Just because you are out in the wilds doesnít mean to say you have to give up certain creature comforts that you may be used to at home and that certainly includes food! In fact a hearty days tramping usually justifies the consuming of certain items that may be considered unhealthy in other circumstances Ė chocolate bars are an excellent example! However the down side is weight, for a short two-day hike taking in the usual food items is justifiable, however for longer or harder tramps, the creature comfort of food has to be weighed up against the convenience of other types of food such as de-hydrated meals.
The following suggestions are merely what I have eaten over the years, I have seen others consume everything from a full three course meal to surviving on fruit and muesli bars. Your choice of food is always a balance between your personal preferences and the weight of the items in question.
Porridge is probably the easiest hot breakfast to prepare, soak some oats in water overnight and heat in the morning, quick, tasty and light-weight. Toasted crumpets are quite good too, but the actual act of toasting can be difficult depending on your cooking implements. Cereal is OK too, but I tend to only like fresh milk.
Usually taken half way through a days tramping, this can be quite a difficult meal to prepare. Do you really want to waste time setting up your cooking gear if you are in a hurry to get to the hut? If I have the time, two minute noodles are an excellent choice, hot, full of carbs and quick to prepare. Combine these with a packet of tuna and you have a quite a nice lunch. If you opt for sandwiches, Iíve found pita bread quite handy, just add some sliced meat and may be cheese and youíve got a tasty lunchtime sandwich.
Time generally isnít an issue for dinner preparations so this is where you can really go to town. As I mentioned before Iíve seen people manufacture an awesome three course meal in the confines of a hut. Thereís also a great book called Gourmet Tramping, which has some excellent suggestions for not only great hut dining but tracks too! If cooking isnít really your bag, then you canít go wrong with the Back Country range of de-hydrated meals. Simply boil up some water, add to the packet, let it stand for 10 minutes and there you have your dinner. These meals are certainly packed with all you need for the next dayís exertions but I do find the odd one has too much flavouring added and can be over-powering, but if Iím off on a long tramp these are definitely my light-weight dining option. Another favourite option of mine is a simply packet of pasta sauce, fresh meat, some veggies and pasta or rice. This is definitely not a lightweight option but you can make the meal more to your taste e.g. adding chilli powder for a bit of a kick.
Always have at least a litre bottle of water with you, which should be re-filled at every opportunity. Otherwise again itís a case of weight Ė tea and coffee are light-weight options but if you fancy a drop of something stronger, best to decant it into a plastic bottle first. I realise the thought of pouring your favourite chardonnay from an old dented plastic water bottle doesnít sound too appealing but the extra weight of the glass bottle is a real burden! Fizzy drinks are usually OK as they come in plastic bottles which can be used as extra water bottles once emptied. There are also some isotonic powders out there which when mixed with water give you all the bits and pieces you need to replace in your body throughout a hard dayís tramping.
Have plenty of these as eating often is very important. Dried fruit is a favourite of mine, or of course the renown scroggin. Hands up all those of us who have picked out the chocolate bits! Dried meat is another good option along with chocolate. I also take a lot of fruit bars, packed full of sugar.
Cup-a-soups are also very handy, light-weight and hot. I like to have one when I get to a hut, just to fend off those hunger pangs for dinner a while longer.
Whatever you take, the principle is always the same, the lighter the better, but donít sacrifice weight for comfort by taking food you wonít enjoy eating. At the end of a long hard dayís tramping there is nothing better than sitting down by a roaring log burner with your favourite meal and a drop of your favourite tipple.