After a brutal day of hiking, dinner is the light of the end of the tunnel. You’ll think about it all day, to eat it in less than 10 minutes. Still, there’s no reason your dining on the trail should be anything delicious. Here is what I recommend.
Walk into any outdoor gear store and you’ll find an entire aisle of dehydrated meals, offering everything from pad thai to apple pie. These options are delicious, but you’ll have to take out a loan if you want to eat them every night. Consider buying one or two, so you can have a special dinner at the end of a particularly long day. If you’re plant-based, Backpacker’s Pantry is likely to be your go-to brand. I can personally guarantee his pad thai, chana masala and three sisters stew. But there are a ton of other options that are just as delicious and cheaper.
Your Safeway Haul backpack
Safeway offers great plant-based meal options for a fraction of the cost of major outdoor food brands. Safeway’s Instant Couscous is my favorite backpacking dinner. It’s cheap, quick to prepare, and easy on the stomach. The pine nut and olive oil flavors are both vegan and the Parmesan flavor is vegetarian. They come in cardboard boxes, but you can easily repackage them in bags. In the hinterland, pour approximately ⅓ cup of boiled water for a cup of dry couscous, cover for five minutes, then enjoy. It is not much easier than that!
You can also find macaroni and cheese (vegan and vegetarian) at Safeway. Repack it out of the box and in plastic bags to fit in your box. Keep in mind that you need to save fuel when boiling pasta. I recommend pouring the pasta into your pot, bringing the pot to a boil, quickly turning off the gas once it boils, then letting the pasta sit for about 15-20 minutes in hot water. ICooking will take a little longer than usual, but it is necessary to save fuel. Once the pasta is cooked, transfer it to your cup and add the cheese powder. Most mac and cheese recipes call for milk, but obviously that won’t be an option on the trail. Instead, buy sachets of coconut oil (available from Safeway and Trader Joe’s) and use them in place of milk. It also works well – I promise!
Safeway also sells instant stuffing year round. It’s easy to do, but I recommend buying the vegetarian flavor. Remember that you can also have ramen noodles for dinner. However, ramen tends to be less filling than other options, so be careful or you could go to bed hungry.
Finally, invest in sachets of coconut or olive oil. These will add much needed calories and flavor to your dinner.
My favorite taco recipe
Tacos are one of my favorite backcountry dishes. They are simple, filled in and allow a lot of customization. First of all, you will need tortillas. Remember, the more preservatives the better. For dehydrated beans, I recommend refried beans from the Santa Fe bean company. To cook the beans, mix the boiled water and beans in a 1 to 1 ratio. Finally, you will need spices and beans. ‘seasonings. You can bring taco seasoning powder and mix it right into the beans, or wrap sachets of hot sauce from your local Taco Bell. You can also buy dehydrated cheese for your tacos.
You didn’t think I was going to forget dessert, right? You should try to have dessert every day after dinner, as long as you can save space and weight in your bear box. The internet is full of elaborate dessert recipes, but I try to be realistic. The best dessert does not require any baking or preparation. In fact, you just need to wrap some of your favorite candy from your local convenience store. Beware of sweets that could easily melt, and avoid dark chocolate if you are sensitive to caffeine. Other than that, just bring some candy that you enjoy. Plus, consider packing an herbal tea for a soothing night’s sleep before slipping into your sleeping bag. It’s comforting, keeps you hydrated, and will help you develop a great bedtime routine.
Hiking is good for the soul and so is good food. Good road!
Contact Sarah Siegel at ss[email protected].