This was taken along the Selkantay Trek in Peru.
The affiliate links I’ve added are meant for future hikers who want to know what I’m using and where to get them. If you are family or friend please just ignore the links (unless you want to try something new).
Several people have asked food questions like “How do you carry all your food?” Or “How much food do you have to carry?” And “How do you keep your food safe?” The easiest way to answer these questions is to just explain how and what we are planning on eating while on trail and then how to prepare for it. We will be eating all vegan meals.
Breakfast will mostly be oatmeal, cream of wheat, possibly chia puddings and every once in a while fresh baked goods from towns along the way. We pack out proportioned breakfast in medium sized freezer bags (https://amzn.to/3vC30eF) and then just boil water on our mini stoves (https://amzn.to/3tT2mZq and the pot https://amzn.to/3SdEWq7 ) and pour the hot water right into the bags. I carry a little food cozy (that doubles as my kitchen bag) and we place the bags into the food cozy for up to ten minutes and wait while our food gets rehydrated or in the case of oatmeal cooked in the hot water. Most breakfasts will be eaten directly out of the bag.
This is the stove and pot I’ve used for years.
Our lunches are mostly going to be cold soaked meals. “What is that,” you ask? A cold soak meal is a meal that has been made ahead of time and dehydrated in a dehydrator making it safe to eat months later while making it a lot lighter to carry and taking up less space in our packs. Instead of requiring boiling water to rehydrate we just need to add cold water and wait about half an hour for our lunch to rehydrate. To save time we will probably add the cold water as we finish up breakfast and let it rehydrate all morning while we hike. While some hikers choose to cold soak in freezer bags, we are planning on carrying small, empty peanut butter jars as our cold soak containers (we can reuse the freezer bags that way plus it ensures that there are no food spills in our packs). Some of the lunches we have planned are:
Greek style Pasta Salad
Most of these can be fully made ahead with just a few additions on the trail. Fats don’t dehydrate well and can go rancid quickly so to avoid that problem we will be adding any dressings, oils, mayos or avocados once the meals are rehydrated on trail. On days that we leave town we will likely pack out subs, sandwiches or fresh food that needs to be eaten within hours.
Dehydrating stuffing in my Salton dehydrator.
Our dinners will be hot meal made the same way we make breakfasts. Some of the dinners we have planned are:
Spaghetti Mushroom, onions, garlic, gravy & rice
Mexican quinoa Mashed potatoes, stuffing & mushroom
Pasta with squash sauce
Lentil veggie stew
Lentil, sweet potato curry
So how do I make meals several months in advance? I dehydrate them! I have a cheap Salton Dehydrator (https://amzn.to/47DfD6v ) and I’ve borrowed a second dehydrator from my step daughter (https://amzn.to/3HhQZxk ). Using two dehydrators will allow me to make 20 meals at a time! If we were to make all of our food we would likely need 816 meals! That’s a lot! And it’s also not realistic! Some days will be spent in towns where we will eat at restaurants that probably eliminates at least 90 meals right there. On top of that hikers get sick of what they mail themselves real quick. To minimize that problem we will likely use our meals for the first and third months and plan on buying In towns along the way for the other months. That means I only need to make two months worth of food for both of us which would be 360 meals. That is still a lot but when you consider that breakfasts are mostly just proportioned hot cereal it makes it so much easier! 240 meals! 120 lunches and 120 dinners.
“Ok, but are you really going to carry all that dehydrated food in your pack,” you ask? Definitely not! I don’t like to carry any extra than I absolutely have to! The plan is to mail our food first to friends in the US and then to post offices in towns along the trail. These are called mail drops. We will arrive in a town, go to the post office and pick up our next weeks worth of food.
The Ursack Major2xl Bear Resistant Bag
“But how do you keep your food safe”? As someone who works in a commercial kitchen my first thought when I hear that is about keeping my food from going mouldy or bad but I realize that’s not what this question is about at all! People want to know how we plan on keeping our food away from animals! Enter the “ Ursack Major 2XL (https://www.amazon.ca/dp/B08BLW7C42/ref=cm_sw_r_as_gl_api_gl_i_CC9TPQHW35F00ANXBXJJ?linkCode=ml2&tag=findingeden05-20).” This is a bear resistant bag made out of an extremely tough material. It will hold a weeks worth of food for both of us! We each own a smaller version of this bag but it only made sense to save the weight of carrying both bags and just buy the bigger one that will store all of our food safely each night. There are two downfalls to this bag, one is totally preventable the other we would just have to deal with it if it happens to us. One of the disadvantages of this bag is that it isn’t smell proof so animals may be attracted by our delicious food. This is entirely preventable! We can put our food in an odour proof bag (https://amzn.to/4aPv1PM ) first and then put that bag inside the Ursack. The second “disadvantage” is that while no animal can get into our food, they can crush our food trying to get to it. Hikers who have had this happen to them are a minority but it does happen and they have had to eat powdered, crushed food. But hey, they still had food to eat and didn’t have to starve till they made it to the next town!
“What about snacks?” We will likely just buy snacks to pack out at each town stop that way we can get what we want at the time and not always have the same snacks.
Enjoying coffee along the Cape Chignecto Trail in Nova Scotia.
I can’t believe I didn’t mention coffee! We haven’t discussed the possibilities yet but I have been trying out different powder creamers. So far this one is my favourite: (https://amzn.to/48V7iw0 ). On previous hikes we have used this pour over but we will likely just use instant coffee (https://amzn.to/48BxnQQ).
So that’s the food plan. I’ve already started dehydrating and will keep you posted on how that’s going occasionally. Thanks for reading and if you have more questions about food, feel free to leave it in the comments.
“When you have a dream, you've got to grab it and never let go."