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Food Tips for Camping and Hiking

By Jackie Newgent, RDN

camping and hikingHiking or camping on your agenda? Mapping out your outdoorsy nutrition needs is important: There’s plenty to consider besides simply grabbing an energy bar or a bottle of water. Follow these tips to ensure you have a nourishing and safe food experience on your next outdoor adventure.

Have a plan. Your food and water needs are generally higher than usual on activity-based excursions. Pay extra special attention to packing plenty of fluids for hot weather adventures. Some other key considerations before your hiking or camping trip include:

  • Length of the trip
  • What foods and beverages you’ll carry
  • How you’ll eat and drink
  • If bringing a cooler is an option
  • What food-related tools you’ll need

Pack easy-to-carry foods for a hike — or a day trip. You can actually pack perishable foods, such as sandwiches. Just be sure you have a cold source, like an ice pack, to keep these foods properly chilled. The more you stash in a backpack, the harder it is to hike, so opt mainly for non-perishable foods that are relatively lightweight and nutrient dense, such as:

  • Trail mix
  • Nuts, seeds, nut-based bars or nut butter packs
  • Dried or freeze-dried fruits and veggies
  • Energy bars, chews or gels
  • Granola or granola bars
  • Ready-made tuna salad pouches
  • Whole-grain tortillas
  • Natural or organic poultry, salmon or meat jerky
  • Bottled water or sports drink … it’s essential to stay hydrated! Pre-hydrate by drinking at least 4 cups of water before your hike so you’ll have less to carry. Then a good rule-of-thumb is to plan for about 2 cups of fluid for every hour of hiking

Pack easy-to-prep foods for camping — or a multi-day trip. It’s a little more challenging to pack food for days at a time. The first day you’ll be able to eat perishable foods. But after that, map out your meals so you’ll have what you enjoy and need. If you have a cooler, you’ll have numerous options. Otherwise, include any of these shelf-stable, easily-packed basics to sustain you:

  • Easy-to-carry foods mentioned above in #2
  • Ready-to-eat cereal
  • Fruit or vegetable puree in squeezable pouches (yes, like baby food!)
  • Chunk white chicken pouches
  • Individual packets of mayo, mustard, taco sauce and/or soy sauce
  • Whole-grain pasta, couscous, rice mix, pancake mix, hot cereal, dried soups and freeze-dried foods (if you’ll have the ability to boil water)
  • Marshmallows — for a campfire dessert, of course
  • Bottled water, plus powdered beverage mixes

To store, serve or dispose of food properly and safely, bring these essentials:

  • Disposable wipes/moist towelettes or biodegradable soap
  • Bowls, plates and extra plates
  • Kettle or cooking pot
  • Eating and cooking utensils
  • Ice packs
  • Compostable trash bags
  • Portable water filters or water purification tablets
  • Thermometers for cooler and cooked meat, if applicable

Always follow good food safety practices — from packing to plating. Remember that perishable food cannot be kept out in hot weather (90°F or higher) for more than one hour; in mild weather for more than two hours. And always practice these four food safety tips:

  • Wash hands often. This includes before and after eating. Moist towelettes work fine.
  • Keep raw meats and ready-to-eat foods separate. Use extra plates that you’ve packed — one for raw and one for prepared foods.
  • Cook to proper temperatures. Use a food thermometer to be sure cooked food has reached a safe internal temperature. Not sure what that is? Check out this chart.
  • Refrigerate promptly below 40°F. Of course, if you don’t have a fridge, pack perishable food, including meat or poultry, with plenty of ice or icepacks in a well-insulated cooler to keep the temperature below 40°F. Store leftovers in the cooler only if it still has ice. And keep the cooler in as cool a place as possible.
  • Get more cooler tips! Start with cleaning tips, and learn to pack the perfect cooler.

Now, take a hike!

Information taken from: http://www.eatright.org/Public/content.aspx?id=6442477222. Jackie Newgent, RDN, CDN, is a Brooklyn-based culinary nutritionist, writer, and media personality. She's author of several cookbooks and blogs at Tasteovers by Jackie.