Food. We choose the food we eat outdoors based on many factors. Time to prep, time to cook, clean up time, nutritional value, availability, taste, carry weight, and cost are among those factors. Here are those factors broken down and why you should be thinking about them.
Prep Time: This is the time it takes to prep at home. Is it quick and easy to put together? Can you make it ahead and keep it aside in a “Prepared Meals” bin? There are lots of items you can have on hand to keep ready to go so if that friend calls at 11pm wanting to hit a trailhead at 6am the next morning for an overnight, food doesn’t have to be the reason to say no.
Time to Cook: Not everything has to be cooked one way. Nothing satisfies quite like having biscuits and sausage gravy 3 days out, but it takes a little bit of time to make biscuits that aren’t burnt on the bottom and doughy in the middle. There are times when cranking out a long day means shorter stops and no time to fire up the stove. Knowing how long each meal takes helps you plan to keep your agenda and still eat well.
Clean Up Time: No doubt about it, freezer bag cooking (FBC) is quick on the clean up and if you are in a dry camp, this may also help with water usage. However, back to the biscuits and gravy, there is satisfaction to be found in a tasty meal that may require more work afterwards.
Nutritional Value: This is a huge one. You need to fuel your activity. The same breakfast, lunch, and dinner at home isn’t going to be enough if you are backpacking for 5 days at 15 miles a day over mountains and thru valleys. You will need to factor in calories, protein, carbs, fats, and vitamins. I am not any sort of expert. I know you need all of those in abundance and in a variety that keeps you from not enjoying yourself because your body is rebelling on you.
Availability: This is where we hope to help. There are plenty of items available at the average grocery store you can use and add to your pantry to keep on hand, however, not all of us live in a city that items are easy to get ahold of. With that in mind, our goal at Valhalla Outdoors is to provide a store that allows you to order food items you see here. We aren’t there yet, but making good food that is light in weight, easy to prep, and tastes good available to you seems like a great goal to have.
Taste: Dreaming of burgers and pizza on that 2nd day out? What if you were instead looking eagerly towards what you had plan for dinner in camp? Truly, this can be! Life outdoors doesn’t mean you need to live on peanut butter, tortillas, and protein bars. Start eating what you enjoy! There may be a few compromises, but it can be done. Once you do, that pizza afterwards will taste amazing, but you will find you will focus more on the here and now while you are outdoors.
Carry Weight: There are activities and times when this will factor in more than others. Going on an overnight hike with low miles? Go ahead and take an apple or avocado and a bag of cookies. Take fresh veggies. Haul in a couple of eggs. Going to be gone a month or two? No resupply for a week out? You better start weighing what you have and factoring in how you are going to get it to all fit, let alone carrying it day in to day out. It isn’t unreasonable to plan on eating heavier items first. I often carry in a sandwich for the first lunch break, but after that, I have measured and weighed like the post master I should have been.
Costs: Can you afford to buy all your food pre-made taking in consideration all of the above? There are companies, and more popping up all the time, that offer more variety and taste good, but it will cost you. By keeping an eye on sales, creating a backpacker pantry that you can pull from, and by making your own meals, you can keep costs down considerably. You just have to plan…