/ Expedition food advice- UK
Currently going through the final prep for a few expeditions for my ML assessment. I have mostly done single days/nights on the hills but am keen to link days now. The one thing that is giving me trouble is the food element.
So, to all you hillwalkers and ML holders out there, what cooking kit/food do you take? I have no allergies so any advice appreciated. I do have a jetboil, but boil in the bag is really expensive. I'm certain there are other options. Also, I'm really not a 'foodie'. I have a budget to play with so I could invest in a small stove or other kit if needed to make life a little easier.
I look forward to the replies!
Cous Cous is lightweight cheap and simple and you can pour water from your jetboil into a bowl and leave it to stand to cook which stops your jetboil getting caked in burnt on food.
my favourite hill food is a pack of tuna, cooked noodles and some form of stir fry sauce, takes about a minute to heat it all together and very nutritious.
This ^ but pour the hot water into the silver packet and roll shut. Makes a good hand-warmer and no washing.
Also microwaveable ziplock sandwich bags can take boiling water too without melting. I put in porridge, dried milk, dried fruit and then hot water to make a great breakfast.
Jet boil stove, ainslie hariott flavoured cous cous or similar with smoked sausage (doesn't need kept cold) or peperami. I take the cous cous in a tub and then rehydrate in the tub thus keeping the cup of the jetboil cup clean. I also take a big plastic mug so I can have a drink whilst boiling more water.
Cup a soups, hot chocolate and cappuccino or latte sachets avoid messing around with powdered coffee or milk. I don't bother with tea bags as you have to carry them out. The mountain house food bags are okay... and dead easy to prepare - if the weather is rubbish something that you just add water to can be a lot less stress. Chilli and curry ones are edible but could do with more salt/ chilli flavour. Actually adding a tomato cup a soup to the mountain house stuff works okay as it gives some extra flavour etc.
For breakfast I confess to eating a mountain house chilli on my assessment but flapjack, malt loaf etc are all good.
Whatever you do take some stuff you want to eat! Jelly babies, flapjack chocolate work for me but everyone likes different stuff. It's not the time to discover that you really hate the stuff you've brought with you.
Good luck with the assessment.
In reply to Hans:
Quite a few ideas on this thread above. I have a simple gas stove that is easy and a multi fuel for very cold weather and places you cant buy gas. If you are possibly going to be in that situation in future then a multi fuel stove might be a good idea as you already have the jetboil.
What do you mean by expedition? Is it longer than few weeks?
I can survive over a week with a balanced diet of bars and dried fruit. I started eating porridge in the mornings (porridge oats, powder milk and some hot chocolate works well). Then something like a protein bar (with higher amount of carbohydrates) for lunch and then another bar in the evening. Fill gaps between meals with some trail mix, light bars, etc. Whole dried bananas are very tasty and high in calories. In my last 9 days unsupported hike I followed (my own) rule that food should be 450-500kcal per 100g or I'd better leave it at home.
I tend to take some electrolyte tablets (Nuun, High5, etc). I have no idea whether they do any good or not, but they taste nice and I do not experience fatigue, cramps or something else. Some tea, coffee or hot chocolate helps to wake up in the morning and boost your mood if weather isn't very nice. Same with dark chocolate or mint cake - they aren't nutritious and should not be used as a main meal, but they help to move faster!
Get the plain couscous and chuck it in a food bag with a cuppa soup and a pepperami chopped through it. Much cheaper than the ready made ones. A little individually wrapped cake bar (swiss roll type thing) with instant custard is a great pudding. Both can be made with just boiled water, no need to keep it cooking once boiled so uses less gas. Breakfast, porridge is good as others have said, and cheap!! I take a more pepperamis for breakfast too, protein in the morning keeps you going well
I wouldn't go for jet boil stove, get something lighter. If you are going to work as an ML, start looking after your knees now, and cut out all excess weight.
For my assessment, I took the boil in the bag stuff, which was a curry and smash. you can eat the curry out of the pack and then chuck the smash in with hot water an it soaks up all the juice.
I also had super noodles mixed with chicken cup of soup with a pepperami, very filling,
for brekkie I had croissants, which are lightweight and easy to pack although end up a bit flat also had more noodles and a energy bar, though the instant porridge stuff you can get nowadays looks better,
I brought plenty of energy bars and fruit pastles to keep nrg up throughout the day, for lunch I had more croissants, snickers
I've done no assessments, but tonnes of experience in being 1) a picky eater and 2) discovering on a trip several years ago I didn't want to eat everything I'd actually brought with me.
Last year I got it down to
Chocolate muesli for breakfast with boiled water (not sure I could ever stomach it again though!)
You get packets of pasta from Heinz, 4 different flavours, they can be hard to find (some supermarkets don't do them, some do), they're square shaped, and no added water needed, just pour the goo in and heat. I find 2 of these does dinner well.
Or on a short trip, a full blown curry - 9 mins boil in the bag rice, chuck out the water, pour the rice out the packet, throw tinned chicken tikka on top of the rice, give it a mega heat-and-stir for 5 mins till piping. All from Asda.
Incomparable after a day on the hills, possible on one (big) pot, mega serving.
Add to that random snacks/Smarties cookies/lucozade, and I managed 3 months in the Highlands on pretty much that diet.
Some extremely interesting ideas there guys; cous cous is something which I hadn't thought about, but makes sense. Deffo muesli/porridge oaty goodness for breakfast. Sandwich bags taking boiling water is a great idea! I'll experiment at home, but I think this solves a problem or two. I'm hoping to do three day expeditions, as this will be expected during the exam. If I get food right, I may be able to go for a little longer.
Cheers, keep the ideas flowing! Cooking time methinks...
