Backcountry Food and Meals

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While there exist quite a few "how to be a cordon-bleu chef in the backcountry"-type books in your local outdoors themed shop, much of their content is more suited to car camping or short walks. For those of us who go on big trips in winter, the priorities are: - light - filling - minimal or no preparation - quick to cook - minimal fuel required - single pot (minimizing weight to carry) - easy to wash up - easily digestible calories Secondary considerations include flavour and variety.

Menu planning involves looking at calorie sources, based on carbohydrate source. Variety consists of cycling through a day of cous cous, a day of rice, a day of pasta and a day of instant mash (insert other carb of your choice here). Then back to cous cous, etc. Note that your energy requirements may be up to 50% greater in the mountains than sitting at your desk job. Volume is important, keep the troops fed and they will be happy. For the trip leader to underestimate his party's food requirements does team morale no good.

Now all you need are flavours to make it palatable, and a bit of fat and protein to go with it, to give that satisfying full feeling and long-lasting energy. Flavours can come in the form of dried sachets (see the central aisles of your supermarket). Fat and protein sources can be dried at home and brought in plastic bags. Chorizo bier sticks are easy and filling. Oxo cubes are light. Vegemite adds a lot of flavour for its weight. Tuna can come in pre-flavoured sachets for a change from the usual red meat-based meals.

Do as much prior preparation as possible, and put meals in plastic bags ready to be added to hot water. Make sure that all ingredients for one day's meal are together, which saves the cook's "who's got the mixed herbs?" question, followed by much searching and time-wastage in the campsite. Remember that snow is a good pot-scrubber when rubbed around the billy.

Please contribute easy recipes here:

  • Salami cous cous. Real simple. Cut up salami into small pieces, while boiling water. Add pre-flavoured cous-cous to the hot water, and stir in salami pieces. Then serve around. A great "bivvy meal".
  • Tuna and rice. Get pre-flavoured tuna sachets (easier to carry than tins). Cook rice according to your chosen method, and add tuna to it, plus any other flavouring you would like.