Food comes down what you are willing to pack and carry all day, weekend, or week. From freezing a steak to have thawed and ready the first night to freeze-dried meals, there are a lot of choices available. Some backpackers buy the raw ingredients to make their own version of dehydrated meals. Others don’t want to spend the time and rather purchase freeze-dried meals for the extra cost. Others are all about the flavor and don’t care about the weight. Whatever the choice, you just need to experiment. The key is getting the most calories per ounce, good taste, and yet keeping the weight of the food down.
Every Day Food (Almost)
If you just want a simple list with common foods you can find at a local grocery story, this paragraph is for you. A gentlemen by the name of Eric at Eric the Black’s Backpacking Blog came up with a great 5 day meal plan if you are not wanting to go freeze-dried or “make your own” food (i.e. dehydrating meals, spices, etc.). He breaks down what to bring, how much calories is in each meal/snack, and when you eat them. It all weighs about 10 lbs. and you ingest 2 lbs. of food each day. Worth looking into if you have an ultralight backpacking set up and want to splurge on the food. For those conscious about organics, you’ll need to substitute a lot of what is listed out with an organic version.
Not interested in Eric’s way? No problem. Simply plan out what you are going to eat each day and go to the grocery story. I once went on an over night trip where we splurged for sure. We packed in steaks, lamb, chocolate, potatoes, cheese, bread, and a bottle of wine. Dinner and breakfast was awesome. It was an overnight trip so “suffering” for a few hours was worth the delicious dinner and breakfast. We were also only 3 miles from the truck.
Make Your Own
I have never made my own food other than a trail mix. I cannot vouch for how dehydrating food works and tastes. There are a lot of people out there that do this to save money and make sure they know what is exactly in their food. If you would like to try this route, head on over to Backpacking Chef website. Lot of great recipes and techniques to dehydrate your own backpacking food.
Buying Freeze Dried
Freeze dried meals is what I typically go for. They are light weight, time-saving, but costs are a little higher than the previous food method above. I tried Backpacker’s Pantry and Mountain House freeze-dried meals. All tasted quite delicious and super convenient. I had them for my dinner meals because they require boiling water. Once the water is boiling you put it in the bag of freeze-dried food. Next stir and let the bag sit sealed for about 10 minutes. Your food will ready to eat. Pretty simple, but they do tend to cost more than making your own food. However, the time you save may be more valuable to you. I really enjoyed these for a few years.
The first few trips I enjoyed freeze-dried meals, but was tired of high salt and ingredients I didn’t know how to pronounce correctly. I wanted something similar and was leaning towards making my own dehydrated meals. This is where I stumbled on Mary Jane’s Outpost in a Backpacker magazine. All her freeze-dried backpacking food is organic. Just like the other two companies, you add boiling water, stir, and let sit. The added bonus is you can burn the bag in the fire and it won’t leave fragments behind or be unsafe for the environment. It sounded to good to be true, so I decided to order some for a weekend trip. Wow was I amazed! The meals were so delicious that when I arrived home I redid my week-long trip food plan. The cost was about the same or cheaper, in some cases, then Backpacker’s Pantry and Mountain House. Give the Bare Burrito a try!