Keep in mind that you consume more food if you stay active. However, sometimes it is easy to skip a meal or two a day if you are fairly busy. If the night is cold, a cup of hot chocolate makes you twice happier.
Remembered a couple of others while out today,
If you roll out a pack of marzipan and add chopped nuts, dark chocolate, seeds, dried fruit (basically whatever you like) and knead it all together you get a log of awesome which does snacks for several days. I can't stomach it when I'm not on the hill but I now make a big batch at the start of winter and take a slice off, pocket the slice and that's all my days hill food - works really well.
+1 for smoked sausage, similar to the tuna packs for adding some protein which helps you recover over multi days and stops you waking up hungry.
NEVER try and cook porridge directly in a jetboil. You may get away with it once or twice, but when the porridge gods turn on you you will never get your stove back. If you cook anything in the jetboil (generally ok with really liquid stuff) then DON'T leave a spork in there. Nothing puts you off your dinner like melted plastic. Also, don't believe the people in the shop that assured you that the neoprene can't catch fire. It can. Furthermore, don't trust the piezo lighter when cooking in the wet, like a mini electric fence.
Having said all that I think you'll be fine with a jetboil, mine's just had a fairly rough life. Trust me on the porridge.
Back to the question in hand, if you don't mind cleaning your pans then a few supermakets now stock a brand called "look what we found" that do posh bagged meals, they're pretty good and way cheaper than camping food although they contain their liquid so quite heavy.
Cherry pie filling plus broken biscuits/scones/anything doughy is an awesome camping pudding.
If you don't like eating trail mix at home, you won't like eating it on the hill!
Malt loaf is excellent unless you drop it in the sea.
I recently met the concept of stromboli, like a rolled up pizza bread dough full of cheese and whatever you like, they're properly durable to have in your bag and taste awesome (if you're any good at cooking).
Making your own Popcorn is a good morale booster on anything expeditiony and it's actually prety good for you.
I take those dairy-stix you sometimes get on trains for tea, they're easily tough enough to not break in your bag and are much nicer than powdered milk.
If you're going for a few days you may have to accept that some of the meals aren't going to be particularly apetising. I find it helps to have a few treats, which I inevitably regret eating on the first night.
Thai curry paste livens up even really crap food.
A great way to find new ideas is to set off with no food and see what you can find in the newsagents/rural corner shop.
I know that when it get's really bad, I still have a dehydrated beef stroganoff from my very first Duke of Edinburgh practice that I keep in my first aid kit. I'm scared to eat it now, as I'm worried it's like samsons hair and when I finally have to eat it bad things will happen. Probably food poisoning from eating an out of date dehydrated beef stroganoff.
Hopefully some food for thought. Trust me on the porridge.
Some whole sun dried bananas and M&Ms will make any trail mix edible for everyone! Some great ideas for trail mix can be found in Holland & Barrett. I have never seen whole sun dried bananas or dried blueberries anywhere else.
Trail Mix + porridge. (avoid using jet boil for cooking)
Take a tub of cooked pre cooked stuff like bacon bits,sausage,boiled eggs etc and add it to some baked beans.
if its your ML assessment youre going to be smashing Calories left right centre upwards of 4000 a day depending on your body.
Have energy bars, trail mix, flapjack, boiled sweets, biscuits ready to hand.
not very fun for washing but i have custard, broken biscuits over treacle cake.
Best thing to do is experiment. I like throwing mixed bean into everything with cous cous. great calories, easy and tasty
Agree with that....or just a stock-cube and the peperami, which I do a lot.
But yes, couscous is one of the best hill foods going for fuel economy!
I have a very similar attitude to expedition food. Have done 4 day solo hikes without a stove and have been very happy with energy/protein bars, flapjacks, dried fruit, peanuts, oatcakes, dried sausage and chocolate. I try to make all food average at a minimum of 500kcal per 100g. Individual lower density foods only make it on the list if I compensate with nuts/seeds and other tasty things with astronomical amounts of fat (remembering that 1g of carbs and protein is 4kcal and 1g of fat a whopping 9kcal).
Being quite a slim girl this means I can have 500g of food per day (at least 2500kcal compared to my maintenance of about 1500kcal). This is very sustainable for short trips of about 3-5 days. Beyond that I want and need more calories to keep energy levels up.
my favourite expedition foods:
-good chunky individually packed flapjacks, my local corner shops often have a great variety.
-trail mix - salted peanuts, other nuts, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, dried fruit, chocolate covered raisins, chocolate buttons or m&ms. I make up one bag per day for easy portioning. Usually 100g per day, sometimes 200g if I'm also using it for lunch
-super cheap chocolate bars (the 30p supermarket ones taste fantastic on a hill)
-this amazing spread called lotus biscoff spread (at least thats what its called in this country) 590kcal per 100g!
If I have weight left I'll also bring some nice hard mature cheese for my favourite dinner ever - oatcakes, cheese, chorizo and a nice wee dram of whisky
>tasty things with astronomical amounts of fat (remembering that 1g of carbs and protein is 4kcal and 1g of fat a whopping 9kcal).
Exactly. Protein is about 4kcal as well.
To be honest, I never packed food for each day before last week. I just calculate estimated amount of calories and then just take whatever I want during the hike. It's not a good practice as the diet can be imbalanced and you might run out of food (or take too much). Packing food in sandwich bags for each day is quite good idea as I have some energy reserve in fats which I would not mind to get rid of. For an overnight trip, it worked perfectly.
Can I just say a HUGE thanks for all these replies! Got some awesome ideas now; totally psyched to start using some on the hill this time next week. 2 months off work to nail the ML.
'Trust me on the porridge'! Love it. I do trust you, don't worry. No porridge will be going remotely close to my jetboil.
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