Bára & Kuba on the road

Hiking food for a 3 day track

Hiking food for a 3 day track

Food plays an important part on your hike. It keeps your energy levels up throughout the day and enables you to regenerate over the night. On a three day hike, you don’t have to make a big science out of it as you can pig out later when you get back home, but it’s still nice to have a good meal in the evening and be ready for the next day.

You want your food to be light, packable, nutritious and reasonably tasty. Tin of tuna in an olive oil is nutritious, tastes delicious, but also quite heavy.

Food needs to be as light and as packable as possible
Food needs to be as light and as packable as possible

Lastly, we like the food to be as simple as possible and most of the instant hiking foods contains all those preservatives and artificial stuff so we decided to create our own instant food from basic ingredients. It’s not as hard as you might think and it’s surprisingly cheap.

Quick list

  • Day One
    • breakfast: big breakfast in a hostel
    • snack: peanut butter muesli bar
    • lunch: crackers with cheese
    • snack: nuts
    • dinner: couscous with minced beef and vegetables
  • Day Two
    • breakfast: scrambled eggs with leftover couscous
    • snack: dates
    • lunch: crackers with cheese
    • snack: nuts
    • dinner: minced beef with mashed potatoes and vegetables
  • Day three
    • breakfast: scrambled eggs with leftover mashed potatoes
    • snack: peanut butter muesli bar
    • lunch: crackers with cheese
    • snack: nuts
    • dinner: big dinner in a restaurant

The following table is the approximate amount of food for two people for a three day hike that kept us full and happy.

Meal Total weight Portion weight Price (NZD)
Scrambled eggs 160 g 40 g $ 10
Crackers 450 g 75g $ 15
Cheese 250 g 63g $ 6
Minced beef 160 g 40 g $ 10
Olive oil 50 g 13 g na
Powdered milk 50 g 25 g na
Mashed potatoes 150 g 75 g $ 2
Vegetable mix 160 g 40 g $ 6
Couscous 150g 75 g $ 2
Chicken stock 50 g 25 g $ 1
Dates 200 g na $ 1.5
Nuts 200 g na $ 5
Muesli bars 300 g na $ 4
Dark chocolate 50 g na $ 1
Salt + spices 10 g na na
Loose leaf tea 10 g na na

Breakfast

Having breakfast in nature is an amazing feeling
Having breakfast in nature is an amazing feeling

At home, we normally have eggs in any form, but it’s not very practical to take them on the trail so we tried variations of porridge and oats — without much success as we felt hungry soon. Breakfast was an issue for us until we discovered these freeze dried scrambled eggs. Surprisingly, they are made out of normal ingredients and they taste nice. We like to mix them with a bit of leftovers from dinners — usually plain couscous or mashed potatoes.

Lunch

We love walnut oat crackers by 180 degrees with an aged cheddar – amazing taste and lasts forever. It’s a nice easy meal that can be spread over multiple stops and you don’t have to set up your gas burner.

Munging through those cheese and crackers
Munging through those cheese and crackers

Sometimes we carry an extra stick of Hungarian-style salami, but mostly we are fine with the vegetarian option.

Snacks

We carry three different types of snack but really it’s up to you and what you like. First, we have a mix of natural nuts – usually cashews, almonds, Brazil nuts, Macadamian and walnuts.

Instead of commercially produced muesli bars that are full of sugar and god knows what, we make our own. And it is surprisingly tasty and easy to make – you don’t even have to bake. Mix three cups of quick oats with a cup of heated peanut butter and add up to a cup of honey. Stir everything together (you can add cranberries, raisins, chopped almonds or anything you like), press it into a box container and put into the fridge.

After a big hike you need to keep your energy levels high
After a big hike you need to keep your energy levels high

The third to the party is a pack of dried dates. Dates are delicious, more nutritious than candy and helps with your sweet tooth.

Oh, and a small piece of dark chocolate is always a welcoming surprise after a tough climb.

Dinner

Dinner is usually your biggest meal of the day on a hike as you have time to prepare it and you don’t have to move afterwards. For a track this long, you don’t have to be too creative and meals can be quite simple. I’m a fan of freeze dried ingredients as their are light, but not a fan of instant meals as they usually contains lots of things that are bad for you.

Fine dining in a hut
Fine dining in a hut

My favorites are freeze dried minced beef as a good source of protein and vegetable mix (carrots, peas, corn). We usually get a pack of 160 g of beef which lasts us for the whole trip and the same applies to vegetable.

These two things create a base that can be combined with couscous for one day and instant mashed potato flakes for the other.

Pro tip: Use dehydrated milk for your mashed potatoes to make it taste like heaven.

Sandwich plastic bags are handy to store portions and save on weight
Sandwich plastic bags are handy to store portions and save on weight

Also, carry a small plastic bottle of olive oil and add couple spoons to each meal to boost the calories and fat content. Remember, fat keeps you warm at night.

One last thing I love is a pot of chicken stock after the main course. I’d like to think that it adds all those important ions and salts that I lost during the hike. Maybe, maybe not – at least it keeps me hydrated.

Conclusion

Your meal will always taste delicious on the trail
Your meal will always taste delicious on the trail

The food for two people for three day hike comes to 60 New Zealand dollars, tastes pretty good and is much healthier than the instant hiker meals that you can buy in the outdoor shops. Give it a try and let us know how you enjoyed it. Also, what do you usually eat on the track?