My family and I have been taking day hikes and even week-long backpacking trips for many years, and of course we also camp every chance we get. Being outdoors is such an immense sense of relief and peace from the hustle of our regular lives that we’ve come to prefer backpacking trips to much more popular destination vacations like Florida and the Caribbean. For my family the time we’re able to spend together is simply not found in any other type of vacation. If your family hasn’t camped together before, or if it’s been a long time since you ha, now’s the perfect time to rediscover the wonder of nature.
Any time we’ll be spending time outdoors one of the things we have to think about is camp food and whether we’re going to cook over a fire or defer to freeze-dried meals. Ultimately, we always choose to go simple and light with freeze-dried meals. You can certainly prepare meals cheaper when cooking them from your own ingredients and over a fire or grill, but there’s the hassle of preparing the meal, as well as cooking and cleaning, all of which take time away from the point of the trip… spending time outdoors being active.
Freeze dried meals are for the most part very tasty and reasonably priced considering the savings in space and cook time that they afford. Having tried all the major brands and some of the not so major brands, our family’s consensus is that Mountain House has the best tasting meals. There are some really close seconds though so if you’re new to freeze-dried meals then try them all out. Even the egg breakfasts taste surprisingly good once you’ve hydrated them with hot water. On a recent outing we purposely took a freeze-dried meal from all the major brands to compare in the field, which is where we ma up our minds that we preferred Mountain House.
Since all of our meals are either freeze-dried or otherwise prepared and ready to eat (more on that in a minute) we don’t even have to take a traditional camp stove. Instead we rely solely on our Jet Boil PCS cooking system, which boils water in a blistering 2 minutes or less and sips fuel like an old lady at tea time. While backpacking it’s even more of a star since every single piece of it fits snugly into the cooking container (including the gas canister!), and weighs in at a measly 14 ounces. That’s right, a powerhouse that boils water for food and drink in less than 2 minutes that weighs so little. I love it.
As for other camp food ideas, we start our trip out with some flat bread (pita or the like) and then the individual packages of tuna, spam, peanut butter, etc… Doing this gives us a nice change of pace from the freeze-dried meals (we typically have the flat bread for lunch and a hot freeze-dried meal for breakfast and dinner; but I love freeze-dried meals anyway and could eat them at home and not be upset. Granola bars or some other type of power bar provide the much-needed energy boost mid hike (or mid day). Below is a link to an article about using a camping checklist, and in that article there’s a great power bar recipe which is simple and allows you to make incredibly wholesome and tasty bars at home, which are great to pack and take on your trip. If you work out you’ll LOVE the taste and nutrition of the bars and the fact that you made them at home and know what’s in them.
One of the last tips I’ll give you about camp food (or food for hiking and backpacking) is to prepare your own oatmeal at home, before you go. Simple use double zipper freezer baggies (they won’t break open) and add your instant oatmeal, powdered milk, nuts, brown sugar, cinnamon, dried fruits or whatever you like in your oatmeal, and then when you’re in the field just boil some water up, pour it into the zippered baggy and let is sit a few minutes and then enjoy a hot and tasty breakfast outdoors. The freezer baggies handle the heat well and I eat right out of the bag and pack my trash out; no fuss and no muss. Enjoying a good meal while outside doesn’t have to be a chore and it doesn’t have to taste like cardboard. Planning ahead will ensure that your next outing is a great one.
Camping, hiking and backpacking are an increasingly popular pastime. With that comes the responsibility to know all you can in order to remain safe and protect our resources. Here are a couple of great articles you should read. Have fun and be safe.