Al fresco dining

22/02/2012

When walking or hiking for a day, packing some energy bars and fruit will satisfy your hunger along your walk. When planning a longer term backpacking, hiking and camping trip, planning your meals and what food to take can be quite daunting.

Packing lots of fresh eatables can weigh your pack down and leave you with less room for your equipment. You can still however have filling and nutritious meals when out under the open sky with some forward planning.

One of the best ways to carry fresh items is buying freeze dried versions such as fruit and vegetables which are easy to find in your local supermarket, or you can buy freeze dried meals at specialist expedition retailers which are quite a bit more expensive. However if you are an avid hiker and backpacker, this can cause a dent in your pocket, and many regular backpackers dehydrate their own food and prepare their meals beforehand to be easily rehydrated at the campsite with water. There are many websites and even backpacking cooking books, where campers share their tips and recipes for having tasty meals when out in the woods.

You can buy a dehydrator if you think it’s something that you’d use regularly, or you can use a domestic oven to dry out food. Removing the water from food makes it lightweight and reduces volume also effectively lightening your pack. Just remember to have enough water with you to rehydrate the food at the campsite. Experiment with different foods to find something that works well to your taste. Many backpackers agree that adding spices to your cooked food before dehydrating, and carrying a small tub of herbs and spices with you really will add to the flavour of your previously dehydrated meals.

A compact stove is a great investment outside of camping as well, in the case of home emergencies such as power cuts. Remember to always have enough gas in your cylinder to cook your food at the campsite. You can cook all your meals in one pan, and a frying pan with a foldaway handle will also help save space in your pack.

The key thing is to have enough water to rehydrate yourself as well as your meals, so carry a hydration pack for your meals, and a water canteen for yourself. Make sure you also have durable crockery as well as cutlery with you, and there’s no reason why you can’t eat well while under the stars.