It doesn't matter if you're living of the land, bringing a lunch box or if your adventure include catering; it's always a longed for moment when you get to sit down to enjoy a meal in the beautiful outdoors. I'm always grateful when I get to reward myself with a refreshing bite to eat after a long hike or a wake. With this post I want to share some of my thoughts about eating outdoors.
Allergies and Food Preferences
First of all I'd like to emphasize the importance of keeping track of your own and your friends possible allergies and/or food preferences. Often allergic shocks occur while eating. And if this should happen when in rough terrain the situation could get very serious compared to when in urban environment closer to hospital care. Assure yourself about your friends needs and were they keep their medicine before heading out. In case of an allergy chock time is crucial and perhaps you need to help your friend by giving he or she the medicine. Then it's important you now where to find the medicine and how to insert it. If there are special food preferences, for instance vegan or cultural, it's always better to plan for this prior to the trip to prevent someone being left out with nothing to eat.
To Live of the Land
A extreme way is not to bring any food at all and instead eat what nature offers. Pending on the extent of the trip this might seem harsh but in fact it's a great feeling when you get to that point where you feel confident that you have the capacity to provide for yourself in a natural environment. Add also to that the freedom of not having to carry around your food. An example on a situation like this is when executing a training session according to Jonas Vildmark's Method for Survival Training (JVMS). But of course it's then very important you have the proper knowledge for this, remember to always put safety first.
The old saying; "you can survive 3 weeks without food, 3 days without water and 3 minutes without air" might give us an hint on how us humans work. But you must remember that this saying is a extreme one. I think you agree with me that it's much more pleasant to have a more frequent intake of fluids than every third day. When I'm out enjoying the nature I try drinking once every hour to prevent dehydration. Below you have some of my tips on fluids.
When I'm not bringing any water, drinking the water I can find in nature and not have the time to boil the water, It's a good idea to use some kind of water purification pill. But when operating in areas were I not suspect Any pollution to the water I personally usually drink directly from flowing rivers.
When I bring water I always bring a bit more than the estimated usage.
In temperatures risking freezing my drinking water I carry my bottle inside my jacket to always have fluid water within reach.
During tough expeditions it's a good idea to fill the drinking bottle with a warming and nutritious soup instead of water. By doing so I save time and energy and can cover longer distances in shorter times. A bottle with a thermo function is great for this.
Remember to store your fluids separated from stuff you want to keep dry. There's always the risk of a bottle starting to leak.
The Packed Meal
Usually I bring my food instead of living of the land. The amount of food to bring varies pending on the length of the adventure and what activities that's planned. On short and relaxing picnics perhaps a couple of sandwiches and a fruit is enough. But on longer trips it's nice to do the cooking outdoors. The environment and season also needs to be taken to account. Under cold conditions I need more food, and preferably warm food, to keep my body temperature. Personally I tend to use a pretty dull menu when out exploring on my own. But I really want to encourage you to allow your self to some inspiring and motivating outdoor food. Here are some foody tips for you.
Portion bags of powder soup is lighter and easier to carry compared to cans and tins. I use soups meant to be mixed with water instead of milk so I don't need bringing and store milk.
Small packages of noodles is a great way to give the soup more substance.
If I have any salt and pepper bags left from a fast food restaurant visit I bring these to spice up my trip in a simple way.
Zeta's snack olives is a nice way of give your outdoor eating some flavour. Practical bags of tasty olives meant to be enjoyed on the go.
Outdoor cooking makes you creative. I remember one time when me and a friend was preparing a newly cathed Grayling. We had no Spices so we used what was left of yesterday's bag of chips. We sprinkled the spicy chips inside the fish, rolled it up in wet newspaper and put it in the fire. When the paper had burnt off we had a really tasty meal.
Remember to also bring a can opener (or a tool/folder equipped with one) if you bring cans. Off course you can open the can using a robust knife but that can be risky.
Freshly baked bread is incredible tasty. You can prepare a flour mix at home and later on just add water when sitting outdoors by your heat source.
I always keep a chocolate bar in my jacket when trekking. It's nice to pull the snack out when the steps are starting to get heavy. Some kind of candy or a mix of nuts is handy to help the blood sugar balance and also good for morale.
Earlier I mentioned that my menu tend to be more practical than culinary. An example of this is my frequent use of power bars and meal replacement like the ones you can find at your local supermarket. By using these as a complement I can reduce my food pack by half.
A bag of cinnamon rolls, some dyed mushrooms or meat is a appreciated luxury to use as complement to the above. And don't forget the coffee!
Today some trip organizers also offer catering transporting the food to wherever you are trekking. With catering the principles are the same as the above and always remember to attend to all the garbage we produce, Leave No Trace. In areas with a lot of predators it's even more important to store garbage and food without reach, perhaps up in a tree, not to attract for instance bears into the camp. Even small wildlife like ants can be tempted by your sweets if you don't tuck them away secure inside a drybag.
Heat Source, Eating Tools and Dishes
There's always nice to cook your food on an beautiful open fire, but sometimes it's much more practical to bring a stove. There's a lot of stoves out there on the market, Primus is a leader on the area and they offer many versions also handling different fuels. The most common fuel is gas and I say gas works great for most occasions. But in extremely cold climates or on high altitudes gasoline is a alternative. When you don't have the time to carve your own spoon or fold your own birch barge cup I can recommend a Spork, a field cup and a steel mug. A steel mug can also stand for heating of beverages. After a well earned meal there's always the fun part left; the dishes. To avoid stomach problems out in the field it's a good idea to bring some washing-up liquid and a sponge. You can prepare the sponge at home prior to the trip by cutting the sponge into small cubes that you then soak in the washing-up liquid. Then you can use a new cube for each time you have eaten and leave the bottle of liquid at home.
I hope some of my basic tips above has helped you or perhaps inspired you. Please let me know if you have any questions or if you'd like to share some of your tips with me. Have a nice trip and Bon Appetit!