After my post on my favorite food on the trail, it only made sense to write about how I prepare my food on the trail. I have experimented a lot. With different trail food brands, with cold soaking, with different setups, with different orders, but the best way to prepare food on your hike – according to me, is detailed below.
Over my last hikes, I developed my routine in preparing my food. Some things to know before reading on:
- I usually hike by myself. I love hiking. I love hiking solo.
- I love multi-day hikes. This food preparation post
- I like warm meals. During my Laugavegur trail hike, I discovered I was not so much into breakfast meals, so I switched into full warm meals for every meal of the day.
- So, no cold soaking (for now). I have also tried cold soaking (just adding cold water and having it soak for a while), but to fix my ‘hiker hunger’ I noticed I just need a warm meal. Cold soak saves quite some time (you do not have to warm water) and weight (no gas canister, pans, etc needed), but for me, personally, the comfort outweighs the hassle.
- I love efficiency. I try to limit complexity as much as possible. The more thinking you need to do, the more can go wrong.
Preparing the different meals of the day
Whatever happens, I try to rest in areas that are wind and rain free, even if that takes me another few kilometers.
- Breakfast (read more on my morning routine while hiking in a separate post)
Most of the time, I will be making breakfast outside of my tent or someone near my tent, hidden from the elements.
I usually cook (read more on my gear in a separate post) a bit more than twice the amount of water I would normally need – I will use the water to prepare my first warm Adventure Food meal of the day (I just pick whatever meal catches my eye and feels good). The leftover water, I will store in my thermos bottle, to use later. As I use my pot only to warm my water, I do not have any urgent cleaning to do. I do clean my pot when I have ample warm water (e.g. a larger camp).
Additionally, I take one vitamin pill.
I accustomed myself to eat and drink while hiking. I ration my snacks, bars, gels, etcetera for the day and have them close by so I can always access them in between my meals. I try to roughly estimate how tough the different parts of the day will be to not eat too much in the morning. Over the years, I noticed I tend to like my Bifi sausages and power gels towards the end of the day and my bars with seeds and my trail nuts earlier in the day.
Usually, I will have enough leftover warm water in my thermos bottle from the morning to prepare my lunch, another warm Adventure Food meal. This allows me to eat lunch rather quick and gives me all the options – either to have a very quick lunch or focus on getting some rest.
- Dinner (read more on my evening routine while hiking in a separate post)
After setting up my tent, I cook the water needed to prepare one more Adventure Food meal and one extra portion of vegetables. After, I will take my dessert (or, if I’m a real rebel, I sometimes even eat it before my water is warmed up – but please don’t tell my mom).
Additionally, I take one vitamin pill.
Plans to optimize my food preparation.
Although I’m pretty happy with the set-up above, I am always looking for ways to improve.
I still want to get into cold soaking more (but probably not during my cold Arctic Circle Trail hike – see my food plan for the ACT), I am looking for optimization in nutrients (mix of meals, specific vitamins/supplements) and maybe for a more versatile cooking system as I am currently reliant on gas canisters (more details in my post on my cooking gear).
On top of that, as detailed also in my post on my favorite food, I am looking to start moving to larger packs of pasta, couscous, rice, sauce, etcetera (to save on money, waste (each Adventure Food meal is packed separately) and weight). I am really aiming for this during next year’s Arctic Circle Trail hike but didn’t want to change my ‘winning’ and field tested meal set up just before a challenge like my solo Jordan Trail hike.
So, what are your food preparation favorites?