in dropping some food issue predjudises we all carry like weights .drop the notion that any food from the refridgerated section of a store will self destrct apon contact with a hot steamy pack.also throw out the notion that fradgile items like bread cant be enjoyed even if shreaded and walked on. eggs,keep and can be kept,cheese only gets better,...a bucket of fried chicken can and will make the journey to that nights camp.and a shout out to my raw,vegen,macrobiotic....and carnivorous only dieted folk......all diets are possible and no habits other than cold beer and pizza delivered need be parted with.the first time your sipping salty soup mix when a hiker pulls in and unpacks a head of cabbage and proceeds to make cole slaw in a giant bowl,...youll look into your food bage with a healthy disdane i hope.matthewski speaks.

01-14-2006, 11:21
Does nobody take dried milk anymore? And what about the semi-sorta-new 'foil' packages of tuna?
I always bring plenty of dried milk as the lightest weight source of protein. I stick with canned tuna. at least until the price of the foil packages decrease. I prefer a few extra ounces to the foil price premium.

01-14-2006, 13:21
breakfast-oatmeal, granola bar, or (rarely) a poptart.

lunch-cheesy or peanut-butter crackers, cup-a-soup (spring/sum/fall) or hot cocoa (winter), dried fruit, and some sort of meat (homemade beef or venison jerky, pepperoni, summer suasage, or landjaeger). occassionally, i'll bring a tin of smoked oysters as a treat. bagels are a nice break from crackers, and not as messy.

dinner-ramen or lipton noodles with some sort of meat added (canned/packaged chicken or beef, or jerky.) sometimes i'll bring dried veggies too, like corn or carrots, to add.

snacks-GORP, dried fruit, landjaeger/jerky, PB and crackers.

i tend to eat in a way that loses the distinction between snacks and lunch, more like four meals a day... all depends on the mood and the hunger.

landjaeger are the perfect trail food, but expensive and difficult to find outside the northeast... essentially, a summer sausage about the size of a hot dog, flattened out, and then smoked twice. needs no refrigeration, keeps for weeks if not months (though they will dry out and become jerky-like over that time).

i add dehydrated milk to my lipton mixes before going out, but would keep it handy on a through hike (my longest trip so far is 10 days, with 2 resupplies). lipton is so much better with the milk.

i don't think anyone's mentioned it yet, but olive oll is also good to bring... high in calories, and added to liptons/ramen for dinner, in place of butter, it's great. needs no refrigeration either. a little heavy, but still worth it.

i don't normally bring chocolate bars. they make a mess. M&Ms are a great substitute. my daughter sometimes insists on S'mores though, so for overnights in winter, when it's cooler here in LA, i'll do it.

breads-bagels rock. they're already smushed, so your pack can't hurt them. english muffins are too crumbly for me, but will last awhile. white/wheat bread is ok, but i don't like how it mashes down.

cream cheese and jellies- you can get the pre-packaged stuff though restaurant supply places, in bulk.

cheese-harder cheeses, like cheddar, will last a good while, withough refrigeration, in most parts of the country. in the south, in the summer, no. but up north, they'll be fine. it's considered 'gross' in modern society, but you can cut the moldy spots off a cheese and eat it just fine... it's been eaten like that for hundreds of years, and was why it was made in the first place...

one more thing... were i to venture out for more than 5 days, i'd take vitamins along.

01-14-2006, 19:38
Well, I was kidding about actually putting three jars in your pack. But one can never have enough Nutella... (as long as you don't have to carry it on your back).


01-14-2006, 20:51
Last summer on the LT I found that I almost never wanted to "cook" breakfast. I had planned for instant oatmeal, cream of wheat, or grits (go ahead and laugh) every morning. I noticed that I almost never wanted to take the time. I am not one who races out of the shelter at 5:30 everyday, I just didn't want the extra chore before getting started. For my next hike I am going to carry Balance bars (probably the trail mix and chocolate mint gold crunch) and Zone bars. Zone bars are supposed to be low carb, but they are really not. they are balanced with 40% carbs, 30 % protein, and 30% fat. http://www.zoneperfect.com/. This is exactly the ratio for Balance bars, which Andy Skurka ate for breakfast for almost a year.

Lunch for me is peanut butter and honey in a tortilla wrap. Skippy Peanut Butter makes a cool product in a tube like toothpaste. http://www.peanutbutter.com/squeezeproducts.asp. It comes in a 9 oz. tube. depending on how hungry I was, one of those lasted me about 3-4 days. The honey, though a bit heavy, comes in all kinds of "squeezer" sizes and saved me more than once with a burst of natural sugar energy to carry me through an afternoon.

Dinner is always prepared in a "bag" using antigravity gear's pouch cozy. http://www.antigravitygear.com/store/product_info.php?cPath=3_13&products_id=72. Start with a Lipton side;(http://www.liptonfavorites.com/products_landing.asp?nav=10) (the rice prepares better than the pasta) add in foil pouch tuna, chicken, or shrimp; wait about ten minutes after adding the boiling water. It's a great meal. I may try some Enertia foods on my next trip though. http://www.trailfoods.com/. They are very light and work essentially the same way. all of the spices are already mixed in. I believe they will even ship to mail drop points along the trail.

01-14-2006, 21:09
a great alternative to lipton noodles is Fantastic foods dehydrated instant refried beans available at most big grocery stores with cheese and salsa (keep the plastic PB jar to empty the salsa into before heading out of town) on chips (tie them on top of your pack, the air in the bag protects them.) They also make instant humus to put on pita bread or crackers for gourmet delight, add oil or butter for calories and get more protien than noodles provide.:)

01-14-2006, 21:15
Take a look at Sarah's creations using freezer bag technology adding boiling water. Got her cookbook and am impressed with the ease of cokking good meals...without the cleanup mess. http://www.freezerbagcooking.com/index.htm