When you’re using your backpacking stove, you’re stuck mostly with boiling and simmering. And while that places a lot of limitations on the food you can prepare while on a hike, tasty backpacking stove meals are not altogether impossible.
What Are the Go-to Backpacking Stove Meals?
When going on a backpacking trip, ready-to-eat foods are a no-brainer. They are individually packed, not messy, easy to prepare, and generally fuel-savers. Here are some of the common instant foods for backpacking and a few ways to enjoy them.
- Just bring the water to a rolling boil and then add the noodles. Stir in the seasoning, and then you get yourself a quick meal. For something more filling or nutritious, you can forego the packed flavoring that comes with your noodles and exchange them for some chicken or beef jerky.
- You can choose between the instant oatmeal or rolled oats variety. You can mix it with some fruits you’ve packed or picked along the way.
- Just like oatmeal, all you need to do is boil water. Add it in the pot and its flavoring. Then, turn off the heat and keep it covered for around five minutes. You can add some berries or dried meat to taste. You can also cook some filling couscous dishes like chicken and cheese couscous.
- Canned food. Simply heat contents in a pot or pan, and you’ll be eating in no time. While the thought of eating plain canned food is not at all appealing, you can actually get creative with it. For example, you can pair angel’s hair pasta with sardines. Most likely, this will taste better than a pre-packed spaghetti.
- Pre-packed meals. Usually, these packed meals require boiling water that you add to it or soak it in for reheating.
- Store-bought dehydrated food. A class of packed meal, this requires being soaked in cold or hot water to rehydrate. Those with dehydrated meats need hot water.
What Are Other Non-Instant Backpacking Stove Meals that You Can Prepare?
If you like rewarding yourself with good food after a long hike, you don’t need to limit yourself to instant food. Here are some additional backpacking stove meals prepared with some TLC:
- Marinated meats. Depending on weather conditions, frozen meats make a good choice. It can survive up to 12 to 24 hours outside the freezer when carefully packaged and insulated. Furthermore, if you have it marinated in soy sauce or red wine, you are able to extend its shelf life and inhibit it from developing a rancid smell.
At home, marinate your choice of meat with soy sauce or red wine. Put it in a vacuum pack and then freeze. You can also use vinegar or salt for marinating. On the day of your hike, wrap it around insulated clothing.
By lunch or night time, the meat would have thawed and is ready for cooking. Then, grill or fry away.
- Summer sausage. If you don’t like going through all the preparations that come with frozen meats and looking for something more practical to work with in an especially hot hike, packing cured food like summer sausages which typically don’t need refrigeration is your best bet.
Pack some olive oil, onion, zucchini, and summer sausage. Sauté sliced sausage in olive oil and onion. Throw in diced zucchini or other vegetables, and you have done some home meal cooking outdoors.
Beef jerky and salami are other meats that are perfectly safe outside the fridge. You can think or look up recipes involving these ingredients.
- Tortillas are a great alternative to regular bread because they don’t get squished. Plus, cooked tortillas do not need refrigeration. They are great as food wraps.
One thing you can also do with tortillas is to make pizza with them. Just slather pizza sauce on top of a piece of tortilla and add your favorite toppings and mozzarella cheese. Pepperoni, peppers, pineapple, olives, and basil are some of the toppings that don’t spoil quickly. Your pizza’s ready when the cheese has melted, and the tortilla has turned golden brown.
Another alternative is pita bread, which is another flatbread.
General Tips with Backpacking Stove Meals
- Pre-soak food to save on cooking time and fuel. While you’re asleep or on a hike, you can soak food so that you can soften it and hasten cooking time. Rolled oats, rice, and pasta are some of the food that you can pre-soak.
- Spice things up. If you’re stuck with instant noodles, oats, store-bought packed foods, and the likes, you can still enjoy them by not eating the same food every time. And if that doesn’t work, get creative with them and find other ways to enjoy for example a can of sardines. There are a lot of recipes you can find on the Internet. Being outdoors doesn’t have to mean bland food.
- Maximize the heat you get from your backpacking stove. That may mean keeping all the ingredients ready and the cooking tools within reach, getting a pot that’s just the right size for your stove and a tight-fitting lid, boiling just the right amount of water, and finding a way to use everything.
While you fairly have an idea of how long your fuel will last you, you can never be too cautious when you’re out in the woods. Over-prepared is always better than underprepared. So, always maximize your resources.
Backpacking stove meals can be as bland or as appetizing as you want them to be, depending on your definition of a good hiking adventure. Nevertheless, food is an essential part of any trek and should be given some thought.
Some planning, a pinch of creativity, and a dash of improvisation can go a long way. They help make sure that you stay well, properly fed, and content the entire duration of your hike, which is important for you to enjoy the experience.