Now that you know about a lot of your equipment, we need concentrate on something a little more appetizing—food—the yummy stuff! There are basically two ways to go on your food: prepackaged or plain ol' groceries. The prepackaged food is an easy way to plan meals. They usually consist of an entire meal, all contained in a single envelop envelope. Most are dehydrated and/or freeze-dried. Simply add water and you have a meal. Now don't start turning up your nose when you hear the word freeze-dried, some are actually very good. The advantage is simplicity and weight savings. The disadvantage is price. You will usually pay more for the freeze-dried variety.
Grocery shopping for a camping trip is a bit different then a regular Troop camp out, but it isn't hard. Pastas and rice are a backpacking staple. They're a wonderful energy source and you can spice them up differently every night with canned meats, different spaghetti sauces mixes, cheeses, etc. But you can also come up with some great non-pasta menus like fried rice and burritos! To guide your menu selection, there are three simple rules to follow when shopping:
You'll be surprised what you can take with you on the trail. Many things, even big blocks of cheese can last a week or more on trail without spoiling. I don't recommend milk, however, unless the temperatures are in the forties. If your recipe calls for milk, bring along the powdered variety (it doesn't taste too bad on granola cereal for breakfast either). Some other easy prepared meals are the chicken, tuna, and hamburger helper meals. Everything is in the box except the meat. For that, you can bring along the precooked can variety.
Don't forget dessert! Instant puddings are always easy to make. Just substitute water and powdered milk (for the real thing) and keep mixing until you get the desired thickness. No bake cheese cakes are another great dessert. If you aren't very creative, then go for the good old standby, smores: graham crackers, chocolate and marshmallows.
The main idea in trail cooking is have an open mind. Just because it doesn't look like what Mom makes doesn't mean it isn't good. But to cure all bad meals, remember to bring a well stocked spice kit along. A little Season All or Mrs. Dash will cure most bad recipes. One thing to keep in mind when spicing up your food on the trail is to increase your salt intake. By sweating all day, your body loses a lot of salt and you'll need to replenish that. Watch for the symptoms salt deficit—muscle cramps, dizziness, and headaches—and take action accordingly. Click here for some recipe ideas.