Hiking or camping on your agenda? It's that time of year, and 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.
1. 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
2. Pack easy-to-carry foods for a hike or a day trip. You can 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:
- 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
3. 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 item #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
4. 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
5. Always follow good food safety practices, from packing to plating. Remember perishable food cannot be kept out in hot weather (90°F or higher) for more than one hour; and 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. Hand sanitizer is also convenient, especially with little ones.
Keep raw meats and ready-to-eat foods separate. Use extra plates 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. Melted ice is a sign your food is no longer safe and that it’s time to toss all leftovers. Remember to keep the cooler in as cool a place as possible.
Now, take a hike!
Article courtesy of Eatright.org