In my last post I covered some top considerations in food preparation i.e. weight & volume, calories & nutritional value, storage, and the climate you are visiting.
In this post i’ll look at ready-made dehydrated vs boil in the bag meals, example meals, and some other considerations when planning your camping food. These tips are from my general experience camping as well as a recent trip to Sweden.
What about ready-made dehydrated or boil in the bag meals?
There’s now some great and very healthy choices out there for ready-made dehydrated meals. I love that a lot of these options can come preservative free and have great taste. They’re lightweight, pack loads of calories (which is what we want) and while your food is rehydrating you can be getting on with something else. Once you have filled your meal with hot water to the appropriate level (it will tell you on the back of the packet) stir it really well, especially to the corners of the packet. Sometimes you get pockets of dehydrated food which doesn’t taste so great. At this point I usually add in some extra vegetables like kale or small cut up mange tout or broccoli. You normally leave this for 8 to 10 minutes to rehydrate, then it’ll be ready to eat. The other great thing about these meals is that the bags usually have a double seal (to keep the heat in), so they can double up as your rubbish bags!
The downsides to these are that they can be very expensive if you are buying lots of them. They come in at around £5 to £11 per meal. You also need to ensure that you will have hot water otherwise you’re going to be rather hungry.
Here are some brands that do some decent dehydrated meals:
Boil in the bag
These are well known and used, a meal in a vacuumed bag already cooked and ready to go. They can be eaten cold (but I think they’re nicer hot). They’re easy to heat up, you just put them in boiling water for about 7 to 8 minutes (I move the food around at about the halfway point to make sure it’s hot the whole way through).
They are obviously heavier than the dehydrated meals so if you had a lot of them they would weigh quite a lot.
he classic porridge, as much as I’ve despised this over the years, it recently had a comeback in my book. I pack 1 cup of porridge per breakfast and to make it creamier I add organic coconut milk (very versatile), nuts and nut butter and some homemade granola for some texture. I often add organic vegan protein powder to my porridge to make sure I’m getting as much protein as possible.
If you can eat gluten/porridge isn’t for you items like filled crepes, croissants, breakfast bars are a great (and easy) breakfast. I love having a hot drink in the morning and usually boil a load of water to make up my flask for the day as well. On this trip I had a mixture of porridge in the cabin, one dehydrated breakfast (which was not my favorite) and my homemade granola with extra nuts and seeds which was a great success. Recipe here.
While most people go for a big packed lunch (sandwich/bagel/wrap) that can be difficult if you’re ‘everything’ free. Sometimes, I will make double for dinner the night before, on this trip I used ready-,made dehydrated meals as they were easier for me. I find lentils to be a great solution with a lot of dressing and spices. Oat cakes with nut butter or cheese is also a winner. This trip we were provided lunch on the first day which was potato and sausages. On the trip itself I had a dehydrated goulash with added veggies which was 10/10 for me.
I’ve found it really easy to make one pot curries, I make a spice mix before, take coconut oil with me (you could take olive if you’ve got a nut allergy) and I add my coconut milk powder to make it creamier. I take the dried rice with me and clean it with water before cooking it. Adding dried onions and some fresh veggies to make a one pot wonder. Lentil Dhal is another great dinner, as well as pasta and sauce or couscous. These meals, I’m wanting calories and hydration. I often will eat enough for 2 people (700 to 1100 calories if not more) especially if it’s a cold climate as my body needs the calories overnight. I will often eat again before bed so my bodies get enough calories so I have set myself up to have a warmer and restful night. Hot drinks are also a must.
We love snacks, don’t we? I’m a big fan of snacking. If you’re ever out with me you’ll see that I eat all the time. For this trip I made granola with nut butter, coconut oil, oats, nuts and seeds and spices. I also took lots of nuts and some dried dates and figs for a sweet treat. I found dried mango and dried berries were the winning combination for me. While I was out in Sweden I found some of my snacks and protein bars froze if I didn’t have them next to my body before eating. There’s plenty of healthy and great options in Sweden, they are definitely fans of healthy food.
- Everyone needs to adapt their eating habits for long distance hiking/trips/being in the hills
- Find snacks that work well for you, it’s a bit of trial and error
- Your own trail mix is a great idea, (nuts, seeds, dried fruit and sweets/chocolate)
- Try and eat every hour, even if its a mouthful of a bar
- You need more protein than you think
- Take some morale boosting food with you, I love looking forward to a wispa gold and brew if i’ve had a hard day)
- Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate
- Be bothered – the third time you think you need to do something, go do it.
- Have food, water, and comfy shoes (and dry clothes if you’re expecting to get damp) waiting for you back in the car/wherever you’re returning to.
- Organise your food per day and meal
- Take an extra lighter (and make sure it won’t get wet)
- Review what you ate and what’s leftover, learn from your experience.