There is something special about topping off a hard day frolicking in the mountains with a great feed at the end of it. Everyone has their own favourites when it comes to bush cuisine and some are more nutritionally advantageous than others. It is important to balance taste with getting all the things your body needs while exercising for long periods of time. With that said, you also want a reward that entices your tired legs those last few km's to the hut through pouring rain or driving winds. Another consideration should be how long you are away for and how much weight you are willing to carry overnight or for days on end. If you don't already, take some time to get rid of all the excess packaging on your food before you leave. It cuts down on space in your pack and you don't have to worry about carting rubbish back out with you. Lastly, we always take more food than we think we will actually need. A few extra packets of noodles or cheese and crackers make a big difference if you are prevented from getting back to civilisation by the time you planned. The following is a sample of some of our menus from previous tramps but I would love to hear your ideas as I'm always looking to improve our digestive options.
Oats Singles in either the plain or sugary variety make for a nice warm start to the day. Just mix in some hot water and milk powder to taste.
Mandarins are near on indestructible when stuffed into the tiny pockets of air in your pack but make for a delicious morning snack.
If porridge isn't your thing then take a packet of bacon, a couple of avocados and a loaf of bread to whip up some bacon and avocado sammies. I butter the bread at home then put it back in the bag for the trip since the margarine container would take up half my pack.
Scroggin or 'trail mix' if you are American is a must have. You can hit up the bins at your local supermarket or mix your own concoction of nuts, dried fruit and chocolate. I tend to buy from the bulk bins and add in extra chocolate and dried apricots because, as a Maths teacher, I appreciate the right ratios.
Bumper Bars from Cookie Time are pretty amazing but any muesli bar hits the spot when you need a fast and easy snack.
Chocolate and lollies always make the trip with us but they tend to come out late at night or at dark moments when morale is fading and the weather is miserable.
Crackers with cheese, avocado and salami definitely hit the spot and are easy to put together with a pocket knife and a pot lid.
Noodles are a must on freezing days and adding a packet of soup mix (Chicken is our favourite) makes for a hearty meal if you don't mind stopping to boil the water.
Bagels with smoked chicken, avocado or similar are another easy to prepare and energy filled meal on the go.
Freeze dried meals are light and easy to prepare but beware they can play havoc with your digestive system after a couple of nights. We tend to stick with one night of these per trip and the Back Country range have some really tasty options.
Pasta with smoked chicken, a few veges and a sachet sauce or pesto is not difficult to make and feeds many. Again I pre-cut all the vegetables into tiny, easy to cook pieces and seal them in zip-lock bags before we leave home. The Maggi Apricot Chicken sauce is pretty good but we have tried plenty of decent alternatives in the past.
Potato mash makes for a delicious accompaniment to any dinner and also comes in a handy, just add water, pouch of goodness. Maggi Cheesy Mash is our favourite.
Curry and rice has been some of our best and worst meals depending on where we purchased the curries from.
Cheesecake of the pre-mix, out of a box variety only requires milk (milk powder) and margarine to put together. Chill in a cooking pot or pan at the edge of a river or stream until set. You're welcome!
Another classic tramping treat is popcorn. Bring a small bottle of oil to put in the bottom of a pot and heat over your gas burner. Then add your popcorn and gently shake the pot while heating until the kernels start to pop (in theory they should all pop at once though it does take practice and patience to manage to not burn it). There is an art to doing this in the bush, but once mastered you will be a legend amongst your mates! - Cheers to Muzza for the inspiration on this one.