Yes there are simple, convenient, and with some gourmet brands now on the market, even tasty packaged backpacking food. I still think making your own is a great idea and here are my reasons…
- Cost: Cost is huge. Mountain house, the Hamburger Helper of backpacking food, still cost about $5 per meal, per person. If you have more distinguishing tastes, and go for the more upscale brands, the cost increases to at least $8 per meal. If you are on a budget, the cost of your backpacking meals can be the factor that prevents you from getting out in the woods more often. When you dehydrate and pack your own foods you can bring the cost down to $1-2 per meal.
- Variety: There’s really only so much mac and cheese and chili you can eat before eating starts to feel like a chore. When you pack your own meal, you are only limited by your own creativity. I enjoy the challenge of converting my favorite recipes to dehydrated backpacking foods. With the millions of recipes from traditional to that exotic foreign dish, you can never have to eat the same meal twice.
- Custom Flavor: With pre-packaged foods you get what you get but when you make your own you can customize the recipes to your personal tastes. If you like things spicy you can customize your meals by adding some red pepper flakes to the recipe or marinating your meat in hot sauce before dehydrating it. For you garlic lovers you can do the same. The meats you dehydrate can be dried with the flavors you love embedded right in them.
- Health: From more vegetables, and fiber, to less sodium or gluten free, when you make your meals you can be sure they serve your health needs.
- Wild edibles: If you hike often in the same areas you may know what wild edibles are available. If you are making your own meals you can plan around what fresh food you can forage and make those the center of your meal. A Mountain House Mac and Cheese with foraged watercress thrown on top…meh. A wild mushroom and watercress risotto…Yum!
So why not give it a try? Maybe start with something simple like my Chicken and Dumplings or Mushroom Risotto recipe? Sick of oatmeal every day? Why not learn how to make basic camp biscuits and pair them with some shelf stable sausage or bacon to start?