Cooking on the trail can be stressful. Finding ingredients that are lightweight, convenient, healthy, and actually taste good, isn’t easy. Ingredients also have to be easy to combine with other ingredients so that you can stretch meals a long way. Before heading out on your backpacking trip, make sure to bring along these staple ingredients:
Granola or Oatmeal
Though granola and oatmeal are similar in some ways, some hikers prefer one over the other. Granola and oatmeal are both healthy meals (or snacks) that provide a lot of good stuff for your hard-working body. Granola you can just eat with some dehydrated milk or even by itself. Oatmeal just requires hot water and the instant kind is much easier.
Though a tad more expensive than other oils out there, olive oil has everything you need all in one. It can be used as a cooking oil, which is necessary to have (unless you plan on carrying a tub of margarine around). It can also be used as a delicious ingredient to add flavor to other foods, like pasta or rice. Because olive oil is rich in monounsaturated fats, you know it’s good for you, too.
Luckily, here in the 21st century, eggs come in all varieties that make them easy to bring along on a hike. On or off the trail, eggs are one of the most popular staple ingredients, filled with tons of protein and the ability to make almost anything taste good. Add them to a sandwich, use them to make fried rice, or just eat them on their own (with some sesame oil!). You can bring along hard-boiled eggs for an egg salad, freeze-dried eggs for convenience, or even a carton of egg whites.
Flour tortillas are a must-have on the trail. You can use them to make dozens of easy meals, ranging from cheese quesadillas to hefty burritos. Heck, even spread some peanut butter on top of one! Tortillas provide a lot of calories like bread, but won’t go stale as quickly. Lastly, they are lightweight, flat, come with about 8 in a bag, and taste pretty delicious!
Macaroni is a versatile pasta. Not only does it take very little time to cook, but a bag of macaroni can go a long way. Mix it with just butter and salt, mix it with canned fruit, or throw in some cheese and sausage for a ‘gourmet’ meal. Of course, if you can make use of other pastas like spaghetti or fettuccine, bring those as well.
What can you not eat rice with? Instant rice is one of the most useful staple ingredients on the trail. Buy a box or mini bowls of instant rice. When it comes time to eat it, just add water, as well as whatever else you want to add to make this meal one worth hiking for. Because you can do so many variations with rice, it’s likely you won’t get bored of it and it will soon become one of your favorite hiking ingredients.
Who doesn’t love cheese? And being able to bring some on a backpacking trip? Even better. You might wonder how it can be possible to bring cheese along, but there are ways. Single-packaged cheese can last quite a while without refrigeration, and you can wrap other cheeses in wax paper to help it stay fresh. String cheese works great as well!
Spices and Add-Ons
Because you’ll be eating so many basic or simple foods, it’s important to bring along another important staple: spices. Though you can bring whatever you want, curry powder, cumin, garlic powder, chili pepper, thyme, oregano, and of course salt and pepper, seem to be some of the favorites. Some hikers also like to bring Parmesan cheese for taste or even Chia seeds for added nutrition.
Dehydrated Fruit and Freeze-Dried Veggies
Vegetables make a great addition to any meal, whether it be a fried rice, a soup, a pasta dish, or a breakfast burrito. Because they are freeze-dried, you don’t have to worry about them spoiling, or not cooking well. Though it’s not quite the same as fresh produce, veggies are a necessary staple for cooking on the trail. Likewise, dehydrated fruits, especially those like apricots, are a great nutrition source and make a wonderful snack.
If you’re a first time backpacker, then a staple ingredient like ‘powdered-milk’ might make you think twice about going. But, milk is needed as an ingredient in many things, whether it’s a simple bowl of cereal or a creamy Alfredo sauce. It’s easy to bring, and most backpackers will swear by it.
Dreaming about a nice, warm soup while you’re on the trail? Then take along a few bouillon cubes, which are essentially dehydrated chicken broth. It’s a one of the easiest staple ingredients to bring and a base for most soups, even those cooked at home. Add a few other ingredients on this list and you’ll have a killer meal!
For first-time backpackers struggling to figure out what to bring, just pack these staple ingredients!