How to Have Great Food on Multi-Day Hikes

Packing food for a multi-day hike usually means eating a lot of crackers and peanut butter or spending a small fortune on dehydrated MREs. There are some great recipes, however, for backpackers who want a little more variety but don’t want to carry a lot of extra cooking equipment. The ingredients for these meals should be easy to find at your local grocery store. The recipes do not require a lot of extra preparation, but taste a lot like you would make for dinner if you weren’t camping. The key to good backpacking food is to find recipes that can mostly be made ahead of time and require very few steps to complete once you’re actually in camp.

In a plastic storage bag, combine 1 cup batter mix (such as Bisquick), 1 tbsp dry milk, and 1 tbsp sugar. Once you’re in camp, add 2/3 cup of water and 1 tbsp margarine to the bag. Seal the bag and squish repeatedly to get out the lumps. Poke a hole in the corner of the bag and squeeze batter onto a hot pan. Once bubbles form, flip the pancakes. This should make about six pancakes.

Asian-Style Beef and Noodle Casserole
In a plastic storage bag combine 3 tbsp of shredded beef jerky, one package of ramen noodles (discard any flavor packet), one package of instant onion soup (the 11oz size works best), 2 tbsp mixed vegetables, ¼ tsp garlic powder, ¼ tsp ground ginger, and ½ tsp cilantro. In camp, heat two cups of water to near boiling and add it to the bag. Stir until noodles and vegetables are rehydrated. If desired, add soy sauce.

Rocky Road Pudding
At home, combine the contents of one 3oz box of instant chocolate pudding and 2/3 cup of powdered milk in a plastic storage bag. In a second bag combine ¼ cup each of chopped nuts and mini marshmallows. Once you’re in camp, add two cups of cold water to the first bag and mix well. Add the marshmallows and nuts after pudding thickens.

Of course, there are also some great recipes that you can make ahead of time and carry with you. This is an ideal option if you are trying to limit your carry-weight by eliminating cooking equipment altogether. These recipes are a vast improvement on the typical store-bought protein and granola bars; they taste better and are a lot cheaper to make.

Lemon Ginger Granola Mix
In a large bowl mix together two cups of rolled oats, ¼ cup of wheat germ, ½ cup chopped nuts (walnuts are a good choice, but some people prefer pecans), and three tbsp of brown sugar. Add ¼ cup of honey, 1 tbsp of olive or sunflower oil, the zest and juice of one lemon, and 1 tbsp of grated fresh ginger (use dried if necessary). Pour the mixture onto a cookie sheet and bake at 250 F for about 30 minutes. Add raisins if desired.

Latte Bars
In a mixing bowl beat together three eggs, 1 ½ cups of sugar, 2 tsp of vanilla, and ¼ cup of melted butter. Then stir in two cups of flour and ½ tsp of salt. Set aside 1 ½ cups of this batter, then add ¼ cup of instant coffee crystals and ¼ cup milk or heavy cream to the remaining batter. Spread the coffee batter in a greased 13 x 9 pan. Add ½ cup of chocolate chips to the reserved batter and spoon over the coffee batter. Sprinkle 1 cup of pecans over the top of the batter, then bake for 25 minutes at 325 F. When cool, cut into bars and wrap tightly.