How to Plan Backcountry Meals
I am 2 weekends into 3 weekends of backpacking and have been geeking out about meal plans. To be honest, I always geek out about food and nutrition (no surprise). Eating in the backcountry shouldn’t really be different than how we eat at home. Our balance of macros (fat, protein, and carbs) and sources should be similar. The problem is, many of us don’t know how to balance macros at home and this carries over to the backcountry.
Below I’ll outline the mistakes I see people making and 3 hacks to help boost your meal plans.
The 3 biggest mistakes I see with backcountry meals.
1. Too much Processed Carbohydrates:
People love to gravitate towards processed carb-heavy snacks and meals when in the backcountry. The problem is that all the processed and refined carbohydrates (bread, sugars, etc) are low nutrient density and can lead to energy spikes and crashes. Make an effort to switch refined carbs for whole carbs (fruit and vegetables).
2. Not enough Protein:
People need more protein for long endurance activities than for strength or bodybuilding. Hiking around in the mountains with a heavy pack is all three! So people’s protein needs are higher. Make a concerted effort to add more protein to your meals, especially if you eat vegetarian or vegan.
3. Hardly any Fat:
Fat is our best source of long-burning energy, and yet it’s nearly absent from dehydrated backcountry meals and low in many snacks. Adding quality fat sources to your snacks and meals can give you sustained energy with a fraction of the weight. It’s a game-changer, especially for anyone doing long through hikes.
Here are my 3 major hacks to add Nutrients & Calories:
- Dehydrated or fresh cut veggies. Between Vons and Trader Joes you can find dehydrated: Mushrooms, seaweed, onion, broccoli, carrots, green beans, and more. I dehydrate my own organic spinach but I love to save time and buy when I can.
- Small Packets of coconut oil. I get these from Trader Joes. Butter is also great if you can tolerate dairy.
- Powdered Bone Broths. You can enhance the flavor profile to any meal and get a higher dose of vitamins and minerals.
Below you can see my meals in action: