Experiencing the wilderness is amazing but many people dread the eating experience. While the outdoors is not exactly the Ritz, you need not be stuck with boring camp food or have to do a Survivor food challenge! Let’s show you what your meal plan could look like, the cooking equipment required to supplement your packing guide and how to prepare simple but highly nutritious gourmet-style meals during your outdoor adventure.
You need nutrients for your adventure
The increased physical activity and stress during outdoor activities generally makes a bigger demand on your system than usual. And your body deserves a diet that has the essential nutrients in adequate amounts for your well-being. Your muscles need proteins, all your cells require different vitamins and minerals and of course, the body requires sufficient energy to keep you active. You should also stay hydrated and follow these other basic health tips during your trip.
MHO adventure has a number of creative ways to ensure proper nutrients during your outdoor trip, without sacrificing your tastebuds. You can find meal plans, recipes and cooking tips in our updated MHO Trail cookbook. Making a guideline for your meals beforehand is very beneficial, even though you can tweak it as you go. When done correctly, your meal plan can save you from starving toward the end of your trip or wasting food.
How to select food choices for your outdoor adventure
Your food selections will obviously depend on a number of factors. The very first is your personal preferences. If you are not a s’more person, for instance, then you do not have to include it in your meal plan simply because it is one of the classic camp foods.
Next, it is important to ask about allergies when planning outdoor adventures with others as allergic reactions are medical emergencies that are best avoided at all cost. Common food allergens are nuts, seafood, eggs, and soy. In addition, some people have dietary restrictions for various reasons, such as lactose intolerant or sensitive to gluten, vegetarian or vegan to name a few.
Bringing perishable foods is completely possible for the first week or so, but having proper knowledge and systems for its preservation is key. It goes beyond having an effective cooler and ice. You need the appropriate tools and equipment to handle outdoor cooking. One option is to take advantage of our Expedition Food Service, or simply choose a guided trip and have it done for you.
List of equipment for cooking outdoors
Your choice of equipment would depend on your meal plan or selection, the length of your trip and number in your party. Many of them can be purchased from the kitchen section of outdoor camping stores.
- For Cooking: portable gas stove, propane cylinders/ white gas and lighters, fire gloves, fire grill
- Pots: Cooking pots, coffee pot, kettle, fry pan, Dutch oven for baking.
- Utensils: sharp knives, spatula, tongs and cutlery.
- Equipment / Disposables: can opener, tin foil, extra bags
- Water: a water filtration or treatment system (we like to have 2 different systems just in case. I.e. water pump and aquatabs)
- Cleaning: sponges, steel wool, dishcloths, dishwashing & hand soaps
How to make a meal plan for your outdoor trip
Making your meal plan and shopping list is a bit easier when you have considered your meal options and the cooking gear available. We compiled some ideas to help in planning meals for different times of the day during your wilderness expedition or outdoor adventure.
Breakfast meals to start your expedition
The scientific world may disagree about the importance of breakfast but this is not the case with many outdoor adventurers! It is advisable to have a filling but light meal before heading off for the day’s activities. Favourite breakfast meals during a multi-day adventure include omelettes, MHO Granola, fruits, nuts & seeds, oatmeal and instant cereal, every now and then a big breakfast of pancakes or french toast and bacon or sausage with hashbrowns.
Lunch meals during your outdoor adventure
You may not have the opportunity to return to camp or make fire midday, so this is when sandwiches, wraps and salads come in. There are so many creative ways to make delicious and nutritious lunches (even with leftovers from the previous dinner)! Often we make our lunch at camp in the morning (fresh bread, quinoa salad, pasta salad, soup packed in thermos’ on colder days, etc).
Dinner meals by the campsite
After a fun but tiring day, you will want to indulge in a heartfelt meal by the campfire. In the MHO Trail cookbook, you will find a flavourful twist to classic pasta recipes like alfredo, carbonara, lasagna and mac & cheese. Your dinner meals can also feature delicacies like grilled chicken, fish, corn, steak and pan-roasted veggies. And for other days, you can make hearty fajitas, tacos, burritos, pizza or shepherd’s pie.
Roasted marshmallows and s’mores are not the only dessert options. The baking section of our cookbook details how to make buns, and other tasty dessert options. It also includes instructions on making your own fresh bread. Meanwhile, did you know that you can toss an unpeeled pineapple or a whole butternut squash into your campfire and end up with an amazing result?
Cereal or granola bars, s’mores, pretzels and marshmallows are good to have while backpacking on those portages and hiking trails. The MEC collection has a robust collection of snacks that you may want to take a look at. Plus, what’s an outdoor adventure without trail mix? You can always throw some raisins, dried fruit, nuts and seeds, candy, or wasabi together in a bag and munch for a release of energy. Fresh fruits like apples and carrots also do a great job.
Food staples for your adventure menu
Your shopping list should include both fresh and dry foods. We came up with a list of popular foods that you may want to consider when planning your multi-day adventure into the wilderness. The key is to have as much as you need without having an excessive load. Also, bear in mind that canned and bottled foods are generally heavy and are best avoided when there are alternatives.
We like to take as much fresh food as possible. Meats such as chicken, beef and sausages will do well for at least one day possibly two if frozen in a block. Vegetables and fruits – must be dried out daily for the longest life, but make sure you are managing these foods and if something starts to go off, use it, modify your meal plan. Some bread products have a good long life, tortillas and crackers being the best. However, consider bringing flour and making fresh bread.
Dry foods are plentiful on back country trips. Grains such as rice, pasta, quinoa and couscous can be served up in many different ways. Always include oats, granola, nuts and seeds, coffee, tea and spices. Other staples include dried soups, dried meats, dried fruits and dried nuts, milk powder, fruit drink powder, a few cans of tuna, chicken, crab, or sardines, plastic jars of peanut butter, jam or your favourite bread spread.
Dehydrated food are simply amazing when done right. We do all of our own dehydrating and are hoping to have a few of our products available for purchase on our website and possibly a handful of local retails before this paddling season. In the mean time, feel free to contact us and request an ‘Expedition Food Order Form’.
At MHO Adventures we pride ourselves on our In-house dehydrated meals, Fresh, healthy, hearty & tasty ingredients, providing proper nutrition each day and our focus on health, safety & enjoyment of the wilderness with food being in the top 3.
A Note on Food safety and keeping clean
There are a number of good practices for food safety and hygiene practices during your trip that you should follow. They range from ensuring that meats cook thoroughly and keeping food out of the danger zone where bacteria multiply rapidly to washing hands often with clean water and soap. It is also always a good idea to keep waste minimal and to burn food wastes or carry it along in secured bags, instead of leaving them lying around. This article gives more guidelines on handling food during outdoor trips.
Ready for your next outdoor adventure?
There is so much to consider when planning your outdoor vacation. Why don’t we take the feeding off your hands. MHO Adventures’s outfitting services can supply you with the gear you need, help you decide on your meal plan and provide the logistics for your feeding.
Another recommendation is that you go on one of our guided trips where our enthusiastic and experienced team handles every single detail of the logistics and feeding. All you need to do is choose one of our available trips and simply show up! You can contact us to find out more or to plan a custom expedition that suits your needs.